I went to bed early again

I went to bed early again. The rain was coming down and I didn’t want to push through the cold world. Sunny days are long gone. I have been angry for so long.

Why? Earlier the sky was blue. I  saw the trees get colder but their life-force kept them experiencing every day—each as the other.

I am pleased when I see a bird dancing in the sky. What I hope for is that I could take my own flight. I can’t stand for the changes to delay. Anything is going to be better. I need plenty of time and then I could take my own flight. I wait so that I can enjoy the fruits of all of the life around me.

The alarm was raucous today. I have plenty to say but I don’t want to get up. Wait for me please. I’ll be in your arms of love soon.

I write the song in a strange key. My life skips some tones. It lands hard on the remainder. Everything is an opening and even the chorus is open like the sky.

I have colors to paint the story. I choose the ones that are happy. Life is hard because I don’t know how far I must continue. I learn from the book and look at its margins. They point my brush and I let my hand follow.

If only there were a new beginning. I know everyone would see it coming. I can be frozen by a spectral light. I am walking through the corner of the garden. I know I could build a monument that everyone will admire. The trees sound softly now as they sway with their private songs.

I draw hope from deep in my soul. I am looking for yet another morning. Night passes slowly, too slowly, when I have long dreams. But those dreams show me how to live; how to get ready for life again.

My words are hard to say. I wonder why. I have no purpose today. Walking through the yard, I was slipping within my heart. I get disoriented and confused. It is not my fault that I have been sick.

The words everyone has to say are hard for me to hear. I could only understand their secrets if the rain would not hide them. The sun will rise if I wait. It could only push away the dark moments briefly. I walk out and no one sees me. I am not invisible but I just can’t leave any images about the way I live.

They say tomorrow will be cold. I will wear my coat and hat. Perhaps they will remember that the shadow does not have to come back.

All vegan steroids

MattiasA from DeviantArt has amazing intricate drawing drawn from a strange world that he shares freely with his followers.

The most recent one “Food and Music” has a few items that are intriguing, but not something I would try (or anyone should, actually)

  • All vegan steroids
  • Prawn juice
  • Acorn paste

He accompanied the food’s drawing with amazing musical instruments. More realistic than the food, at least for Mattias’s world.

  • Mozart playing a synthesizer
  • Counting crows (The avian kind)
  • A bull playing guitar

There are plenty more. I follow him because he is so creative and whimsical. He often shares drawings of mysterious transportation opportunities and businesses names worthy of more than a few laughs.

A New Year of Poetry

2022 ended with a milestone. I published my 400th poem on Patreon.

If you’d like to see them, goto http://patreon.com/williamwaynesmith

I plan to continue the series for 2023 starting with “401. Bounce.”

I think you would enjoy reading them. A subscription on the Patreon is $1/month which includes poetry that I haven’t released anywhere else as well as open access poetry.

Letting Go

My address book grows and shrinks.

Sometimes I’m adding new contacts as I expand my social circle. At other times I’m removing people that I don’t have a connection with anymore.

Being social, it’s uncomfortable to remove people from the list. A lesser loss is when I remove a thread from my texting app. In that case, the connection is still there, but only tenuously. People that don’t have a thread going can be forgotten and the relationship that is already withering might finally die.

A sadder removal from the contacts and address book happens when someone I know has passed. When I remove them, the memories will fade, and I will think of them less and less. Perhaps, it’s a way that I can honor their memory by leaving them in the list. For special people, I might want to keep them listed as a sort of memorial.

My paper address book has six names per page. When all of the addresses aren’t valid anymore, I can take it out and discard it. It’s another way to let go of memories. The paper form is more permanent than a list in a phone but eventually the information gets out of date and people leave my life.

Letting go of people can be solidified by a funeral or ceremony. For a few friends that I lost track of over the years, I found out later that they’ve passed on. It makes me sad that I didn’t find out until years later.

I don’t want to let go of people with the same attitude that I have when I’m throwing away a dried-up pen. I think people deserve more consideration than that which is part of why ghosting seems malevolent to me. However, putting a piece of paper in the trash and removing the information from my phone can be just as easy.

Letting go is a transition that can take many forms. Loss is a part of the human condition and having fond memories of someone can make the loss feel meaningful.

The Wildcard Day

52 weeks works out to be 364 days. Since a calendar year has 365 or 366 days, one could replace the current calendar with one that has one day a year denoted as a wildcard that won’t have a day of the week. That would make the weeks line up the same every year.

If the change would be made next year, this is what the calendar would look like for February and March, (as it would every year going forward.)

Instead of February 28 being a Tuesday, it has no day of the week anymore. The next day, March 1, takes the opened-up Tuesday slot. Every other day after that shifts left a day. On a leap year, the 29th would also have no day of the week.

