Monday, May 14, 2012

Do I DO too much?

As promised, here's a picture of Vada from May 6, chirping at me from the roof outside my window! She even has two heads!

may 054 It's blurry-head Vada!

I have more pictures -- and nicer ones, too -- but first I'd like to be frank, even though everyone calls me Spoony. You see, not only is my BlogLife passing me by, but so is my actual life.
` I felt so much pressure to get this homework assignment done (read: was literally wracked with dry heaves and a severe headache) that I stayed home from this (taken from Town Hall Seattle website):
Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 7:30 – 9:30pm
Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.
Drawing on a surge of new research, Leonard Mlodinow unravels the complexities of the subliminal mind and reveals its profound influence. The bestselling author (The Drunkard’s Walk, which he brought to Town Hall in 2008, and the new Subliminal) examines how the mind’s subliminal processes, not the conscious ones, largely drive our experience, perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment—a realization that can help us recognize and avoid common pitfalls in our work, lives, and relationships. Presented as part of Seattle Science Lectures, with Pacific Science Center and University Book Store. Series sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU.
*Sob!* Not only did I miss out, but have still failed to complete the assignment. In related news, I feel as though I've developed an ulcer. If this stress-induced illness gets much worse, I'm also going to miss school tomorrow, and there's a test, which I should be great at!

Lou Ryan has suggested that I learn how to relax. Sounds like a good idea, however, doing so often foments regret in the churnings of my mind. Why's that? Well, just follow the churnings:
Anyone who reads this blog would know that I like to poke fun at my crazy roommate and my alcoholic roommate for obvious reasons, but really, I don't think I criticize myself well enough for not keeping up with school and science blogging.
` Sure, I certainly criticize myself enough, but then keep letting myself off easy for being so irresponsible. I just keep telling myself that I'll find the right balance of things, but keep forgetting to constantly consult the surprisingly-organized to-do list that I've recently made in order to keep track of my life.
` Sometimes, new habits are so difficult to start. Especially when you keep forgetting that you went through so much trouble to get yourself to start them.

In any case, I don't remember the last time I've taught Spanish to my cool roomie Brianade or taken karate from superhero Lou Ryan. Because I said I'd be leaving at six today, which is when karate is supposed to start, Lou went into hockey-watching mode and didn't teach me karate, which would have ended at only 7:15, leaving me the entire rest of the evening for homework.
` Between the noise of Lou watching hockey on one side of the house and my alcoholic roommate playing his music under my office on the other side of the house, I hid in my bedroom, trying to finish my homework assignment. Since the bed is the only place to sit in there, and because I often fall asleep at night while sitting up, I (predictably) fell asleep from mental exhaustion.

It's probably been a couple of years since I've fully caught up with my email, so who knows what cool emails I've gotten from people since then? The only ones I've been able to find were from people whose names I knew and have used to 'search' my inbox.
` That gets me really thinking about how many people email me and wonder why I've never responded. Is that sad?

As for science-related posts, I have some real gems that I've just stopped writing in order to move onto the next post, which I've then stopped to move onto the next post -- reminds me a bit of Zeno's Paradox. I keep picking another one of them up about every other day, but don't make much progress before I have to go again. It's really damn frustrating.

If you've been reading my other journal posts (the vast majority of posts so far), you'll know that my days are typically packed. Part of the reason is because my life is just one big game of catch-up:
` Not only was I robbed of my childhood, my education, and my early adulthood, but then I was robbed of a vast majority of my time during all those years I've spent trying to get over that, including things which made my PTSD considerably worse.
` Even after I'd found Lou, I've been robbed of much of the time and progress I've had while trying to grow up and get an education and get over my lifelong PTSD, while my living situations/roommates have been mostly intolerable and homework was constantly near-impossible to do.
` I've only really had much of a break since 2011, and I've spent it cramming each day with things that I so badly have wanted and/or needed to do but weren't able to squeeze in because I was busy having anxiety attacks because of the extremely messed-up people that I had been unfortunate enough to live with over the years.

