Paranoid Android

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(I’ve been listening to the Radiohead OKNotOK remaster all week. No Surprises as to what keep cropping up as lyric prompts.)

I lay awake at 5am this morning, as has become something of a habit of late. It’s not bad,  looking at the daily sleep cycle: I went to bed at ten because EXHAUSTED and seven and a bit hours has become a ‘normal’ night. However, a return to sleep was possible, safe in the knowledge that everything that needs to be done this month not only is doable, but will be completed. For the first time in many months I think I’m strong enough to produce what is asked everywhere, without collapsing in a massive heap, though there were a few points yesterday where panic physically manifested. They were all dealt with, however, and now comes the nuts and bolts.

The plan going forward is to produce enough quality content in the hope to attract someone to sign for a higher tier of participation, to break the $100 a month threshold. The job I gave up to do this paid approximately $160 a month, so that will be the next metaphorical achievement… and then if I crack $200 I can give up the other part time writing projects still involved in. I’m enough of a realist to grasp this will take time, and a phenomenal amount of effort on my part, but working hard has never been something I’ve had a problem with. As this morning shows, it is dealing with the paranoia that accompanies starting something from the ground up which is a far bigger issue. Today, nothing seems quite good enough.

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Patreon keep sending me emails instructing that content creators should play up positivity and optimism in my work. This is the single biggest thing I struggle with. Knowing work is good enough, that your heart and soul is being poured into every word and post… of course there is a firm belief in everything being produced, or this journey would never have been begun. That’s not the problem: I fucking suck at self promotion. There is nobody else to blow the trumpet except me, and only now is it apparent what a huge place the Internet is and how tiny one feels in comparison. The hope, of course, is that my distinctive approach is niche enough to attract total strangers. When that finally happens, then there will be a belief that yes, there is mileage in this.

Getting people I don’t know to take a chance on me is the next step.

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I have lost count of the number of ‘friends’ who promised earnest support for projects over the years yet conveniently vanished when help was needed the most. In fact, I should thank those individuals for teaching the lesson that, in the end, the only person one can truly rely on is yourself. This next few weeks is about being confident in conviction, and not being swayed by those who just turn up to start a fight: after all, that’s my job anyway. The people who matter most already grasp the significance of this project, and have been kind enough to stand up as support in the vital early months. Everybody else, like it or not, isn’t interested, and if that can be changed? Well, there’s a point to aim for.

Perhaps if I can aim to sway one mind a day, going forward, 365 minds by the end of the year is a massive achievement. Small steps is all I can hope for.

That’s how all good journeys begin.

The Test

Some of you know me very well, and have done for many years. For others, this is the beginning of a new ‘relationship’: you took a chance on an unknown woman and clicked on the website, wondering what might be hidden amongst the words. In a reality full of people shouting at you from various platforms, how on earth do you ever find the confidence to stand up and take a step in the dark? Reality in 2017 is a pretty hard sell: I’m watching people I thought knew better effectively pretending life isn’t happening and moving further away from social media. I realise that for some, the only way to cope with the chaos around us is to effectively retreat, and I can’t say I blame them one iota. Once upon a time, that would have been my coping mechanism too, but not any more.

Life right now is a test of how capable we all are of moving forward.

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Finding a personal balance is never simple, and inevitably involves pushing out of comfort zones. Whatever the new age gurus might try and sell you, or the clean eaters plus any of the new generation of spiritually aware, there is never just one answer that solves everything. Because everybody is different, pretending you have the cast iron solution to change someone’s existence is no different than being a charlatan. The Internet, often described as the Wild West by those who’ve not lived here nearly long enough to understand the reality, does however possess more than a fair share of Snake Oil pushers. There may well be gold in them thar retweets but if you want peace of mind as well as your fortune, taking part isn’t enough.

