Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 727 and Low Recovery Scores

I am chuckling at how excited my former self was for a productive holiday season. I was just overcome by enthusiasm for getting ahead over the break. I was so sure the relaxation would lead to creativity and connection. Pride comes before a fall I guess. But according to my Whoop & Apple Watch, my heart rate variability has been significantly worse than usual.

Maybe it was the extreme weather. Montana had a temperature swing of 95 degrees over the last week. Perhaps I’ve simply been overdoing it with cortisol and overstimulation, as I’ve had an exciting couple of days online.

I’ve wrote up a product road maps for Twitter’s messaging service and gone viral for therapy poasting. Those two activities are tied together. You can guess who the audience was for each of those and enjoy a chuckle.

I’ve got at least one post I’d like to get done before I wrap up year two of writing every single day. I think it’s important to do a year end “best of” overview. But that will require focus and time to get right. But I won’t be doing it today. Today I will listen to my body and let it recover. 2022 was by all measures a hell of a year. I look back on it and see a huge level up in my personal life across multiple dimensions. So if my body wants a little extra recovery time it earned it.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 702 and Fight or Flight

Being extremely online is physically quite taxing these days. We’ve got these amazing dopamine casinos that are constantly rolling out the exact animal attention our novelty wired brains crave.

And absolutely the entire world of causes is out there competing for your attention. Everything from sugar water to white nationalism is being sold on social media. And we are just click clicking away not even being concerned about how we are getting radicalized into redder or blacker pills. We are riding all kinds of unhygienic dick and I fear we’ve got some kind of STD that affects common sense.

And while I just made up an entire disease for comedic effect, I do think being steeped in a reactionary culture is bad for our bodies. We can’t always be in fight or flight. We cannot constantly pump the stress hormones. Too much cortisol is at the root of a thousand different inflammatory diseases. And trust me you don’t want one of those. It’s quite literally a pain.

Information warfare is being waged and your eyeballs are boots on the ground. And just like every other grunt in any other Great War, the powers that be think you are expendable.

And you’ve got to ask yourself if you think it’s worth dying for some other man’s culture war. Has he done something heroic for your life? Given you anything? Or is it just all a story being sold to you and from which, sadly, you profit little.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 685 and Brainworms

I am very good at media. It’s a passion as well as one of my few hobbies that has stood the test of time. If I wanted a regular job I think I’d enjoy for more than a couple year stint I’d probably pick publicist. I say this add context to the topic I plan to discuss.

Because I’m so experienced (and also naturally talented) at the attention disciplines, I can spend time consuming information that isn’t mentally or emotionally hygienic for the average person. I have outstanding informational immunity. I stare into the abyss so others don’t have to. I monitor it all, from extremist groups to the most normie mainstream media. I have always made my living by intaking and organizing information.

Unlike your drunk uncle or wired Gen Z nephew, I can withstand information environments designed to “pill” you and hijack your dopamine responses without ill effect. Frankly I’m disappointed I’m not a literal William Gibson character as I certainly feel like Cayce Pollard existentially.

So I hope you take me seriously when I say I think it is time for all of us to pull back from extended raw regular Twitter consumption for a little bit. It has become an info-hazard rapidly and almost accidentally as its new management attempts to reinvigorate features and drive cost cutting (some of which I support). I don’t know if it is going to collapse or get reinvented but Twitter as it is right now is unstable.

The degradation of features and rules of engagement is happening too quickly and unpredictably for me to surf continuously like I have in the past. Context collapse is pervasive. There are gaping holes in informational hierarchies from experiments to both nerf and boost accounts through verification chaos. Responses from trusted accounts don’t make it to my alerts. I used to browse on reverse chronological non-algorithm view but it appears so broken in my feed it’s unclear how or why things are being surfaced.

And these concerns barely scratch the surface. Twitter’s immune responses to competing agendas, trolling and chaos agents are broken as the duct tape and physical labor of its team has been slashed. Raging information infections that typically remain contained to their ecosystems are spreading to main feeds. You cannot control your information environment when it is collapsing all around you.

You are going to get brain worms if you are not careful. If even a twenty year professional with exposure to the darkest corners of content (from 4chan to Gawker to groypers) no longer feels safe in this information war zone than you might want to consider restricting your own consumption for your own mental and emotional safety. I’ve decided to cut down on browsing until the platform stabilizes. I’m rebooting my email inbox and newsfeeds. I am choosing to open news apps directly rather than waiting for my networks to surface news. I just don’t feel safe drinking from the raw feed on Twitter right now.