*Knock knock knock.*

WTF? It's 10:15!

Pizza hut, for generally-drunk roommate. I guess he's alright enough with being kicked out, and the crazy roommate was already planning to move out anyway, so by June only people compatible with living here will actually live here -- and this occurs right before my final exam!


The noise, the household tension, the craziness, the piles of garbage and dishes. It would just dissolve away, like friggin' magic!

may 015 Almost looks like some crazy owl's face 

But, would that mean that I would be more or less busy? This is one of those mathematical modeling-things, and since I'm way behind on my math (have only completed Math 99), I wouldn't have a clue as to how to make one that would work.
` You see, this is how my life generally goes: I plan my activities around anything (like writing or homework) in which I need my brain to function, because I have such horrendous neurological problems with paying attention. What's strange is, I have to stop what I'm doing when I notice that I'm being distracted by a noise which gets through my earplugs.

Is it not ironic that one can be distracted by something they're not paying attention to? This is one reason I used to think that I had psychic powers that told me when danger was (audibly) approaching. I learned that the hard way that not having an awareness of one's senses does not mean that one has extra senses!

Although I've long understood that paying attention is the most difficult thing for me (because apparently I actually do have ADHD), until relatively recently I didn't really know just how far into my subconscious that it goes.
` When I would be gathering input (via text, video, etc), I would just suddenly get very bored and sleepy because you can't be interested in something that you're staring at but is not getting through to you. When I would be writing, and trying to think in words, I would start an inner monologue on something that was easier to think about, just to keep my 'inner voice' going and cover up the noise.
` Even if it was something fun that I was really engrossed in, I would start sweating and trembling at the effort of paying attention, or just space out, and all enjoyment eventually would cease, no matter how I fought to stay engaged.
 ` After a while, I came to realize that this only seems to happen when there's background noise that I'm not consciously aware of, and I've tested this out by pulling out my earplugs or earplug-type headphones and immediately hearing some noise that was not apparent, or seemingly audible at all, to me before.

One of the first times this happened was when I was 'plugged into' some music to help photo editing not be so incredibly boring, and suddenly thought I was having an anxiety attack. I had a hunch to pull the headphones out, and heard Lou calling for help and banging on my wall!
` To be sure, I had been consciously unaware that he was in danger, but my nervous system is good at telling me these things. Also around that time, I would keep thinking of one of my cats (as this happened back when I had more than one cat), and when I got up and opened the door, and the cat would be on the other side!
` As I have somewhat of an understanding of subconscious influences and attention blindness, this does not in the least surprise me, but it is no wonder that I used to think I had 'psychic senses' of other people approaching the room I was in!

It is important for me to be as scientific about my observations as possible, so over the past several months, I've been anticipating a time when I would think I've heard something and yet find that there has been no noise after all. The closest this has ever come to happening was the time I pulled the earphones out and heard some people going out the door below me, and I believe that what had been distracting me was them talking loudly just before they had left.
` So, it seems that this really is the cause for all these reactions that I used to think was just myself not trying hard enough to pay attention. This is still something I beat myself up over sometimes, even though I should know better than to expect myself to have a 'normal' ability to focus. Of course, as soon as the noise is gone, the control of my attention returns.

After years of practice, and finally enough quiet time in the house to get anything done, I now know what to do and how to go about it. Pulling it off is another thing, but here's how I get anything at all done with such attention deficits (not to mention hyperactivity!):
` You see, if I plan my day with a time-slot for each task, this doesn't work because if I'm cleaning at a particular time, and the house happens to be quiet, and then later plan to do something that requires quietness and the house happens to be noisy during that time, I've just wasted my semi-randomly-allotted quiet time!
` Instead, I generally start off my day (assuming it is quiet) doing something which requires quietness, and every time there's some noise which is going to go on for at least several minutes, I stop what I'm doing and switch to doing something that doesn't require brain power, such as cleaning.
` You see, this is so much more productive and beneficial to everyone than just sitting there, having an anxiety attack and forcing my brain to shut down from stress, and not being able to finish what I had started. Which used to happen when I would insist on sticking to it, and still does sometimes because yes, I'm just that damn stubborn!
` However, if I'm off cleaning or some such (which there's a lot of, since there's plenty of dishes to wash, garbage to pick up off the counter, etc.) and get distracted from doing that, I may forget what I had been doing before and just not remember to get back to it. Thus, unfinished business piles up.

