Internet Culture

Day 669 and Nudging

It’s a nice day to be blogging today and I appreciate the nudge to be reminded of one of the Internet’s most sacred numbers by my terminally online brain worms.

Where you spend a lot of time clearly affects your social norms. As I am a citizen of the internet numbers like 69 and 420 will forever and always be titillating. Twitter in particular has a fondness for our sex and our weed. But Twitter has lots of other social norms and not all of them are so friendly and fun.

If the new management at Twitter could fix one element of the platform, my choice would be their nudging “your reply is hostile” prompts. I am, as Spock once said of Captain Kirk, prone to colorful metaphors. I swear. A lot. And the Twitter “be friendly” screen is a constant companion of mine.

Twitter sending me a warning that “Most people don’t post replies like this”

I was goofing around in a thread about ham radios that we should become ungovernable to our HOAs. Sure some Karens might take offense at me lobbing f bombs at the authority of your home owners associations, but most people wouldn’t. I’m not going to train Twitter’s algorithm to recognize this social nicety though. T

Now I could comply with the screen and edit my tweet. I could comply and say actually no I’m not being hostile I’m making a joke. But freaky they should let me say fuck HOAs if I want to even if it’s not a joke. And I’m not going to conform to this social grace. If anything the screens little nudging hand encouraging me to be nice makes me want to push back even harder.

I’d love to see the metrics on if this improves behavior or not as human nature suggests it might make it worse. I know it makes me more hostile. I double down on my responses just because inhumane algorithms are coded as “the man” in most media. I will not comply. And like my response I am become ungovernable, destroyer of Twitter norms. Oppenheimer got it right.

Biohacking Chronic Disease

Day 668 and Health Multitasking

I didn’t take my own advice recently. When folks ask me how to begin biohacking I tell them to take it slow. You should change only one variable at a time.

Biohacking requires that you don’t change up your variables too often or too quickly. You need to establish trend lines. The biggest mistake you can make is being “noisy” as you will never isolate the meaningful variables. And you won’t stick to it. So it’s a double fuck up. Clean reliable data matters. Don’t change too much too fast.

Day 91 and A Beginner’s Guide to Biohacking

My biohacking has been focused on improving my core inflammatory markers for several years. Secondary metrics like pain and energy got better as my erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein went down.

What I did to improve those metrics was complex, time intensive and expensive but it was pretty clear what outcome I was pursuing. My broad goals were simple. The tactics merely a function of one overarching strategy to lower inflammation.

Recently I’ve been a bit sloppy about my goals as my SED rate and CRP approach normal. I got excited that I might be stable enough to pursue some new goals. I am always looking to lower my doses of pain management medications. But the real shiny object for me has been fat loss.

I’ve struggled to stay lean as several medications that improve inflammatory markers have weight gain as a side effect. I struggle with shame about my weight. So much of popular culture portrays weight gain as a function of poor impulse control. It embarrasses me on some deep core level that others might think I’m lazy. If immediately trigger’s defensiveness for me.

I can rationally know I was pursuing a responsible health by taking prednisone during acute phases of my illness, but a part of me is still so embarrassed by the side effects. What must people think of me? Even if I explain that it’s a side effect of medication I fear that it’s still perceived as been slovenly.

So I decided to go back on metabolic drug called ozempic because I just hate carrying excess fat. I thought I could add it into my routine. But I am not doing as well as I’d like with the side effects of the injection. I’ve now vomited two Sundays in a row and been unable to eat. That is destabilizing enough that it is impacting my other goals like a slow dose down of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Maintaining low inflammation rates with lower pharmaceutical intervention is obviously a huge goal of mine and far more crucial than dropping a few pounds of fat. Especially because my metabolic markers are all in the clear.

I just so badly want to put behind some of the visible markers of my disease. It was hubris to pursue ozempic when I know I have other metrics that are more important than my shame about having steroid fat. So next time you see someone who is overweight I encourage some empathy. You never know the whole story of someone’s health.


