worry vs. clarity Archives

Deep calming games 2018

After receiving an alarming medical diagnosis mid-month in January*, I've been very actively using computer games to help manage my situation. This autoimmune disease manifests itself in scores of itchy bumps. The initial treatment is prednisone, the main side effects of which have been insomnia and mood alteration (primarily an increase in anxiety). Games have been enormously helpful in managing both, and in lowering my stress levels overall as I deal with this.

While many games can appear soothing in early stages, they are often designed to increase in intensity, which is counter to my goal of calming my system. Below are a few which I've found which do work, and which have interesting side benefits. There are three key patterns I leverage as I (and my meds) work to reduce inflammation.


1. Stillness as a Constant Option

The one absolutely vital quality of a deep calming game is that at any moment you can stop the game without penalty to take a deep breath, let your eyes focus on the other side of the room, or otherwise pause not only your hands but your mind. This can take the form of simply stopping doing anything—as in turn-based games where there is no ticking clock—or changing out of the game screen—as in games which pause and retain your exact position when you switch applications. Some games are mostly turn-based with brief sections that don't allow pausing; Another Case Solved is a good example of that non-ideal mix, but it is just calming enough to remain on my list.


2. Impulse Interference

It turns out when you're trying not to scratch, it's possible to divert the physical world pattern you shouldn't act on into a virtual pattern where relief is easily available. The game element you want here is a random or semi-random resource which appears and needs to be 'harvested' or otherwise responded to individually. Collecting the magic fountain energy in Sunken Secrets or the tax revenue in Townsmen are ideal examples. I found that my brain slipped pretty easily from "argh! itchy spot I want to scratch!" to "aha! another coin to collect!" and that, amazingly, the act of touching the resource on my iPad screen with my finger took away the urgency of a specific physical itch on my body. This trick was probably the key ingredient to my getting through the initial awful weeks while I waited for the corticosteroids to begin reducing my symptoms. It's highly likely I would have scarring if I hadn't been able to divert that scratching urge.


3. Sense of Positive Action

Maintaining an optimistic attitude during very gradual change is a challenge. When my body is less able and my mind is less focused that becomes even harder, especially in those grim grey hours of the night when prednisone wakes you all the way up after three hours sleep. Games offer a space where I can act toward both short- and long-term goals and feel less powerless. The difference with deep calming games is that this needs to take place within a low-conflict (or at least very low-consequences) mood. When managing anxiety and using mental imagery to reduce bodily inflammation are the goals, tough battles against powerful foes are definitely not my friends. Enter, therefore, games of constructive, peaceful acts which build upon each other. These can range from the very simple—growing my fish and expanding my pond in Zen Koi—to the more ongoing and epic—building my farm and improving things for my imaginary neighbors in Stardew Valley. The tough part here is finding a game with the expansiveness that makes it maximally calming and yet which doesn't require fighting off attackers. (I've got enough of that going on with my autoimmune system, thankyouverymuch.) I am a long-time fan of simulation games, particularly old Windows city-builders and economy-simulators like Pharaoh and Cleopatra, but there are very few around which don't involve (or allow you the option of turning off) combat as a major part of the game. Farming and house-building games are the dominant form now, but many of them are tainted by in-app purchase models which render the games less fun as you progress in an effort to make you spend money to make it easier again. That flaw is what led to my abandoning Gardenscapes and Homescapes, neither of which I can recommend anymore despite their fun aesthetic and sense of humor. For the moment, Stardew Valley, and to a lesser extent Townsmen, is best to fully engage my mind in creating and achieving goals.

*Thanks to corticosteroids this diagnosis is not life-threatening, but it is life-altering.

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 07:37 AM in games, health, linky goodness, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Media I've enjoyed recently 2012

Productivity and problem-solving

Lewis Pugh's mind-shifting Mt. Everest swim (TED video)

Bosses Who Work Out Are Nicer (60-Second Science podcast)



Gun-Toting Increases Bias to See Guns Toted (60-Second Science podcast)


Environment and climate

Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity (TED video)

Lee Hotz: Inside an Antarctic time machine (TED video)

Rob Dunbar: Discovering ancient climates in oceans and ice (TED video)


Politics and philosophy

Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index (TED video)

Carne Ross: An independent diplomat (TED video)


Technology and the Web

Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation (TED video)

Christien Meindertsma: How pig parts make the world turn (TED video)

This was great. Really impressive piece of research. (It never occurred to me that fine bone china has actual bone in it.)

