Diary, 11/20 to 12/1/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Me.  Yes, it is about me.

{11/20/19}  Weight 217.0.  I’ve lost three pounds in five days.  Dinner yesterday was a peanut butter and honey sandwich, a few raisins, and a date.  I have not felt particularly hungry.  215 by the end of the year is looking very easy; 215 by the end of November seems pretty likely, too.  I have no idea whether this painless progress can continue.

I’ve been reading Stephan Guyenet:  The Hungry Brain:  Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat, Flatiron Books, New York, 2018, hc, a book I bought earlier this year.  The first step I set for my wp challenge was “research,” and this is it.  Fortunately, it’s a pleasure to read, and I learned some recent science about how choices are made in the brain.  Briefly, neural circuits representing available options put in “bids” to the striatum; the striatum blocks action by any of these circuits until one strong-enough and the strongest bid is (mindlessly) selected by the striatum—I think of it operating as a “difference engine”—at which point the striatum passes along that option to the motor cortex for action while suppressing all other options.

Goosebumps!  The power just went on, its arrival announced by the refrigerator’s joyful noise.  6:56 am.  It quit around midnight of 11/15.

Okay, so all choices are made “by the unconscious,” which means that there is no such thing as what we’ve always wanted as “free will.”  However, we can “consciously” train the unconscious mind, by stopping bad habits and starting new habits, for example, and that is our “free will.”  The fly in this ointment is that we can’t “consciously” choose that plan of action—that choice also will be made unconsciously.  And we can’t choose when to start and when to stop or any damn thing at all—unless “we” are “our body” and not “our conscious mind.”  We don’t have “free will”; we have a brain mechanism that we cannot examine or see by introspection.  The body chooses, and you are your body.

Habits are funny things.  I have done my silly little exercise routine four days in a row, merely because I’ve started (four days ago) noting on my calendar the days on which I’ve exercised.  I just set up a new circuit (memory) in my brain, something I might call “mark calendar when exercise happens” and the new circuit flexes its muscles enough to bring itself to consciousness periodically.  Previously I have missed exercising on a number of days because when I thought of exercising, I procrastinated just enough to end up in bed without having exercised.  “I forgot.”  I presume that “what becomes conscious” (i.e., what gets broadcast in the brain) is also a “choice” made in the striatum.

{11/21/19}  Weight 217.2.

J bought lunch at Leo’s for Pablo and me.  I dumped a cup of ice water in my lap.  Expecting a weight gain tomorrow.

{11/22/19}  Weight 219.  OMG.  That I predicted this is small consolation indeed.  It’s going to take a week of discipline to recover from this—if “recover” even makes sense.  215 by the end of November looks rather desperate today.

A quote from Sidney M. Jourard:  The Transparent Self, Revised Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1964-1971, pb:  “What are personal growth, one’s situation, and encounter?  I have grown when I perceive the changes that occur in my embodied self and my world—my situation—decide how I next want to be in this world and how I want the world to be for me, and then act.”  p. 164.

I think often about my “growth” and “self-actualization,” and I think that The Willpower Instinct has given me a leap forward in these processes or goals…well, I don’t really seem to have much to say on this.  It was the “decide how I next want to be” that I think caught my imagination; I have never really given much thought about my future self and what I want that to be.  Or what I want to work on.  Willpower, self-mastery—these are things that I have long thought were weak or missing in me, things that I wanted very much, or so I might have said or thought.  Yet, until The Willpower Instinct, I don’t know of any progress in this area.  Now I feel new vistas opening for me, in my behavior and my self.  And the number one issue for me is shyness—the great roadblock, the great stumbling point, the fatal flaw in my romantic and sexual life.  This is something that I could research (i.e., buy and read books) as I’m doing with The Hungry Brain, and go on to tackle head-on.  Yeah:  big talk, little do.  We’ll see.

An insight into Pablo:  his poverty forces him to be a hustler, hence my charge of him being “a phony and a manipulator.”  His poverty poisons his relationships.  He tells me he “loves” me; he says he wants “to come over”; but it’s all phony.  He “loves” my money, and he wants “to come over” for the ham sandwiches, bananas, sodas, liquor, and chips that I make available to him without complaint.