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I get frustrated when people describe me as quirky and confrontational, just because I won’t use the established rule book. After a lifetime in computing, in one form or another, I have a fairly unique perspective of what it means to be a woman in lots of differing places. I have no doubt the real world is both differing and similar to these experiences, and I’m never stupid enough to assert that my truth is any more or less important than the next person. The fact remains that in the current version of reality we live in, the Internet allows everyone to shout at each other pretty much without consequence, unless you’re lucky enough to have the cash/patience/backup required to make your point of view in court. Then, and only then, can you prove you’re right without an argument. That means, like it or not, pretty much everybody else is pissing in the wind.

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The trick to real success, it seems to this mind, is twofold: either never talk about anything personal or difficult ever and just get on with life, or sell yourself for all that you’re worth and become famous for being just that. On reflection, I can talk about what I am now without much fear, because I understand what libel is, and what you should never do in public. My past cannot be changed, but is reconciled with the present. Really, all I have now is a blank page and the next day, with the fundamental understanding that I may never reach it. If I died right after this blog post was written, if it were my last testament to what I am and what I have worked towards, I would be happy. Sure, I would have liked to have had some of my works published, but as my husband likes to point out, many of the most famous authors only became revered after death anyway, so what does it matter? It doesn’t. Living each day well, making solid progress on goals, being a better person, looking after your environment… all of this is how you become happy. You don’t drink a shake or run a mile, you don’t just pray or hand over some cash. Life is to be lived, in the best way your environment and circumstances allow, and that’s what I intend to do going forward.

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If you don’t know me yet, I hope that can change. I’d like to help you write better, to think about life even if it is hard, and to try and help other people. That means today I ask you to take a small amount of extra cash, if you can spare it, to help those with nothing in east Africa, which is in the grip of a major famine. That’s all: today, you help somebody less fortunate than yourself, for no other reason than one day, this could be you.

This way, maybe, we eventually all help to make life easier for everybody to live well.

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There’s No Other Way

On Sunday, I went with my Husband to the Gym, and ran whist he did a static bike class. Opposite my Treadmill are a set of upright bikes, and 10 minutes into my session in walks a guy with iPad, iPhone and a padded lunchbox. He’d been cycling less than 5 minutes when his breakfast shake in a carton came out, followed by two Digestive biscuits, and I found myself amazed that this was acceptable behaviour inside the Studio. Speaking to my husband about it, people on the static bikes use gels and protein drinks all the time, and now I’m thinking that maybe I’m the one who needs re-education. My relationship with high energy foods is still a bit tenuous, but that’s because my stomach is quite particular about what I stick in it and reacts quite quickly to stuff it decides it doesn’t like, which in the main includes gels. Protein bars we can manage, but anything else?

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My diet has quite radically altered in the last two months, since Christmas was done. I’d been healthy before that point but now it’s become a bit of an obsession. Don’t panic, there are still favourite things thrown in the mix or else this would be boring beyond belief, but given a choice between the calorie rich and the simple, the latter’s winning more and more. It has a lot to do with tracking how much gets eaten, too, and that with simpler food I can begin to grasp exactly how many calories are in a thing so brain knows when to stop. I’m increasingly taking kids sized treats as well, because a lot of them are less likely to be full of artificial crap. Plus, I’ll be honest, I eat a lot of raw fruit and veg but I don’t own a Spiraliser and no, I won’t do any of that ‘clean’ shit any time soon.

However, I think I’ve probably gone too far the way of minimal and need to bulk up at least one meal a day.

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This .gif has no relevance, I just really like it :D

It was also suggested by my husband yesterday that I work out what I enjoy eating when I’m not on a treadmill and maybe focus on adding that to my daily routine, rather than just shrugging and taking the easy option protein bar. I’d had great plans to learn more cookery stuff and six weeks into 2017 that’s all fallen by the wayside, so as of Friday I’m going to try and get a meal prepped every week for the evening that involves at least one portion of veg as standard. So, not going mad, just one thing a week like I was in January, so I can get that back on the habit forming train. It’s also pushed me to stick a Post It note on my screen with #ThingsiLove on it to help as a physical prompt: there needs to be more affirmation of the positive in my life and not a focus on the acceptable or simply sufficient.