Day 667 and Socializing

I’ll admit I had certain expectations of what living in Montana would be like. I like my space and I like being on my own. I had fantasies of quiet days to myself focusing on my investing and my homestead. So it’s been something of a surprise to find myself socializing more in Montana than ever.

In the past seven days we’ve hosted two separate house guests across five days, attended a dinner and been guests at a cocktail party. And you know what? It’s been fucking awesome.

Fuck man the social scene in Montana is legitimately perfect for me. Everyone here is WEIRD as shit. Was hanging out with old school pirate cyberpunks tonight

While I suspected we’d enjoy having our friends come visit, (and if you are interested in coming to Montana hit me up on Twitter) I wasn’t expecting to go out as much as we have been. But, as my surprisingly viral Tweet above indicated, we’ve been meeting all kinds of incredibly cool weirdos. It’s been a blast.

It’s all just been very my “scene” with such a wide array of diverse personalities and interests. Not all of them socially acceptable I might add. I’ve definitely socialized with full on socialists one night and conservative reactionaries on another. And aside from some of their political ambitions (everyone thinks they should be in charge) mostly folks seem content to continue enjoying the live and let live ethos. Well ok, there is a little meddling but in that we are all in it together kind of way.

The binding ethos is that nobody trusts the government. The dream of libertarianism might just still be alive on the occasional cocktail party circuit of rural neighbors getting together in Gallatin Valley. The mountain town loonies are still here. All the flavors and variants of the dream seem to be finding purchase here.

I shudder to think of how Bozeman will eventually become Boulder, simply because it feels like I’ve finally come home to the eccentric living that defined my childhood just a few hundred miles south in the Colorado Rockies. But for now I’m thrilled to find respite among people. My people. The western weirdos.


Day 666 and Mark Of the Bedeviled

Signs, signifiers and semiotics are a pastime and also a professional obligation, so naturally I’m excited to have arrived at day six hundred and sixty six (666) of writing every single day.

While I’d like to think it’s been a positive experience, shadow work tells me a little bit of the devil is as surely responsible as my better angels for this project. So I might as well mark the occasion.

While I enjoy a wide range of woo woo pastimes (white girls love Tarot) I cannot say that end times Biblical fire and brimstone is my jam. But I presume just about everyone in America is vaguely aware of 666 as a signifier for end times Book of Revelations full on evil. 666 is the mark of the beast.

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Revelations 13:18 King James Version

I’m not much for millenarian prophesies, despite being a card carrying doomer, so I can’t really interpret why the Mark of the Beast means diddly squat. Even though I enjoy a Ronald Emmerich piece of disaster porn, I cannot claim to have done more than skim the Book of Revelations. I once spent an entire quarter reading the Old Testament in Aramaic which is surely enough to put even ardent scholars off their Bible study for a bit.

But I have been revisiting Yeats’ Second Coming lately so perhaps I’ve been exposed to the general energy of revelations. Ben Hunt of Epison Theory has written most eloquently about the Widening Gyre of moment. Anxieties and disagreements have frozen some of us and unleashed the worst passions in others. It feels right for the moment.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats “Second Coming”

It’s hard not to recognize the Widening Gyre in our moment. But perhaps it has been ever so for humanity. We search for signs and signals and find them because we want to. We see evil all around us and perhaps we should be grateful for it as it’s surely saved our ancestors from being eaten.

So it’s hard not to look around when a culturally significant number like 666 crosses your transom. What rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? I wonder if Yeats had a particular vision for the end of the world. And I wonder how much it matches mine.


Day 665 and Solar

One of the projects we’ve been prioritizing for our Montana homestead is installing a solar array and a battery back up system. Having secondary power systems in case of an emergency seems sensible. As electricity and gas prices rise, and power grids look less stable, solar becomes less of a nice-to-have and more of a must-have for a resilient home.

I will admit I’ve got little technical talent and even less enthusiasm for gadgets and tinkering, so this project has been entirely directed by my husband Alex. But I thought it was worth documenting here even if I can take little credit for the project beyond insisting it get done immediately.

