Smokes your problems, coughs fresh air.

Category: Tribulation (Page 1 of 2)

The digital sauna.

Exhaling on YouTube

I’ve created a YouTube channel separate from my private account and branded it “BigSmoke”. The channel’s purpose is to breathe some fresh air into some online discussions that I follow(ed). Actually, the content is the sort of content that I used to want to put more of on BigSmoke, but which I now found to be better suited for long-form discussions than for laying down my views from some ivory tower.

The first three puffs of fresh air feature my brother Jorrit:

  1. In the first puff, recorded shortly after he (and me too for the nth time) quit caffeine. The cue for me to want to do that podcast (and stop putting off this creative endeavor indefinitely) was when he told me that quitting caffeine took a heavier toll on his body and mind than did quitting smoking and drinking at the same time a few months earlier. I though that that was a great story to put into perspective that yes, caffeine really is a serious, addictive drug that can interfere not just with your dreams but actually with your dreaming!

    Production-wise, the worst part of this first podcast is that my face is tiny, because I used Google Meet and neglected to install a browser extension to undo its limited layout support or to even just click my own face when I was talking.

  2. The 2nd puff of fresh air centered around meaning. Without the caffeine in my system, I was having more trouble than usual to find the meaning in my “mostly for money” job that’s really doing nothing to make the world a better, more beautiful place. Also, my self-discipline had declined to a long-time, leaving too little time and energy around work-work for more creative meaningful endeavors (such as doing podcasts).

    There was a bit of a production problem with my 2nd puff of fresh air. The one published is a re-iteration of the same discussion we had some days before that but for which I recorded an empty audio stream of my docking station’s unconnected microphone input instead of the audio stream of the laptop port in which my microphone was actually plugged in. At least I did find Jitsi, which allowed easier side-to-side video frames.

  3. In the 3rd puff of fresh air, we zoom in on some topics that we brushed past in the 2nd without really touching. I talk about my pain and shame of being mostly just another cooperating cog in the machine that is wreaking planetary-scale havoc and that is grinding ecosystems all over the world out of existence. Jorrit’s focus is on the harm that’s done to human happiness by our culture (and also the “away with us” culture of which I’m sometimes a part). We try to make our visions on self-discipline collide, but we end up finding more agreement than we expect. Most of our disagreement turns out to be superficially bound to societal structures which we both would rather see transformed than preserved in their current sickly form.

    We switched back to Google Meet for this 3rd recorded conversation, because the free Jitsi server we used was performing shakily that day.

New year’s resolutions

I updated my personal homepage at the beginning of the new year. Some of the changes were long overdue, like my university student status and the number of diving licenses. But, there were other changes that arose from a more recent insight: that, if I am to reach my goals, I need a plan. A bad plan is better than no plan. And too many goals are as useless as no goals.

Here is my plan as I published it in Januari in verbatim:

This has a plan: to become a happy little 🐷. His tech job at YTEC already keeps him warm and his belly full. (His family 💰 and the 🇳🇱 welfare state helped him along the way.) 🐷 2 + 2 little 🐱🐱 + some 🌿🌴 make 🏠 🏠. And, with all that comfort, ❄️🚿🚿, योगः, 中国武术 and มวยไทย keep the 🐷 from getting .

Homo sapiens is more homonid than sapiens, so the most sapient thing for this H. to do is to take good care of his 🐒-mind. This 🐒 wants (☑), and is very particular about who he keeps ✓ed in this —a ♀ who breaks out of the stupid , and climbs on top of it to 👙💃.

Outside this most private of private bubbles, there are friends and family on call to put into perspective the tribulations that flow from the oft-inflated need to earn societal respect and dominate other ♂♂. At his most ☮️ful, his work and hobbies (i.e., kickboxing & diving) afford him plenty of opportunity to ✓ this ☐, but sometimes he dreams of wider recognition, especially at times of narrow self-respect.

He used to want to grow 📈 indiscriminately in all directions at once (like a ), dreaming of universal admiration and acceptance, being unable to accept—let alone, love—himself. Having since undergone therapy, he can now make the 🐒 feel sufficiently secure to focus on more forms of self-improvement, as long as he pays conscious attention to his need for ♡.

2018’s goal is for him to learn to respect himself, which requires him to ⒜ be deserving of respect, and ⒝ to give himself credit when credit is due. To combat self-sabotage and improve his discipline, he has given himself 3 rules: ① consumption is production; ② the training schedule is sacred; and ③ meditate daily. This may sound harsh, and it is, if he will needlessly beat himself up over any failure to comply. These rules are fairly constant, but there’s also a maximum of 4 assignments, which will change when they’re finished or given up; currently, these 4 are: ⓐ publish 7 6 articles on Sapiens Habitat about PPPermaculture; ⓑ create an Angel prototype and share it with colleagues; ⓒ finish opschoot‘s Mint upgrade; and ⓓ remember 7 new lucid dreams.

Note that there’s no need to work on these assignments; they don’t have a deadline. Deadlines abound in the day job. It’s all about the rule of ④: no more than 4 private projects at the time, to avoid all that free energy from being scattered with purpose nor satisfaction.