Sebastian Thrun: Google's driverless car (TED video)

Breathe Easier with Electric Car Charging Overnight (60-Second Science podcast)

App Turns iPhone Into spiPhone (60-Second Science podcast)



Nicholas Christakis: How social networks predict epidemics (TED video)

A non-health takeaway from this one: Corporations (or as more benignly referred to, "brands") will be analyzing and acting on our social activity in staggering detail in ways that are not automatically or even always possibly perceptible to us. Individual rights now and in the future will require people with an understanding of the technology and techniques of analysis who are working on our side. We will need watchdogs with deep understanding of advanced analytics.

Mitchell Besser: Mothers helping mothers fight HIV (TED video)

Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist (TED video)

Sebastian Seung: I am my connectome (TED video)

Didn't enjoy his presentation style, but the content and its implications are impressive.

Inge Missmahl brings peace to the minds of Afghanistan (TED video)

Wonderful projects and encouraging data on the power of psychosocial counseling to help break cycles of violence.

Mechai Viravaidya: How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place (TED video)

Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? (TED video)

"The time has come to stop thinking of sub-saharan Africa as one place. Their countries are so different and they merit to be talked about in the same way that we don't talk about Europe as one place. I can tell you that the economy in Greece and Sweden are very different."

It's bigger than that, though:
"There is no such thing as a Western world and Developing world."

"You can clearly see the relation with falling child mortality and decreasing family size."

"Almost 50% of the fall in child mortality can be attributed to female education."

It's this kind of tight focus on the actual data—on what really works—that makes me love and respect Hans Rosling. It also reinforces my commitment to only vote for presidential candidates who place a high priority on the family planning and female education efforts which will drive that reduction in child mortality while at the same time slowing population growth.

Boys Who Lack Empathy Don't React to a Fearful Face (60-Second Science podcast)

Animal Production Practices Create Antibiotic Resistance (60-Second Science podcast)



Amateur Planet Hunters Find Exoplanets (60-Second Science podcast)



Amit Sood: Building a museum of museums on the web (TED video)

Monika Bulaj: The hidden light of Afghanistan (TED video)



Large Hadron Collider "Big Bang" Analogies Put Under Microscope (60-Second Science podcast)



Elephants Ask for a Helping Trunk (60-Second Science podcast)

Black Plant Life Could Thrive on Other Planets (60-Second Science podcast)

Box Jellyfish Eyes Aim At The Trees (60-Second Science podcast)

Bat Ears Deform for Better Ping Pickups (60-Second Science podcast)

Body Hair Senses Parasites While Slowing Their Blood Quest (60-Second Science podcast)

Boa Constrictors Listen To Loosen (60-Second Science podcast)



Bloody Mary Gives Up Its Flavor Secrets (60-Second Science podcast)



You Probably Get That A Lot (TMBG Podcast Video Bonus)

Posted on May 13, 2012 at 05:49 PM in health, linky goodness, politics & philosophy, Science, Web/Tech, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things that make me joyful, happy, delighted 2010

Clean sheets. Good sleep. Touching my sweetie. Fun sex. Kissing. Good cheese. Watching cocktails being made well. Delicious food, prepared with care. Having a beautiful, useful, uncluttered home. Writing, when it's going well. Learning new interesting facts. Having a good answer. Seeing others getting more focused and relaxed. Green, living things. Craftsmanship. Carefulness. Stillness. Naps. Avocado. Seascapes (in person). Optional-ness. Flexibility. Making or perceiving interconnectedness. My friends or others being clever. Being clever. Kindness. Good design. Love. Floating in warm water. Sitting and reading with my sweetie or friends. Watching semi-random motions (waves, light, birds, swimmers, boats). Northern California hills in spring. Traveling light. Nerd humor.

