Gifted: Diary, 3/7 to 3/9/22

New approach to Pablo; four-hour food shopping; drinking liquid nitrogen; books arrived; “Beyond Vietnam” from MLK; “love fantasy” writing; sleep disruptions; tearjerker DVD; PORTION CONTROL!

Mckenna Grace with Chris Evans in Gifted (2017)

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved


During a visit from Pablo yesterday he read one of the printouts I’d prepared regarding our recent dispute over Noam Chomsky and his take on the invasion of Ukraine.  He essentially had nothing to say in response.  Good.

Left home this morning at 9:30 to buy groceries and get cash.  I returned home at 1:15, so three hours and forty-five minutes.  All the buses did their thing to make me wait twenty minutes, then thirty minutes, then twenty minutes, then another twenty minutes or more.  Very annoying.  This was somewhat unexpected; the 22 bus normally ran every fifteen minutes during the relevant part of the day, but lately they’ve been on the weekend schedule, running every thirty minutes, because Bakersfield hates poor people.

Had a dream (or waking dream) this morning about drinking liquid nitrogen and what it would do to a person’s body; recalled the story, maybe from the Roman Empire, maybe from Herodotus, about someone forced…ah, just remembered, it was the Triumvir Crassus, forced to drink molten gold after his defeat in the East.  It’s hard to say which would be the more awful death.

There was a second dream, but since I didn’t write it down, it’s quite forgotten at this point.  Small loss.

The posting of “Astronomy for Writers” to my blog has generally increased traffic there; I think it’s been downloaded twelve times.  Also getting a bit more attention is “The Bleak Philosophy,” a ragged collection of notes published a few years ago; I’m glad to see that, because all my other efforts are nothing much compared to this (also nothing much).

Most of my diary entries accumulate about ten views, though it might take a few months to get to that number; on the day of publication, four to six views is the most common result, and that happens within like a minute.  I should try “reblogging” these things, whatever that is.

Shipment of three books and a Blue-Ray arrived today.  This always cheers me up, though of course it again exacerbates my shelf overload.  Yesterday I decided that I want to read MLK’s speech from 1967, called “Beyond Vietnam” on my usual media platform (Free Speech TV), though it has a different name in the book I have.  I mention it here because the new arrivals led to some shelf reshuffling.  The Blue-Ray is of Gifted, see below for review.

Still writing and rewriting the “love fantasy” that I’ve been working on for (lately) a couple of weeks.  A lot of stuff I’ll end up throwing away, but the point is not efficiency but some other thing, like entertainment and happiness, perhaps.  TLC: A Love Fantasy is my “working title,” though publication seems an idle dream.

You just never know.

Looking through the Writer’s Market book, hoping to find a home for Kick Me, is depressing.  My best idea is to dump it on a somewhat-randomly selected agent and see what happens.  At least I’m thinking about it, which is better than not thinking about it.  Sort of my typical approach to “finally getting something done.”

“Spock out” for now.

Made the mistake of turning in at 9:45 because I was so sleepy.  Woke at 11:30 to pee, got out of bed at 12:15, and now it’s 1:30.

Grace sans teeth

Watched the Blue-Ray Gifted (2017) in the evening and loved it.  It has a good reputation but it’s better than that (i.e., hilarious and heartwarming), though those who despise “tear jerkers” will want to give this a pass.  Chris Evans (“Captain America”) and Mckenna Grace are terrific together as uncle with adopted orphan niece.  Grace (age 9) plays “Mary,” the said niece, a first grader who is a mathematical genius; the actress who is really excellent here has gone on to a very busy career.  Octavia Spencer is good in a virtual stereotype as brassy overweight black lady; Lindsay Duncan, however, is a revelation in the unsympathetic role of controlling grandmother (Evans’s mother).  The script, fortunately, gives these veterans (and newcomer Grace) plenty to work with, though in all-too-typical situations.  The dialogue, fortunately, is very good and often hilarious.  Even Jenny Slate is appealing as Grace’s teacher and Evans’s romantic interest, an unnecessary but not unwelcome subplot.  The “making of” 15-minute featurette was good, though several other extras used mostly the same footage.  Don’t miss the deleted scenes if you like the movie—some strong stuff there that deserved a better fate.  Rotten Tomatoes has scores of 73% and 85% from critics and audiences, respectively.

I’m adding a second picture of Mckenna Grace to show her as she looks in the movie; almost all the photos of her online include a nice set of incisors that are missing in the movie. It’s not a big point, it’s just irritating.


I can draw some larger lessons from the tiff with Pablo last week.  He provided me with a criticism of Noam Chomsky by his translator regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  I, in essence, immediately counterattacked—why?  Did Chomsky need me to defend him?  Obviously not.  Did I feel personally attacked because Pablo brought to my attention this criticism?  Yes, but that was unreasonable on the face of it.  His subsequent comment, lumping Chomsky with Greenwald and Taibbi as assholes all, was clearly a more concerted effort to “get” me—why?  And how should this be handled in future?

The “why” is important.  I think that Pablo constantly feels “one down” to me, in the “Gamesmanship” sense, so he tries to accomplish parity or a one-up state.  Rather than challenging him every time, suppose instead I respond noncommittally with “You may be right,” or “I’ll take a look.”  The last thing I need, or Pablo needs, is to win another argument against him—not that he’s ever going to admit defeat (except in the bitterness of his heart).  He is a sick man, and I am not helping by “trying to teach him critical thinking”—if that’s what I’m doing (in the most charitable spin I could put on it).  Instead I need to think, and to act on, compassion.

This quote probably helped me to the above conclusions: “The meaning of his doings is not hatred for me, but sickness in him; and what I do must help him get better.”  It’s from Adrian Young: “How Sane is ‘Sane’?” in Language, Meaning and Maturity: Selections from ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, 1943-1953, S. I. Hayakawa (ed.), Harper & Brothers, New York, 1954, page 330, emphasis omitted.

Second important observation:  today I had a light breakfast and a lighter lunch, plus a nap, and then it’s 2:30 (I had gone to a meeting with Dr. X at 10:00).  I puttered around with something or other, had a Boost for the protein because previous eating had been woeful regarding this nutrient, and finally proceeded to eat “everything in sight,” an exaggeration.  In fact, much of what I ate after the protein shake was reasonable.  I was not hungry, but naturally drifted in the direction of dessert, in the shape of a partially-consumed pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream.  With this I binged, finishing off the pint (which was probably about ¾ of the pint).  This was an unfortunate ending.  The idea I now have is, PORTION CONTROL!  Hardly original, and what I’m doing with Cheetos; I need to extend the practice and the rule to all bingeworthy foods, which depends a lot on how they’re packaged.  A bag of Cheetos and a pint of ice cream have no natural stopping places, unlike a Boost shake or a string cheese.  So the “Cheetos rule” now applies to all such temptations:  if I don’t take a portion, but instead sit down to consume directly from the container, that container goes right into the trash, unconsumed!  A hard rule, but it’s been working with Cheetos (though I often have two portions, and sometimes three, each one smaller than the previous).

Caught the end of a Nova show about “fat.”  Obesity will not be “cured” by exercise or starvation diets—no surprise there.  In fact, I have no particular take-away, and I mention it only because it might have helped me come up with the new rule.  I may even have been eating the ice cream as I watched the show.

It’s also worth a mention that after I had finished a “portion” and then some, I looked in the bottom of the pint and reasoned thus:  “I’ve already had too much, there’s only a little left, I might as well finish it.”  Bad, bad, bad reasoning; I’d have done better to think, “I’ve already had too much, there’s only a little left, shouldn’t I throw it away?”  End of sermon.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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