Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 90 and Health ROI

The American attitude towards healthcare leans heavily towards pharmaceuticals. Much of what ails us might be mitigated by nutrition, supplements, exercise or physical treatments. But we tend to prioritize a “one and done” approach that lends itself to prescriptions for any ailment you can pinpoint. It’s not unusual to be on upwards of ten pills a day if you are chronically ill each one treating a distinct symptom. You mostly pray they don’t have any interactions and that the cure isn’t worse than the disease especially when it comes to drugs like opioids that can form dependencies.

I’m not entirely opposed to this approach if I’m being honest. A wholistic approach is a lot of work and when you are sick having the energy to do a bunch of shit is unrealistic. Even as I’m rounding the corner on controlling my autoimmune disease I still find it time consuming and often exhausting to manage all aspects of my health. The meal planning, the physical therapy, the body work, the exercise protocols, the sleep regimens, the supplement routines (mine easily costs upwards of $500 a month and no it’s not covered by insurance) and the nonstop recording and monitoring is practically a full time job. And you can’t even tell if it’s working half the time with crashes and system cascades that require heavy duty intervention. It’s hard to spot signal in the noise but that doesn’t mean it’s not there

Being sick in America feels surprisingly similar to being a startup founder. You get dismissed constantly. The workload rarely relents. And progress is only visible if you are diligent about monitoring core metrics that might reveal a trend line. It’s no wonder that entrepreneurs can be avid biohackers. We record and measure and monitor and hope that some higher authority (a physician or a venture capitalist) will spot the the key inflection point that may change our lives.

I have over 1,000 recorded data points just on my usage of pain medications and it’s correlation to my functionality. Despite my meticulous tracking and my adherence to protocols, I regularly have encounters with medical professionals that discount what I have to say. Like a founder I may be an expert on my “startup” but a physician or other expert has a lot more longitudinal data. The question ends up being do you as the operator (or the patient) have some insight the professionals do not? Honestly it’s hard to tell. Being wrong is pretty common. Doctors and venture capitalists know this. So do you as the patient or founder. Trust in these interactions can be low because of this.

Unlike with a company where you can walk away, being a patient means you are stuck with it. I have to work through the blocks as if I don’t I’m resigning myself to a life of illness. Which isn’t to say I can’t tolerate being ill and disabled, merely that I don’t believe that “this is as good as it gets.” I’m happy with my life but I do believe it’s within my control to do and be more.

For me this has meant juggling the pharmaceuticals that control symptoms but don’t heal me alongside an elaborate functional medicine and biohacking routine. I think of these drug for symptom regimens a cash flow business that can do well but will always remain the business that it is without a creative owner pushing for more.

I don’t want to just run my “business” even if it might be a self sustaining one. I’m at a point where yeah I can live like this for the rest of my life. But I want more than having a store or a service. So I test. And I experiment. And I throw tons of time after protocols and treatments that may be woo or bullshit. Or they may in fact be the turning point that lets me be more. And if it is then it’s all worth it. Much of what I’ve done has been worth it. But how the fuck do you determine that in a system that has so little interest beyond simple solutions like a pill? If I had the answer I’d tell you. Until I do I’m spending my time on machines that shoot electromagnetic pulses into my spine and glugging down micronutrient slurries. I hope the hacks turn into sustainable growth channels. But I could have just waisted a few hours on nothing. Until then I’ll record the data and hope the trend line reveals something.

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Aesthetics Chronicle Finance Internet Culture

Day 89 and The Real Fake Fendi

What is real? Do originals exist? Can we determine the source of creative genesis when we stew in the folklore of cultural memetics? A knockoff has its own reality steeped in the accretion of culture.