Posted on May 8, 2010 at 07:48 PM in Dinah - introduction, random synaptic firing, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

discardia.tumblr.com 2010

More cities should have beautiful canals. Ahhhhh… Wouldn’t it be nice if this view was on the walk from your home to your favorite restaurant? Thanks for putting this up on Flickr, James, and to whoever tagged it ‘calm’ and allowed me to find it tonight. SOURCE: Flickr / ettubrute

Posted on March 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM in Discardia, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Detox/Recharge project 2007

step 1: reduce visual clutter


Gotta get the bedroom nice so I wake up to a non-stressful environment.

clutter reduction continued



Someday we'll get a coat rack instead of piling our hoodies on the library stair/chair, but it works for now.


step 2: stage things for next activities


Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 12.53.25 PM

step 3: optimize for relaxed housemate


windowseat primed with New York Times, Wired & New Yorker for Joe to recline with when he gets back from day 2 (of 3) of his class for work

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 12.55.19 PM

step 4: get clean


I even shaved my legs, a hassle I confess to frequently putting off...

step 5: good dinner & scratch some things off the general shopping list



Step 6 not photographed: Sleep as long as I want, which turned out to be over 10 hours.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 12.58.41 PM

Posted on October 13, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Dinah - preferences, Discardia, health, mundania, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Compensation for a non-restful night: decaf latte from Blue Bottle 2007


Plus a couple tiny Miette cookies.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 12.48.36 PM

Posted on April 24, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Food and Drink, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday Discardia 2007

Need a little chest freezer?


5.3 cubic feet. Nice for those who make soups or like to minimize their shopping trips to Trader Joe's.

$90 and you pick it up at my place in the Castro, SF. It's not heavy.

Still under 5 more years warranty against compressor failure. Have manual, warranty & receipt.


Inside view of freezer with 7oz mac & cheese boxes for scale

Selling the catsuit. *sigh*


Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.57.41 AM

Most unfortunate.


From the 2003 work Xmas party. Of course someone gave me two copies.

Nice folks at Nirvana on Castro St


When I first moved into this apartment I got a nice welcome from Brent-Dawg at Nirvana.

Another cool receipt doodle from Brent-Dawg at Nirvana



I'd forgotten how damn cool our cards were at SoftDevices


And that my old title was "Mission Commander".

Ah, the good ol' startup days...

Cool Halcyon sketch on the front of the awards book from 3 years ago


Why yes, I am one of those stinking liberals


(The joint membership is with my grandfather, who died at the end of 2001 but inspires me still)

gone now, but I always liked the business card for Friendly Spirits


Can't knock that phone number either.

Mysterious to-do list from my former housemate, Chris P.


Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.07.05 AM

disappointing 16th St restaurant


walked by there for years, finally tried it this past year, underwhelmed

old shopping list found among other papers


vintage probably ~2004-2005

Christmas Revels, 2004, 18th Century Scotland theme


Dance-Along Nutcracker, 2004


Good advice when you want to focus


Working/playing hard today


Amazing how much you can done when you just sit down and finally start doing it (and when you decide that a mobile phone just sent straight to Flickr is good enough photo quality instead of thinking you need to scan everything).

Good restaurant I went to a few years ago with family


Pleasure-inducing map received on first visit to the mighty Powells Books




The logo of my friend Ron Pottol's old employer Appaloosa Interactive always reminded me of the Playboy character Femlin

Juan Muñoz sculptures


from the December 2001 issue of Smithsonian. I'd really like to see these someday.

Almost filled up recycling bag #1 today



old self portrait by my friend B.J. West


Probably from 1992 since this is, I believe in the St. John St. apartment building we were living in in San Jose then.

Pictures from [a certain person] of a visit to the walrus pool at the zoo


Happy walrus

Another friendly walrus comes to visit


cuddly walruses


VERY happy walrus!


Lest you think that masturbation is some hominid-only sort of thing...

Title portion of an article by Chris Hudak


Can't remember when this was from. First half of the 1990's I'd guess.

My favorite Heifer Project picture


copyright Heifer/photo by Darcy Kiefel

The most intense illustration of the work Doctors Without Borders does


The mailings with the bracelet and the hole card just shake you to realize how extreme the situation is. Children are starving to death. Still. Despite all our worldwide wealth, we still let children starve to death. And it's a slow, painful process for child and parent. And it's preventable.

Donate: www.doctorswithoutborders.org

The wonderful look of the first Lord Loves A Working Man demo album


Which is a CD, not a record, of course.

