Diary, 10/20 to 10/31/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Perls book

{10/20/19}  Weight 219.8.

Another up-and-down night.  At least I did my trivial exercise yesterday.

The Hemlock Club today was a disaster.  First I got a call from J saying he was going to be 40 minutes late, and Pablo was as well.  Then N arrived, the second time he’s participated.  I was in the middle of Internet business, I advised him of the situation, and he said he’d be back later.  Then Pablo and J arrived and N was fetched.  Someone got on the subject of the bible study group which meets at Dagny’s at 8:00 AM and J said that he did not participate, just sitting to the side and listening.  The impression he gave me was that he was being shunned by the group, though J disagreed with that characterization.  Pablo wanted to respond to J’s statements, but J kept interrupting him and Pablo kept trying to shut him up.  They were loud and louder, and I tried to shush them, especially J.  A staff person told us we were making too much noise.  Talk resumed,  Finally, Pablo, visibly upset, mock-choked J, which caused N to intervene, and Pablo left in a passion.  Talk thereafter was pretty much a waste, J repeatedly restating his position and criticizing Pablo, I thought unreasonably.  I told J that he always thinks he understands people, and he’s usually way off base—words to this effect, more smoothly stated (I hope).  He of course disagreed.  I gave J the magazine article I had brought for him to look over, and went to the bathroom.  When I returned, N had the article and another man had joined the group, Barry, I think, and he started talking and talking about how militant Jesus was, or something like that.  I packed it in at 1:30, glad to get out of there.

It may be that the staff person talked to us after Pablo had left, I’m not sure.  In any case, it was an ugly scene and a complete waste of time.  We never managed to get to the three items I had brought to talk about.

I ordered a copy of Fritz Perls’ In and Out the Garbage Pail, a book I’ve read twice and enjoyed about one and a half times.  I want it for the amusing marginal sketches.

In other news, last night I watched Skeleton Key, an entirely missable “horror” film starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, and Alexander Sarsgaard (sp?).  It was passable, up until the very disappointing ending.

Now it’s 5:00 PM, and I don’t know what I want to do.  I have two library DVDs to watch, which are due back in five days, I think, so I may get to one of them.  They both include Olivia Cooke, which is why I ordered them.

Three days until payday, and I have several expenses coming up, including the “graphic tablet” and, I hope, new pants.  Next month is going to be rather short of new books, with the exception of Jack Hamm’s Cartooning the Head and Figure, which I ordered through Barnes & Noble.  I’d have done much better getting it from Thriftbooks, because it would have been way cheaper, and arrive here just as soon.  At least it’s a known quantity, since I owned a copy once before.  It probably won’t make much difference to my cartoons, but it’s worth a try.

So I continued the Olivia Cooke hit parade with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  It was sweet, but I thought the start dragged and was artificial.  It eventually repaid my fifteen minutes of patience.  The music by Brian Eno was interesting and pleasant but unmemorable.  Olivia’s performance was competent but not especially demanding.  Thomas Mann (!) was the lead actor and was pretty good.  Not a movie I’m eager to see again, but probably will want to in a few years, such as when I come across these words again.

Now it’s eight at night and I’m sleepy, but I’ve napped a couple of times since getting home, including an especially unfortunate one from 5:30 to 6:00, which I think is likely to make my sleep tonight more than usually difficult.

I’ve been reading Richard Rorty:  Consequences of Pragmatism (Essays, 1972-1980); some of the essays hold little appeal, but the “Introduction” was great and the essay “Pragmatism, Relativism, Irrationalism” was great in part.  Part of the latter required some background which I’m lacking.  Anyway, I’ll probably try some of the other essays some time, maybe not soon, as I have many other books, even on closely-related subjects that I intend to get into ASAP:  The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy, which I’ve already started (maybe three months ago), and Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, which I want to reread now that I have some more good stuff under my belt.  I don’t know…sort of the whole point of Rorty’s philosophy is that philosophy is mostly unimportant and unsuccessful efforts to solve the “classic problems,” and so, why read it?  Except that some of it makes very fine reading.

For example, my final comment on finishing two intense, effortful readings of Bertrand Russell’s An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth was something like, “A brilliant answer to the wrong question.”  Rorty reinforces that opinion, yet that book was pretty important to “my philosophical development,” if there is such a thing.