I was once was asked by a tourist for direction’s to find “a real fake Fendi” when I lived in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I was honestly stumped by this inquiry. Was there a fake that had inherent realness that other knockoffs did not possess? Was there a vendor who sold the most authentic mimicry of Fendi which the tourist wished to find? I had no clue how to answer. Did they mean the realness one sees on the catwalks overseen by RuPaul? But which kind of realness? The creation that evokes the spirit of its inspiration? A realness so over the top and yet absolutely true to its essence. Or perhaps the blunt direct feedback that no construction no matter how convincing is the original artifact. Is is serving realness? I honestly didn’t know. I just told them Canal was one block north.

But perhaps authenticity isn’t the issue. In drag authenticity is manufactured. In fashions’ knockoff districts the question of authenticity is a layered confect of replication adhering to the aesthetics of the original. In some cases it actually is the original conveniently lost from some faraway inventory count. The real fake Fendi might in fact be real.

I bring this all up because in Illegal.Auction’s second collection we have curated a selection of the most outrageous instances of authenticity being the commodity sold in the NFT space. None of what we have posted are originals. They are all knockoffs. But like the real fake Fendi how can you tell? What makes something original in digital spaces. All is perfectly replicable. And no we have no new answers from Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction either. But maybe you will. You can buy a token of these real fake NFTs. Like the real Fake Fendi realness is in the eye of the beholder.

Categories
Chronic Disease

Day 88 and The Insistence of Pain

It’s only with hindsight that I realize pain has been a persistent companion in my life. If something is normal for you the grandiosity of ego can tend to make you assume its true for everyone else. I spent much of my life thinking it was normal to be in pain, to be tired, to feel unwell. Life is suffering right? As it turns out no most people are not suffering from debilitating pain. I was not normal.

I’ve been feeling well recently and when I have extended stretches of health the memories of pain fade. This is good as pain is an insistent companion. They tell you to ignore your pain or place it on a shelf or some other “removed” metaphor but I’ve always found this to be bad advice. You can channel all your focus elsewhere but the pain is there. And worse, now you are using all your energy to pull your attention away instead of what you may have preferred like work or a hobby. It’s a consuming experience one way or the other. You can feel the pain or you can feel the force of your willpower but regardless you will feel. Pain is demanding.

When pain is chronic you think you will get used to it. That perhaps it becomes a background noise after a time. The way you get used to a television or radio playing in another room. But it’s not really like that. My pain is in my spine. It comes from a swelling that chokes out the nerves. The worst spots for me are between where my bra strap would land and my mid back. At its worst it runs the length of my spine and impacts my ability to walk. There is no comfort to be found with this pain. Sitting up. Standing. Even laying down. It finds your attention. It does not give reprieves.

Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory wrote about the two types of pain.

They say that pain is a teacher. This is a lie, at least when it comes to pain beyond understanding. I suppose understandable pain could be used as a correction, as part of a causal learning process. Pain beyond understanding, though … pain beyond understanding teaches you nothing.

I live with a lot of pain beyond understanding. When it grabs me there is little I can do but hope to survive. It consumes. You have tools to fight but more often the only reaction that makes sense is fighting to relieve it. As Ben said, it has nothing to give me. It teaches nothing in this state. It’s beyond sensory inputs. This pain envelopes you into another reality. And when it is relieved you pray it will never reappear again. I know that it will. But the fear of it makes me bargain with myself. I say I will redouble my efforts to fight for my health. As if I weren’t doing as much as I can. I remind myself I have pain medication for a reason and I should simply take it. Sometimes I do.

Pain doesn’t care. It isn’t an enemy. It simply exists and you pray the tools you have will relieve it. When a true 10 on the acute breakthrough pain comes all you can do is hope to survive it. And when it is relieved the sweetness of its passing is like no other pleasure. It’s like having your humanity restored.

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Aesthetics Chronicle Internet Culture Media

Day 87 and Information Processing

I occasionally enjoy dropping a deliberately provocative tweet just to see where people will land on rorsach wordings. I particularly like ones that can be read depending on your place in cultural issues haven’t reached consensus. which is exactly why people get angry. I did this on a whim yesterday asking “is listening to audiobooks reading?”