Posted on March 17, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Discardia, Food and Drink, friends & family, holidays, mundania, music, politics & philosophy, San Francisco, sex, work, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iris bouquet at work 2006

221422268_632726eeec_o Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 3.39.31 PM

Posted on August 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM in work, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alphabetizing therapy 2006


When I'm stressed (yesterday was a crappy day; it's bad enough to have someone leap to unfounded conclusions, worse when they blog it as fact) I find it very soothing to put something in order. Since my life is actually pretty great right now and things are ticking over well at work, the CDs got the attention.
There's a big stack of soundtracks/cast recordings, compilations, jazz, and classical out of frame to the left.

These CDs now represent my real iTunes collection. The stuff I've wound up not liking - rating it lower & lower and then deleting it - is listed on lala.com and in a box in the living room ready to be shipped out when someone wants it.

Posted on June 21, 2006 at 07:27 AM in Dinah - preferences, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ikean courtesy 2006

I like how they have pencils, notepaper, van rental information and taxi information right by the payphone.

152705160_e001c62917_o Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.41.41 PM

Posted on May 24, 2006 at 03:10 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bear handed 2006

Such a sweet & clever way to keep a small kid comfortable: a hand to hold that doesn't require reaching up. The friendly stuffed bear is attached to the wheeled luggage cart.

139110023_5669933bde_o Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.51.08 AM

Posted on May 2, 2006 at 07:51 AM in travel, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trust your inner singing voice 2006

My mother has a concept called Track 9 (after 8-track recording) which is where that song in the back of your head is playing. Track 9 usually has a message for you.

When I came in the door after a busy day at work which culminated in something I thought would happen in two and a half weeks at earliest actually happening Friday and requiring me to send work email when I got upstairs, I was tired.

I stayed elsewhere last night (oh put your eyebrow back down) and was feeling the beginning of that "Mmmm, I'm home. I have a quiet evening ahead as soon as I finish this up." sensation.

And then the phone rang.

It was my friend Jason saying "You know there's a D&D game tonight, right? Did you get the email?"

I did not get the email.

It was at this point that track 9 switched to:

...It's all too much
for me to take...

I think I'm gonna miss the game; that's what I think.

Posted on April 5, 2006 at 06:54 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (1)

sights of Washington D.C. 2006

man on rearing horse, cannons, nuclear weapons protester, White House, big phallic symbol


lovely entryway


flopped lions
these sprawled guys are a bit more like the real lions I saw in Africa than the usual doorway fare...


Dedicated To Art
?Renwick Gallery? Can't remember where this was...

116837722_2981c476c5_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 7.42.06 AM

The DAR would not approve

116838838_e8b2013c12_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 7.43.05 AM

my reflection among the names of the dead
Vietnam War Memorial


"Dad" says the card beside a small box
Vietnam War Memorial

116845000_07daf3c7e2_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 7.46.09 AM

Vietnam War Memorial
Ah, pity this washed out. It was a note to friend listed on the wall, recalling good times together - "that deer hunt in 1964" - and saying "I miss you."


Reflecting Pool


Lincoln Memorial

116848074_45ab24e4b4_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 7.49.45 AM


Freedom is not free.
Korean War Memorial



cherry buds, tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial


Washington, D.C., tidal basin, Washington Monument, cherry buds


the tidal basin & the Jefferson Memorial and one enthusiastic cherry tree


FDR Memorial 

Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.



No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally it is the greatest menace to our social order.

116862727_4acd7ac1c0_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 7.57.36 AM



I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work. More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.

To the right of this fine idea a group of park rangers, black & white, cleancut & long-haired, were working to clean the fountain and laughing and talking together as they did so. Good work.


Roosevelt's support for the arts, expressed at his memorial

116868196_5846567120_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.00.51 AM

We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.

116869469_2232ba8b95_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.02.28 AM

I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.



The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.


That's a cute little statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, first U.S. delegate to the United Nations, on the right.


Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Worship

Freedom from Want

Freedom from Fear

116902966_c7fea4b552_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.06.20 AM

Jefferson Memorial, cherry buds

116904233_40a27d7fb4_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.07.29 AM

tidal basin, Washington, D.C. 

I really liked this tree.


Washington Monument from the mysterious little bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.15.43 AM

Strange little laughing guy on the mysterious bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial
I asked a park patrol guy and googled, but can't find the story. Anyone know?