From March 2023 to February 2024, an old-style Wednesday would be a Tuesday. From March 2024 to February 2025, the old Wednesday would be Sunday. It would continue from year to year that the day of the week would be altered by varying amounts.

The biggest advantage of this arrangement is that the same calendar could be used every year.

That’s pretty much the only advantage.

Federal holidays would get frozen on a specific day of the year. That would be nice because the holidays shifted to Monday would be consistent. But, if a holiday’s natural date now ends up on Wednesday every year, it would be messy for picking how to assign the paid day off.

Problems will show up really quickly. In addition to the Gregorian calendar, there are other calendars in common use such as the calendar used in Islamic countries and the Hebrew calendar. They won’t line up with the new calendar directly. Awildcard day would not fit consistently. If some arrangement could not be made, different calendars would give the same date different days of the week.

I don’t think an arrangement could be made, but it’s an idea. So far, not a good idea, but still an idea.

The next problem is that holidays that appear on a specific day of the week but not the same date would be hard to compute. There’s a formula to calculate the date of Easter and related special days. It would quit working. Easter is on a different week each year, but always on Sunday, so the week might be hard to form a consensus over.

Also, that defeats the goal of being able to use the same calendar every year.

The Hebrew calendar is very carefully designed so that special days, as appropriate, are on the sabbath or not on the sabbath automatically. That precision would be ruined.

The computer algorithms for day of the week would go up in smoke too. Date calculations start by counting the number of days from an epoch date, often January 1, 1970. One takes that count and reduce it modulo seven to get the day of the week. Breaking that rule would make the Y2K bug seem mild by comparison.

Honestly, the problems caused by this idea overwhelmingly make it infeasible to follow. It’s a simple idea that isn’t compatible with life as we know it.

But…. maybe we could make April 1 as the wild card day just once to see if we like it???

Landscaping Success Story

For several years I’ve known that my lilac bush has had some shrubs hiding within it. If I needed proof, in September, I saw a Rose of Sharon blossoming in the middle of it.

Rose of Sharon hiding in lilac bush

I knew there were also some maples and a couple other bushes intertwined. I had despaired of getting rid of them because they were so similar to the lilac branches and hard to identify.

However, I had a lucky break when I went out to do some other landscaping.

Most of the leaves of the lilac were gone but the other bushes still had their leaves. That let me pick out the branches to get rid of without damaging the lilac.

Lilac bush after other shrubs removed

All of the green amidst the branches were weed shrubs that I wanted to get rid of.

It didn’t take too long to clip off all of the unwanted branches. I wasn’t able to get rid of them permanently. They’re pretty well established with big roots. However, I consider it a win to be able to cut them back as much as I did. I wasn’t expecting that.

Lilac bush after other shrubs removed.
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This is what the lilac bush looked like after I was done.

It was a success that I wasn’t expecting.

My original goal for the exercise was to clip off all of the dead stems from my peonies which I was able to do in a separate part of the yard.

In the middle of the peonies is a sumac bush that I’m trying to discourage. I didn’t see it this week. I cut it back a lot not long before the weather turned cold, so it might not be able to grow back until spring.

All through the summer, my landscaping and garden would have different shrubs starting to grow. I would dig down around their roots as far as I could and then pull them up. I think I was successful at killing most of those before they got too big.

Walking down the dirt road

The story about walking home on the dirt road from where the bus dropped us off is hard to explain. Why didn’t the bus drop us off at home? We always said that the road was 0.7 miles. There were a couple of interesting sights along the way. One was a pond with a willow tree. I remember seeing dragonflies there. There was also a swamp that would wash out a culvert every year so that it blocked the road. I wonder how dad got to work when it was closed. I remember the hilly path as we walked home.

I went to only a few parties when I was in school. We were always isolated and far from people. I don’t know why that was. One sister was not receptive to discussing the topic when I brought it up. Maybe it isn’t that uncommon, but I don’t think it helped me. I don’t dwell on that because it will only make me sad.

One time I did go to a Halloween party. I made a pumpkin costume out of chicken wire and papier-mache. I was fully covered with the costume. It only had a slot in the stem to see out of. It was painted orange and green like the great pumpkin. We went to a party where I was ominous and chasing around the radio personality for a while.

I never really ran and was never athletic in school. Being isolated, there wasn’t anyone to play basketball or soccer with. Maybe I was too engrossed with the encyclopedia. I don’t remember being asked. I had a softball glove but never played much… maybe with Dad a few times.

I like playing with water, so I was happy when the spring rains came. The clay soil would have water accumulate below it so that you could make it squish and squirt. I liked making little rivers to move the water around. We didn’t play marbles when the ground was wet.