About 70% of folks said yes. 30% said no. But the reasons why were fascinating. The majority probably doesn’t care about semantics (the minority do which I will get to) but a good chunk cares about the connotations associated with how we learn or retain information. Mostly as a function of diversity and inclusion as many folks find reading to be inaccessible for reasons of neurodivergence or focus.

I relate as I don’t process audio easily so prefer subtitles and transcripts. Sometimes I feel bad about this as folks occasionally moralize about the value of mediums I don’t find accessible. There are plenty of things that I can’t engage with or experience in its original form because of disability. I’m just not particularly angry about it. But I am also left with all of the high prestige ways of consuming culture and none of the lowbrow. Like bummer I don’t have podcasts but I still have Dostoyevsky

That’s ultimately the interesting point about asking if reading and listening are similar. What do we consider to be higher processing? And does that matter? Some folks definitely moralized on the issue on. It’s sides. If you retain the information who cares how you got it. And accessibility is its own value. Pop culture is arguably more important because of its accessibility. This is why memes are folk art. They produce a very low loss form of high meaning to content ratio

A third of folks wanted about the definition used. A lot of semantics of information consumption. If you fall into the camp of caring about how we discuss information processing there is an amazing book called the Alphabet and the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image about the transition from image to binary communication and the changes in our neurological structures by a surgeon called and Leonard Schlain.

Like the actual debate about what types of processing is happening and how it affects our structures is worth having. But so much of Twitter boils down to the moral scolds and the rage woke fighting over ideas of worth and assigning value and status. I’d rather discuss how our minds process and that impacts the trajectory of our civilizations.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 86 and Persistence

I’m learning to live around my routines. Or maybe my routines are what I live and everything else that I perceive as life is just moments in between meals, meditation, supplements, treatments, workouts, walks, and pharmaceuticals. Who is to say what forms the contours of life?

When I first picked up the daily commitment to write I struggled to find a topic to write about each day and I would find myself stressed if the end of the day was nearing and I felt I had nothing of value to say. Now I am realizing that having something to say isn’t the point of this daily discipline. It is the persistence that matters. The content is secondary. The knowledge that every day I will write and so I do is what matters. I will exercise the willpower necessary to form my thoughts into words. I will place them in public to prove to myself that I have remained committed. This is like any other aspect of my routine. Breath in and breathe out. Lift the weight. Take the medicine. Write the words.

Daily disciplines bring about breakthroughs. The individual acts maybe don’t matter so much. Some days will be better than others. But persistent effort brings about quality inexorably. It forces a standard of quality that improves at each repetition in some meaningful way even if you cannot see it in that moment. I find the act of creation easier now. It doesn’t feel like a burden. It is nit a source of stress or anxiety. It’s just something I do.

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Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 85 and Collective Progress

I am extremely online. I think it’s the best place to spend time if you want to thrive. Hands down nothing has ever beaten internet communities at improving the quality of my life on every metric. I know it sounds a little utopian but every skill I’ve acquired, job I’ve had and crucial piece of knowledge can be tracked back to the web.

I could have had a slower path in life with regular credentials and prestige building jobs with the right signals but none of those old rules have hung around long enough that I’m confident I would have made it as far in life. I needed the extra edge from living extremely online. I think we all do.

Life moves too quickly in modernity for us not to come together to survive it. Progress is going to be collaborative. Individual efforts and silos with us all competing for place and resources. Competition maybe served its purpose in a world of resource scarcity but as wealth is less dependent on rent seeking and property ownership and more on innovation and technical progress, then collaborative work has better incentives.

This may sound a little stupid but every time I ask Twitter for a ridiculous piece of advice like “ does anyone lift while high” I get incredible pieces of insight. It sounds like a dumb question and like click bait but I’m probing for similar cases of physiological response, chronic pain and a desire to biohack to better health. And yes it turns out if you have inflammation lifting weights while stoned is a great way to encourage a behavior that promotes lower inflammation with an inflammation lowering drug. It’s a virtuous cycle. And I would never have known without shitposting health nuts on Twitter. I’m not going to get that nuanced a piece of information with specific context out of a doctor or any credentialed body that works to reduce risk. I’d love to see a double blonde study proving the benefits of toking and squatting. Some knowledge is meant to be epistemic. The internet is our culture now. So share your weird finds with your tribe. It gives us all a better shot at better lives.