117012128_888ee5c11b_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.17.25 AM

Jefferson Memorial

117013450_2f49806542_o Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.19.04 AM



Tasty wine with dinner: MacMurray Pinot Noir 2003
Yes, that MacMurray. Fred MacMurray's ranch, apparently.


Posted on March 23, 2006 at 12:00 PM in Food and Drink, history, politics & philosophy, the big room with the blue ceiling, travel, warnings & kvetches, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

A little work, a little early isn't necessarily a bad thing 2006

[originally posted to metagrrrl.livejournal.com]


I was thinking "Well, this is it. Back to work tomorrow. Ugh. And there'll be a ton of email..." and starting to stress about what a rough day it would be. Then I realized it was stupid. If my brain was going to spend time stressing over work, I might as well be doing it.

So I switched over to my work account, opened the VPN connection, and downloaded that email.

293 messages

165 went to my probable spam folder, and only 3 or 4 were not really spam.

62 went to my inbox (not just to some list I'm on).

Of those,
52 were notifications requiring no action
2 were cc's requiring no action
1 were undetected spam
2 were things I was copied on but which don't concern me

1 was something that I needed to read in detail, but not act on
3 required a less than 2 minute action

Reading through the mail for my lists took about 10 or 15 minutes tops.

That leaves 1 email that I will need to deal with in the office tomorrow, but its one that will take less than 5 minutes.

So, it's only 7:30pm and now I know there's nothing alarming waiting for me and I can right down to the work on the top of my list.

Hooray for the sanity check!

Current Mood: confident
Current Music: Honky Tonk Angel's Medley - k.d. lang

Posted on January 1, 2006 at 07:30 PM in work, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (1)

Getting Things Done 2005

I'm just getting into David Allen's Getting Things Done again and finding this time that I'm really going to be able to implement it. I had adopted some of his approach philosophically on a prior reading, but now I'm ready to put the full process in place. The glory of the clear desk, empty inbox and focused mind await!

In addition to reading the book, I recommend reading Merlin Mann's 43 Folders website (introduction to his take on GTD, all GTD posts) and Mac users should check out Ethan J. A. Schnoover's Kinkless KGTD (introduction, endorsement from Merlin).

I'll be writing more about Getting Things Done in the coming months, I know. I am already feeling the benefits at work.

Posted on October 8, 2005 at 10:54 AM in GTD, tools, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

So very busy. 2004

I've been quiet here since I've been crazy busy at work. I come home wanting something amusing to escape to and so I've been surfing the web, chatting with friends and watching DVDs. Not a huge amount of creative output in the evenings since I've been doing so much writing during the days. Admittedly, it is less fun to write & proof read documentation than posts about wonderful weird things seen on the web, but at least my writing muscles are getting worked out.

Not so much my physical muscles. Mental exhaustion can fool me into indolence when what I really need is to move around. The diet I'm on also leaves me with a little less energy, I suspect. Overcoming that pull away from activity is difficult. Today, though, I'll get a good bit of walking in. I have taken the day off to relax and see the geisha exhibit at the Asian Art Museum before it closes later this month.

Earlier this year I'd talked about taking a vacation, maybe up to visit my aunt & grandmother in Alaska, but then my company decided that one of the other product managers and I should put new versions of our products out twice a year instead of once and that made work fairly insane. I think we'll get good at it - already it's forcing us to be more efficient, but it is still a little crazy-making. On the bright side, I'm getting asked to present more at conferences, so that's giving me a little travel.

I'll be in Portland middle of next month and will get to take a 3-day weekend before the conference to play tourist. I'll be staying at the Jupiter Hotel and doing a lot of walking around downtown, visiting museums and parks, and, of course, hanging out at Powell's Books.

Now it's time to be a tourist in my own city. Off to ride the trolley to the museum!

Posted on September 17, 2004 at 11:20 AM in health, travel, work, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Where I'd Rather Be 2004

(dog in green grass) - image copyright Dean Allen
Thank you, Dean, for your lovely pictures that brighten even my bad days.

Posted on May 14, 2004 at 05:59 PM in friends & family, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Better 2004

Good long walk. Went back to Amnesia at 19th & Valencia which I remembered (har har) being a pleasant place and sure enough it was. Nice bartender Sean (or perhaps Shaun or Shawn, one never knows). I had a half pint of cider which was cheap and not too intense for a Monday night. Listened to Muchas Bluegracias for a while (Mondays are bluegrass night, and I hear that Wednesdays are Jazz). Caught the bus most of the way back and then worked up a sweat coming the rest of the way home.