What finally got my goat was yesterday at the “Shut Up and Write” meeting.  He criticized me for failing “my willpower challenge” of not pursuing the NaNoWriMo writing challenge this month, for which I had signed up.  I had previously told him—repeatedly—that I had abandoned the project because it wasn’t working out, that it wasn’t a matter of willpower at all.  I had never framed it as a willpower challenge.  Yet, when I asked him how much he had done on his NaNoWriMo, it turns out that he had started writing on Wednesday, i.e., the day before the meeting and three weeks into the month.  And he had written less than two thousand words to my over four thousand!  In other words, he was a complete phony and hypocrite about the challenge.

Now, in fact, I see that he is desperate to beat me at something, anything, because his self-esteem is suffering.  He would do well to focus on the things he already does better than me, i.e., playing musical instruments and singing and whatever else he can be proud of.  Instead, he tries to persuade other people that he is beating me at willpower challenges.

A quote from Henry Thoreau:  “Reform and the Reformers,” in Great Short Works of Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Glick (ed.), A Perennial Classic, Harper & Row, New York, 1982:  “Those who dwell in Oregon and the far west are not so solitary as the enterprising and independent thinker, applying his discoveries to his own life.  This is the way we would see a man striving with his axe and kettle to take up his abode.  To this rich soil should the New Englander wend his way.  Here is Wisconsin and the farthest west.  It is simple, independent, original, natural life.”  p. 129.

My perception of my body is that I get more apelike every day.  Well, every year.

I know this isn’t true, but I never laughed so much in my life:  The Simpsons episode from 12/2/18, “Daddicus Finch.”  J. K. Simmons was inspired as a school psychologist.  And here I had thought that the series had fallen on hard times.

I saw Maureen at Dagny’s yesterday.  We talked about the weather.  This was frustrating because I want to get beyond this exchange of pleasantries.  Reading Jourard has intensified this feeling, while also suggesting a couple of approaches:  instead of asking “How are you?” ask instead, “What’s on your mind today?”  A more nerve-wracking (racking?  the dictionary shows both) approach would be to say, “We normally just exchange pleasantries, but I’d like to get beyond that and get to know you getter.”

And as for June, if she returns, I need to start with an apology for not only prying her open, but for having the temerity (dictionary:  “foolhardiness,” etc.) to suggest that she might want to get career counseling and to confront her therapist.  Then ask her about the meaning of life, and perhaps suggest to her my formula:  “If you can’t write novels, carve statues, raise children, or find true love, still you can plant trees, or seeds. Make this a better world by your efforts and you will feel satisfaction now and later, and know the meaning of life, in proportion to your efforts and results.”

Of course, there is also my “ultimate question”:  “What is it like to be you?”

I wonder how I might answer that.  “I read a lot, maybe too much.  These days it’s mostly nonfiction:  until recently, that meant philosophy and neuroscience, but lately I’ve gone over to psychology.  I write in my diary almost every morning, and often later in the day as well.  I watch television primarily for news, but also for movies and occasional episodes of The Simpsons.  I am generally a serious person, but half the things I say may be taken as ironic jokes.  It depends on my mood.  I live alone and don’t much like it.  I am generous with panhandlers, am politically liberal or worse, and I am ambitious—not in a career sense, but as a writer and in regard to self-mastery.  I value serious conversation but also like to play games, these days mostly Scrabble.  I have a mission statement:  to make the world a better place through my writing.  How’s that?”

{11/23/19}  Weight 217.4.  Quite a bounce-back, though I helped it with a little self-starvation yesterday.  So, it didn’t take a week to recover.

It will take years to recover from Rachel Maddow’s show yesterday, which revealed the Congressional Republicans as naked traitors.  She reported on the New York Times story that Senators and their staff had received a classified briefing from our intelligence services that the “Ukraine story” was a Russian disinformation campaign.  Despite that, the story has continued to be pushed by House Republicans and some Senators, and of course, Donald Trump.  What will Fox News do?  Will this change the polls of public support for the “Redpublicans”?  Time will tell.

