New Directions

It’s clear that I’ve been neglecting this blog. I’ll confess that Facebook and Tumblr have been my main ‘sticky traps’, attenuating my long thoughts, and getting me stuck on a scrolling treadmill of increasingly trivial and fractional things. Maybe it’s true that using the Internet screws with your brain.

Of late, though, I find myself craving less screen and rabbit-hole time, and more book, music curating, and thinky-time. Several factors have been part of this: Gordon White’s Rune Soup, and my fellow Mages. And Star Trek Beyond and its buildup. Beyond will be ‘behind’ in a couple of weeks, but the metaphysical side is only growing.

My magickal peers will probably agree that things have really been busting out of the stupid box of late. And my personal hunch is that things will get worse before they get better. This Rune Soup podcast with astrologer Austin Coppock goes into some deep detail about how unprecedented the events of this year have been- and it isn’t over. Let’s just say that August is going to be very interesting. Stay on your toes…

Gordon’s book “The Chaos Protocols” gets into some interesting stuff involving modern day Chaos Magick. Suffice it to say that this sub-genre of metaphysics has been maturing and becoming more refined. It’s no longer the ‘see what sticks’ mentality of the 80s and 90s. I highly recommend it- even if you’re not a Chaote.

One thing it has done has been to reboot my own interest in magick, and finally climb back into the saddle. I ditched the whole lot about a decade ago- walking away from bullies, charlatans and the public side of things. I still have no desire to become a public figure, and have shelved the idea of a podcast, YouTube channel, livestream, or any other overt interface with the public beyond a blog. I’ve also decided to turn off commenting on this blog, mostly because of spam and malware propogation. WordPress does a pretty good job of keeping it at bay, but I’m sick of the spam. But I’ve also accepted that I am truly an introvert and prefer to maintain my privacy. I am in no way a guru or advisor, or high poobah, nor do I wish to be. I prefer to maintain a low profile, and occasionally share things I’ve learned. I’m the Teacher Who Appears… and disappears.

I do want to get back to real writing, not just little posts on a very deeply locked-down Facebook. Hopefully, that’ll mean more goodies here for you to read and enjoy.

Stay safe and sane, folks.

July 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Leaving the Comfort Zone

“Resistance is futile…” I hear that a lot- from various people, companies, etc- when I am faced with what appears to be one of those juggernauts of inevitablity. You know- stuff like getting on Facebook, getting an Apple device, or even upgrading to a new operating system.

I tend to resist such things, mostly because, as an experienced techie, I know what kind of problems can happen when something brand new hits the real world, and people flock to it. Nowdays, everything being released is technically a late-beta, and not quite ready for prime time. I’ve learned it generally takes from 6 to 18 months for a new thing to truly find its feet, and if it’s a hardware thing- like a TV or tablet, 1 to 3 years for it to fall in price and rise in features to where I really want to get it. I prefer to hang back, and truly believe that “She who hesistates gets the better price- and item.”

Resisting popular juggernauts is not fun, though- there’s always that pressure to hop on the bandwagon, the old ‘why are you being so resistant?’ kind of thing. Again, waiting is the prudent thing to do, simply because when one thing pops up, quite a few others like it follow, and the subsequent squabbles over price, features, etc will refine all of them, and the best one will finally reveal itself.

It took me some time to finally hop on the Facebook bandwagon. I still refuse to use its battery and resource hogging mobile apps, though. Even on the tablet, I use the Safari-based version, because I can kill it when I need to. Too, with tablets, it took me four (or is it five) iterations of the iPad to come- and go- before I finally got mine.I still like it- it’s actually become an Essential Item. I have Windows 10 on two computers- with one pending, mostly because I don’t want to lose certain features that Windows 7 has.

Music is another thing I’ve taken my own sweet time subscribing to. I prefer to collect and curate physical media, and will continue to do so. But I am also interested in doing some minimalist style DJing, using my iPad- and need to join a streaming service. Spotify seems to be the one I’ll use, although I’ll still download and curate music from Beatport and Amazon. I still haven’t messed with iTunes- it’s not quite my thing… yet. Yes, I am still resisting. And apparently, so is Apple, not letting Spotify update their app to work better with the latest iOS updates. Petty.

Here’s the thing about resisting- some of it is prudent- you don’t want iTunes to trash your carefully curated music collection. And I will admit that some of my own hesitation is exactly things like that- seeing things I am familiar and comfortable with, like what the keys on Apple’s popup keyboard look like- change to something a little… off. Sure, I’ll get used to the changes, but right now, I’m not happy with it. I’ve had updates utterly trash my stuff, which is why I believe whole-heartedly in backing stuff up.

Scientists and psychologists say that people are comfortable with the familiar. Yet, at the same time, we crave novelty- and a lot of stress we experience is due to a clash between our desire for familiar comfort, and our desire for novelty. A lot of what we think is ‘novel’ is just a variation on a familiar, comfortable theme. A lot of angst happens when something that is familiar or comfortable gets jerked out of that zone, and made truly novel. And as we get older, we find ourselves resisting true novelty a lot more. Our musical tastes jell by our mid-thirties. Our personal style and clothing choices, food and living styles also jell in our twenties and thirties. Think about it- your weekend or off-work wardrobe is probably not terribly different today than it was in your twenties. Fabric and footwear choices, what you reach for when you want to be ‘yourself’- were forged back in your early adulthood. Any changes in that routine would probably be met with great resistance, especially if imposed from outside. Sometimes those changes are good- grown men shouldn’t wear toddler-shorts (which is what cargo shorts look like) and grown women shouldn’t dress like 12-year olds. Maturity means skipping the juniors department (footwear included!), and asking your dermatologist what to clean your face with. Not Stridex!

