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A Geek's Eye

5th February, 2016. 9:00 am. Still Sick

Still possessed of a nasty cough but, honestly, it's getting better. I'll keep my distance from co-workers, today, like I have since Tuesday, and focus on getting better.

So, is "getting better" Taco Bell or White Castle?

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: sick.

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2nd February, 2016. 9:38 am. Depression: Defined

Depression isn't sadness. Sadness is a frequent symptom of depression. Depression is similar to what it sounds like; when a button is pressed (or "depressed") it is being pushed down ... being set into a flattened and non-responsive state. If you think of depression in this way, it will make a lot more sense.

Being depressed is like being devoid of motivation ... not just devoid of energy. You can have energy and be depressed: you just don't have the ability to utilize it. Granted, a depressed person will often have little energy, too, but keep in mind this is an attempt at describing the underlying cause of something, so I'm making these sorts of contrasts and analogies for the purpose of understanding.

So, in short, depression is a state of non-motivation and disconnection from one's self. Some evolutionary psychologists believe that we evolved this mechanism to force ourselves to take a break from constantly hunting, running, fighting, seeking food, and other survival techniques tens of thousands of years ago. After so many stressors on one's life, a person's body can't keep operating at peak capacity. Therefore, the brain starts to shut things down to force a respite.

In some articles I have read, the claim is that a human needs at least 48-72 hours free from external stresses in order to re-set the brain. Extended depression is what happens when a person cannot re-set. In short, the brain becomes wired to keep trying to shut down parts of the body.

In a modern society without sabre-tooth tigers trying to eat us, our brains still don't recognize that things making us nervous won't actually kill us. The automatic depression response is still there. But, today, we have far more things that trigger that response even if they are not literally life-threatening.

So, some learn how to re-calibrate their responses. Others do not. Some sort-of do but get caught-up in a depressive cycle that becomes ingrained.

And the more they think about it, the worse it becomes.

This is depression.

I hope understanding this, helps.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: tired.

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30th January, 2016. 10:04 am. Gaming is About Passion

I found this over on Tumblr:



Screw that.

As long as we’re arguing over who can label themselves what…

1. Dungeons & Dragons (all editions)
2. Pac-Man
3. Space Ace
4. Dragon’s Lair
5. Battle Zone
6. Ms. Pac-Man
7. Gauntlet (and Gauntlet II)
8. Civilization II (and Civ III and V)
9. Monster Rancher
10. Metro Run
11. Pong
12. Call of Cthulhu
13. Pathfinder (tabletop version)
14. Monopoly
15. Clue
16. Pokemon (collectible card game)
17. Magic: the Gathering
18. World of Warcraft
19. City of Heroes (and City of Villains)
20. Champions Online
21. Dungeons and Dragons Online
22. Guild Wars II
23. FLUXX
24. Cards Against Humanity
25. Fez
26. Unspeakable Words
27. Traveler
28. Settlers of Catan

Listen, kids: being a gamer means gaming. It’s not about the variety (I could go on for another hundred and still not near the end of my list): it’s about the passion you bring to it.

I worship at the altar of the Gods of Gaming: Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Steve Jackson, Richard Garfield, Shigeru Miyamoto, Lord British, and hundreds of others.



Rather than worry who can call themselves what, let’s celebrate the games … even if we don’t like Minecraft, Farmville, Candy Crush, Five Nights at Freddies, Undertale, or whatever other game you feel doesn’t measure up this week.

Yours,
Sylvan

Current mood: proud.

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27th January, 2016. 10:07 pm. Fuck You

I'm going to make something clear: I am getting therapy. I've been getting therapy for years. It has helped in some areas and not in others. I'm seeking help for my problems with my weight.

I realize I may be well-known in some circles. That's fine.

But you do not get to contact me, harass me to be your constant buddy online, send me nigh-incomprehensible emails, pester me when I'm busy both with my career and my therapy, and then send me passive-aggressive messages about how I'm not paying sufficient attention to you.



Fuck you.

My time is my own. I owe you nothing, no matter how many stories I write or how much they "touch" you.

(And, no; this is no one here on LiveJournal. I didn't dignify the recent messages with a response. It took all my will not to go into "defensive-mode". I just sat down, about to go to bed, and got the messages I described ... I needed to vent before sleep.)

-Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: pissed off.

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21st January, 2016. 2:29 pm. As Old As The United States

Yesterday I spent the morning running errands before starting my afternoon-evening shift at work. This meant I had the opportunity to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It's a lovely (if huge) place. In the hour I had, I could only visit a fraction of a single floor's exhibit halls. I started in "Asia" and only got through Japan and a fragment of China.

I'm not usually as fond of the styles of art commonly seen in this region of the world (although find it as capable of moving me as any). That said, I found a piece of art called "Mice on Rice-Cake Flowers" (by Nagasawa Rosetsu [長沢蘆雪]) and it really moved me.

Mice on Rice-Cake Flowers
-Nagasawa Rosetsu
(長沢蘆雪; 1754–1799)

For New Year's, Japanese decorate cut branches--stripped of leaves--with small balls of glutinous rice. Called mocha, the balls are thought to resemble plum blossoms, a harbinger of spring. In this rather humorous view of the holiday, Rosetsu has pictured a pack of mice devouring the delicate "flowers."

