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Helen Keller Feng Shui

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Jun. 29th, 2004 | 08:38 pm
mood: happyhappy
music: Devo - Head Like a Hole (Cover)

In a recent post, </a></b></a>uujenna wrote:

Coming out of a strange and difficult weekend, I’m curious about how to emerge from behind my own bullying concept of who I am and what I am meant to do in life. The German poet Rilke wrote, “Explore transformation throughout. What is your most suffering experience? Is drinking bitter to you, turn to wine.”

Yeah, I thought. Turn toward what pains, what causes suffering. Don’t run from what you know yourself to be. This introspection that cradles, this extroversion that paints of our universality… isn’t that art? Isn’t a purpose of good writing, music, architecture, etc. to bring forward the suffering and offer it up as both a communal and endurable gift?

Nice. That quote got me thinking. And thinking gets me posting, so here we are. :)

If I brush against something and knock it over, I don't pick it up right away. Partly because of an odd belief that inanimate objects can be punished: what was it doing there, in my way?! Later, when I pick it up, sometimes I find a better place for it. Other times I get rid of it. Either way, it makes me think. I'm more reactive than pro-active, and I'm pretty comfortable with that. Perhaps by definition? My proactivity is usually channeled into changing the design of my life such that it will contain different, hopefully better, things (and situations, and people) to react to.

My life got knocked over a year or two ago, and I left it where it lay scattered. Slowly I've picked things up, one at a time, and looked at them as if for the first time. I try to share these reflections, in my livejournal.


Coping with absent-mindedness
I am no longer allowed to "set things down for a minute". If I want to take a load of laundry over to the washer, remove dirty dishes from my room, and refill the sippy-cup of water I keep by my computer, all of these objects are required to remain in my hands until the tasks are completed. Here's the sink, I set down the dishes. I shift the laundry under my arm and refill the drinking cup. On to the laundry room, still holding the cup. The cup stays in my hand while I start a wash. (Sort of like a game of sloshball, but all the time!) Back to the room. I want to set the cup down. May I? I look at the place where I'm likely to put it. Yes, that's where it belongs. We can put it there. It seems I'm able to remember where things 'go' if they have just one 'proper place'. If something is needed in more than one place (i.e. sunglasses), I get two (or more) of them. I take off my sunglasses and try to put them where they go. There's already a pair of sunglasses there! So they have to stay in my hand until I get near the other 'proper place'. In a pinch, they can go in my pants pockets, but only the upper right one. (The other pockets are 'proper places' only for other particular items; only the upper right front pocket is 'free' for additional things.)

Only visible or otherwise obvious 'placements' are permitted, so I can react to them, preferably at the same moment when they are needed. "Does anyone have a pen?" I'm handing you the pen before you're done speaking, because I only have one, and it's clipped to the inside of a particular pants pocket. (Unfortunate corollary: if you forget to return my pen, you do me a slight unkindness -- I only have the one, in its place. If I remember, I'll sit and watch (the pen) until you are done with it.)

I live in a very small room, the smallest in this co-op house, and I can see most of the things in it from where I'm sitting right now. I have a loft I use for storage. I have very little idea what's up there. I won't move into a larger room until I've either gotten rid of all the stuff up there or made it visible and therefore operative.


Deliberately adopting OCD patterns very nicely compensates for ADD patterns. Because you see, the first rule of forgetfulness is you don't remember you have a problem.

There are also some fringe benefits of this set of habits. It leads to an unintended level of 'preparedness', since objects will gravitate toward being in the place where they are needed. So much so that people often ask if I was ever a Boy Scout. Ha! They'd have left me for dead. OK, maybe not, but they'd've spent a few days looking for me until a helpful trucker dropped me off at the camp.

Story: The Spare Sunglasses
I'm driving in my pickup truck. My friend Mike is in the passenger seat. It's a sunny day, and I'm wearing sunglasses. "Can I see those?" he asks. I take them off and hand them to him. He casually puts them on. He looks at me. He goes back to looking at the passing scenery. A few moments pass. In a single motion I reach up above the passenger-side sun visor, pull out an identical pair of sunglasses, flip them open with a shake, and put them on. I look back at him for a moment, then return my attention to driving.

It's like that.

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Comments {18}

DeepTape

(no subject)

from: deeptape
date: Jun. 29th, 2004 09:23 pm (UTC)
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Does that work for coding, too?