This morning I am unable to remember the name of the Ambassador to the European Union, whose testimony was so important two days ago, and which I watched for maybe five hours.  Was it Donaldson?  That’s my best guess.  Turning on the TV instantly reveals it’s Sondland.

I finished reading The Transparent Self, and enjoyed it a lot.  I intend to type up the quotations today.  Now I can get back to The Hungry Brain.

Dostoyevsky’s A Raw Youth so far is rather uninvolving, like Notes from Underground without that strange story’s energy and, shall I call it, charm?  Harold Bloom calls D an “obscurantist,” and this novel does play it cagey about revealing the protagonist’s “idea.”  I’m making a list of character names, of necessity.  I can’t predict whether I’ll finish reading this long novel.

{11/24/19}  Weight 217.8.  This is disappointing.

Hemlock Club today, the big question being, will June put in an appearance?

She did not.  The HC was a rousing success in that the conversation was lively for over three hours.  It was not so great for me personally, however, because I felt stupid when the conversation got on the Quakers, and when C, a new guy, talked about neuroscience.  These are subjects about which I might expect to have opinions or information, but I felt completely empty.

Now, reading tonight, having finished The Hungry Brain, I felt like reading, for me, has become a waste of time.  This is an uncommon and uncomfortable mood.

In fact, I have come to a few conclusions from having read this book:  first, I’m pretty much on the right track with my current diet—mostly simple foods, though that isn’t what I was aiming for, and the only snacks in the house for a while have been granola bars, dried fruit, and cashews.  Second, I need to eliminate caffeine altogether, because it’s likely interfering with my sleep; at least, that’s something easy that I can do.  Finally, it seems that “blue light” in the evening suppresses melatonin production, so I need to get warm lights, and “blue light” (the sky, in part) during daylight hours.  There is a lot of neuroscience in the book, little of which likely “stuck” because I wasn’t that interested in the details, mostly just the conclusions.

As for reading, I’ll press on with A Raw Youth, but I want some neuroscience books, notably, a recent textbook, though not necessarily a basic textbook, like Purves.  It came as another unwelcome moment, when I picked up Sonia Johnson’s Wildfire and thought, “I read this, right?”  Flipping through the pages, I saw occasional highlighting, so it’s clear that I did read it, but it made no impression.  In the 8/8/19 entry I have a brief quote from Johnson.

I saw Maureen at Dagny’s and didn’t speak to her.  <sigh>  I don’t know what to do about her.  Yet, I should talk to her and let what happens happen.  I don’t have to try to control what happens.  Perhaps just confess that I’m interested in her but don’t know what to do about that.  I seem to want to impress her rather than to simply be authentic.  I am placing entirely too much weight on “this chance.”  As though, if I “fail” with her, I won’t have other chances.  But, of course, I’ve had almost no “chances” since getting out of prison.  I’m just not meeting enough women of suitable ages—and those that I meet, I don’t know what to do with, the situation I’ve been in all my life.

And that’s just the problem:  seeing myself as “crazy,” but not wanting to “scare her off by being crazy.”  So the urge to try to appear better than I feel I am.  So I’m conflicted, and thus paralyzed around her, paralyzed when I have a chance to talk to her.

{11/25/19}  Weight 217.8.

After waking at 3:00 and 4:30, I was able to sleep another hour, during which I had a dream:  I was walking down a street when I found a bookstore.  I went in and discovered Pastafazool working there.  We talked for a minute, and she said something like, “Did you need to talk?”  Suggesting to me that she was willing to continue our professional relationship.  I said no.  We ended up at a small booth, as in a restaurant, where she showed me a picture frame that had a number of small pictures, and I saw with surprise that at least one was a video.  It showed a hillside covered with grass, part of which was a grass-covered face.  The face opened its eyes, and I thought it was a contrivance, somehow using Pastafazool’s face.  A man came walking into the scene, walking across the grass face.