Leaving the comfort zone isn’t easy, but it is often necessary for growth and wisdom to truly accumulate. I’m probably an outlier because I have very little music from my teens and twenties- best hits of the 70s and 80s. I don’t listen to it at all. (Probably because of the unfortunate memories it brings…) Instead, I enjoy listening to new and unusual music- dance, ambient, house, etc. My sister once complained that she didn’t recognize a single song I played when she visited, and didn’t know who half the artists were in my collection. I consider that an accomplishment. She also didn’t like the new Taylor Swift album- because she was so used to country music. OTOH, I loved it, and happily re-homed the CD. Conversely, I cannot stand country music, mostly for the unfortunate memories it also brings. And new country? Nope, no, nuh-uh.

As I go through the transition into true middle age, I am leaving that comfort zone of assumed youth. My aches and pains tell me that I am no longer young. My body lets me know when I am doing something stupid. But even as I leave one stage of life and enter another, I feel resistance. Today, I ask myself why I am resisting. How can I make the transition to another state smoother? What new things am I not experiencing because I am too used to doing familiar things? I can still learn, grow, experience.

I am learning how to read my stress, and understand its sources and causes. I am understanding that change causes me to have anxiety, desire procrastination, and get distracted. I also understand that once I bust through the anxiety stage and take the first steps, it becomes easier. Change itself becomes comfortable, or at least bearable. I’m changing a part of my house- the utility room. Right now, a wall is gone, studs are showing, and I am awaiting people to come do things like plumbing, electricity, and drywall. I may have to get a new laundry set. Someone has to jack my floor to run a pipe. This is terrifying, but in the end, I’ll have a nice walk-in pantry with laundry. Mindfulness of the source of the discomfort helps to make it more bearable. I have to keep the end-goal in sight.

Change is often a good thing. Busting out of your comfort zone can reveal lots of cool new things. Resistance is sometimes necessary- if only to get your bearings, but there’s a point when you have to let go- and grow.

July 10, 2016 at 11:47 am

New year, new directions

We’re on the threshold of 2016, and a lot of people tend to make resolutions around this time.

I’m not one of them. My ‘new year’ is my birthday, and I generally hit ‘restart’ on things around then. And, to be honest, most resolutions are for things that are difficult, if not impossible to keep.

Still, in contemplating things I’ve wanted to do in the past, their success, and things I want to do in the future, New Years is about as good a time as any. Instead of resolutions, I’ve created and established habits. And this has worked for me. I’ve stopped spending too much money, improved my health, built up savings, and improved my life in many ways by changing or establishing new habits.

Establishing new habits or maintaining older ones is not a bad thing, if they’re beneficial for one’s life. I need to reestablish a habit- going to the gym and doing strength training, because my old gym closed, then I hurt my shoulder and ankle, and didn’t establish myself in a new gym. Going to the gym regularly helps to keep my weight down, which is not a bad thing.  And I need to break some habits, too- like deleting things I’ve created before sharing or showing them to others. Doing this is necessary if I want to improve my life, or change it. (more…)

December 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

Spock, my longtime, logical love

Last Friday, the internet and my workplace lit up with the news that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character of Spock, had died, of COPD. Unlike the passing of other celebrities and stars, Nimoy’s passing hit me deeply. And as the condolences and memories about his life and work filled my feeds, I began to reflect on my own long love of both the actor, and his wonderful character, Mr. Spock.

It’s probably hard for some to remember that people often got the Vulcan confused with another Spock, a baby doctor by the name of Benjamin Spock. I soon learned about the depth of a writer’s interest and understanding of the character when they called him “Doctor” instead of “Mister”. My Spock was Mister. Or Commander. Or, for a while, Captain. But even the honorifc “Mr.” was eventually dropped as Dr. Spock faded into obscurity, and Mr. Spock became a global icon.

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March 1, 2015 at 6:32 pm

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality

This book will be on my reading list.

January 21, 2015 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

Portable Slab of Distraction

Almost seven years ago, I wrote an essay about my distaste of Apple’s hype machine. It was written shortly before the launch of the now-iconic iPhone, where people were lining up outside the then-rare Apple Stores, waiting for this new, and very expensive new phone. iPods had already swamped the digital music universe, pretty much wiping out any competition. Tablets were still rare, and the few that existed were clunky, required styluses, and people were hoping that maybe netbooks might be something people might want. Windows had launched Vista, which was a massive flop, and people were disillusioned.

2007 was an interesting time, so when Apple launched the iPhone, people glommed onto it like it was gold. Three years later, Apple scored again, with the launch of the iPad, sending people swooning and swarming to get it. Like the iPhone before it, iPads started showing up in the hands of affluent people, parked alongside their newer iPhones, and it seemed, to me, at least, that the digital world was reshaping itself to cater to Apple’s whims. (more…)

January 18, 2015 at 10:49 am 9 comments

Old-school vs. new-finagled

I spent the last hour fiddle-farting around with my network, trying to get the TV to talk to the computer.

It warms the cockles of my little techie heart to be able to write a sentence like that. And if you’d told me 30 years ago that TVs would not only talk to computers, but essentially be computers themselves, I would have stamped my foot impatiently and grumbled about having to wait for it. But this 21st Century digital paradise has more than a few bad Apples. And Samsungs, and Dells, too. OK, maybe not really bad, but definitely not grade-A techie-licious.

The problem with all this new-finagled stuff is- as Scotty once memorably said, ‘the more you overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain’. And that’s true. There’s been an advantage to waiting a while before pouncing on some of this stuff- like the refinements of the UX/UI, but there are still a whole raft of bugs in the system. It works… sort of.

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January 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm 2 comments

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