{10/21/19}  Weight 219.8.

I feel incredibly lucky this morning.  Not because this morning is any different—by any measure I can imagine, except possibly wealth, and despite my ten years in prison and my “mental problems,” I have always been incredibly lucky.  However, perhaps it is best not to dwell on this, and not to explain to my readers.

Today is Monday, and I get paid on Wednesday.  It seems like I’m broke, but my “broke” is far richer than the “broke” of the people I encounter every day on the streets of Bakersfield, because I have twenty dollars in the bank and about twenty in cash.  Anyway, I have two days to fill before I can start spending money again.

Yesterday, on the way home from the horrible HC, while sitting at a bus stop, I was approached by an attractive young Latina.  She apologized for approaching me, said that she had two small children, she needed gas for her truck, she had been kicked out by her sister, her sister’s husband or boyfriend had injured her, etc., etc.  I took out my wallet, knowing pretty exactly that I had a $20 and a $1 (and a bit more at home), thinking about what I could do, there was $2 in my back pocket.  I gave her the $20.  She said something like “Hey, we could hook up if you want.”  I said no and added, in response to her puzzlement, that our situations were too unequal.  I was thinking of my age and her youth, and in part my income security.  (In fact, I would have had serious doubts about letting her in my house, even though I have nothing to steal and not much to lose.)  She asked for and received or gave a hug—she was shorter than I had realized, and her large breasts were something of an embarrassment to me—I don’t know why and can’t explain it—and she left.  We were at a gas station, her truck was parked in the gas station, but she drove away, leaving me feeling that I had been lied to, manipulated, but not really caring, since I had half expected it.  In which case, it’s not really “manipulation.”  I never expect honesty from people who are asking for money.

I have about $600 each month, after expenses.  Between charities, Pablo, and panhandlers, I give away about $100.  The rest goes to incidental food and drink purchases, books and DVDs, perhaps a movie, and I don’t know what.  Last month I spent $288.75 on books and DVDs, not counting rentals.  That was a bit less than the previous two months.  $111 went to “merchandise,” of which $13 went for a small “desktop organizer” for my four remote controls.  I can’t remember the rest, but checking my “register” spreadsheet, I find amounts for Walmart, Rite Aid, and Target.  The Rite Aid included my replacement cell phone for $75 plus tax.

I’m actually pretty careful with money—I “budget” my food expenses, allowing $45 per week for groceries, and $25 per week for “dining,” which is usually fast food, and I’m usually paying for Pablo.  Between the two, I’m “spot on” for this pay period:  $14 over on dining, and $14 under for groceries.  “Dining” does not include snacks and drinks bought at Dagny’s, vending machines, and food marts, which are normally paid with cash.  $330 in cash last month.

One month I noted every cash expenditure:  $252.94 from February 27 to March 27, 2019.  Of this, $71 went to Pablo (not counting food), about $83 to Dagny’s, $7.50 to vending machines, and $13 to panhandlers.


{10/22/19}  Weight 220.4.

Well, here I am again, at 4:40 AM.  I didn’t want to get up, but lying awake in bed when I’m trying to sleep is annoying.

I had a dream last night that I was playing Civilization (actually, Civ2) against a human and a computer opponent on a world map.  The computer was losing badly, having been squeezed into northern Europe, and Asia was empty.  My forces were in North America and I was contemplating a move into Asia.  Awake, this seems pretty silly.  I’ve played, I suppose, thousands of hours of Civ2, but never or hardly ever in this kind of three-way game.  Half-awake, I was sort of obsessing over how one bribes enemy units in the game.

I’ve been having weak stomach pains for a few days, off and on.  Last night I thought they were gone completely, but this morning I’m feeling an occasional twinge.  This is not like a digestive problem, which I’ve had occasionally like everyone else.  I’m thinking that an ulcer is the most likely problem; maybe “hoping” is more accurate.  In any case, I’m not about to run to the doctor yet.

I’ve been expecting a call from Pablo, and indeed I got one yesterday evening, but I think he must have dialed by accident, because I heard music and couldn’t get him to talk.  So I hung up, expecting a call back, but it never came.  I’m thinking that he will be apologizing and arguing about the HC meeting fiasco.  Both he and J were a bit out of control, but Pablo was the only one who got angry.  I think that Pablo will stop attending for a while, in which case it’s doubtful that the club will survive in any meaningful sense, since he and J are the only members who appear with regularity.  I don’t intend to abandon the club, however.