Then I had a book in my hands, that she had been reading or at least it belonged to her.  It was a very old book, and the covering of the spine had split so that it was hinged only on one side.  I opened the book and read something at random, got interested in it, but after a minute I closed the book and said that I hadn’t come in to take up her time reading her book.  She said, “Do you want to talk about it?”, meaning the book.  I said “Maybe” in a somewhat unusual voice and looking her in the eye.  She slid halfway out of the booth, saying, “Oh, no!” as though I had propositioned her, and in fact that was the direction I was going (eventually), and I thought she had divined this intention from the sound of my voice.  I woke up.

This is interesting, first because I seldom have such long dreams these days, second because Pastafazool was in it and I don’t recall having dreamt of her before, third because of the surprising and “symbolic” grass-face video, and finally because I had put her in the place of Maureen, perhaps.  I draw no conclusions from all this; that I am attracted to Pastafazool is something I’ve been aware of for a long time.  Perhaps I’ll call her later.

So, another week.  This morning I’ll be going to MacDonald’s for breakfast, then pick up some groceries on the way home.  I’m down to maybe $25 in cash, but I get paid in two days.  Then I’ll go to Barnes & Noble.

Having finished The Hungry Brain, I feel like I’ve come to the end of “my psychology reading,” though I still have three books on Gestalt therapy to read, if I want to—I’ve already started all three, but have no special desire to continue reading them.  The thing is, if not those, then what?  I mean, if I’m “done with philosophy” and “done with psychology,” and don’t have any neuroscience to read, and don’t want to read fiction, where does that leave me?  I’m also “done with climate catastrophe” for reading.  And reading has become a futility of sorts; I cannot hide from myself that I just don’t remember what I read, unless I highlight as I go and review the highlighting afterwards, probably several times.  It’s not black-and-white, of course—though I did draw a complete blank with Wildfire, I think because I had read it before, and the reread three months ago was mostly unsurprising and unimpressive (as shown by the sparseness of highlighting and comments in the 8/8 entry), hence “unmemorable”—though now it comes back to me that Johnson was recommending or urging, essentially, a separate society of lesbians, which I found pretty absurd and unrealistic on the scale she seemed to be suggesting.  I am pretty sure that there are such communes—but that’s not a society, like a separate state.

So it’s not a complete blank, and perhaps if I pondered longer I might dredge up a few other fragments…maybe the thing to do with books I’ve finished is to put them all in one place so I can review them easily and will be reminded to review them.  I do this already, in part, but only with a select few that I consider most important:  Epstein, Barrett (her book on emotion, not the existentialism), Baggini, and an unfinished Maslow.  Baggini’s book on reason is mostly a blank even though I’ve reviewed it at least once.  Not in that same place, but hanging around sort of “underfoot,” is Noam Chomsky’s What Kind of Creatures Are We?  That’s one I consider especially stimulating, but find a hard time getting to a point of easy recall.  I can remember a couple of points:  that language is primarily how we think, and secondarily a form of communication; and that science cannot be understood as it exists now, only used to make predictions and such (that is, quantum mechanics cannot be reduced to billiard balls, but it’s extremely useful).  Beyond that, it’s pretty much (i.e., completely) a blank even though it’s a short book that I read twice and may have reviewed the highlighting at least once.

Now, I have considered this at length before, found some comfort in the externalized memory of highlighting-as-memory, but still, when someone mentions the fact that neurons are constantly active in a “default mode,” I want to remember more than the mere fact of, “Oh, yeah, I read about that.”  I’m apparently in the situation of “no more space in the head” that native Americans speak of—though, as I said, it’s not black-and-white.  But it seems abundantly clear that if my reading doesn’t surprise or puzzle me, it might as well be unread.  My reading, as I’ve noted before, is “sifting.”  The “unimportant” words are discarded, the “important” words are highlighted and put on the shelf to be forgotten unless reviewed.  That doesn’t seem good enough, given the enormous amount of time I spend on it.  It’s like buying treasures only to put them in a storage locker.