Digging a trench in our pasture to connect the future solar array to the house.

We had considered panels for our roof but we have a front pasture with more sunlight year round so Alex opted for a 13.92 Kw ground mount array made of 32 panels. They are bifacial panels so they pick up the solar radiation that bounces off the ground (eg from snow) on a tiltable grid so we can optimize the angle based on time of year – from 20 degrees in the summer to 60-70 in the winter.

Alex in the hole being dug for the wrest.

The array is expected to generate about 21 Mwh/year and fully offset our electricity usage. We will also be adding 20-30kwh of battery storage soon since you can’t expect it to be sunny every day.

Putting in wires and protecting bits & bobs

We’ve got a ways to go but I will say I have been extremely impressed with how quickly we were able to find a solar vendor and get the process going. We’ve got advantages in that we don’t need any permitting as we are in the country. We’ve got to think of the aesthetics for our neighbors (we will be hiding the array from road view with an aspen copse) but in general we can do what we like within reason. If you’ve been considering solar for environmental or preparedness reasons I’d get on it as soon as is feasible.


Day 664 and Political Disabilty

I did not watch the Pennsylvania senatorial candidate debate between Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Republican tv personality Dr. Mehmet Oz because I live in Montana. Why the fuck would I do that? But I have caught the discourse surrounding it and I do not like it.

If you are not following this saga, Fetterman had a stroke a few days before the primary in May. He is recovering but but is still having trouble with speech. People who are not familiar with neurological recovery processes (otherwise known as 99% of normal humans including me) are freaking the fuck out about what it means that his speech is impaired. It looks particularly egregious when compared to Dr Oz who is professionally competent at communicating clearly on television because that is his job.

Naturally we are seeing the absolute worst possible response to Fetterman’s current disability from just about everyone. Supporters of Fetterman are insisting that there is no evidence of mental degeneration or acuity issues. Which might be true but I don’t know. But the general sense I get from supporters is one cannot even suggest that there might be processing issues because doing so would you an awful ableist human being. Neat!

On the flip side, Republicans and other opponents are insisting Fetterman isn’t fit to hold office as he is not capable of speaking clearly. The Republican position seems to be that a speech impediment is a clear sign of mental decay and electing him is maybe a diverity and inclusion policy so wrong it should insult us all. Also extremely neat!

I’d say naturally both positions are ridiculous but I’m not sure this is natural to anyone. Ableism, or discrimination against the disabled, is an exciting new front in the culture wars. Being being disabled is a hot new identity marker despite the fact that a quarter of Americans have some form of disability. It’s not that unique or cool to be disabled. But modern medicine is a miracle so we can’t rely on Darwin anymore to keep us damned cripples out of sight anymore making light eugenics kind of a popular position. I don’t love it.

I am someone with a modest disability. I have a spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis which is basically arthritis in my spine. So I don’t find any of the commentary surrounding Fetterman’s disability status encouraging. I don’t love that the basic assumption is being less than abled bodied is disqualifying for work. It depends! This shouldn’t be a whole fucking thing.

A disability doesn’t mean you can’t work like a “normal” person but it does mean you have some limitations to work around. This doesn’t make you better or worse as a person. Being disabled has no moral valence. Alas we tend to valorize suffering and demonize perceived weakness. Neat!

My position is most disabilities are sort of a modest inconvenience that on balance forces you to hone other abilities to be competitive. This is my super hero theory of disability and might be a contributing factor to the side that valorizes disability. How cool is it to be an X-Men? Extremely! But I don’t overweight this position as I largely think a market economy fixes by forcing us to all to compete and find our niche.

If this is scandalous to you, I’d say everyone has something that is a struggle to overcome even if most people’s thing is just being kind of an idiot. Half of us are by definition below average. But imagine if I thought you being stupider than me was disqualifying for holding political office.

My whole point in this long ramble is that the Democrats are being ridiculous in insisting we cannot look at the strengths and weaknesses that come with bodies being sick. We are on year three of the pandemic so that ship has sailed. The Republicans are being ridiculous insisting that speech impediments are disqualifying. Tump didn’t even have the benefit of a stroke to blame for his speech patterns.

