Diary, 1/15 to 1/23/21

Copyright 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{1/15/21}  Weight 207.8 at 6:00 am.

Almost two hours of “work” this morning, dictating and editing prison diary pages.  Some good stuff from Maslow and me regarding models and mysteries.

{1/16/21}  Weight 208.8 at 5:30 am.  Bought Cheetos, ate Cheetos, ‘nuff said.

{1/17/21}  Weight 209.0 at 5:30 am.  Oh, no!

Watched The Searchers yesterday, in part because Videohound gives it four bones and says it might be the greatest western ever.  I don’t think so—not enough action, and too much corn.  My favorite western, thus “the best ever,” has to be The Magnificent Seven.

87% of Republicans approve of Donald Trump’s performance as President.  Assholes.

A longtime Twitter friend has blocked me.  [Identification omitted.]  Why did he block me?  I wanted to copy here the tweets involved, but Twitter is being recalcitrant.  Essentially it’s this:  someone accused Obama and Bush (junior) of being “war criminals” and I essentially agreed with him.  [He] questioned this, I replied approximately as follows:  “Wars in the Middle East, drone strikes, CIA covert operations that I know little about, etc.  Are these actions defensible?  Do you really want *my* answer?”  And that was the end of that.  I believe he has blocked me before, so I’m guessing that he will cool off and come back, though not necessarily to do more than excoriate me or argue.

{1/18/21}  Weight 208.8 at 5:30 am.

I need to make many tedious phone calls regarding bills and such, but refuse to do any of them today; fortunately, today is a holiday, so I have a good excuse.  The real reason was anxiety, which I’m inclined to call childish; but we’ll see what I do tomorrow.

It’s irritating that I don’t seem to have much to say in the diary these days.  In part it’s because my days are consumed with the events in Washington.  But being involved with Twitter is another large part.

And then there’s “dopamine addiction,” i.e., my normal activities are too entertaining, giving me “too much” dopamine, thus leading to avoidance of less rewarding activities such as making unpleasant but necessary phone calls.  This is according to a You Tube video about “Dopamine Detox.”  The idea is to set yourself up with days of boredom, thus making routine and tiresome tasks more rewarding, or to deny yourself, on one day a week, the one thing you find most pleasurable, to ramp up the attractiveness of other pastimes and such.  It is the latter plan that I want to try.  Saturday might be the easiest day, given that Saturday news is generally worthless.  Maybe I should choose the hardest day, Sunday, when the KPFK programs are most desired (Alan Watts, Antiwar Radio, Economic Update, Beneath the Surface, Background Briefing, and The Ralph Nader Radio Hour).  But my thinking is confused here—my plan is not to deny myself all self-indulgences on the chosen day, which would be the one-time detox, but weekly to deny myself the “worst abuse,” let’s call it:  the Internet.  And for this, I think perhaps Saturday would be best.

Why not the one-time detox?  Because I had plenty of that in prison.  I was so bored one month (in quarantine with COVID) that I memorized the periodic table of the elements and the Presidents of the U.S., read the same novel three times (R. F. Delderfield:  To Serve Them All My Days), and attempted to learn the bishop & knight mate (unsuccessfully—I was able to do it about half the time, saw some patterns, but never quite got the hang of a routine solution).

Ate too many Cheetos today, so I had a light dinner.  Hoping for a push.

{1/19/21}  Weight 209.6 at 4:45 am.  Drat.

So, no Internet today?  Already blew that intention.  Shutting it down at 6:05.

Actually, that’s tomorrow I meant to do that.  Every Wednesday.  I’m thinking, however, that I’ll want to shut off the TV also.  So Wednesdays from now on are to be “media-free days.”  Electronic media, that is.  Music?  Music is okay because it won’t keep me from doing the things I need to do.  Unshutting.

Contemplating the phone calls I need to make, to Social Security, White Memorial hospital, and others, I feel an absurd amount of anxiety.  Why, in nada’s name?

Wrote the following to Nicky Van de Beek after watching her You Tube video about her reading:

Good show, Nicky. Twenty-five best out of 900+! I’ve read most of them if you leave out the Dutch ones. Don’t know that I’d give them all five stars…I prefer Orwell’s 1984 over Animal Farm, but I’ll give the latter another try someday, perhaps. I read very little fiction these days, being very focused on NF, psychology and philosophy and self-help. In part this is for research.

Here’s my “top five” which I selected some years ago; these days I might have a different set, though I think Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Thoreau’s Walden, Emerson’s Self-Reliance (an essay, not a book), and Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living would perhaps all make the new list. The only one I’d likely drop is Tolstoy’s My Religion; it’s curious…until I reread my list on my blog website, I thought I had listed Tolstoy’s Confession (also published as My Confession), and was very surprised to see My Religion instead. Tolstoy’s religion is a version of Christianity. I’ve read Walden more than twenty times, starting when I was seventeen. I like to blame it for ruining my life by encouraging my fecklessness. I find Thoreau congenial and amusing, with enough of a dark side to appeal to that part of me as well. But I haven’t read Walden in six or seven years and perhaps it’s just as well that I don’t.