This is where letting my environment take control of my actions really gets me. I mean, scheming and plotting doesn't help if I let something else steer my activities! Keeping track of all that more closely is the next step. As for my environment, it will be a lot quieter with two fewer roommates.

So, would I be more or less busy? Here are my glorious and probably-inaccurate predictions:

On the one hand, I should be able to get higher-priority stuff out of the way faster because I can do it in order of importance.
` Even better, cleaning the kitchen has always been fairly high-priority for me, and without having to go around the room picking up garbage and recycling off the counter, and with only having to wash some of Lou's dishes and not two other roommates', and otherwise not having to clean as much, this should not take an entire hour out of my day.
` How novel!
` So, that means an earlier start at email and actual science blogging, and since I'll have more control over when I'm blogging, then I can blog whenever it's most convenient, and even whenever I'm home and it strikes my fancy. Blog production, then, should go up.

If I'm home more than six hours in a day, I'll probably have time to do everything that I normally have on my schedule. If I stick to that, I will at last accomplish everything on my list and not put off some things until tomorrow.
` Thus, I should have more free time. But wait, didn't I also want to put my home movies from ten years ago and edit them and put them on DVD -- you know, before the tape deteriorates? I now have the means to, but haven't yet taken the time to bother learning Final Cut (partly because last year someone was going to come over and install the full version of Final Cut on Lou's computer and even show me how to use it, but after months of waiting, this never happened).
` I'll be needing to do that if I actually care about the many, many hours of footage that I thought I would get to way back when, although it didn't work out that way. If I don't care, I can kiss them goodbye, and why would I be so crazy as to basically destroy all that video that's so important to me?
` Sounds like a priority, and after school is over would be an ideal time to start! Granted, I'll probably also be doing more job-related things, but maybe not.

So, it sounds like I might actually be more busy -- although, paradoxically, I might also have more free time! And, I'll actually have more science blogging material posted!


This is all just hypothetical, of course, so we'll see if it really happens. I do, however, anticipate that my success in both planning and spontaneity shall go up (ironically), since I will be living on my terms. Seriously, if I were cleaning up after and putting up with hassles from children -- that were mine -- instead of a couple of losers, it would be a different story, but I'm seriously sick of this bullshit.
` It would also be nice to clean the main bathroom (which Lou and I don't use) and then have it stay relatively so. Every once in a while I do something to clean it because if the bathroom door is left open a crack, it stinks up the entire top floor of the house in under a minute!
` I'll seriously smell the bathroom and then think to myself, "Has the bathroom door been left open again?" and then find that it has, and then have to open windows and doors and turn on the kitchen fan just to clear the air.
` Until I washed the bathmats recently, it was so bad that anyone just entering or exiting the bathroom drove me away from my computer, or from the food that I was eating, and it would take several minutes just to air out the room I was in.

And the downstairs bathroom? I have never used it, but I hear that there are huge stacks of cardboard toilet paper tubes and that the sink is invisible beneath a layer of buildup. Brianade has cleaned it before, but I don't know if he's done so recently. Seriously, I don't blame him.
` As for Lou's and my bathroom? Well, it is my job to clean. Besides the mildew buildup that is expected when the previous inhabitants paint over it rather than clean it up, it isn't the worst, but it also isn't the best. I'm not keeping up with it, probably because I'm sick of picking up the Q-tips and pieces of toilet paper that I don't leave on the counter and the floor.

