The Odds of Friendship and Other Jokes

Diary 5/14 to 5/15/22: Blog name change; Rosetta Stone package; social isolation; I’m 1 in 1000; trackpad problem solved; crazy kids; Hemlock Club meeting; future prospects; a couple of jokes.

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

{5/14/22} Continued from “Bans Off Our Bodies” and “Against Mysticism.”

Changed the name of my blog to “The World Needs You.”  Now I need to post an essay on that theme.


I tried to install the Rosetta Stone “Français” software, and got most of the way through before it had a fatal error or something.  I bought this for $2.50, or about 0.5% of what the package would cost new, so, as a gamble.  It requires a subscription, and French is about third on the list of languages I “want to learn” (this is rarely serious enough to last more than a week), so, meh.

Thom Hartmann, one of the people I watch regularly on Free Speech TV, is not good with arithmetic.  I’ve noticed this before.  So, feet of clay, just like everyone.  He’s not a college graduate, but if you can’t do simple math by the time you get there, are you ever going to learn it?  Despite his spotty education, he has published an enviable number of books (and I don’t mean >1; more like 20…though, in my case, >1 is “enviable”).

So, today’s Sunday; I won’t be going anywhere unless my probation officer comes by to arrest me.  No reason to expect that.  “I’ve been good.”

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Isolation and loneliness are a serious problem for me right now, and have been for about 5/7 of my life [I’m 75].  Thinking this morning that I am on the extremes of society in so many ways:  vegan (with fish), on probation, radically progressive politically, sexually pervert, an atheist growing more militant every year, and don’t have a car…and living in Bakersfield is exactly the wrong place in California to be progressive:  what are the odds of my connecting with some passable and not-totally-boring woman?  Given that I’ve hardly been trying, and have lousy hookup skills and have had all my life, I’m not very hopeful.

But, rather than staying home today, I could go to the Bakersfield Senior Center and be bored there for twenty minutes before heading home.  I should do this (checking first to see if they’re open) and at least see what kind of activities are available.  Supposed to be hot today, maybe I’ll shoot for ten o’clock. [Uh, it’s already 10. Tomorrow.]

Three million people are on probation in the U.S., and another 800,000 (I think) on parole; let’s say 10%.  3% of the population is vegan, I think 5% vegetarian, 2% pescatarian; adding these together makes, again, 10%.  And “According to the Pew Research Center in a 2014 survey, self-identified “atheists” make up 3.1% of the US population, even though 9% of Americans agreed with the statement “Do not believe in God” while 2% agreed with the statement “Do not know if they believe in God”.” per Wikipedia.  14%.  So, .1 x .1 x .14 = 0.0014, or 0.1% of the population (one in a thousand) have these characteristics.  This omits politics and other factors I consider insignificant for reasons too tedious to explain.  I’m not statistician enough to figure out how many women I would need to get to the point of discussing religion, etc., to have a 50-50 chance of   connecting to that degree; but given my rate of even talking to women of suitable age is about one per year, I need to change my approach.

I can do this much:  say, “Hi, how ya doin’?” to every woman of suitable age and weight that I encounter.  (My days of dating women who outweigh me by 50 pounds are in the past…unless I see her reading a philosophy book.)

In truth, I don’t insist on a woman—it’s not like sex is the motive here.

As Thoreau says, “I’m far from jesting.”  We don’t believe him, either.

Now this…

A problem solved:  ever since buying this laptop, and the previous one, I’ve been driven half mad by the unwanted trackpad-button clicks that happen as I type.  So I just pried the trackpad buttons off my laptop.  Some nasty-looking white particles and greasiness under there, I suppose it’s dead skin.  This is not a perfect solution, because even touching the trackpad can lead to annoying things; but it’s the clicks that can make me exclaim.  I could do this fix because a few months ago I bought a wireless mouse, which works perfectly.  (Logitech.)  I also have a thin piece of cardboard that I place over the trackpad to cut down some of the irritation; using both seems to be the perfect solution.  (Actually not perfect.)

