Some systems are simply unworkable.
This is a fact. There are things in this world that, for whatever reason, have become unworkable. They are broken.
These broken, unworkable things are not made to spite you or to annoy or damage you personally. They’re simply unworkable, broken things. And eventually, they will fail. Darwin. He was smart. However, the sad, painful realization that you are embroiled in an unworkable system is probably the more interesting thing to consider, really; what do you do after you’ve realized:
- This system, thing, project, hardware, lifestyle choice is unworkable.
- It’s not about me.
At that point you have three pretty clear choices.
- You can walk away.
This is a pretty good choice, really. Most of the time. Let broken things that aren’t about you stay broken. Darwin will take care of them. It’s scary though– the broken thing is familiar. You’re walking away into the unknown.
- You can try to fix it.
Great idea. But what about the second bullet point up there? It’s not about you. Unless you have considerable agency over he broken thing, this is a bad choice. Without the agency to fix it, trying to work the unworkable thing is going to frustrate you. And that’s not much better than living with the unworkable thing in the first place, is it? Because now, not only is it unworkable, but you’re fighting it every step of the way.
- You can love the unworkable thing for what it is.
If you can’t walk away, and you don’t have the agency to fix the thing, this is all you’re left with. The unworkable thing is broken and you’re not going to either be ok with that or take one of the other two choices. End of story.
The thing is, not all broken things long to be fixed. Some are completely happy to be broken. And, maybe they even know that they could be better. And that’s sad, really. But that’s the nature of broken unworkable things. Love them. They are what show us the beauty of our complete, workable things. They are what inspire us to be better. The broken, unworkable things show us the way not to proceed, and point us in the direction of wholeness, completeness, and fulfillment.
Thank you, broken unworkable things. Thank you.
The plan was to slow down this weekend so Jenifer could rest and get ready for Tuesday. I'm pleased to report that we did a really good job of slowing down. We only did a ton of things this weekend instead of the shit ton of things we usually do.
- Went rummange-saleing in Jefferson.
- Danced a Maypole and hand a wonderful celebration at a friends
- One load of laundry.
- Introduced a friend to Sgt. Pete
- Had a friend spend the night.
- Three loads of laundry.
- Assembled a four-peice patio set
- Picked up some of the sitcks in the yard.
- Recovered an herb garden in the back yard, and turned it into a cucumber patch.
- Went to Ace and bought a huge bag of dogfood.
*Introcuded another friend to Srgt. Pete.
- Moved an upright freezer out of a friend's basement in West Allis.
Put that freezer (temporarily) in my Garage.
Made a butternut squash soup.
- Made a quick stop for groceries.
- Brought up all the garden stuff from the basement.
So yeah. Rest assured, it was a pretty slow weekend.
I have really been struggling with depression lately. It's bad. As bad as it has ever been. Whil Wheaton talks a good game about depression.
I, like Whil, have a hard time "reconciling my awesome life" with feeling shitty all the time. I have great friends, good support, an awesome kid. I wasn't on fucking Star Trek, but that's a pretty high bar.
I don't get suicidal. That's just never been on the table. But I walk around with this internal self-talk that whispers lies to me about what a terrible, incompetent, ugly person I am. And I know it's not true, but its still something I hear a lot. I'm not fishing for compliments here. Please don't feel the need to respond to that.
I am simply calling out the fact that I seem to be my own worst enemy, wallowing in the negative self-talk. Especially after surviving a summer that cost me my job, car, and home, in that order. It's easy pick up the pieces and say 'hooray! I get to start over,' and it's quite another to mean it.
Of course, there's power in that shadow talk, and I have it within me to harness that power. But, seriously, it's hard work. It takes working with a professional, and having a treatment plan, and sticking with it and stuff. It's not just a thing you can "buck up and get over."
When I worked in Mental Health, there was this chestnut that compared the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment to seeking medical treatment: "You wouldn't expect yourself to just snap out of a broken arm."
And it's true. You wouldn't. But at the same time, there's not an entire fucking culture and industry swirling around you that denies a broken arm is a "serious" thing to suffer.
Case in point: What kind of emergency mental health coverage do you have? Emergency mental health care isn't even a thing. A 72-hour hold isn't health care, it's a parking lot. Our culture doesn't have a way to address a mental health emergency, for the most part. That's fucked up, right?
I don't have any answers. I just want to enjoy the richness of my life and feel safe and content once in awhile.
I have this artificial barometer for "How I'm Doin'" these days. It's called this here blog.
I started blogging a long time ago because I felt like I couldn't put everything I wanted to put into my Newspaper collumns into my newspaper, and I needed an outlet where I would write about videogames and movies and tv shows I liked. I did some podcasting and made some observations about life and culture.
Then, awhile later, I said that everything had to change. And I reinvented this here blog. I put up one of those Everything new is old again posts, and launched WriteLarge.com, Phase II: Now with Drupal.
The internet kind of grew up around that idea and became an outlet where everyone writes about video games and movies and tv shows they like. I like that. There's so many good places out there nowadays to read about what video games and movies and tv shows that people like. It's good.
Then, in a post that I'm pretty sure I didn't think was rambling and incoherent at the time, I launched WriteLarge.com, Phase III. Now with more of the same things.