The Willpower Group so far is hugely disappointing, and the Pathfinder group is still on hold until we get a third player.

Reading about John Dewey last night in Copleston’s History, and thinking that I need some of Dewey’s books.  It’s unfortunate that he was so very prolific, because I don’t know where to start; perhaps a book about him rather than going directly to his books.  He is not mentioned in 50 Philosophy Classics; his books are not listed in the Oxford Guide to Philosophy.  Dewey’s Reconstruction in Philosophy is excerpted in Barrett and Aiken’s Philosophy in the Twentieth Century and much of that is quite interesting, but I’d rather not duplicate those pages if another book would otherwise do as well.  I can certainly select among those quoted or mentioned in Copleston.  There’s also an essay on Dewey in the Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy that I haven’t read yet.  Maybe I don’t really need (!) a book by or about Dewey right now.  What a concept.

Thinking about human beings as a species of animal, I find that the thought pleases me; given that animals can be seen to “think” when confronted with a challenge, the thought pleases even more.  The paradigm is that a trapped animal will try various possible or potential means of escape, and keep trying until it’s dead, even if it has to gnaw off its own foot.  A human being will call for help, but eventually will be reduced to an animal-like condition if no help arrives.  The intellectual gulf between human and chimpanzee is undoubtedly huge, but it is only a difference of degree.  However, we are brought up to believe otherwise, largely due to the influence of religion, and so the thought is counter-intuitive.

N said one thing at the HC that was cheering:  he said that my mentioning my mission statement had stayed with him; he found it useful or something, I suppose, since I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it was definitely positive.  As I was leaving the HC, I apologized to him for the actions of the group and told him that it wasn’t a typical meeting, which is true, though we’ve had similar problems occasionally.  I’m doubtful that Pablo can get past his anger this time.

Reading the Merck Manual regarding ulcers was somewhat encouraging.  I think I have gastritis, which can lead to ulcers, and I think that the daily aspirin I’m taking is what brought this on.  So I’ll try skipping the aspirin for some days, and take antacids for relief, then see what else I can do (i.e., going to the doctor).

So I watched another Olivia Cooke movie, The Signal.  Incredibly annoying:  slow, pretentious, confusing, until the explain-nothing ending.  A movie stuffed full of nonsense, tedious slo-mo, and music videos.  One slender idea padded out to make ninety-seven minutes of wasted time.  Therefore, I have built up a huge reservoir of ill will against the director, William Eubank, who also is listed as first author.

The good news is that my stomach feels okay.  Also good is that I get paid tomorrow.

Watched a National Geographic documentary about ancient Egypt yesterday and was saddened to see that, in an Egyptian wall painting in a tomb, a bare breast was blurred out.  American adults are children who must be protected at all costs from “sexual” material, unless someone is trying to sell something.


{10/23/19}  Weight 219.6

A call from Pablo at 9:20 last night.  He said he was surprised that I picked up.  Given that he had missed his bus and was just (in my opinion) looking to be entertained for the half hour until the next bus, I wished that I hadn’t.  He talked and talked about two things:  the state of his intestines, and that he had played his saxophone at some event.  He did not mention either J or the HC, for which I was glad despite the boredom of his talk.  I should give him credit, however:  he did ask how I was feeling and what I was doing.  Oh, we also talked about the library book sale today, where we have agreed to meet.  I wouldn’t go just for the sale, which I’ve already visited twice, but I was planning to go anyway to return the Olivia Cooke DVDs.

I had a pretty good sleep last night, with I think two interruptions.  What was good about it, then?  It was good that I had no trouble getting back to sleep, and I got a total of eight hours.  I had the idea of putting a pee bottle beside my bed, to save from getting up—this should make it easier to get back to sleep.  I can’t think of an objection to this, except that it would be “unusual.”

Interesting to me is that I do seem to have more willpower when it comes to dishes and exercise.  I’ve been very consistent about dishes, and pretty consistent about exercise.  In the former case I have established a rule, in the latter I have not.  As long as I think of exercise, I do it without even whining:  I simply want to do it.  These are small but encouraging changes.