This is a good way to keep me sane, I have concluded, that if I look for the love and don’t give it back, it isn’t productive long term. What I need to do more is GIVE the love, and learn how to appreciate the stuff around me without taking it for granted. Once upon a time I’d think this was a bunch of New Age sappiness but now, I grasp the merit in a World that’s crying out for less stupid and more caring. I started last night with a long, lovely cuddle with the youngest, who made me mini-cupcakes at Nan’s so I could eat one and not stress about the calories. If other people are this thoughtful and caring towards me, it goes without saying that I should be returning the favour.

Time to consider everything that goes into my body going forward.

Don’t Tell Me

Before we begin, let me quantify the following:

  • I firmly 100% agree in the concept of Global Warming
  • It is undoubtedly true that bad energy management and human error has warmed up the Planet
  • Pretending there isn’t a problem is both bad and inherently dangerous

Having said all that? This tweet is not making me happy:

HOWEVER, it isn’t the actual content that’s upsetting right now, but the commentary on it, specifically those last five words. The graph is irrefutable proof that the planet is warming, make no bones about it but WHY did the phrase ‘probably the lowest in millennia’ need to be added afterwards, exactly? Recording of this data begins in 1978. That’s 40 years in the span of a planet that’s been around a wee bit longer than us, or the Dinosaurs, or indeed any form of life. Yes, I will grant that is a nasty and concerning dip, but trying to make out this is ‘probably’ really bad is exactly the kind of fodder that the anti-Climate Change people will jump on with absolute glee. ‘Probably’ implies a general sense of ‘well, we don’t know but its a pretty safe bet, right?’ and coming from a SCIENTIST? That’s not how you science properly, and if even the layperson here gets the drift of that… There’s an issue with your reporting technique.

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That’s the size of Delaware for our US Readers… ^^

There’s a lot of unusual shit going down with the weather worldwide, all of which adds up to pretty irrefutable support for the ‘Climate Change’ lobby. Trying to pretend things are worse than they are, or actively scaremongering, is I understand sometimes the only way to cut through the crap of a bazillion news issues a day, and when you’ve only got 140 characters and a Tweet as your platform? Every word matters. Probably is not a scientific word. Facts and evidence are scientific words and because this graph cannot provide any data prior to 1978 to a reader to indicate what the ice did then? Working on the facts available is what happens, not vague speculation on times past. If you want more people to support your cause? The arguments have to be irrefutable and damning, with absolutely no quarter for negotiation. This is, in my mind, a good graph that cries out for better commentary to ensure maximum impact.

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However, any scientist worth the white coat will inform you that only by speculation and theorising have most of the major scientific breakthroughs in human history happened to begin with. They however do not live in our current, post-truth existence. All the graphs in the world, all the dossiers and piles of folders stacked up in front of reporters are easily dismissable, can be ignored if you shout loudly enough or just pretend you’re not listening. I shouldn’t worry about a ‘probably’ when the incoming Administration of a world power can simply choose to ignore the problem and leave it for the next guy to do the same. What all of us attempting to fight post-truth (or as it is rapidly becoming, full denial) must now do is pick up our game and make sure our arguments are watertight, the facts are as precise as possible. There is no place for woolly thinking or half-conceived theories any more. If you want people to believe the truth has to be stark, and yes quite possibly sensational. However, it is time to commit, one way or the other.

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I’d like to see more scientists learning to use Twitter for the planet’s good. Individuals like Neil deGrasse Tyson have the right idea: make people laugh and then think. Challenge the status quo and then push home your point. In the face of unbelievable denial and stupidity? Use science as your holy weapon and strike down the unbelievers with irrefutable fact. Stop using probably, and make your arguments bulletproof. Only then can we actually get on with successfully evolving as a species.