I should also mention Albert Camus: The Stranger, which I’ve read fourteen times, which is about seven iterations more than whatever might be third on the list. I find it compelling, but don’t ordinarily recommend it because it’s rather bleak.

These days I’m very enthusiastic about three nonfiction books: Kelly McGonigal: The Willpower Instinct; Johan Hari: Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression–and the Unexpected Solutions; and Ryder Carroll: The Bullet Journal Method.

I’ve been thinking that these three books together offer, or can offer, self-mastery. Self-mastery has been my goal for most of my life, and I’ve never felt close to it until reading these books and applying some of their lessons. Lost Connections provided guidance on some important life-goals; Willpower Instinct provided guidance on how to master oneself to pursue those goals; The Bullet Journal provides a method and structure for using a notebook to increase one’s day-to-day and year-to-year efficiency and organization.

Sorry to go on so long.

Alan Nicoll

Mostly her twenty-five books (those she gave five stars on Goodreads) are over-familiar:  Salinger, Steinbeck, Austen, Orwell and so on, or else something I’ve never heard of, and almost all novels.  The most interesting, perhaps, were Maus and Maus II, which I’ve read.

I had second thoughts, deleted all of the above except the first paragraph, and added this:

I had a much longer comment, about my favorites, but I’ve deleted most of it–this isn’t really the place for it. This is your show.

I also added a comment that I’d replace My Religion with The Brothers Karamazov.

Jimmy Dore’s premium video today was depressing:  he and his guest, Jordan something, were saying that owners of MSM and Silicon Valley (social media platforms) are in bed with the government to push the official story in all things, and censor everything else.  It was pretty convincing, especially regarding the guest’s story of malfeasance in the Flint water disaster and his inability to get the story published.  Their conclusion, essentially, was that nobody is doing journalism any more.

{1/20/21}  Weight 208.6 at 6:45 am.

{1/21/21}  Weight 208.2 at 6:30 am.

Opening my Prison Diary 2 file, I find that it’s a month old and twenty pages of dictation are missing.  Microsoft’s “One Drive” messes with my head and my files.  It’s intended to be transparent and a safeguard; it’s the exact opposite, obscure and a booby trap.  Yet I can’t seem to shut it off—any power failure risks losing my work despite my constantly “saving” it.

Seeking a remedy, I found more recent versions of the file and so restored the missing pages.  So, the file was saved, but the file on my desktop was the old version.  I hate computers.

A productive day, finally:  I called Social Security, Medicare, and White Memorial, trying to move things along re my medical bills and February income payment.  Anxiety has delayed my making these calls.  Why was today different?  What can I do about anxiety in the future?  Answer:  start by reviewing Hari’s book.  I did make a priority list, also:  Bills; Work; News/politics.  Since I had bills first, it sort of pushed me to begin to begin—which is unfair, because I have in fact made efforts previously.  But I waited too long, and now things are beginning to fall apart there, putting on some pressure which can only build in the many weeks it will take to get Social Security/Medicare straightened out.  I should get even more proactive, and call all the others who are waiting.  Letting things go to collection agencies would be bad.  There’s no time like the present, but I’m not going to just yet.  Maybe after dinner?

{1/22/21}  Weight 208.6 at 7:15 am.

S has unblocked me and is again following me on Twitter, due to the influence of Pablo.  That’s good, but there will be issues again between us because nothing has been resolved.

{1/23/21}  Weight 208.0 at 7:15 am.

Had a lengthy, two-part discussion with Pablo yesterday, often heated, on Glenn Greenwald, “Russiagate,” and other such topics, but we managed to avoid shedding blood.  He’s willing to grant that we (the U.S.) are propagandized, that the government lies to us, but he wonders why I distrust the FBI, the CIA, and the Democrats.  It’s called “consistency.”

Listened to a vital hour-long discussion with Chris Hedges, How Republicans, Democrats, and the Media Have Weakened US Democracy, at:

A vast understanding of how we got here and the bleak future we face; I need to listen to this often if I want to understand anything.  I also started reading Thom Hartmann:  The Hidden History of American Oligarchy last night.  We are doomed; the only thing Hedges could suggest is impossible to me:  basically, shut it all down, take to the streets and create chaos.  “Mass sustained civil disobedience” is how he expressed it.  “Mass civil disrup­tion.”  This does not offer hope, on the contrary, this is terrifying.  I’ll have to listen again and take notes, but I have other priorities right now, specifically, dealing with bills and grocery shopping.

I printed out and read the ten pages of Towards Secular Salvation.  It’s sketchy; at one point I wrote in the margin, “Off topic,” then added a question mark.  I don’t know where I’m going with it.

Sent a letter to N and five others to people billing me; started late and so gave up on groceries for today.  Pablo also came by and our argument continued.  I was pretty relentless, saying that “we’re the bad guys,” which he couldn’t accept, but neither could he deny my reasons.  There’s not really a lot of point to this—if I persuade him, then what?  There’s nowhere to go with it.  Better for him if I let him “live in his fool’s paradise.”

Copyright 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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