I am anticipating a “month without books”—that is, I want to keep book buying to a real minimum.  This is not a rule, yet; I won’t establish a rule (the candidate is “no more than $100 per month for books”) unless I continue to overindulge as I have been doing.

Do I regret the Melville poems?  Yeah, pretty much.  Do I regret the Dickinson poems?  Not so far.  What about the book sale books?  No, though the Gardiner hieroglyphics book was unusually silly.

So I bought what I’ve been calling the “graphics tablet”—it’s actually the Moleskine “Smart Writing Set Ellipse,” for $193.88.  I then discovered that I was unable to download the necessary app from Microsoft.  It seems that I will have to keep trying; if I can’t get it tomorrow, I’ll notify Moleskine, since it’s presumably their problem.  They really should make the software available from their web site, especially since it’s free.  It seems that the pen is the functional part, it scans the paper as you write or draw.  The paper apparently is special with very small dots.  We’ll see—I hope!

I got some books at the library book sale, $4 for a bag.  I could have gotten more, but I didn’t want to carry some and put them back—two books of quotations and some other stuff.  I got the Blood Simple DVD and Speak French with Michael Thomas, a book on writing poetry that Anne Lamott liked but I hate and I’ve already put it aside to donate.  I got a book by Santayana on beauty, John Fire’s Lame Deer—Seeker of Visions which I have read and used to own, but mailed to Zena O’Brien, a King James Bible just because one needs a bobble for reference, Richard Armour’s Light Armour because it has Thurber-like cartoons, and a couple of other cartoon books (Dilbert, and cat cartoons).

There were several philosophy books at B&N that I wanted, but I can wait until next month for those.  We ate at El Pollo Loco, and I had a chocolate milkshake on the way home.

I also went to the Credit Union for cash, getting two rolls of quarters to do laundry.  There are no dirty dishes in my sink, and now, since I thought of it, I’m going to do my minimalist exercise.  The thought of paying $10 a month to ride a stationary bicycle seems nuts right now.


{10/24/19}  Weight 220.0.

Well, after yesterday’s entry, I had this to do and that to do before I did my exercise, and I ended up forgetting to exercise.

The gastritis has eased up considerably, but I’m going to wait a couple of days more before resuming the daily aspirin.

I was able to download the Moleskine app today.  The pen and notebook system worked perfectly, and I anticipate getting considerable use from it.  The app seems very easy to use, though I don’t understand all the possibilities yet, nor have I downloaded the user manual yet—at least, I don’t think I did.  I did take a look at some manual from the Moleskine web site, a PDF which seemed pretty sketchy.  Maybe that was the whole thing, but I didn’t save it, so I’ll have to take another look.  But the system, so far, looks great.

The task now is putting it to work, that is, drawing some cartoon figures and actual cartoons.  I need to decide on an approach, and that is best done, I think, at the drawing board.  I’m still waiting for a couple of books, however.  That’s no reason to not try right now, thus abandoning my “usual approach” and building confidence by reading books, rather than jumping in and getting my feet wet.  Admittedly, I did one small page of sketches.

Did a number of new sketches tonight.  Took some pictures of my profile and discovered that my ears look enormous.  I’m trying to develop a cartoon persona that bears at least some vague resemblance to me that is also easy to draw and easy to repeat.  It’s a rather ugly process.


{10/25/19}  Weight 220.2.

I have in the past tried to reconcile two of my oldest memories:  running away from home at six years old, thinking that “nobody will care that I’m gone,” and around the same age running to my father expecting to kiss and be kissed.  These can be reconciled by the idea that at that age I lacked judgment.  I was in fact loved by my parents, and if I was treated badly at one time and felt unloved, that feeling was simply incorrect.

Coming back from Food Maxx, I was crossing Union Ave.  After checking oncoming traffic, I crossed two of the three lanes, when I apparently heard the approaching car, which raced past, perhaps a foot in front of my cart.  If I had not stopped walking, my cart, and maybe my tender body, would have been crushed.  Stupid, stupid, stupid of me to be insufficiently “paranoid” about crossing a busy street.


{10/26/19}  Weight 220.8.

I don’t know the secret of weight loss, but, thanks to The Willpower Instinct, I do know the secret of avoiding too much TV.  The thing is, I have many personal ambitions:  writing, blogging, reading, German, health.  When I contemplate watching TV, or doing anything self-indulgent, I must ask myself, “What am I giving up to do this?”  When this becomes a habit, as it is already close to being, “too much TV” won’t be an issue.