In other words, if it’s not safe for me then it is definitively not safe for you.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 677 and Bad Moon Rising

I got woken up at around 430am this morning by my husband. Now he typically wakes up earlier than me but rarely does he rise before 5am. He got out of bed and I heard one of our doors opening. A few minutes later he was back in bed and I drifted back to sleep.

It turns out he was getting up to see if the lunar eclipse was visible. Much of Southwest Montana got blanketed in a significant snowstorm, so alas cloud cover prevented him from glimpsing the eclipse with the naked eye. The blood moon was hidden behind a white out.

The eclipse was soon forgotten in the excitement of the storm. The snow was so powder fine we immediately suited up to do the adult version of playing outside. We had our first opportunity to hook up the snow blower attachment to our tractor to plow out our very long drive away. I took dozens of videos and Alex absolutely wrecked me by blowing a bunch of snow at me. We captured the comedy on the security camera and it made for a good laugh.

But the day unraveled almost immediately. The blood moon began to feel a bit like a bad moon rising. News of crypto exchange FTX getting “acquired” by Binance after 48 hours of sniping between CZ and Sam Bankman Fried. It’s a complicated story but it basically amounts to a bank run. Crypto was having a JP Morgan moment that appeared to have been manifested as some kind of grudge match on Twitter. The financial markets largely seemed like they didn’t care.

But crypto isn’t even the big story of the day. It’s Election Day in America where the midterms have been hyped up into an existential crisis. Which seems like a stupid thing to do when you are bound to lose just based on past election history (the party is in power tends to lose the midterms) but whatever everything in American life is existential now.

I’ve been on a doomer beat for sometime. Not that I think everything is necessarily getting worse but rather a series of macro level trends are headed in the wrong direction. I’d like to continue to live a nice life. I see the bad moon rising. And I made a set of life choices to get my family to Montana. I’ve got a serious of predictions about what it might take to thrive in harder times. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit smug about having beat the rush. So stay strapped out there my friends.

Categories
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.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 652 and Startled Awake

There are few things more disorienting than waking up without realizing where, or even when, you’ve fallen asleep.

The first few moments of regaining consciousness are the stuff of genuine terror. As your senses do their best to bring their data to your brain, there are a few agonizingly slow beats where you genuinely have no idea what the fuck is going on.

I imagine this phenomenon is where our vocabulary of phrases like “startled awake” get their origin. Perhaps you weren’t awoken by anything surprising, or particularly startling, but the small gap in processing between sense and mind is such a chasm in that singular moment that it all feels startling.

I had lay down to wait for a Midol to kick in to ease my first day of menstruation cramps at around 1:30pm. I remember asking my husband if he could find a heating blanket. I don’t remember much past that except a few hazy details of wrapping my entire lower torso with a heating blanket.

I had not turned off any lights. Nor had I thought to put on a sleeping mask. I thought I was simply waiting for the sweet relief of caffeine, Tylenol and diuretics. I had even told my girlfriend Ellie who had been expecting me to come up upstairs to hang out that I just needed a quick lie down. Turns out the lie part was true. It was not quick however. Which is some fun wordplay.

When I regained consciousness I had no sense of how much time had passed. As I fumbled about for my cell phone I swear I felt my neurons firing off rapidly in an attempt to gain data points for my poor addled mind to do some damned interpreting.

I was wrapped in something hot with a cord. Did that mean I wasn’t in my own bed? I didn’t generally sleep with anything electronic. I briefly panicked as I felt trapped in what was previously providing my body with comfort. I’d forgotten about the electric heating blanket, leaving the cord with no other function but to panic my hind brain with a fear of being strangled.

As all my lights were on, the various lamps were washing out any indication of the hour. I could hear noises above me so perhaps someone was awake. Did that mean it was the afternoon? What was with all the stomping above. It felt like it must be day.

I simply wasn’t getting enough orientation information from my initial position and I couldn’t seem to find my phone. I doubt more than a second or two has passed as I went through my startled awake process.

As I attempted to make sense of all these inputs I finally realized that I had passed out on top of my phone and I’d let it slip under my pillow. It was a bit past 3pm. I texted Ellie to let her know I’d accidentally passed out. The brief pumping of adrenaline and cortisol was easing back. I was at home in bed quite safe and a bit overly warm. But I certainly felt a new appreciation for the limits and frailty of my human mind.