Well, enough whining for one morning, perhaps.  But a question remains:  is there a better way to read?  Maybe I need to read How to Read a Book (Mortimer Adler).  I have no trouble remembering titles and authors, even of books I haven’t read; it’s only the actual reading that slips through my “mental fingers.”

{11/26/19}  Weight 217.2.  So, up and down finally gets me back to where I was a week ago.  Next, hopefully, is down and down.  I will do nothing special for Thanksgiving beyond perhaps a bit of ice cream.  My rules for my wp challenge are working, but I’m modifying one; that is, I have violated it and have decided it is too restrictive, the business about selecting my midday snack at breakfast time.  Also, I bought boxes of raisins and plan to eat those as a replacement for granola bars, so that will be my “standard” midday snack.

Melatonin let me down last night, resulting in my reading from around 1:00 until 3:00.  A Raw Youth continues to disappoint; 120 pages in, it still looks like a less entertaining Notes from Underground.  I doubt that I’ll last for the remaining 500 pages.  Also increasingly tiresome is Gestalt Therapy:  Excitement and Growth….  However, I think I’ll continue with a book I started yesterday, a rereading of Stanislas Dehaene:  Consciousness and the Brain:  Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts.  It was the one on the shelf that I thought was Barrett, which is actually in the bedroom.

Did some work on Kick Me, maybe just half an hour.  Given my mission statement, I need to spend more time on it.  I also had the thought, as I was coming home today from an unnecessary trip to the Beale Library, if my house burns down, I will have no copy of this oh-so-important book in progress.  Yet, I don’t know what to do about that; simplest would be to always take my thumb drive with me.  That would be the easiest solution, so maybe I’ll try to do that.  It just means taking care of what’s important, eh?

Dehaene’s book, important though I consider it, turns out to be kind of uninteresting to read a second time, so I’m just going to review the highlights.  Which means that I have an opening for another book; maybe the Kaufmann bio.  Or maybe I should just work on my own?

Yes, of course the work is “boring”; shall I let that stop me?  Most days I don’t even think about it.

Coming home, I felt totally beat; when I missed the connection to the 44, facing about a 30-minute wait, I bought mini-cookies and a diet Doctor Pepper.  These made me feel better, so I’m thinking that my lack of caffeine this morning was behind most of my lack of energy.  Well, too bad—despite my lapse today, I will be stopping sodas with caffeine.

Given how little attention my blog is drawing these days, I’m thinking that it’s time to make a change:  no more posts of whole diary entries.  It’s not worth the labor (which admittedly is minimal).  When the book is done, I’ll consider what to do with the blog.

{11/27/19}  Weight 217.0.

3:15 am.  Fuck.  Can’t sleep.

I’ve slept very little tonight, spending the past few hours (seemingly) mulling over the misery years of my childhood, from age ten to fourteen, misery for my mother, that is:  my father dead, my mother worried over lack of money, can she make the house payment (mortgage) month after dreary month.  It doesn’t bear repeating, it’s in my book, sketchily.

Reading Gestalt Therapy last night, skipping ahead to “Volume 2,” the “Introduction,” and reading this:

“With regard to the working of the organic body, there has recently been a salutary change in theory in this respect.  Many therapists now speak of ‘organismic self-regulation,’ that is, that it is not necessary deliberately to schedule, to encourage or inhibit, the promptings of appetite, sexuality, and so forth, in the interests of health or morals.  If these things are let be, they will spontaneously regulate themselves, and if they have been deranged, they will tend to right themselves.  But the suggestion of the more total self-regulation, of all the functions of the soul, including its culture and learning, its aggression and doing the work that is attractive, along with the free play of hallucination, is opposed.  The possibility that if these things are let be, in contact with the actuality, even their current derangements will tend to right themselves and come to something valuable, is met with anxiety and rejected as a kind of nihilism.  (But we reiterate that the suggestion is a spectacularly conservative one, for it is nothing but the old advice of the Tao, ‘stand out of the way.’)”  Frederick Perls, M.D., Ph. D., Ralph F. Hefferline, Ph. D., Paul Goodman, Ph. D.:  Gestalt Therapy:  Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality, The Julian Press, New York, 1951-1969 (fifth printing hardcover), p. 246-247.