For someone with few or no personal ambitions, they have a much bigger problem.

Reviewing the many pages of bibliography in Lisa Feldman Barrett:  How Emotions are Made:  The Secret Life of the Brain, I suddenly realize that Pablo and J are amazingly foolish in a particular way.  They both are interested in pseudosciences and such junk, which I see as wishful thinking, so they waste their time reading the wrong books.  Pablo asked me to share the cost of a book he wants, and I agreed to do so; but it’s a book about becoming a shaman.  J reads the astrology column in a local newspaper, apparently every day.

There is so much good science being published that, when scanning this bibliography, “I felt like a kid in a candy store.”  My friends walk past treasures while grasping at shiny, worthless objects.  Or whatever metaphor you prefer.

Now, lecturing them is pointless.  If I hope to influence them, it will only happen by showing them the value that science has in my life.

Watched Big Fish last night and fell in love with it a second time, perhaps again especially because of Alison Lohman.  But it is a magical movie done absolutely right.  There are too few such movies; The Wizard of Oz comes to mind as a comparison, though Fish is more about relationships and communication than Oz’s outright fantasy.  One thing I absolutely hated about Big Fish that would not occur to many people, I think:  the hero “falls in love at first sight” and spends three years laboring to find out who she is.  This is pathological, yet a commonplace of “romance,” truly terrible behavior made to look supremely attractive, a complete mischaracterization of “true love” and “happiness.”  Feminists, of course, already know this and presumably taught it to me (perhaps Sonia Johnson in The Ship that Sailed into the Living Room).

One of my whatever-it-is-es—let’s call it a bit of wisdom—is “You always know less than you think you know.”  But there’s a corollary:  “You are always less good than you think you are.”  Another bit bubbles up:  “You always feel more certain than is warranted.”

These could be compressed into:  “You are always less competent than you realize.”

I suppose, however, that some people go to the opposite extreme, expecting to fail when success is within their grasp.  Maybe it’s only egotists that are always less competent than they realize.

I am undoubtedly an egotist.

Apropos of the above:  “A person who has no science seems to me but half a human being.”  Diary, 5/11/19.

I really want to get my prison diary typed up.  I could do the dictation thing at Dagny’s (outside, probably).


{10/27/19}  Weight 220.6.

Barry Stevens (see CQ):  “How many of us can accept people as we accept the sea?”

I mentioned this quote at the Hemlock Club today.  Neal was there, plus the regulars.  It was about as good this time as it was terrible last time.  We read and discussed some quotes from Edward Abbey that I had brought along.  But we talked of many other things as well.  It was the kind of “relaxed chat” that I’ve been advertising for the HC.


{10/28/19}  Weight 220.6.

Macros gone!  Normal template doesn’t have ‘em.  I open the Visual Basic editor and load the macro file I have saved a thousand times (dated 10/21).  The macros are there, but my key assignments still are gone.  Ribbon assignments are preserved, however.  MS Word thus has a very annoying bug which happens often enough to be maddening, but not often enough for me to give up macro programming.  I’m paying $6.99 a month for this.

I’d do well to back up my normal template.  I’ve tried this in the past, indeed, so long ago that I don’t remember whether it was effective.  Now, I could load an old template, but surely that will clobber my style definitions, creating more problems.

In part, my ignorance is a problem.  But I assure you, I am not deleting my own macros.

Watched on DVD this morning the last episode of season two of Dance Moms.  I’ve never been so moved by something made for television, not because the show was exceptional, but because I am so wrapped up in the lives of the students, as though they were my own children.  Of course, I’m a sentimental old fool.

Watching Asylum, a sometimes effective, sometimes feeble horror-thriller with appealing actors, good dialog, unbelievable bonding after two days among first-year college students, and mostly clichéd or unconvincing torture-porn “thrills.”  This would have been better as a straight “troubled teen” drama.  Gets progressively weaker until the ridiculous nonsensical ending.  I gave up ninety minutes of goal-directed behavior to watch this junk TV.  So:   “willpower challenge” failed.

But I washed dishes twice this morning, a “willpower challenge” beaten.