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Triple Entendre

For various values of 'that'

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 08:11 am (UTC)
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Does that work for coding, too?


knocking things over, punishing inanimate objects: sure, that's test-driven extreme programming. :-)

Slowly I've picked things up, one at a time, and looked at them as if for the first time: refactoring.

no longer allowed to "set things down for a minute"/remember where things 'go' if they have just one 'proper place': Yes, every little snippet goes into some sort of Content/Knowledge Management System, usually PersonalBrain 3.02.

Only visible or otherwise obvious 'placements' are permitted: The desktop is the only allowable 'scratch' area. Otherwise we rely on the KMS for context.

so I can react to them, preferably at the same moment when they are needed: PersonalBrain is especially good for this.

I live in a very small room, the smallest in this co-op house, and I can see most of the things in it from where I'm sitting right now: The Database of Record problem. I try to keep everything in one 'home' directory on one computer, and any "field operations" use SCP to access that 'home' remotely. Or, I use an online service for some things (furl.net).

I have a loft I use for storage. I have very little idea what's up there: I have a 250GB drive I use for storage. There... are some issues there. ;-)

I won't move into a larger room until I've either gotten rid of all the stuff up there or made it visible and therefore operative: I've tried, and I do lots of virtual housecleaning, but there's just way more virtual stuff in my life than physical stuff, and I just keep imaging each old hard drive onto a little partition of each newer one. ;-) Someday. Or, better search/filter/index/categorize automation tools will make it less necessary to actually look through the old stuff.

objects will gravitate toward being in the place where they are needed: Oh, yes! With automation, things can happen like this: P2P app downloads a music file into a folder monitored by "Musicbrainz" app. Musicbrainz checks the file, and if 90% confident, updates the file's MP3 metadata to a standard form, renames the file as such, and deposits it in a directory which my jukebox program monitors. The jukebox program downloads the album cover from Amazon.com, calculates the BPM, normalizes the volume level, and moves the file into my proper music folder hierarchy, where it is visible to all my music-playing programs. The song is added by those programs to any applicable playlists based on matches in metadata. Later, when the song is played, "Evillyrics" app displays the song's lyrics, which it pulls from any of several websites, and from my music player I can rate the song (preference, mood, situation, tempo), which adds it to or changes its position in the playlists.

pull out an identical pair of sunglasses, flip them open with a shake, and put them on: And that's why I use several computers at once.

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zenith_the_high

(no subject)

from: zenith_the_high
date: Jun. 30th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC)
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hmm. somehow what you are talking about sounds familiar...I think I know someone just like that- did you come to the realization that you could do something about it? how did you train yourself to put things in proper places? does that strategy work with tasks as well, like do laundry on monday, clean car once a week...etc.?

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Triple Entendre

Solomon Grundy

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 08:45 am (UTC)
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did you come to the realization that you could do something about it?

Other people will provide this perspective if you listen. Also, I was married for several years.

how did you train yourself to put things in proper places?

Well, assuming you've admitted you have a problem (yeah, step 1), then the teachable moment comes when you want to find the darn thing. Where's the first place you look? OK then. Remember THAT. The recent, negative experience of having to look for it reinforces the 'I am not allowed to put this down, except where it goes' rule. (So does being able to find it again, later!)

does that strategy work with tasks as well, like do laundry on monday, clean car once a week...etc.?

Yes, but only IF you have some already-functional pattern or ritual to hang it on. In my case, 'laundry on Monday' would never work; I have no innate sense of what a Monday is. Laundry is triggered by 'large pile of dirty clothes IN MY WAY', or 'I have no underwear'. Personal hygiene was built one step at a time by hanging each ritual on the only reliable trigger I had: waking up. Wake up, shower. No exceptions, ever. Wake up, shower-brush teeth. Wake up, shower-brush teeth-floss. In fact, every pattern I've formed in life is traceable back to 'wake up'.

I never have figured out how to clean my car.

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(Deleted comment)

Autolatrist

(no subject)

from: apotheon
date: Jul. 2nd, 2004 10:18 pm (UTC)
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This needs an equivalent for ideas.:  Holy Mother of God, yes! I seem to be with skill sets as triple_entendre is with objects. I weep for my coping ability. I also need such an equivalent for my sense of chronology. Sometimes I experience the end of a sentence before the middle, or remember a week in the wrong order, and it doesn't bother me at all unless or until I have to interact with someone else. Then, of course, all hell breaks loose.