Trackpad problem solved

Regarding “philosophy discussion” and the inadequacy of the Hemlock Club to satisfy this itch, no sooner do I mention it here than someone shows up, apparently wanting to open a dialogue.  Unfortunately, I’m “simple-minded” while he(?) is “muddle-headed,” in Whitehead’s useful terms (described here).  How am I supposed to fit his broad, vague generalizations under my analytical microscope?  His blog has over 400 followers (I have 142).

I previously noted [in “Roe! etc.”] this from Neuroscience News:  “Children with ADHD and emotional regulation disorders who consumed a micronutrient formal [formula?] made of essential minerals and vitamins were three times more likely to show improvements in symptoms compared to those who did not consume the formula.”  Link to the article.

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I mention it again because it occurs to me that this could well have been an issue in my youth, especially after the death of my father when I was ten.  My adolescence was comparatively awful for me and my mother.  I was socially isolated (a lifelong problem) and basically a brat (ditto), and extremely unhappy (now not so much).  I looked up the statistics (from the CDC):

ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Estimates for ever having a diagnosis among children aged 3-17 years, in 2016-19, are given below.

ADHD 9.8% (approximately 6.0 million)

Anxiety 9.4% (approximately 5.8 million)

Behavior problems 8.9% (approximately 5.5 million)

Depression 4.4% (approximately 2.7 million)

Together these add to about 35%; yesterday I heard a figure of 41% or 45% (didn’t write it down, sorry) which was alarming enough that I wanted to check it.  I have previously considered here the likelihood of my having Asperger’s Syndrome in childhood; here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

“…a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It was said to differ from other forms of ASD by relatively unimpaired language and intelligence.”

Last year I said, “I could be ‘on the spectrum,’ but I’ve never had the more severe symptoms; or, so I conclude.”  The link has a few paragraphs of quotes from a book that tells the history of the Asperger diagnosis [the book is Neurotribes].

I guess I have no additional conclusions; I was looking for one and failed.  My counselor told me, because I asked, that she considers me “mentally healthy.”  I do, too.

So yesterday was the two-man version of the Hemlock Club, the other being Nog.  I was rude and got involved in the poker game for about half an hour, but then we talked about a printout I gave him of my “new idea” that “The World Needs You.”  This was part of yesterday’s blog post plus my “Ten Percent Solution” of Friday.  I had also given the document to Dr. Hill, and she read it, nodding throughout (in agreement, not dozing!).  Nog approved also.  I didn’t make any notes during or since the meeting, so I can’t say what else we talked about.

After about three hours we went to Lassen’s where Nog bent my ear about various nutritional supplements; I bought a jar of psyllium husks because I had read about it in my prison diary, that it had solved my constipation problem.  We had lunch on the cocoanut date rolls and dried pineapple that I had also bought.  Mikey had given me a $20 “donation” for the Pathfinder materials I’ve been wanting to get rid of; as I told him, “I’ve never been known for turning down money,” so I wasn’t worried about spending when my account balance is low (ten days until payday).

Then we went to my bus stop; the bus was late; I called bus information and was informed, “There are no buses in the next 30 minutes.” My back was hurting from sitting for hours in uncomfortable wooden chairs and I was more than a little cranky.  So I decided to go into Barnes & Noble to kill time [Nog tagged along].

I ended up buying a cheap new book (everything I looked at with interest was $25 or more for slim hardbacks), Martin Rees:  On the Future:  Prospects for Humanity, for $12.61 in paperback.  He seems to think that there are prospects.  Then I headed home, sans Nog.

On the bus I was reading Bertrand Russell:  Unpopular Essays, the “first philosophy book I ever read” (in my twenties).  It’s very entertaining and useful; I’ll have quotes perhaps tomorrow.

To end this account of yesterday’s doings:  I managed to come up with a couple of one-liners (profanity ahead):

“Shit locally.”  That’s it.

Talking to myself I said, “Do these chips have too much sodium?  Na.”

Nog laughed out loud at the first one; I didn’t tell him the second.  Anyone needing an explanation of either is urged to request it in a comment or via email.  Y’all are welcome to use these on Twitter or wherever; an accompanying link to this post would be very gratifying.

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

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