We lived between two small mountains. The trees must have been pretty in autumn. There were lots of maples, being Vermont. In addition, our house had a maple and an elm tree. The elm tree eventually died from Dutch elm disease. We cut the tree down when it was dead. A cub scout project was to plant some trees. I planted 50 maple trees. We brought the last two with us when we moved to Indiana. The final survivor was moved an additional time when the family left the dairy farm. Now it’s growing where my parents used to live near Kendallville.

It was nice that we had such beauty around the home so that I have some nice memories.

Photo by Marta Wave: Pexels

Shelves

As I search for things to collect, I step into the antique bookstore. The range of subjects here is boundless. The words are in many tongues. The authors come from the four winds.

All of the books have a price. All of the scripts are black as night. The knowledge of the ages resides here.

I have found a new source for my purchases. The shopkeeper is very kind. His heart is seeping through this storehouse. He has built a business filled with the relics of time.

Sometimes, I search to fill my collection of Bible translations. I want their words to sing a chorus of devotion with each other.

Some of the books are covered with a thin layer of dust. Most are well preserved, but their origin has been forgotten. I will never know who brought the items I find that are filling my shelves.

Despite the age of their bindings, I can always find something new here. The magic words run deep. I can read them and fall into the arms of a mystical reverie.

I want to retrieve forgotten words. When I return, I know that I can find the wisdom the ancients. Perhaps I will discover a new reality hidden on the pages of the next book I pick up.


[A fictionalized version of Hyde Brothers Booksellers]

Politics: from Quantum to Thermodynamic

In the past, candidates campaigned with a quantum model of the voter. Each voter counts. The candidate needs to convince neighborhoods and each house on a block. It was quantum in the sense that individual action mattered. Every atom/voter needs a packet of energy to transform from one candidate another.

Now the quantum model of the voter can be replaced by a classical thermodynamic model. One thinks in terms of the temperature of groups instead of individuals. Rather than counting individuals, the campaign thinks of percentages.

For many issues, opinions are split nearly evenly. To get the electoral results for a candidate, moving a fraction of voters in the middle is enough. The effect is that, for the majority of the electorate, the candidates don’t need to address them. They won’t matter to the outcome because their votes are free energy to win an election without exerting any work.

Targeted advertising such as what is available with Facebook, YouTube and Google allow candidates to focus their appeals to the subgroups that are in the middle. Adding heat to targeted parts of the pot can be more successful.

Changing the votes of one or two percent in the right demographic can be enough to win the election. Narrow campaigns targeted to subgroups can be more efficient than mass appeals through TV and radio. A campaign’s money can be stretched further when it tries to change the temperature of small groups rather than trying to push individual votes one at a time.

In a quantum model of campaigning, each person matters. When a candidate shifts their efforts to a classical, thermodynamic model, what matters is convincing groups in the margins. People have been reduced from individual human voters into inhuman mathematical abstractions.

Listening with your mind’s eye

I notice that I visualize the letters of the words that people are speaking. I see the text as the words pass. I wonder whether other people experience a visualization like this.

If I were to learn a new language, the need to spell text might be limiting.

Arabic and Farsi would first require me to learn how to pronounce and write Arabic script. It would be an added step that I wouldn’t have learning new European languages. I don’t think visualizing it would be a great challenge once I could read and transcribe words.

Mandarin Chinese, in contrast, might be acutely difficult for me to learn. Since words are not written phonetically, I would need a completely new level of interpretation to see what I am hearing. I suspect that skill would develop very slowly (if at all.) There are phonetic transcriptions of the sounds, but if the variations in the pronunciation of words is subtle, I might not “see” the correct “text.”

In some languages, people speak more words per minute than in English. Would my ability to visualize the words be overwhelmed by the speed that the letters go by?

What would happen if I had a stroke that broke that neural link between my hearing and the visualizations? I wonder whether I could track a conversation when I couldn’t see the words anymore.

I believe song lyrics access a different part of my language system. When I read the lyrics to familiar songs, the words don’t register as familiar. Often, I find that I never really knew what the song was about. My visualizations didn’t seem to help. I’m wonder whether a PET or fMRI of me listening to a song and its lyrics would be different from one recorded while I listening to the same words as prose.

It’s interesting to notice skills that are natural to me. It would also be interesting to learn skills that are natural to other people that I’m unable to experience.

An aptitude might be broken down into micro-level skills. Some may take practice to develop fully. It is a form of neurodivergence to identify skills that might be missing in one person and robustly available in another.

Consider the ability to recognize faces and the ability to visualize images. I’ve heard informal suggestions that people have different levels of proficiency. These are examples of everyday skills that might have a spectrum of ability. Mathematics may be hard for some people because some necessary sub-skill is neurologically disadvantaged.

Brains are mysteries full of puzzles. They hide individual differences. I don’t know things that I can’t do that are natural for you. It’s hard for you to know things I take for granted that you struggle with.