It isn’t ridiculous to ask someone to be transparent about recovery and abilities. I’ve got no idea if Fetterman has slower thinking after the strike or if it’s just slower speaking. I don’t really care to be honest. Not my senator.

But if we all keep insisting on physical and mental perfection from our elected officials we might not have any politicians left. Which actually on second thought might be ok.


Day 663 and Bad Sleep

I realize I’ve had several days of “well shit seems badposting. The outside world is a bit kooky but my world is basically fine. It’s snowy and I’m cozy and I’ve got friends visiting so you’d think I’d be in a terrific mood. But I’ve had two nights of absolutely horrible sleep.

I have been tossing and turning. I’m in more pain than I’d prefer. My heart rate is up. And my recovery has been for shit. At 6am this morning I just fully gave up on sleeping and trudged up to the kitchen for coffee. According to my Whoop I’d been awake since 1am. The same thing had happened the night before too.

I have reasonably good sleep hygiene. Dark quiet cold room. I take magnesium. I have a wind down routine. I’ve got a good mattress. And crucially if I am particularly fucked up I’ve got a prescription for a downer or two.

None of that appears to have mattered. Not even drugs were able to keep me asleep. And it’s bumming me the fuck out. At a certain point I’ve got to assume I’ll simply be so tired that I’ve got to sleep through the night right?

I told myself that was true yesterday when I feel asleep within a few minutes of my head hitting the pillow. But a few hours later I was awake and in pain. I’ve tried to be extra active today in the hopes that I won’t repeat it tonight.

Culture Politics

Day 662 and Immobility & Gender

Americans are incapable of getting things done. Such is the popular sentiment of the moment. We are immobilized in some form of national endocrine collapse brought about by too many years of chaos and accelerating change. Our problems aren’t getting fixed and we are all too demoralized to do anything seems to be a popular consensus.

Some folks blame democracy. Some blame the degradation of the balance of power as our executive branch overtakes the legislative. Much ink and chatter is being dedicated to the upwelling of populism and it’s charismatic authoritarians as the solution to our stagnation and immobility globally. Or maybe it’s because we cannot imagine a better future.

I’m chewing on a new theory. What if it’s got nothing to do with democracy or a return to monarchy, or even lie inability to cope with chaos at all? What if history isn’t repeating but rather history has come to a crossroads and women are smack in the middle.

What if we can’t get anything done, because we’ve not come to terms with what power and authority women wield? What if this is mostly a reactionary period about what to do with women? What if the crisis of men is actually a crisis about women? What if all of the insecurities about modernity boil down to we changed gender dynamics quite a bit in the last century?

Populists and neo-monarchists are fucking themselves because they aren’t quite sure how to deal with the middle ground in which they find women. Women are neither fully in charge of the home, hearth and children (single earner households having become unaffordable) nor are they treated as equal actors in the public stage. The answer the throwbacks give is we should return to traditional gender roles. Except that’s not actually an option even if it would help.

Powerful women are at best mediocre ciphers (Liz Truss comes to mind) or one in a million talents (Indra Noyi for instance) such that gender is far beside the point. The middle ground of most American women is a mess of confusion about demographic collapse, loneliness, and the good life.

The Dominionists, Christian Nationalists and various flavors of neo-patriarchal traditionalists believe the solution is simple. Bring women back into the home and to the elbow of their menfolk. Men are obligated to the public sphere unlike their women for whom it shouldn’t be a concern at all. Which seems like a strange approach to problem solving. Return to only half the planet having authority.

This is a bit like putting the genie back in the bottle as we’ve got a full century of women’s suffrage under our belt and two generations of women working outside the home. Capitalism in particular loves women workers.

Combine that with the degradation of men in modernity and you start to see some of the challenges. All of our status markers suggest it is better to be unmarried as a woman than married to a loser. That didn’t used to be true but birth control and third wave feminism probably made it so. And in late stage capitalism most men are being framed as losers, lacking the soft skills to navigate corporate politics and higher education.