By the way, I've been typing all this here and there and everywhere, flitting back and forth between blogging and homework, and so have been rambling semi-incoherently and semi-analytically.

Now that that's over with, here's some more photoey goodness, starting with Vada, after she jumped into the window -- that's the moon outside:

may 055 Vada happy to be inside

Monday, May 7: By the next morning, she was already thinking about jumping back out:

may 056 Vada the next morning 

Here we are both staring out the window, like a couple of goobers:

 may 057 Me and Vada 

If only I could do something about the puffiness of my face in the morning! Maybe stick it in the freezer? And before going to school, I not only finished my homework, but decided to buy tickets online for another Town Hall Seattle event -- Chris Mooney on the psychology of conservatives vs. liberals. That there are different personality traits associated with one's ideology is, as far as I know, true, and not even surprising.
` When I went to school this time, I did bring my camera, and finally got a photo of the DISKDRV car!

 may 059 Honda Civic covered in floppy disks 

Look closely at the window trim:

may 063

Here's the back:

may 064 DISKDRV lisence plate 

In the cafeteria, they had orange water today -- it costs a dollar! Even so, I liked my reflection in the spigot:

 may 065 Orange-water spigot 

Here's the cafeteria from the outside:

 may 067 

When I got back home, I saw Vada watching a couple of Stellar's Jays. One of them was interested in getting some rainwater from a bowl left outside:

may 073 Stellar's Jay drinking from bowl

Here's Vada watching, along with the other bird in the kiwi branches, who is saying "Get out of there!"

 may 071 Vada watching Stellar's jays

Also amused by the crazy roommate, who we have criticized for being extremely wasteful in the laundry department (costing us much money), saying that we were being wasteful for putting only a sock and a pillowcase in the dryer! Yeah, or maybe those were left behind after taking the rest of the laundry out.

As this post technically starts on May 8, I am too lazy to go back and figure out what day this was:

There's a lovely container ship passing by this morning:

may 077 Container ship

And here's Vada enjoying the garden:

 may 078 Vada is at home in the garden

She likes the planks:

 may 082 Vada walks on the garden plank

Although the days have been shiny, who knew that it would have such a dark and stormy ending? You see, when the sun went down, I got going to the gym, and while I was there, I hopped on the elliptical and started listening to musician George Hrab's Geologic Podcast (of hilarity, not geology).
` My occasional guffaws were interrupted at one point, when this guy came over to the TV nearest to me and put his bag down and turned up the volume on the TV.
` As you may have predicted, I stopped being able to really understand what Geo was saying, so I took my headphones off and just kept on ellipticaling for a while. I figured that the guy would eventually pick up his bag and move off after a few minutes, but he didn't.
` "Uh, excuse me," I said, cautiously. "Excuse me!"
` He didn't seem to take notice, and I got this really weird vibe from him, so I kept my mouth shut.
` After a few minutes, I said, with a catch in my throat, "Uhhhhhh, excuse me!"
` Still no response. A voice inside my head told me not to approach this man, but since I am still stubbornly wary of such voices, I actually got off the elliptical and stepped over to him, visibly shaking.
` "Uh, excuse me," I said.

 Big mistake!

"Is my name Uh?" he demanded to know.
` "What?"
` "Is my name Uh?"
` "I would presume not."
` Then he started going off on how he was done with working out and was going to leave and that there was no need for me to be telling him what to do.
` "You've got headphones, right?" he said.
` "Yeah, I was just trying to listen to my podcast."
` "Did you want me to leave the TV on, or turn it off?"
` "Well, actually..."
` "Did you want me to leave it on, or turn it off?"
` "If you were leaving, I'd like it turned off."
` "I can't," he said. "There's a sign on it that says you can't turn it off."

Let's crown this guy the Master Baiter, shall we?