Rule ①: consumption is production

My adherence to rule ① has been decent in the beginning but is somewhat mixed at the moment: I’ve tweeted most times that I caught myself scrolling Twitter, but I haven’t written something—even if it’s just a single line—every time I’ve been mindlessly losing myself in the newspaper. Definitely, I need to continue to be vigilant if I want to rid myself of my habit to numb myself with mindless information consumption.

Speaking of production: For some time, I’ve waited with writing more about Annemarie, Laurelin and Nils their permaculture adventures in Portugal ⓐ while making some adjustments to the layout of sapienshabitat.com. But, I am now nicely progressing ⓐ with the second article in the series on PPPermaculture: Tree Nurse Nils.

Rule ②: the training schedule is sacred

Rule ② has been somewhat more sacred to me than rule ①, and I’m proud to say that I’ve persisted through quite a bit of boredom. Interestingly, so far, I’ve found adhering to my training schedule easier than making changes to it. The only changes I made were rather minor.

Last week, I decided that I want to pursue some competitive kickboxing bouts. But, that’ll have to wait until I finished one of ⓐ through ⓓ. Otherwise, I’d be violating the rule of ④.

Rule ③: meditate daily

Being mindful instead of running around like a caffeinated chicken is still challenging, in so far as that I don’t feel that I’ve further progressed towards being sufficiently at ease during the day that it has improved my dream content. My dream recall, however, has kind of improved.

There have been days on which I violated rule ③, and these shouldn’t be allowed to multiple. But, it’s also important to remember the spirit of the rule rather than the letter. And that spirit would soar as soon as ⓓ I will have the first of those 7 new lucid dreams.

The rule of ④

The rule of ④ is great. It has already protected me from undertaking ⓔ and ⓕ before finishing ⓐ through ⓓ. It also has a motivating quality, because I’m really itching (literally) to try ⓔ a ketogenic diet again.

Rule-adherence

Rule ① Rule ② Rule ③
Week Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
17
18
19
20 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½
21 I can not nor want to remember all this shit throughout the week.

Status of auto-assignemts

ⓐ published 5 of first 7 articles about PPPermaculture on sapienshabitat.com
ⓑ create an Angel prototype and share it with colleagues
ⓒ finished opschoot‘s Mint upgrade ☑ on Feb. 22 2018
ⓓ remembered 7 of 7 new lucid dreams ☑ on Jun. 8 2018
ⓔ tried a ketogenic diet again for a week ☑ from Feb. 12–18 2018
ⓕ fight a kickboxing match started in the beginning Mar. 2018,
officially paused at the end of Apr.
ⓖ publish opinion piece about the annual winter-time population crash in the Oostvaardersplassen ☑ on Mar. 14 2018
ⓗ submit an entry for the NRC essay writing competition started on May 26 2018
☑ on Jun. 25 2018
ⓘ something something Magento started on Jun. 8 2018
ⓙ reviewing Myrna her open letter to the Dutch national Health Council embarked on Jun 25. 2018
☑ on Jul. 1 2018
ⓚ sand and paint my bicycle cart waiting for a slot
ⓛ read Annemarie her fairy tale
ⓜ get Hardwood wikis back online and put them up for sale waiting for a slot
ⓝ redesign www.bigsmoke.us accidentally started on Aug. 27

Worldwide Wilderness

A long, long time ago, when I still thought that Drupal would turn out be a good choice for a new website project, I founded www.worldwidewilderness.com. Well, actually I found www.world-wide-wilderness.com, because I didn’t know that ‘worldwide’ is spelled as one word. And, then I found www.worldwide-wilderness.com, because I thought that hyphens in domain names are really cool—so cool, in fact, that I was on the Dashing Domains fanlist for years. Apart from all the hyphens, I still like the Worldwide Wilderness, so much so that I’ve recently been considering building an interactive map of all the remaining wilderness areas in the world under the brand.

Because of Rule 4—the rule of 4—I will not work on this idea any time soon, and the best way to get an idea out of my head is to put it on paper (of sorts): the idea is to have an interactive map of the world in which wilderness areas are marked according to the threats and protections that are present. Vetted specialist users should be able to amend this information and every site should include information about all the actions that concerned visitors can take to improve the protection of the wildernesses.

For archival purposes, below is the blurb I used to describe the project on www.bigsmoke.us:

I’m a wild ape and civilization is a bad joke I didn’t get the punchline of. Somehow I’m supposed to be excited about all the freedom that my ancestors didn’t have because they were too busy staying alive. I have to be grateful for all the stuff that I can fill my life with in the absence of the struggle for survival. Instead of hunger and hungry predators we have gotten a pack of paper predators chasing us through life. The whole pack is being digitized so that we can run even faster.

Constantly, I feel threatened, because I am supposed to feel threatened for things that are simply not threatening, no matter how you turn them around or blow them out of proportion. As a social animal, nog taking these “threats” serious does feel seriously threatening to my social status. But I’m taking my chances. Fuck you and your self-imposed cages! I do not agree to be lifestock. I claim the right to be the wild animal that I will be regardless of your (and my) attempts to control me.

