Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dude... He just... exploded. In front of us.

A shark swims by, seen from under water. Did I just see that? I rewind. There's a DHARMA logo on the shark. WTF.

Jin is here to deliver a message from Mr. Paik. I have a feeling I'm about to be 'splained the reason for his bloody clothes, left as a mystery for awhile now. But no... there is Hurley, for some reason on TV in Korea. For every mystery explained, a new one is presented.

If you're thinking "I've missed too many episodes; it's too late to bother watching them all now," then I suggest you call your satellite provider, ask them to kindly cancel all your programming immediately, and then get them, all of them, and watch every episode for as long as it takes to go through them.

Satellite's kind of like a job. You think it will be hard to live without it, but really... you don't miss it when it's gone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jesus lives on in your actions

I got into a conversation today, and am low on material (this blog doesn't really seem to be about anything, like, what the hell), so let me wax metaphysical.

Lately when I hear somebody thanking a god figure or attributing a decision to one, most of the time I have a clear sense that it is their own mind that deserves attribution. Probably it is some part of their brain that we don't have a clear and conscious understanding of, so that thoughts that come from it have a feeling of divine origin.

For example, someone may say, "That I'm with the most beautiful woman in the world is beyond reasoning or luck; I thank Cthulhu for blessing me with this gift." It can be easy to dismiss, with thoughts like "I don't think she's quite that superior, and anyway I don't believe in Cthulhu." For certain I don't think that an external being has chosen one person out of all of us, to bless with this particular gift while excluding all others. I think that such a feeling of being blessed comes from our own minds.

Firstly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps moreso the mind, and so are many things that we may think of as objective. It is my perception that decides for me how beautiful someone is compared to all others. It is colored by how she makes me feel. It is my perception that judges whether something is astoundingly pleasing, or rottenly upsetting. It's my perception and mood that determine if a day was good or bad. Perhaps I feel so good that I believe I have to thank some external entity, but it was probably something in my mind that made me feel this way.

Secondly, it is your judgment and actions that get you into your relationships. Your significant other didn't just arrive in the mail (except for you J.R., you ol' dog!). If you didn't know what you did to get them, you may think it was divine intervention, but your brain made many choices that lead you to where you are.

So I argue, that often what you might think of as a god, is in your mind. In many ways, you are your god. It is you, and inaccessible parts of your mind, that are giving you these things that you can't otherwise explain.

I suggested this in a conversation and was offered the idea that the consciousnesses of god figures don't die or disappear, they live on in a universal consciousness that connects us all, an energy that we can tap into and network with like computers. A thought may be running in your mind, or it may be in that greater oneness, a collective consciousness, the realm of a god we can connect to through thought alone.

Now, I'm a pretty literal guy, driven by logic, science, and pseudo-science. But suddenly the idea that a dead deity could live on within us actually made literal sense. Here's how to do it:

First, we must step back and redefine some ideas about life and identity. What does "me" mean? Is it only this conscious feeling I have, the "I think, therefore I am" in each of us? Or is it more; is it our thoughts and ideas and actions, etc? You can't see my thoughts, but if we were interacting face-to-face you would have a clear sense of the individual that I call "me". It is not my thoughts, nor is it just my physical presence that you see as "me". It is not just my face but the expressions it conveys. It is not just my voice but the ideas and feeling within it. You can clearly sense "me" in all of that. So "me" is more than my conscious or my body. Part of me can be captured in a photograph, written down, expressed through art, etc. And these parts of me exist whether my conscious is currently processing that "me" feeling.

So one's thoughts and ideas can outlive their person for as long as is an idea's lifetime. If you are thinking something or doing something, and that thought or action is based on someone else's ideas, and not created completely from scratch in your head, then that someone else is involved. Their thoughts continue on... Only now, you are the one thinking them. In a small way, this is how we share a collective consciousness. We are machines constantly making little connections with each other, a giant distributed computer. We share ideas and thoughts, and feelings and everything else, and our thoughts merge and blend in each other's mind. From each person I meet, some small part of them joins with "me", and some small part of me joins with each person I meet. Someone with the status of a god has a large part of themselves shared with and stirred in to many individuals. If you are putting their ideas to use, you are preserving their existence.