I frankly haven’t the slightest idea what anyone is supposed to do about this. Accordingly to the viral Female Delusion Calculator (funny how there isn’t a reverse option) my husband doesn’t exist at all demographically. But then neither do I.

So one can’t really be looking to some globalist asshole white Americans to solve this problem. We are the problem according to a large swathe of people. Unless we are the ones capable of overcoming immobility as we’ve got the spare capacity. But I think rich folks running the show been the default state for most of history so fuck if I know. But I do think I’m onto something with gender being at the center of a lot of our issues.


Day 661 and Existential Immobility

If everything is an existential fight, well I hate to break it to you, nothing is an existential fight. As the Russian war in Ukraine spirals out and the American midterm elections edge closer, I am having “existential” threat fatigue.

You’ve got generals making claims that if Ukraine falls the international order falls. You’ve got Republicans insisting that if the Democrats remain in control it’s the end of America. You’ve got Democrats insisting that Republicans are an existential threat to American democracy. That one might actually be true but that’s just my bias. Turns out we all think democracy is under threat we just don’t agree why. The varying degrees of panic are so palpable it’s impossible to untangle which chicken little is correct.

Our wood burning stove merrily making a start at our many cords of wood.

We’ve got a gorgeous snowstorm in Montana and I’m snuggly inside with a roaring fire, a roast chicken and friends. But if I do so much as look at the internet, I am quickly reminded entire world is falling apart. It is a persistent threat to my central nervous system. But I’m beginning to think that the real existential thread is how immobile everyone feels.

A roast chicken with potatoes in a cast iron skillet on top of a stove.

If the world is indeed on the precipice clearly we need more photos of roast chickens and warm fires. But that does feel like the existent it is possible to positively contribute. The deer in headlights feeling is slowly claiming us all like the Nothing in from the Neverending Story. And like Bastian I’m unsure if I should “do what you wish” or continue the search for meaning.

Internet Culture

Day 660 and When Extremely Online Goes Terminal

I committed one of the cardinal sins of the extremely online yesterday. So much discourse was happening I overwhelmed myself. Just like an endless stream of stuff was hitting my hind brain and like an idiot I just kept drinking from the firehose of engagement. I stayed up till 1am.

I’m typically careful about how much central nervous system stress I’m willing to tolerate. It’s a hazard of the job when being visibly online and searching for investments is mostly virtual. Purposely consuming a significant amount of bad news or scrolling the deep cuts of the dark corners of the message boards is meant to be done in small doses. I have no need to push my endocrine system into permanent fight or flight. No one does. It’s very counterproductive.

Going into a sympathetic nervous response is a part of life though. Some stress is good. I have an entire routine for soothing an overstimulated vagus nerve. I take adaptogens. I meditate. I live in Montana with plenty of open spaces and fresh air. I am skilled in discerning agitprop from all corners of the information wars. When I dive into the dopamine river I do so responsibly with the right tools. Don’t try this at home kids.

But that doesn’t mean I’m immune from drowning in the dopamine drip. I just have a good chance of pulling myself out before it’s too late. Around 9pm or so it became clear that even after a quiet dinner, some CBD and THC gummies, and relaxing television with my husband that I was in fact still very much in sympathetic response.

I panicked a little bit as hour after hour passed and I continued to be reactive. I’d started a negative flywheel. I took an Ativan fully expecting the steroid of the mind to knock me out. It did not. And so giving in to all my worst impulses stayed on Twitter. Fuck it if the good rare drugs weren’t doing it. I said “let ‘er rip!” I had recently finished the Bear.

Today I undid the damage. I slept until my body decided it was time to wake up. I followed my supplement routine carefully. For the TMI readers I had about a dozen orgasms. I slept some more. I stretched and took a walk. I took a long leisurely shower with every possibly form of exfoliating and conditioning I could imagine. And now at the end of the day I think I might have pushed my case of terminally online back to a place of merely extremely online. Let that be a lesson to everyone.