It's too darn hot. This does not bode well for summer at all. Time to hit the showers.

Posted on April 26, 2004 at 10:48 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Long hard day, warm summerlike evening 2004

Yesterday was mixed. Nice sleeping in. Nice omelette making. Nice visit with Grandma. Icky (rental car) driving. Yucky not making it back to San Francisco in time to return the car early and be done with it. Horrid accidentally scraping the paint on said rental car in the crowded Safeway parking lot by running the front fender across the rear fender of an occupied vehicle. Almost no damage to his car. Obvious paint damage to the rental. Home in a thoroughly desolate mood.

Morning. Up early to return car and fill out damage report. Scramble at work to complete more information for a big presentation to other departments about the next release. Too many phone calls and people stopping by my cube (Is the desire not to be disturbed some sort of attractant?)

Presentation went very smoothly. Stayed on time and covered everything I intended to. Only some people fell asleep a little bit. Pretty good for a 3 hour meeting. Left work early and was home by 6pm. Borderline too-hot - it would be a perfect summer day, but in April it makes me wonder how hot summer will get.

Now it's night. I want to walk out and sit in some nice cafe or tea shop or bar and experience the city, but then I'd stay up too late and spend money I shouldn't. Yeah. Fretful Dinah.

Oh, I just hate feeling like a Smiths song, or at least feeling like "How Soon Is Now?" This is dumb. I'm going for a walk. Maybe I'll come back home feeling "Vicar in a Tutu".

Posted on April 26, 2004 at 08:50 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to build a crappy evening 2004

1) Don't check personal email before leaving work and fail to see invite to gathering tonight of people you really really like until it's half over.

2) Waffle for a while about paying for a cab when you might get there and find everyone was ready to leave.

3) When you do decide to go anyway, walk down your steep hill a few blocks and realize just as you get within hailing distance of empty cabs that your wallet is back at home.

4) Climb back up the hill and fail to reach any of your cool friends on their mobile phones to confirm that they're still up for hanging out and having fun.

5) Mope in front of your computer.

6) Check email and get nothing but spam.

How to turn around a crappy evening:

1) Receive spam with subject "cancelled guignol".

2) Chat with one of your bestest pals.

3) Eat Scharffenberger chocolate.

4) Listen to the soundtrack to Triplets of Belleville.

5) Let bestest pal connect you up with more of your pals in goofy new chat interface.

Posted on March 22, 2004 at 09:37 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Slowing down 2004

I have an idea in my mind of something I observed, something spinning, and it would reach a point where it hesitated and spun back in the opposite direction. It's been that sort of day. I slowed, stopped, changed course.

I have surrounded myself with more quiet today than I generally have been of late. Usually I play music, often randomly, skipping what doesn't suit my mood. Today I listened to the sound of the house and the world around the house drifting in. Tonight I was ready for music again, but I wanted to be wrapped in sound that enhanced the feeling of today: slow, but not sleepy; aware and undisturbed. I listened to Sheila Chandra and I wrote a short piece of erotica and then read ostensibly unerotic writing which nonetheless delighted me in the sensuality of its good form.

I am aware of my vacation which will be starting in a few days. It's like seeing not just the coastline you've been sailing towards, but the actual beach where you'll come up on the sand.

In the last 30 hours I have been the person I want to be, in the place I want to be, making choices which feel absolutely right. I am calm, centered, content.

Ask yourself:
What do I love? Who do I want to share my time with? When do I feel most myself? How can I pare what surrounds me down to just that which is right in this moment? Why am I doing anything that doesn't bring me this?

You may find, like me, that you can be extraordinarily selfish, indulge yourself, without making any demands on anyone else. They may, in fact, think that you've given them something. [Afterthought: it could be that it only appears this way if what you wanted to indulge in was directing your energy outward. Perhaps they thought I gave them something because I did.]

Ah, there is one exception to that view of my time since my party started yesterday. This afternoon Judith kindly indulged my sudden, childlike, greedy desire for a small scarf made from a particular yarn we saw when visiting Imagi-knit. I bought her some new needles and promised either a pot of tea or a cocktail when it's done. Seems like I'm getting a great deal, but perhaps she is showing me my own principle in action.