Rosetsu was an exuberant and expressive ink painter, with an extremely detailed and refined technique. In this scroll, he displays his skill at kegaki, the use of countless thin brushstrokes over a light wash to realistically portray the soft, undulating texture of animal fur or human hair. Rosetsu also had an uncanny understanding of animals, deftly capturing the nature of mice in this painting through their tense, delicate gestures and quick, dark eyes.
-Description from the Minneapolis Institute of Art


I stared at it for a long, long while.

Now, I keep looking at it.

I'm not sure why.

It was painted around 250 years ago and has an incredible, ethereal power.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: satisfied.

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18th January, 2016. 10:00 am. Diet Pop and Diets

I honestly did not anticipate the most difficult part of this diet being giving up diet pop. I mean, I've done it before. I've done it three times, before. And perhaps, in that admission, I see a kernal of the difficulty. I may have given up huge quantities of sweet-flavored caffeine but I've always gone back. The only difference, this time, is that I'm having a hard time scaling down my pop consumption at the start of the diet.

It's not as if I haven't done this, before. And I can honestly say that it isn't my previous back-sliding that's making me perform this way. I'm just finding it difficult to stop or scale back, with any reliability, my consumption of Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.

I don't remember if I did it, previously, at the same time I was trying to balance my calorie intake. It's possible (since my memory of specifics is hazy) that I didn't do both at the same time. Perhaps I accomplished one and then the other within a few weeks of each other.

Hmmm... Maybe that's it.

Okay: tell you what, journal ... I'll focus on getting a solid week of reliably getting my mindset with regards to my daily calorie goal in-place and then focus on the diet pop reduction. Until then, I'll keep water on-hand so I have an alternative to the pseudo-sugary drinks but I won't really count it as a goal until I know I've got at least a little pattern established for my food. That way, I'm not building too many new behaviors at once.

Okay: idea has been found. Time to make it stick!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: neutral.

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7th January, 2016. 9:56 am. Satisfaction

There's something powerful about being able to overcome urges when, most of the time, you succumb to them. By no means was last night a "turning point". I had a huge platter of food in front of me at a restaurant. It was just how they typically serve the meal. But I was satisfied (ie: "full") halfway through.

Normally, I finish what's on my plate ... even when full. Normally, if there is food around, I eat it. I'm a horrible grazer, that way. If someone offers me food, I accept. These are issues I'm trying to confront.

So, last night, I actually got a to-go box.

Trust me: this is VERY rare for me. Last night, the third on my diet, I wanted to finish the platter. I wanted to keep tasting those wonderful flavors. I wanted to chew and taste and enjoy.

But I managed to say "no; I'll take the rest to go".

And, man: that felt good.

It was hard. VERY hard. But I did it.

And, now, I have dinner for tonight in a to-go box in the fridge.

This feels good.

It's not a "turning point"; I'm not magically going to be able to do this every time I go out to eat. I'm not going to stop grazing. But I'm stepping in the right direction. And, furthermore, I give myself permission to fail. I could have failed last night and I would have had to forgive myself. But I didn't fail; I didn't fall short. I succeeded and my overall calorie count for the day came in just under my goal.

Not bad!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: satisfied.

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6th January, 2016. 12:21 pm. Dawn of the Day (Before the Time of the Land the Lost Dinosaurs Forgot to Remember)

This song is the overture/opening-number to a fantastic concept album (or maybe even “rock opera”) called “Smell No Evil” by the geek-rock band, Ookla the Mok. It’s really fantastic! The song is called “Dawn of the Day Before the Time of the Land the Lost Dinosaurs Forgot to Remember”.



Enjoy!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: pleased.

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4th January, 2016. 11:25 am. I Hereby Resolve...

New Year's Resolutions are a tricky thing. On one hand, we tend to break them more often than fulfill them. Too often they are sweeping and grand: ensuring, by their size, that we fail to truly be able to meet their scopes. Then there's the cultural backlash against them: mocking them and joking about those who pick "an arbitrary date" to make change. Counter to that are the adherents to "make a change now, no matter how fit you are to make such a change".

Into this cultural maelstrom, I have stepped time and again. Today, on the first full weekday of 2016, I do once more.

What I'm going to attempt to do is work my way back to a more healthy weight while also continuing my attempts at normalizing my relationship with food. This, for me, means making little daily steps that can be worked into a pattern. Further, even upon not succeeding one or more days, doesn't mean that I have to stop entirely. Rather, by making a misstep, I need to acknowledge it as such and, without blaming or "shoulding" myself, move forward the next day with the next goal.

For 2016, my general daily goals are:
  • Eat at most 2,440 calories.

  • Cook at least 2 meals.

  • Write 1,000 words.

  • Do something concrete to separate work from home.

  • Be present (practice "presence" in the moment) while working.

  • Brush teeth twice.

These, I believe, are achievable.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Current mood: calm.

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28th December, 2015. 10:47 pm. It Gets Better

I just saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for the second time. I have to say 3D doesn't really do much for it; either that or it was really distracting.

I missed a ton of things on first viewing that, now, I got. Whereas, initially, I had said "it was good", this time I actually got chills at a couple points.

It actually got better on second viewing.

Maybe it was because, the first time, I saw it at 8 in the morning. Maybe it was because I went by myself without friends. Maybe my soul had been sucked out while I slept and, only recently, had it returned. I don't know. But I really, REALLY liked it this time.

Current mood: satisfied.

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