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Chronicle Internet Culture Media Startups

Day 84 and The Thursday Styles Problem

The Thursdays Styles problem is about zeitgeist, wealth perception and power. The New York Times publishes its “styles” section on Thursdays and Sundays. Generally speaking if you work in media, public relations or culture you are aware of the general trends that will emerge on Thursday ahead of time. For the sake of argument let’s say I know directionally on Tuesday what will be featured on Thursday.

If you know “what everyone knows everyone knows” ahead of time there is a lot of money to be made a Tuesday person. For more on the second derivative issues in zeitgeist I highly recommend Epsilon Theory. If you can sense the zeitgeist ahead of time & move to take advantage of it you can be a Tuesday person. Alas it’s not as lucrative as you may imagine to be a Tuesday person. A Thursday person who lives exactly on the zeitgeist can take advantage of the moment culture moves. Good entrepreneurs do this well. Most consumer companies hit “right on time.”

This is why venture capitalists will ask “why now” as they may have invested in a Tuesday Person who hit the zeitgeist too early and couldn’t capitalize on it. It really pisses off the founder who knows “but I was first.”

As a Tuesday person I hate when this happens. I loathe seeing people I perceive as less capable or intelligent than me hit a zeitgeist moment exactly on Thursday. The trouble is they are right. They won. They got the timing right. I didn’t.

And yes being a Thursday mover is good. But it’s crucial to understand who can win this game. The only way to win the Thursday Styles problem is to be in finance, media or culture work that can place a call option on the Thursday future on Tuesday. You have to be able to hold an opinion on the future zeitgeist long enough for Thursday to get published.

If you cannot hold your zeitgeist long enough for Tuesday to become Thursday when “everyone knows everyone knows” being right early serves no benefit. You need diamond hands. And yes you will be wrong 9 times out of 10. If the New York Times cuts a piece and it takes another week can you hold out? If the markets don’t make a Tuesday idea hit can you wait till it becomes common knowledge on that metaphorical Thursday?

It requires patience to be a Tuesday person. Knowing you will look wrong for a bit. That you will lose money when Tuesday knowledge takes longer to become Thursday Style’s common knowledge. If you can hold it’s the ultimate form of future leverage. That’s alpha.

And better yet it’s “possible” to manipulate. Publicists make their clients on Tuesday shine on Thursday. And capture the upside. Folks who are extremely online spot how market makers make zeitgeist hit. Cathie Wood at ARK Innovations has been playing the media in exactly this way. The largest experiment in making Tuesday thinkers hit before Thursday is Margit Wennmachers at a16z. Centralizing zeitgeist and monetizing it with future calls with narratives they tell on platforms they own stakes in has massive potential. The smart money is turning their Tuesday zeitgeist into Thursday Styles and taking it to the bank.

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Chronicle Media Politics

Day 83 and Tribalism

For what are probably obvious reasons (a mass shooting inside a grocery store a few miles from my home) I’ve been trying to keep off of political media the past day or so.

I’ve mostly succeeded but it’s a challenge when my primary relaxation space, Twitter, is saturated with commentary on a topic I don’t want to discuss with anyone that isn’t also living through the trauma personally. It’s not even that I don’t want to hear from folks it’s more that even if you have had a similar tragedy in your community your reaction may not be the same as ours. Every trauma is unique even when cultural circumstances may not be.

I bring this up only because I realized today when a new app claiming to analyze your news bubble filter went viral I didn’t know what folks “thought that I thought” about politics. The app said I was 100% leftist in my filter. My immediate reaction was “bullshit” in that I probably tweet once a day “as a libertarian” and regularly discuss my views on small government. So I asked folks what direction they thought I leaned. There is not a lot of consensus so far.