Categories
Preparedness Startups

Day 632 and The Yips

I think I might have a case of the yips. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s most commonly referred to as type of performance anxiety associated with experienced athletes. They suddenly find themselves unable follow through on techniques they otherwise know well.

Though as it turns out it’s not actually a form of anxiety at all, but rather a failure to consistently execute on muscle memory in experienced professionals which manifests as a loss of fine motor skills or a struggle to follow through on common chains of decision making, especially ones that are subconscious.

You might also associate it with analysis paralysis, a phenomenon in which someone has access to all relevant information but gets lost in decision making rather than simply acting on their reasonable informed instinct. One’s ability to simply execute what is in front of them is diminished not through lack of knowledge of experience but rather inaction.

I am an experienced startup operator. I am also a competent angel and early stage investor in private markets with a speciality in technology driven businesses. At this point, I’m not only well into my career with a number of concrete successes (I’ve built and sold companies) but I’ve also got generational memory from being the daughter of a startup operator. And yet I’m still nervous about swimming into the deep end of my investing career. I’ve got the the yips.

I hadn’t noticed that I had the yips till I came back from a wilderness medical incident technician certification course. I was doing a hands on course meant for front line first responders in rural and back country scenarios. It was heavy on scene and scenario execution so you could build muscle memory and quick response times.

In medical emergencies, especially in a wilderness context, you have limited resources and personnel. Acting swiftly with the knowledge and materials at hand is crucial. If you don’t take action, someone will die. Startups are famously resource constrained environments. Paul Graham of Y Combinator has an entire framework that assume you are default dead unless you take action to assure survival. This is as as applicable mindset for wilderness survival as it is for startups.

I had some sort of instinctual foresight that this wilderness medicine course would be useful not only practically in day to day life as someone who lives in Montana, but also as a mindset for my investing work on the chaotic thesis that the world is getting more complex. And that complexity has consequences for all of us.

The more chaotic the world, the harder it is to act with confidence as complexity builds.

Only by getting outside of my own skill set and professional world did I finally see how much I’m holding myself back from acting. Whether it is out of fear or analysis paralysis I do not know. But I do know that if one does not act the consequences can be dire. We are all default dead unless we make decisions to remain alive. There is no safety or progress to be found by staring at your problems and becoming overwhelmed by the challenge. If there is a cure for the yips it is to simply keep playing no matter how hard the game becomes.

Categories
Medical Preparedness

Day 630 and Sympathetic Nervous Response

One of the downsides of having any kind of medical bullshit is having to keep an eye on yourself. If you over do shit you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

I’ve been doing a wilderness medical incident first responder course this week. I initially went into it slightly concerned with my ability to physically keep up given my ankylosis. I was easily the odd duck out in a group of former military folks, paramedics and wild land firefighters. If I’m honest I didn’t want to embarrass myself by showing too much frailty. I was already the only woman in the class. I didn’t need to be the cripple on top of that.

But over four days I’ve managed just fine. I did wound packing and splints. I did a number of incident scenario responses ranging from anaphylactic shock to heart attacks. I even did multiple mass casualty response drills. Today I managed one as a triage incident deputy and comported myself quite well.

I was feeling pretty cocky about how well I’d managed through the week. I was enjoying that sense of accomplishment right up until 5pm or so today when we had our last assignment of the day. We’d just finished up a drill with five patients who had been caught in a tornado. It was an hour of field work and triage outside. I was thinking alright maybe I’m getting the hang of thing. But no I was about to embarrass myself on one of the easiest tasks in the course.

It was time to pack up our own medical kits. We got a big baggie with all the supplies we could possibly need for our our first aid kits and dumped it out on the desk. Our instructor began going over all the items and how to pack them up into the bright orange brick that serves as your kit bag. I was doing my best to follow along but my brain was just not having it. I kept trying to figure out what items went where and how it was meant to go. And I was not remotely keeping up with the class or the instructions.

I’m starting to feel overheated and I’m struggling to concentrate. And it’s then I realize “oh shit I’m in a bunch of pain” and I realize I haven’t taken my pain medication for hours and it is starting to show. I just ran around in a big field doing triage for an hour. So I think to myself well I’m having a sympathetic nervous system spazz out. The pain and fatigue is sending me into fight or flight and I’m losing decent coordination and fine motor skills. I am becoming one of my own patients.