Seems like I’ve been watching TV all day—true, in part because this is my last day for free HBO.  So I watched Glass, from Shyamalan.  It’s pretty good though it strains my suspension of disbelief.  It puts together Unbreakable and Split rather nicely, though I found Split mostly ugly (reviewed her on 5/4/19).  As I said at the time, Shyamalan’s movies are always interesting, but usually somewhat disappointing, and this one fits that description as well.

Spectators at the World Series today put joy in my heart by chanting “Lock him up!” to our “President.”  This [expletive] is one person whom I cannot accept as I “accept the sea.”

Toast for dinner again.  This is supposed to make up for having eaten a bit much for lunch, but the hoped for loss “never” seems to arrive, despite what seems like very persistent hunger.  (Actually, I was clocking in at 223.6 rather often at the start of this month.)


{10/29/19}  Weight 218.2.  Well!  Somehow, I don’t think that I really lost two and a half pounds in one day.  I suppose I’ll bounce back tomorrow.

A realization.  I agreed to help Pablo buy a book on shamanism, which we ordered from Barnes & Noble, but today he called me saying that he doesn’t have money for food.  Clearly, he should take this money for food, and also clearly, I should not be buying him books that will only encourage his magical thinking and keep him from working on his problems.  I have recently told him about The Willpower Instinct, about which he has expressed interest; some weeks back I bought him a copy of Lost Connections, which he has yet to read.  I’d much rather see him reading these books, which have taught me some things that are helping me cope with my problems, in the hope of seeing him making progress on his problems.  It is not too late to cancel the order for the shamanism book.  I hate the thought of my money going for a scam, which is how I see the book he wants.

In addition to this, I have some unusual expenses this month:  sixty-something for Meetup dot com, and forty-something for Pablo’s bus pass.  On top of the Moleskine writing system, that’s three hundred that I didn’t have to pay last month.

Since we talked earlier about his food situation, it’s a pity I didn’t mention the $18 for the shamanism book; but maybe he can be persuaded to see reason here.

I was all set to go to sleep, after having tired of reading Fritz Perls:  In and Out the Garbage Pail, which I’ve read at least twice before.  I bought a copy from Thriftbooks because I like the cartoons (which are not done by Fritz).  But it’s only 8:45, earlier than I like to go to bed, because it just means that I’ll likely be up before 5:00, and maybe will wake up around midnight and not be able to get back to sleep.  Better to stay up until ten or later.

Despite watching a lot of television lately, I also did good work on Kick Me today—another such day and I’ll be through with the read-through and can go ahead to work on the typing on Thursday (today is Tuesday) at the “Shut Up and Write” group.

The other thing on the writing agenda is NaNoWriMo, i.e., writing a novel next month.  I have some ideas, but nothing I’m sold on.  Fritz’s book makes me think that I might want to try something like that, “writing whatever wants to be written,” i.e., some kind of philosophical-personal rumination.  There’s material bubbling down there, about “my neurosis” and my willpower challenges and antiphilosophy, that could be used.  I’m thinking that the general willpower challenge is to recognize and change bad habits—something McGonigal doesn’t list in the index.  I don’t know if this would tie into “mindfulness,” or “awareness,” or something else that I could use that is in Fritz’s book.  (He doesn’t talk about mindfulness, but we’ve been close to it at the Hemlock Club lately.)  This sort of thing would ordinarily go into the diary, and maybe that’s not a bad approach.  Anything in the diary, of course, can be extracted; there’s no special reason to call it a book, except that I have told others I would be participating.  Anyway, we’ll see.

Getting the Prison Diary typed would help a lot with this idea—let’s call it “Copying Fritz,” or maybe “the self-help book,” i.e., the story of me helping myself, and how and why I am doing it.  I’d like to include cartoons, also, both for salability and to get me moving on that.  This is a lot more appealing than desperately trying to come up with a good idea for a novel.  Especially (if I need an especially) because I don’t even read novels these days, haven’t even tried one (I think) since the van Vogt stuff this year.

Now that I’ve hit the antiphilosophy roadblock (i.e., “reading more philosophy seems suddenly unimportant”), I’m much keener to get back into psychology and maybe neuroscience and cognitive science.  Or, let’s just say, “nonfiction that is more personally relevant.”  Self-help.