I still want to write about things, I really do. But videogames, movies and tv shows are not really the things I feel compelled to write about anymore. I guess it's a sign of being not-quite 40, but I no longer care to compel you to like what I like. I guess I don't care if you and I have a difference of opinion on whether it is a good emotional investment to watch sportsball. Fandom comes in many flavors. Whatever makes you happy, I guess.
I wrote a letter today to my lawyer about the car accident I was in last June. It made me sad and upset. I wrote a release note for a piece of software that you'll never use but will impact the lives of 4 in 10 of you today. It did not make me sad and upset. Both of them created compelling writing. But neither of them was very satisfying.
That's what I'm getting at here. I'm done writing for you, dear reader of this here blog. (As if I ever did....) I'm writing for me now. I want to write in fucking markdown with links and in a CMS that I like, and I want it to be published immediately, and I want it to be ok if it has 10,000 typos in it because fuck you, guy who has to point out typos.
*ahem.* ... And so.
Here comes Writelarge.com Phase IV.
Look the fuck out.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness wherein a person manifests excessive concern regarding a perceived defect in their physical features. I’ve known more than one person who suffered from this disorder.
People: Your magazine covers lie to you. Stop looking at them. Don’t buy into the manufactured, unachievable standard of beauty that they are selling.
As facial recognition software and photo retouching software gets more and more automatic, it’s all too easy for software that distorts and mangles an otherwise beautiful photograph of a beautiful person into a covergirl train wreck of a photo.
Case in Point:
So, Anyway, I returned Perfectly Clear for Android as soon as I realized that their ‘patented Beautify” mode was a shaming celebration of body dysmorphia. You are wrong, Athentech. This is not beauty.
This is pretty broken now. Hooray Drupal!
My father is still in the hospital tonight, and I could not be more proud of him.
This is complicated. And unpleasant. And possibly upsetting. So skip over this if it's going to bother you. I'll not be offended. But, you should probably read on. If understanding why I find bravery instead of shame in the way my father ended up in the hospital this time is something that you don't want to read, it probably says more about you than about me, anyway.
I'm not mad at him. I'm not disappointed in him. This is *not* a moment of which to be ashamed. I am proud of him. I told him so this afternoon. He seemed touched by this, in between ordering four glasses of water "to help him get through the night" and demanding they replace the hospital with holograms like in the Star Trek.
To endeavor to better ones self is an act that should always be lauded. And this time, for Melvin, it especially so, because it is a self-selected action that put him in the ICU. This time, it was not the upcoming shutdown of his vital organs that brought him here. This time, it was his mind's rejection of his body's dependency that brought him here. This time he is not a man being asked to live in spite of his mind's desire to stay sick-- he is a man who asks to live in spite of his body's desire to stay stick.
This one will stick. Because it is an act of deliberate will to rage against the poisons that numb the hurting. It is an endeavor to better one's self. And it should be lauded-- not shamed.
He is a warrior in a hospital bed. Not a victim of dependency. Not this time.
Here is a machine-generated list of names for people who may or may not be doctors.
- Elvia Leatherman
- Katrina Balderson
- Jonell Girling
- Harvey Biggerstaff
- Elder Pattison
- Orwald Boldrey
- Kinsley Beacham
- Kensleigh Hattaway
- Christa Fox
- Etta Penington
I recently had to compile a couple of thoughts about Design. I've never really thought of myself as a designer. I usually think of myself as a writer. Lately, I've been trying really hard to think of myself as a person, but I digress.
I thought I'd share it here. Enjoy.
How I practice design:
I have worked in Adobe’s Creative Suite, as well as Publisher, Word, and many of the open-source Adobe alternative programs. I find that there is usually a way to achieve the design impact I'm looking for via whatever toolset I have available. Pro-tools are nicer, easier, and almost always have better results, but they're also expensive, fiddly and not always available.
Because of this approach, I can make Microsoft Word sing.
I believe the key to successful design isn't in the tools you use, but in applying a consistent and deliberate aesthetic. Ultimately, it comes down to taste.
Some thoughts on my past design experience
I've learned design through real world experience. I have mostly worked for small firms where the writer was often times the de facto designer. I've read a number of design and style books over the years, had endless design conversations about font and leading while working in the newspaper industry, and lead a Milwaukee-based technology and design-based meet up from 2004 to 2007. Not that I know much about deisgn. But I do know what I think looks good. Start from there. Learn about the rule of thirds. Talk to lots of people about color theory. Learn about print standards by trial and error. Steal someone's Pantone book. This is how I learned design. I'm not sure that qualifies me as a designer, but it certainly qualifies me as a designer pro tempore.
Five design principles I hold dear:
- Simple is better.
- Font choices matter. (I have an expensive taste in fonts. I know this. I try to keep it under control. )
- Just because you have lots of colors, doesn’t mean you should use them.
- Usability often trumps fashion.
- Typography should mean something.
I used Microsoft Word and Windows to develop an electronic workflow that seamlessly integrated a manual paste-up and electronic pagination system based on Quark Express in the Lake Country Reporter’s newsroom in 2004. It was magic. I can't believe it worked as well as it did.
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