I follow and am followed by a very diverse group of people. I probably follow everything from alt-right fanatics to avowed socialists. I socialize with bro-science masculine fitness folks and queer chronic disease and disability advocates. So I’m not surprised I am hard to place. If you are a trad life carnivore on a homestead your opinion on my politics is probably pretty different than if you are a healthcare for all anti-ableism urbanite. I work with Silicon Valley folks and venture capitalists and the New York media establishment. Finance and the press corp are not generally politically aligned so unsurprisingly those two groups may also think I’m in a very different place on the spectrum. To someone at war with the media I may look left wing. To someone in the media I may look right wing. And yes this comes out in the wash as centrist.

The reality is that I have fairly nuanced views and your take on my leanings may say more about how much you like me and thus how much you want me to agree with you. This is for a nice reason. We tend to like the people we agree with more.

So it’s possible if you want me to like you then you may assign me views that are more aligned with yours than I am in reality. Don’t fret though we can strongly disagree and I will still like you. If we have fun together on social media I don’t need you to agree with me on social or political issues. I spend time on social precisely because I do like all kinds of people and I want to enjoy that incredible diversity of humanity. And we are all here because in the end the only thing that keeps the loneliness at bay is each other.

Categories
Chronicle Media Preparedness

Day 82 and Tragedy

Around 3:30pm MTN yesterday I heard sirens. I didn’t think much of it at first as I’m used to the noises of Manhattan even six months into relocating back to my hometown of Boulder. Then I got a text from a friend in Texas “you aren’t at the grocery store are?”

I asked what store. “Where?” And I scrambled onto Twitter. The Boulder Police Department had posted that they were responding to an active shooter situation at the King Soopers on Table Mesa. I told my friend no I was at home but the grocery store was just 2-3 miles down the road. We had picked up takeout from the shopping center just yesterday from a favorite pub Southern Sun. It’s a staple of the community. I had dinner at its sister restaurant Mountain Sun after I ditched prom in high school. One of the servers snuck us a beer in our hideous outfits even though it was clear we were in high school. The detail feels important for some reason. I don’t know why.

I quickly found a livestream and police scanners to monitor. I opened the door to our porch and heard the unmistakable sound of helicopters. It was the “whack whack whack” of the blades that made me realize it was serious. News choppers wouldn’t be on scene so fast. But medical response scrambles fast. Especially in Colorado where search and rescue leans on helicopters for rough terrain.

My husband Alex was on a call I couldn’t interrupt but I desperately wanted to get his attention. Partially, and I’m sure this will upset a few people, because I wanted to make sure he retrieved and loaded his daily carry. A small part of me considered whether we should break out body armor and get further into our interior rooms. The police had asked folks to avoid the area and stay home.

I closed the curtains so I wasn’t likely to catch the attention of anyone on Pearl Street below. I wanted to be away from windows and with barriers between me and the street. We’d actually given thought to this kind of emergency which is why we own guns and armor. We don’t advertise it but the threat of unrest and violence is something we plan for in our preparedness efforts. Especially in the wake of the January 6th insurrection it’s felt wise to be armed.

America fixates on gun violence. But not the kind that happens in areas with crime or drug violence. We like a media circus around mass shootings. Especially if it involves children. You see this isn’t my first mass shooting. I lived in Boulder during Columbine. I still remember the lockdown at school as we got word. Kids whispering who they knew. Who went there. I’ve seen this before. I’ve had proximity before. I don’t even want to get into it here as it makes my family sound a little cursed when I recount the close calls. But maybe it’s normal and other Americans have had similar close calls.

I was shaken all night as the news got reported. I checked in with my family. The only person who wasn’t worried was my mom. She knew we didn’t go grocery shopping on the South Side of town. She hadn’t considered that we would do pick up at the Mountain Sun. I spent an hour pulling tarot cards with a friend to keep my mind off of social media. We watched the press conference. We put our phones outside of the bedroom so we couldn’t doomscroll.