The Veil looks good on paper (good premise and Jessica Alba), but isn’t:  after some unnecessary jump scares, it becomes progressively stupider and more tedious.  I’m giving up after an hour, i.e., 28 minutes before the end.  A thoroughly joyless experience.  I’ll be glad when Halloween is over and TV becomes less feasible for me.


{10/30/19}  Weight 218.8.  The predicted bounce, smaller than I expected.

A good night for me, eight hours of sleep with one interruption.

I’d like to finish my read-through/edit of Kick Me this morning.  Nothing in the way except bad habits.

I wasn’t going to record this bit of dream, but a later thought brought me back to it.  I was explaining to someone that I would “tap a rhythm, two taps and one, if I needed help.  I changed it to the 2-1 tap means ‘danger.’  Two taps alone means ‘look around.’”  My later thought was based on a misremembering of the dream:  the 2-1 rhythm meaning, “Help me,” and the thought was that the dream is telling me that I need help, or think I need help.

Once you start second-guessing your thinking, your understanding of yourself, there’s no end to it.  For instance, I could say that I am “resistant” to admitting that I need help, that’s why I didn’t want to describe the dream.  This is almost persuasive, but in the end, it fails because I recognize that I need help, that’s why I am currently reading all the self-help and psychology books that I can.  But, also, I must deny that I need help, because I am helping myself by reading books.  Saying “you need help” ordinarily means “you need to see someone.”  That is the sense I am denying.

During an hour and fifteen minute phone conversation with Pablo, I told him about my feelings about this shamanism book and how he’s being stupid, spending this $20 on a book when he has nothing to eat.  I could say that I’m trying to help him; I could also say that I’m tearing off his butterfly wings in trying to bring him down to earth.  I am an equal-opportunity critic.  Sometimes.

I did, in fact, finish my KM read-through with edits.  Tomorrow I’ll do the typing at the “Shut Up and Write” meeting.  The next day begins the new book, not a novel.

Cartooning?  What cartooning?  It’s coming.  I did some tonight, but it remains unsatisfactory.  I need to simplify and simplify some more.  I need to make decisions about how I want The Head to look.


{10/31/19}  Weight 219.0.

Power was off and on yesterday because of high winds.

The “smart writing system,” which I prefer to think of as the digitizing pen, is supposed to allow voice recording.  However, it doesn’t seem to have that function.  The PDF User’s Manual does not match the app that I downloaded—there’s an icon missing, the microphone icon.  In addition, I can’t see anywhere on the pen itself that might be a microphone.  This is not a deal-breaker, but I did want a digital recorder.  Well, it is what it is, and I surely couldn’t return it anyway.

But it’s 5:00 AM and time for Democracy Now.

Evening, Pablo is here.  He was concerned that my probation officer might show up while he was in the shower.  I told him, “Don’t worry about it, man.”  Now I wonder:  is my lack of anxiety just how I am, something genetic, perhaps?  It seems to me that I’ve always been pretty low-key and calm, but I don’t recall having thought much about it.

I checked the “smart writing system” at Amazon; an answered question states that the pen does not have a voice recorder.  Which is interesting because the PDF User Manual (a very poor piece of work) says that it does have a voice recorder.

I tried the transcription mode of the smart pen; here’s the result:

Testing the “transcrip-

+ ion “mode of the smart

writing system. I’m think­ing of using it to write

my book this month.

– Alan Carl Nicoll


I’m surprised and impressed; the writing was pretty natural, though I was trying to write clearly.  Here’s the image, much reduced:

Volant XS Starter_21

As for the new book, the concept so far is vague.  I’ve been thinking of quotes from the psych books I’ve read lately, in addition to the 10/29 diary entry.  The Perls was very stimulating, and reviewing the highlighted text may help me focus.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow I begin work on my new book, and I wanted to record some preliminary thoughts.  My main goal is self-mastery.  In practice I think this will mainly involve goals and habits.  In particular, the primary insight is that one’s habits must be such as to forward one’s goals, I mean, to make progress towards the goals without having to think about it each day, so no procrastination.  Example:  I don’t procrastinate about diary writing because I have the habit of writing down my thoughts as they occur to me.  Usually it’s completely effortless—the only trouble that arises is when I’ve finished reading a book.  Sometimes the labor of writing about it, i.e., a summary, just seems like more work than I’m willing to do.

If one has bad habits—in my case, turning on the TV without thinking about that choice—writing goals get put off.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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