So, when you thank a god, I will smile and nod, instead of making that surly expression you're so used to. Part of what you have experienced is you, but part of it is divine, and the separation of the two blurs and ceases to matter.

For your health!

Note: The soundtrack for this post is Air - Talkie Walkie. For optimal feelings of bliss, a reading of the final few paragraphs should be sync'd up with Surfing on a Rocket. Namaste!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The thing is I can't be sorting through all that shit in the middle of a burglary.

It's been pointed out by a fan that the name of this blog isn't exactly original. At their request, here's an explanation of this blog's history.

Originally the blog was called Misinfonomicon, intended to be "the book of useless information" with random content that "did little more than slightly increase the entropy of the human race's collection of data".

But I thought the name sounded kind of dum. I wanted to give it a name that reflected the blog's rich editorial content. I was looking for names like The Times, The Post, The Tribune, The Picayune, but of course all of these names are already chosen on Blogspot. Ultimately I had to combine some words and leave it up to the Blogger "Check Availability" to decide on a name. "timespicayune" was available but I didn't like the way it looked or rolled off the tongue. "picayunepost" was not available, but "postpicayune" was. I liked it. This name perfectly describes the blog... random posts about whatever random triviality I felt like writing, with a name that playfully made it serious sounding.

Later I googled "post picayune" just to see if there were any small local papers that had that name, and found the real Post Picayune. Interestingly, the sentiment of its description was the exact opposite of what I was going for. So, while the name was "independently discovered", I am guilty of stealing the description, and then defacing it.

No harm was intended, and I believe "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"... sometimes at least. I even like that someone discovered the secret reference. I like the name, and newspapers like these often share the same name. Plus, finding a cool name that's not already taken is hard work, and I'm very, very lazy. So I will probably keep it. But... in the interest of good karma, if the name or description truly offends... then it must be changed. Please comment. I wish good will on all, but good intention must be backed up with a commitment to do no harm.

Oh... speaking of theft... most of the post titles are stolen references... little things taken from a movie or something I read, something important to me, something I was reminded of while writing. I've slipped random references into casual writing for years now, and I like the idea of someone recognizing quotes. It's like a little secret puzzle. A little game of "what film?" Hopefully y'all see them as their intended homages rather than as thefts. The idea to use random but related references isn't even original. I got that from the New Shelton wet/dry. But after reading it for so long, it feels like a natural thing to do.

It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness

It's perceptible; it's palpable. Things feel better these days. We are waking up from an 8-year-long dark ages where greed, animosity, and dissatisfaction were the order of the day, every day. Sure, we're still suffering from the "economy" brought about by those years, but even as we adapt to this changing world, we ourselves change, looking elsewhere for happiness rather than trying to find it in an unending struggle to lift ourselves up by pushing the other guy down.

I can feel it. The daily letdown and expectation of always worse news, that feeling of having our world being carved into something that doesn't fit my values or the life I want to lead, is gone. Sure, not everything is sunshine and rainbows (yet?), but it feels better, and I don't feel like the world is run by antagonists anymore.

Is this feeling shared in our collective psyche? Are we all feeling slightly better without consciously noticing or stopping to wonder why? If we pause to think about it, can we even feel this global lean towards euphoria and caring for one another? I'd like to think that part of my happiness comes from this.

For certain, a lot of my mood and its shift towards positive is owed to the end of the reign of terror that was Bush Inc. Let us feel this positive change in ourselves and our world, let us remember this next time some group of selfish thugs try to make our world their world, and let us stand up and say no, you can't do that to us again. We choose something that is better for each of us and for all of us.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This line is thinner than a hair, and has some knots in it here and there

Recently I've got back into playing Planarity, a game where you "untie knots" in a graph to make it planar (that is, you rearrange vertices so that none of the graph's edges cross). I've never heard of anyone beating my high score (The letters M.P.D. still stand on the machine. I remember that night. The perfect combination of Mountain Dew and mozzarella... just the right amount of grease on the joy stick). So here are some pics of the action...

Planarity Level 40 StartLevel 40. The start...

You can't even see the dots cuz they're all overlapping.

Part way there...

My body tends to tense up over time while I play this game. I sat back and took a deep breath, and surveyed the mess I was in.

Why do I play this game?