Quite a turgid, arid mouthful, but it prompted me to write this comment on my bookmark:  “No.  The Hungry Brain shows the danger of spontaneity re eating.  The environment plays a major role in guiding impulses.”  In other words, if the environment offers chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies will be eaten, and likely binged on, if we act “spontaneously.”  So we have to keep cookies and pies and donuts out of our environment (homes) lest we gain weight to the point of obesity, as in my current situation.

The book is simply wrong in saying that appetites regulate themselves, because we are no longer in paleolithic times; we cannot be healthy in the sick environment we (and our ancestors) have created for ourselves.  The sick environment that leads to “derangements.”

And so I have to read books like The Hungry Brain and Lost Connections and especially The Willpower Instinct and attempt to achieve, at long last, a real self-mastery to overcome my obesity, my depression, and my lack of self-mastery, respectively.  They don’t seem to have helped my shyness.  These books did not exist ten years ago, and of course most people are not reading them.

The comment about shyness is prompted by my ineffectual “relationship” with Maureen, a desiccated but attractive old woman I often speak to, and often avoid speaking to out of shyness, at Dagny’s.  This morning I was contemplating asking her to see The Good Liar with me, and how that might work out, since she has a car and I do not.  Showtime yesterday was 3:15, so I’m guessing the same today—the cheap day for old people.  A following dinner together doesn’t seem unlikely, but given that I haven’t asked her, and it’s today I’m talking about, chances of this fantasy playing out as hoped seem fairly remote.  First, I’d have to be lucky enough to find her at Dagny’s.

There will be other times—not infinitely many, of course.  But today just doesn’t look promising.

But back to GT:  if the goal is, to use a later term, self-actualization, “be here now,” and so on, clearly there is a problem with the “derangements.”  Using the terminology of the quoted paragraph, it is necessary to inhibit the promptings of appetite somewhat in the interest of health.  “Organismic self-regulation” apparently is a myth, because evolution has not prepared us to appropriately handle the abundance of calorie-dense foods we have made available to ourselves.

Subsequent text in the book, giving it a rather cursory read-through for another page, is somewhat encouraging.  So, we’ll see.  I can’t definitively settle this question (i.e., is the book of any value to me now) this morning.

It’s raining.  That’s nice, but I wish I could hear it better.  It would help me sleep.  I’ve been up for an hour, writing this and thinking.  I have been paid, but it’s too early to go anywhere.  I need to get groceries, a cartload, so I’ll probably go to MacDonald’s for breakfast and be back by 7:30 or so.  Then I want to go to Barnes & Noble to get the Videohound’s Golden Movie Retriever, 2020 edition—surely they have it now?  Browse, get on the Internet and try to control my buying.

I need a current book on shyness, the thing that has, essentially, ruined my life.  Can’t I learn brazenness from Fritz?  All I do is long for it, as I long for so many things, mostly women.  “I need to learn to be aggressive with women, if I wanna get me one” is the thought that comes up.  Or, I need to find the current equivalent of the personal ads of forty years ago.  It’s odd that I stopped running ads while I was living in Pasadena, desperately lonely.

So I went out in rather heavy rain to have breakfast at McD’s and get groceries, then later without my umbrella and spent $121.70 at Barnes & Noble to get six books:

  • Ellen Hendriksen, Ph. D.: How to Be Yourself
  • Daniel Gilbert: Stumbling on Happiness
  • Rolf Dobelli: The Art of the Good Life
  • E. Thomas: Confessions of a Sociopath
  • Randolph M. Nesse, M.D.: Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
  • Videohound’s Golden Movie Retriever

The first is about “social anxiety,” which is the new name for social phobia and the basic reason I went to B&N; the next two are just general self-help books, but they looked good; the Thomas is for possible help with Kick Me (i.e., did I have antisocial personality disorder?); and the Nesse is about “evolutionary psychology” and the only one that takes a scientific approach.