Posted on March 7, 2004 at 10:34 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (2)

Contentment 2004

I feel great this morning. Last night I had a party and got to hang out with my wonderful friends, nibbling chocolate, drinking wine, eating good food and having the best conversations. I was a smart cookie and remembered to drink enough water late in the evening and slept very well. A thoroughly satisfying evening mentally, physically and emotionally.

Now it's midday on Sunday, I've slept in, enjoyed the sunshine and birdsong coming into my apartment, had another fantastic conversation, read interesting things (another post coming in a few minutes after I go have tea with Judith), and feel utterly relaxed and at peace.

My life is good.

Posted on March 7, 2004 at 01:13 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (1)

Travels 2003

I took a strange journey over the last month and a half or so. I ventured into the lands of fandom and beyond to the shadowed realms of gossip and "real person stories". Now I'm back and feeling a bit tarnished from the trip. It's not that I didn't meet nice people in my travels, I did and in the most surprising of places, or that I did things I'm deeply ashamed of, I didn't. It just led me to confront some truths about pop culture and my part in it that have left me uneasy.

The first of these truths is that performers (actors, musicians, artists, whatever) are often treated as characters by their fans. They populate fantasies, are given attributes important to the fan, and their reactions to any of this are rarely considered. They are treated as dolls. Not by all fans or all the time, but often.

The second of these truths is that fans' wishes for them can take on a life of their own. The web now allows people who've been independently building fantasies and imagining certain qualities around performers to easily connect with other people thinking similar thoughts. When the wish ("He must be sweet and innocent", "She must want children", "They must be a couple") is shared, those fans can start to resist anything which contradicts it, even if those contradictions are born of the performer's own real actions or wishes.

The third truth is that sometimes the story created by a fan or a group of fans is more compelling, more personally significant, more fun than the truth. Good stories are what makes us human, so there's nothing inherently wrong in making them up, it's just the potential effect on the real person being used as a character that makes this morally problematic.

As I sit here unpacking my mental suitcase from this trip, I do feel like I've been a tourist. Sometimes barging around naively annoying the natives. Sometimes one of a thousand flashing cameras grabbing a moment before jumping back on the bus and never really connecting with the subject of my pictures. Sometimes projecting my own world view onto everything around me. Sometimes meeting other travellers and forming a real connection. Sometimes being horrified by the other tourists and wondering "Am I that bad?" Sometimes managing to stop interpreting everything from my own point of view and instead just see, just be. Always learning. Often laughing.

A strange trip indeed. Saw some pretty sights along the way though, I must say.

Posted on May 8, 2003 at 12:27 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Positive Vibration 2003

Want to be healthy? Strong? More open and lickable and less bitter and baffled and cynical? Ask for it, place some divine intent behind it and breath it in and imagine what it would feel like to radiate health and sexual vibrancy and self-defined joy and really cool taste in shoes. That's how you start.
Mark Morford sez Shut Up And Vibrate Already

Oh, and by the way, it's National Masturbation Month...

Posted on May 2, 2003 at 09:24 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wow. That hardly hurt at all... 2003

My fear of visiting Houston, Texas, turns out to have been unnecessary. Though I did see big hair, hear alarming accents, get subjected to an anti-Osama joke from the funeral deal hawking shuttle bus driver, find myself surrounded by rampant religiousity and have a bitch of a time finding something to eat at the convention besides BBQ, the trip was redeemed by:

- the kickass staff of theWarwick Hotel
- the great musical selection at Sound Waves
- the best meal I've had all year at Boulevard Bistrot
- a surprise opportunity to attend the Cirque du Soleil's "Allegria"

So I learned I can survive Texas outside of Austin. Of course, I also learned that even if I stick to the hipster district and some carefully selected activities I will be constantly reminded that I am Not Like Them. Take me home where the freaks are, baby.

(Also should mention I had a bad case* of manufactured mood overload when I was stuck with eating dinner in a Bennigan's restaurant. It's like they programmed a computer to recognize nostalgia-provoking objects & music, but forgot to tell it to only do one at a time. 80s-Irish-50's-sports-30s-southwestern-70s-pub...and here I began to twitch...)

*Cayce Pollard

Posted on April 4, 2003 at 02:39 PM in worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.