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Triple Entendre

click.

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 08:52 am (UTC)
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I also need such an equivalent for my sense of chronology. Sometimes I experience the end of a sentence before the middle, or remember a week in the wrong order, and it doesn't bother me at all unless or until I have to interact with someone else.

Yup. I used to have my phone/PDA make a little 'click' noise every five minutes. It helped. Uh, in fact, I'm not sure why it stopped doing that. Hmmmmm

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Autolatrist

Re: click.

from: apotheon
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 08:58 am (UTC)
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Interesting. Maybe it's a conspiracy of gnomes. That could be it. Who likes their desktop environment, anyway?! I certainly don't!

Why isn't there an HTML character entity for the interrobang?

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Triple Entendre

skill sets

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 09:00 am (UTC)
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The only way I know of to maintain a skill set is practice.

I do not yet know how to practice, but my computers are trying to teach me.

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Autolatrist

Re: skill sets

from: apotheon
date: Jul. 12th, 2004 06:02 pm (UTC)
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How is that going, by the way?

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Triple Entendre

Re: skill sets

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 12th, 2004 06:44 pm (UTC)
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How is that going, by the way?

As with most large projects, the main benefits have been incidental and peripheral to the objective, and the objective is remote as ever.

Further progress in this area is currently blocked by lack of funds. Our hopes are currently pinned on monetizing1 some aspect of what we have learned and funneling any returns into an expansion of basic research.


1. Monetize: to apply artistic transformation in a manner suggestive of the famous painter.

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Autolatrist

Re: skill sets

from: apotheon
date: Jul. 14th, 2004 02:37 pm (UTC)
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Oooh. Good plan, and even better use of monetizing.

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Triple Entendre

PersonalBrain does do linky map-indexing

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
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I've devoted much of my life to finding ways for the computer to do what you're describing. I have an endless assortment of tools, all loosely joined and variably reliable.

Outlook/PalmOS/Lookout!/Bonsai

Windows/PersonalBrain

Livejournal/RSS/Furl.net

Someday I will link them all. Skynet became self-aware....

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Triple Entendre

the vector of my retrograde deviation

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 12th, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC)
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I think I need an orbital mechanic. Maybe you can help me?

You see, my friends all think I'm a Semi-Major Axis. The Eccentricity of my Inclination caused an Argument of Perhapses, but even after the Time of Priapism Passage, the Longing of Ascending Nude still haunts me.

What can I do?

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renaissance_wmn

(no subject)

from: renaissance_wmn
date: Jun. 30th, 2004 04:39 pm (UTC)
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I do the same exact thing. I have rituals that I perform in sequence, just so that I don't forget anything. Also, if there's anything I may need to remember later, I write it down. I've memorized the fact that if I trust anything to my short-term memory, it's not unlike writing a note on a piece of paper and throwing it off my balcony.

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Triple Entendre

Yeah

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 11th, 2004 09:23 am (UTC)
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I've memorized the fact that if I trust anything to my short-term memory, it's not unlike writing a note on a piece of paper and throwing it off my balcony.

That is, by far, the hardest thing to remember. ;-)

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Cherry Pie Girl

(no subject)

from: comodulate
date: Jun. 30th, 2004 09:18 pm (UTC)
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When I hit an object and hurt myself, I apologize to the object. I guess if I was following your logic that objects can be punished, then I would hit the object for hurting me, but then I would just get hurt again, because hitting inantimate objects hurts.

Im looking for a ride to game night tomorrow from somewhere close to game night, but it is time sensitive, I need to be picked up around 830. Any chance you would be good for that?

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Triple Entendre

(no subject)

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 1st, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC)
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When I hit an object and hurt myself, I apologize to the object. I guess if I was following your logic that objects can be punished, then I would hit the object for hurting me, but then I would just get hurt again, because hitting inantimate objects hurts.

True. Usually I just glare at it with a mixture of anger and dismay that would make it apologize immediately if it were a person!

Im looking for a ride to game night tomorrow from somewhere close to game night, but it is time sensitive, I need to be picked up around 830. Any chance you would be good for that?

I can do that. Email me the details directly.

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Cherry Pie Girl

(no subject)

from: comodulate
date: Jul. 1st, 2004 03:50 pm (UTC)
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I found a ride
So thanks but Im no longer needing for tonight
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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