I didn’t get on the Internet today, though I took my computer with me.  After a lot of browsing at the bookstore, I was just ready to go home.  After reading Hendriksen and Thomas, I got very bored and listless, and dozed for half an hour.  Reading some of Nesse and eating my ice cream sandwich cheered me up.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and buses don’t run, so I’ll be stuck at home.

{11/28/19}  Weight 216.6 at 4:40 am.  Woo hoo!

So, almost seven hours of uninterrupted sleep after one day without caffeine.  Why did it take so long to think of that obvious first step?

A week of HBO and Cinemax and stuff.  Watched maybe the first half of Aquaman, and turned it off at that point because it was so awful.  The man himself is good, but the story just sucks.  I expect it will have its fans among the younger set, like thirteen-year-old boys.  But, seriously, drinking and driving?  Heavy drinking for amusement value?  No and No.  The CGI is overblown; Atlantis would have looked better if it were closer to, say, Asgard.  Some of the effects are good.  But it’s just too corny and preposterous for me.

Today was dismal, as I mostly watched TV and kept looking for movies to watch but finding little of much interest.  I watched Hail, Caesar! and mostly enjoyed it, but I suppose the highlight of the day was watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the commentary on (John Cleese, Eric Idle, and one other).  The lowlight of the day was Problem Child 2, which I sorta watched with the sound off.  It was incredibly stupid, apparently a satire of things like Home Alone or other movies where the smart kid continually outsmarts the adults—in this one, the adults acted like children and the children acted like sociopaths.  Maybe I can be a bit smarter tomorrow.

{11/29/19}  Weight 216.8.  The last time my weight was as high as 218 was eleven days ago.  Can I lose a pound by tomorrow?

Um, not the way I’ve been eating today.

{11/30/19}  Weight 217.0.

Well, stopping my caffeine intake has greatly improved my sleeping pattern.  Now I wake up once at 3:00, pee, and go right back to sleep.  Last night was different in that I woke at 10:30 and 11:30, not to pee, went to sleep readily, woke at 3:00, peed, and eventually got back to sleep until 5:30.  Bad as this would have seemed a few months ago, now it’s pretty acceptable, and it is eight hours.

What about my blog?  I was on the Internet quite some time yesterday and didn’t post, haven’t posted in more than a week.  Given how little attention my posts get these days, generally between one and two viewers, with never a comment, despite having 77 “followers,” it seems a waste of time.  Not a lot of time, but still.  Perhaps cartoons will help, though the one I posted with a cartoony-drawing got no more attention than the others.

Of course, I want to work on cartooning for my present and any future books, but I haven’t done much yet.

More troubling, I suppose, is my seeming reluctance to do much reading these days.  Well, stopping the caffeine is going to take some getting used to, perhaps that’s a factor.

The Man Who Invented Christmas was a lot of fun for a while, but got a little over-dramatic (hammy) towards the end.  Still, got me choked up a number of times, and that’s always good.  Also a partial pleasure was Skyline, an older movie that I had on DVD but somehow missed watching.  An alien invasion with, eventually, good special effects but some of the most annoying characters I’ve every had to suffer through.  The women did entirely too much screaming, and the ending also was a downer.  But above all, the dialogue was lacking, usually the most obvious mark of a poor script—the people don’t act realistically.

{12/1/19}  Weight 217.2.  Same weight as on 11/21.  I’m supposed to be losing weight.  Unfortunately, I succumbed yesterday to the siren song of ice cream sandwiches, bought a dozen, and ate two.  Well, I seem to be solidly at 217.x, which is a loss, but not yet at my rather modest goal of 215 for the year.

Hemlock Club today.  Pablo told me that J had a run-in with a Dagny’s employee, and although he isn’t banned, he intends to stay away for a month…to punish them?

Well, I’m at the HC and a newcomer, John, showed up.  He has a lot of ideas about a nonprofit project he wants to work on, making a kind of project and home for veterans, organic farming for food and $$, too much to go into.  A lot of it sounds practical and possible, and a lot sounds like pure wishful thinking.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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