Planarity Level 40 Done?Possibly finished?

I can't be sure, because the program hung while trying to check.

This epic battle was done on a decently fast machine at work, over a few hours one afternoon in 2007.

The strategy I used was to move all of the dots out of one corner of the board, then build in that corner. I'd find a dot with only two edges, and assume that that dot lies on the outside edge of the graph, and put it right in the corner. Then I'd just build a wall, a moving front of dots, going up and down the incomplete side of the graph, keeping it free from tangles and packing and repacking the dots as tight as possible.

Nowadays I have neither the patience nor CPU power to try anything harder, so I usually play random smaller levels, like 12 or 24. Now I prefer a strategy involving finding an outer edge to the graph, building it all around the screen, and then working inwards. I do this without moving all the dots out of the way, so it can be a struggle to pick out the edges and dots I want from the mess of overlapping shit. This is very repetitive and very specific problem solving work. It probably overuses some small part of the brain, and can actually make it hurt. I think that to attempt much higher levels with the same fixed, small screen space, one would simply need to let the dots overlap. This might be a simple mental leap, perhaps in a "compression" phase on a part of the graph you know is complete. Or perhaps it would tax the brain enough to commit craniacide via spontaneous combustion.

So why would anyone play the higher levels when it's a frustrating, repetitive mental tax? I probably do it just to keep my brain busy. It seems to like that. I'd recommend spending some time practicing this game while you're at work, so that you don't have to learn it from scratch when you get fired.

Chill the serious mood, and do whatcha like

The first step is to realize that everything you do is done by choice. Not all are explicit decisions made by the feeling you would call "you" (IE. conscious choices), and not all will be made by a logical part of your brain. Yet, some part of your brain worked on each decision made. The next step is to realize when you're purposefully making choices you don't want to make. You can do this by just being aware and taking note of when you're not doing what you want to. Such choices are probably made by something neurotic in your brain. We all have miswirings, perhaps some incorrect belief that somehow has been reinforced through years of repeated misperception. Often your undesirable behavior is done to protect some other part of you, something your subconscious is doing without letting you in on. So the next step is to determine why your brain is making those choices. The way to do that is to simply ask it, and the way to axe your subconscious something is through meditation.

Once you understand why you are making the choices you are, the next step is to correct whichever you consider to be wrong. I suppose this requires a bit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy auto-headshrinking. Your brain should tell you what it's trying to do. So either you have to convince your brain that it's wrong (and repeat as necessary until the right wires are strong enough for you to believe), or accept that your brain is right, and that you must make whatever changes are needed to various aspects of your life to let your mind grow beyond this current roadblock.

When you've done this, you should have now taken full responsibility for your behavior. What about taking responsibility for what happens to you? You can't fix or control what other people do to you, but you can change how you react to them. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to be thinking of your best interests all the time, so if at any time you need someone to be doing what's best for you, it may have to be you who's doing it. The first step is accepting that it is your own choices, and not someone else's, that control how you feel and what actions you take. A divinely enlightened individual might be able to be stabbed in the back by a stranger, and find the silver lining in that dark cloud, but that type of extreme self-control isn't what you're after (not to mention that you may *want* to feel unhappy about being stabbed in the back). What you are after is the feeling that you are making the best decisions in any given situation, and are at least in control of your own behavior. The next step is to find out why you react the way you do to the things that happen or that people have done to you. Again, just axe yourself, through meditation. The next step is to change your behavior. Again, you can train yourself to accept that your reaction was wrong, and let your brain know how you wanted it to react. Or, if your reaction was correct, change the aspects of your life that let you be susceptible to these outside influences.

Be careful, however, not to trick yourself into thinking that changing your behavior will get you exactly what you want. After all, other people still have full control over how they react to you. So, if your thoughts are all working 100%, and your actions are all working 100%, the next thing to tackle is dealing with people in a way that maximizes your chances of a satisfactory response. The first step is to understand how others react to you; the next step is to understand why; and the next is to figure out a better reaction and reverse-engineer an action that you could instead take to perhaps achieve said reaction. This all involves psychology, empathy, the ability to see your actions from another's perspective and simulate or predict not only their reaction, but also their counteraction. You should never expect to be perfect at this, if you are dealing with humans and not robots. Some easy advice is to just do your best and not worry too much about it. You might try meditation to imagine how you would feel in someone else's situation, but I'd recommend against trying to meditate on another person's thoughts (They say that meditating on others puts undue mental stress on them. This may manifest itself in subtle ways, such as you treating the other differently because you're basing your interaction on something you only imagined, etc. It is better to deal with people in person rather than in your imagination). Regardless, being consciously aware of what reactions your actions may induce, will go a long ways toward helping you avoid inducing bad ones.