I didn’t finish packing out my kit. I had to excuse myself. I briefly considered if it would be funny to have a medical incident in a first responder course. But I was fully capable of treating my own acute stress response. I was getting worked up by an inflammatory response from my ankylosis and low and behold the pain in my spine was going to spike.

The end of the story is that I’m in bed and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have kicked in. My pulse and respiration are fine. I’m no longer in fight or flight. And yes I’m a little embarrassed that packing a bag is what did me in. But on the other hand, that’s a very “Julie” way to learn a lesson.

Categories
Medical Preparedness

Day 629 and Working in Chaos

If you have been following along for the past couple of days you may have noticed I’m at a wilderness medical first responder course. I’ve been soaking up an inordinate amount of information. Part of the reason I am here is personal enrichment, but equally I am here because I’m working to understand chaos driven industries and the opportunities they present.

And the class is not disappointing. As we’ve have absorbed more skills and are moving further into the course, the chaos factor is being ramped up. The particularly enjoyable aspect of the specific course I am doing is that it is not just imparting book smarts. It’s designed to be much more hands on.

If it were a business school class they would probably refer to the methodology as case studies. But instead of ruminating on what you would do if you were management you are reacting as if you were the actual first responder on the scene. And the cases are getting more and more complex.

We started out with with the basics. We were deducing issues and imparting stabilizing treatments. But as we got more comfortable with figuring diagnostics and rendering basic aid the complexity ranked up. At the end of the day today we were presented with a car accident and four patients.

As we ran (literally) onto the scene we had to not only unravel what had happened but also treat several patients in varying degrees of distress. One of our patients didn’t make it. There was nothing we could have done. But we didn’t know that going into the scene. When we arrived we had no idea what happened and had to untangle the triage ourselves.

I was surprised at how challenging it was to leap into action. As the chaos of the accident presented itself our group of first responders had to decide on organizing ourselves and our resources. But the instinct is to simply begin rendering aid.

And that tension between acting and organizing in a crisis never goes away. You just get better trained at how to approach it. Working in the chaos is the job. I honestly thought I’d be better at it. Taking charge and working in uncertainty is something I enjoy. But as with any new skill, it takes work and practice. A certain amount of pressure is the only thing that teaches you how to work in chaos. And I’ve still got a long way to go.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 605 and Inventory

I like to be prepared. It’s my personal opinion that this winter is going to be a bit rough. There is no single issue but rather a patchwork of intersecting crisis points that make me a little edgy.

You’ve got crop yields all over the place from another wild climate change year. You’ve got the rising costs of fertilizers. You’ve got an energy crisis brought on by the war Russia is waging against Ukraine. You’ve got whatever China is up to with its Covid policies. And then of course you’ve got our lingering economic fuckery and well you can see why I’m worried.

I went through our emergency food stores today and did some turnover and replenishment. We didn’t opt to move some things with us to Montana (some items had expiration dates necessitating donation) so it’s been on my to do list.

I’ve got a spreadsheet that includes fats, starches, sweeteners and less glamorous proteins like beans and canned fish. It theoretically calculates our our caloric needs and what is provided for in our supplies so we can more easily assess if we have enough on hand for different scenarios. In reality, I’ve never actually had full inputs clean enough to generate an output I trust. So I kind of wing it with this basic level of precision.

I’ve tried to abide by basic best practices for emergencies. Ready.gov is a surprisingly decent resource even if it might shock you what you should have in hand. You need supplies for a three day disaster like a snowstorm or hurricane. You need three weeks of supplies for an interruption that takes a bit of resolve. And you ideally three months of food on hand if something goes really wrong. The Mormon Church says you should keep a year of food on hand.

I don’t think we’ve quite got a year of food on hand but I have taken a lot of tips from the LDS suggestions for food storage. We’ve got pounds of wheat (and a hand crank grinder). We’ve got 25lbs sacks of rice. We’ve got big jugs of cooking oils. We’ve got sugars. We’ve got spices. I’ve got quite the collection of dried legumes.

I feel like I basically have what is necessary for a bad winter in Montana. I hope we’ve got enough for any supply chain constraints that might make it harder to get things to our modestly more rural homestead. But in truth I’m just following lists and hoping if something happens I didn’t fuck up too badly. And I’d we did well we’ve got shotguns and ammunition and the local deer are a little too cavalier about their safety. For now.