I had already become incensed by a viral tweet from Meena Harris the sister of Vice President Harris discussing the urgent need for gun control. Urgent my ass I thought. Why can’t any community have its tragedy and be graced to account for its grief in peace? Why do we need to discuss policy and regulations when I don’t even know the names of who was murdered yet? Fuck off Meena Harris these are my neighbors.

Without my phone and thanks to the wonders of Ativan I slept well. I woke up to a new press conference. A phone full of national news alerts. Great, I thought, the New York Times is going to fixate on this isn’t it. I had texts from all over the world. People I play games with online had heard the news. People wanted to know how I was. I wasn’t great.

We got names in the morning. I recognized one name but I wasn’t sure if it was the aunt of a schoolmate or just had a similar name. I went on Facebook. It was a different woman. Media frenzy was at a peek as we learned 10 people were dead. Somehow this was worse than the originally reported 6. It felt more mass. I got a new round of texts from folks. As if it wasn’t clear how bad it was last night.

I knew there would be attention and media. A mass shooting in a wealthy white liberal town with a history of trying to pass municipal ordinances against assault weapons is zeitgeist bait. Of course the narrative isn’t quite true. I wondered if the media knew that Table Mesa was in the shitty side of town. That a town like Boulder even has a shitty side. Alex thought the shooting was further away than it was because when we were house hunting I said I wouldn’t consider living on the south or east sides of town. Those parts of town had been othered by me and I didn’t even realize it. Because I prioritized us living in the “good” parts of town. I wanted to live where my childhood self had dreamed I would live a kid. Whether it was conscious or not I wanted to live in the wealthiest, whitest and safest part of town. I didn’t feel guilty about it at the time. It seemed prudent and I had always wanted to live on Pearl Street. As a teenager I worked on the local tv station’s documentary about its history. My mother saved the poster for the 25th anniversary which now hangs on my wall. That was in 2002. A lot of time has passed.

Of course the coverage is sensational. I should have known it would be. The media tends to prioritize wealthy liberal white lives. Boulder is a wealthy liberal white place for better or worse. Add in the A-15 for the shock value (for some reason they really freak out folks who don’t own guns) and the fact that it was in a grocery store and we’ve got the ideal blend of fear and banality. Grocery stores have been the safe place of the pandemic. A shooting at a grocery store felt particularly violent. So he’s is all anyone was going to talk about today.

Despite it not being something that was happening to any of them. It was however happening to me and Alex. We live here. This is our town. This tragedy belonged to Boulder and everyone who calls it home. I felt like we deserved to grieve in peace. To have our anger.

But I was going to have to live through everyone I knew demanding gun control on social media. Talking heads butting in. Because American media treats these acts of senseless violence as if it’s a shared moment to discuss gun policy. But it’s not. It’s a time for the people affected to have their own feelings without the glare of political opportunism. I knew this in a hazy sense before but I know it in a visceral way now. This shooting isn’t your opportunity. It’s our tragedy. I turned off my phone and slept all afternoon after finishing my workload. I felt too sad to be conscious. And everything hurt.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 81 and Good Patients

I don’t know why I feel compelled to act on a doctor’s opinion (literally every doctor) when I can think critically about any other form of authority. I’ve got some kind of deep seated fear of disobeying a physician’s suggestions in a way I just don’t with others traditional authority figures and I wish I could break it. American doctors love to prescribe drugs for every random symptom or blood result. And I’m fearful to say no. Even though I know I can’t be on about half of what I’m given

Absolutely had a anxiety moment this morning as I’m due for a metabolic blood work up and I am not sure I have the energy for the shaming if I “fail” that my endocrinologist will throw at me. I’m a healthy weight but I was overweight earlier this year and I leave in fear of that fat shaming coming back. At this point I just let her prescribe the drugs and don’t take it all. I’m sure I’m in for a lecture about some thing.