"I meant the volume," I said. (And as for the reason there's a sign, that's because of another asshole flipping out and calling me rude for no apparent reason!)
` "Well, like I said, I'm done, so get back on there," he said, and pointed to the elliptical.
` Terrified not to make him angrier, I complied, struggling to hold back tears. Who did this guy think he was? A drill sergeant? My psychotic dad?
` He turned down the volume and then walked away, shooting me a glare, and over his shoulder he said, "You really should show more respect for other people!"
` I would have told him that he can't talk to me like that, and that he was the one being rude, but I realized there was a fat chance of that actually improving the situation, so I started bawling instead.


Granted, it's been a long time since something like this has happened, what with not having roommates who play these games, but now that I'm not used to this, it affects me even more! I told the front desk girl, and she said that she thinks she knew who I was talking about and said she would talk to him. And she gave me hugs, since I couldn't seem to stop crying.
` Indeed, I was upset for quite some time because I realized that this guy was able to be an asshole to me so easily since 1) I had the word ''victim' written all over me, due to my nervous system betraying me, and 2) instead of saying something in my own defense, I just started involuntarily shaking even more.
After I got home, I didn't think that I had the energy to do anything, so I got into bed, told Lou Ryan about it, and fell asleep.

Next morning: "LET ME IN!"

may 084 Let me in!

Vada: Although she can be a bit demanding, she's cute when she is! Later on, the sunset was also nice -- there are two of them!

may 088 It's like there's two sunsets!

The day after that, Brian and I went to hang out with some people. Apparently, someone with Sam Wise Gingy was arrested for briefly filming (DVing?) a crowd, in public, where you can't even understand the conversation -- and Sam caught it on camera!
` Will he ever get out of trouble?

Also, some disturbing news: Lou awoke at two in the morning to some back pain, and the sound of my alcoholic roommate blasting his music. Since his back was hurting, Lou got up and went to sleep in the living room.
` Unfortunately, the alcoholic roommate kept going up and down the stairs for some hours. Finally, at 4:30 in the morning, Lou came back to the bedroom -- and shortly thereafter, the roommate turned up the volume of his music again!
` So, Lou went downstairs and asked him to turn the music down, and then the roommate threatened to call the cops on Lou! WTF?

I guess he wasn't keen on Lou calling his dad over concern for his constant ranting and whatnot for the past several days, which he's still doing.

Friday, May 11:

Actually went to Town Hall this time to see Chris Mooney talk about Conservative vs Liberal tendencies and how it's not just the environment one is raised in:

may 100 Chris Mooney once more

That was the kind of interesting that deserves its own post.

Saturday, May 12:

This morning, Vada was after some birds, who may have been trying to make a nest in this bird house:

 may 119 Vada just wants some yummy bird

Cutest predator ever!

may 120 Birdehs built a nest?

Then, she went climbing all around the branches, and here she is coming back down.

 may 129 Climbing down is harder than it looks

Monday, May 14:

Yesterday was Mother's Day, so called grandma, and called Mom the day before. I want to go to West Virginia with them this October, and grandma was not sure she wants to go. She always does this -- says she wants to go somewhere and then says, "No, I'll just stay home, but you can keep me company."
` If me and Mom get to Ohio and grandma says she doesn't want to go to West Virginia, well guess what? We're going anyway! Within fifteen minutes, my grandma will suddenly feel better. If not, we just won't take her with us.

Anyway, later on, Lou and I went to see The Hunger Games. It was better than I expected, and I thought it was pretty well nicely-condensed from the book. Although some people around here haven't heard of it, I thought it was amusing that, when paying my Sprint bill, the guy on the other end of the phone, all the way in the Philippines, had already seen it.
` If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the trailer and tell me it doesn't look intriguing!

Anyway, it's time to go to school, and this time I actually have a science writer blog post in mind to put next, because it should not require any real work.

*Suddenly my door opens!* It's Lou Ryan, come to announce that Vada has killed a snake and how cute a killer she is while playing with it. I wonder if she'll bring it up here so we can see?

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