Finally, there are things that happen to us over which we have no control and which relate not at all to any choices we make. The first step and the best way to handle this is to simply accept it. Learn to find peace with a Buddhist-like acceptance of impermanence. Know that nothing, whether good or bad, is here forever, so let it go gently and without regret. For anything that happens despite your best laid choices, you can believe it's "just the fuckin way she goes."

For your health!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writer's Block

Recently the readership of this blog has skyrocketed. Unfortunately this fame brings with it a feeling of responsibility. No longer can I simply write about whatever I want; I have to keep the fans in mind. Nothing that gets squeezed out and flushed through the pipes of my mind seems all that interesting. And so, with today's deadline looming, and neither the Jeopardy tune nor the Sonic "drowning" music helping, all I have to write about is not writing.

It occurs that I could always steal some material from stuff that I'd e-mail to people. Our conversations are so interesting, it would be a service to everyone to have them publicly available. It's kinda like a "pull" version of mail, where you have to go check other people's mailboxes to see if they've written you. This could revolutionize the postal service! Imagine simply dropping a letter into your own mailbox, and it's done. Instead of having relatives and companies plug up your mailbox with Christmas cards and bills, respectively, you simply wander through the outboxes of anyone who might write you, completely at your convenience, whenever you feel like checking to see if anyone wrote. This could be the biggest thing in postal sciences and the postal service industry since the invention of the stamp!

Of course, I'd want to let people know that I've written, and not simply wait for them to wander around to this blog. So, I'd have to send an e-mail to everyone, saying "Michael has written a new message. To view this message, follow this link:" Eventually, all our cumbersome e-mail messages will be replaced with convenient e-mailed links to various sites where we can go and retrieve web-based approximations of what we might more appropriately have received in e-mail. I think we're about halfway there already. Instead of bothering to reply to any personal e-mail, I'll just click "New Post", write there, and then "shoot" off a quick "Hey check out my blog posting about this!" e-mail.

Hey check out the new blog posting I did on my blog.

Hey how's it going? What's up?
(To reply to this message, register or sign in, click "Reply", and then follow the instructions you receive in e-mail.)

So... what's new with me, you axe? Uhm, let's see... Well I've started watching Lost. Like, from the beginning. I'm not sure if I'll get hooked or not. It's a bit of a silly show... has anyone else noticed this? Some of it kind of... not makes a lot of sense. But, I've only watched the first 2 episodes. I'm sure everything will be explained in the next few shows.

I really got into the second season of Dexter awhile back, even though I could never watch it while in a good mood. I never liked all the "I feel an insatiable need to slice someone up, but Harry's Code makes it O.K." crap, but I did identify with Dexter's struggle and disgust with the need to fake normal responses to life and to people. I liked Lila at first, and I loved that she screwed up everything normal in Dex's life, and I was gleeful about how things consistently went from bad to worse with her.

Season 2 was good. Season 3 however... right from the "last season on Dexter" intro, which made sure to include every previous nude scene no matter how irrelevant, I could tell that something had gone bad. The scene that later confirmed it is one in which Dexter is interacting with Rita and her kids. He has the familiar, forced, "Just bein' normal here" grin on his face. But the voiceover, his voice, describing bein' normal and bein' happy and enjoyin' bein' normal... that just did not fit. If I wanted to watch a show about families bein' normal and bein' happy about it, I'd watch Full House. I have this strong feeling that someone with an MBA took a look at only the most superficial qualities of the show and said "get the writers to do more of that. I like that part about killing bad guys or something. Oh, and sex always tests well."

Annnyway, not much else is new with me. Hope all's well with all y'all.

And there we have a successful blog post. With 7 minutes to spare before the deadline, too. Be sure to watch your e-mail for special personalized blog posts from me!