Self-control is a delusion. Self-improvement is masturbation. Because who would be doing the controlling and who would be doing the improving? Not me, that’s for sure.

Nakedness

2018-01-03. I’m making this backpost because I just unpublished the following blurb from www.bigsmoke.us, where it accompanied the link to this blog’s Nakedness category that has since been superceded by the Tribulation.

I am a naked ape. You are too, but some of you are in denial. Privacy is dead. It was assaulted by modern communication technology and burried by Facebook (and you dug your own hole). How are you going to hide your true monkey nature when you’re fully transparent?

Everybody is still frantically protecting their image, but it’s fucking useless to post only your heroics, since everybody can see that everyone is the same. No-one can ascend their nature. No-one can ascend nature, period. We are nature and we are natural, no matter what type of holy shit we sprinkle ourselves with.

Sometimes, I feel inclined to share with you a rawer version of myself.

My zeroth year at university

Maybe my biggest accomplishment to date—maybe my only real accomplishment, if your glasses are so colored by society’s standards—has been to be accepted to the University of Groningen as a fulltime biology student. To apply, I had to send my curriculum and a letter of motivation. Which motivation? I wasn’t so sure that I’d like to be a student. Actually, I had been quite certain for most of my adult life that I really did not want to study and waste all that precious time for a few crums of knowledge.

But, I overdosed on spacecake and was having a bad trip. I was already depressed. My life hadn’t worked out. I hadn’t turned out to be the type of person that I wanted to be. None of the success. None of the happiness. Little satisfaction. Just some stubborn fantasies about how cool me and my life would be if only…

The physical and mental stress caused by the fear that underlies most major depressions overtook me, so terribly afraid of what others—that’s you—might think of me. This sensation wasn’t new. What was new was a lasting awareness about the extend to which this social anxiety directed my life and a stronger sense about how this might have affected my major life decisions. I felt (more than that I thought) that, maybe, I could try the normal life of a college student.

At the same time, I was very doubtful, because I had occassionally tried to fit into the constraints of society. It never fitted. I had to always give up on the straight path. So why would this work?

I did know that I was interested in biology and—by myself—I never really dug into it, apart from enjoying a Attenborough documentary or two. So, I investigated my options and decided to apply for university.

The next couple of months are a blur of learning, intensifying bouts of depression, despair and the occasional glimmer of hope. Never having finished even one of the lowest level of high-school, I had to face a colloquium doctum, where my knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology would be tested.

During the first examination, only my understanding of biology was sufficient. My math, physics and chemistry were terrible (a 2.5, a 2, and a 1 (out of 10) respectively), just above elementary school level.

I had only two attempts left to be in time to start studying after the 2011 summer break. The year after, I’d be 30 and no longer eligible to state support as a student.

During the next attempt, I fluked all remaining three subjects (although physics had turned into a 4). Then, the last attempt approached. I was nervous as hell, and felt ill-prepared at best. I was high on sleep-deprivation during the physics part. Yet, I was confident. Mathematics went terrible. It was mostly calculus and the statistics part was also much harder than the practice exams that I’d used.

So I resigned in my head, because I was certain that I had failed math. I decided I wanted to know how much chemistry had improved since my last attempt, though. (It was so bad then that it wasn’t even graded.) Surprisingly, chemistry went somewhat okay. At least I had made a somewhat informed attempt at an answer on most questions.

Came my grades for math and physics: a 5.5 and a 5.9. How was this possible? I was already planning to go back to France to work with my brother. A 5.5 was exactly sufficient to meet the requirements.

The first semester would start in a week. But I’d have to wait a week for the chemistry grade. This was thrilling, in a good way and a bad way. Finally, the grade came in, just in time for me to know if It’d make sense for me to come to university the next day for all the introductions that would take place.

The next day I was sitting in a lecture hall, filled to the brim with hundreds of 18-year-olds. In just a couple of months I had gone from a 0 (that’s a zero) on chemistry to a whopping 7.8!

Why doesn’t he just…

You know the conversation. You had the conversation:
“Why doesn’t he just …”
“I don’t understand why he can’t simply …”
“If he’d only …”

Usually followed by: “I used to, but I …”
Or: “At least you have (not) …”

Well, I had this conversation, but at least I …
I am writing about it, so that at least you …

You know the truth:
No, he can’t just …
At least, he couldn’t …

Now, you might …
But if it’d be so easy to …
You wouldn’t be congratulating each other that …
You’re just slightly better than him …

How does it feel?
Safe?

If only you would …

Psychopathic Saturday

I’m trying to pump up myself to write a piece of text about psychopathy. All three other group members already wrote their part. We’re making a scientific poster titled “Is there a psychopath hidden in your brain?” But, do I even want to know? It’s all very close to home, with a mother who’s been accusing her ex-husband (my dad) of being a psychopath for, like, forever, and, simultaneously, this monkey in my brain, pointing it’s accusative little finger straight at me.

I am naked and feeling very vulnerable

There are many clever ways to tell you this. There are many ways to deceive. But in the end I feel that more often than not the deception merely serves to reinforce that image of a very vulnerable naked man.

Thus: “I am naked and feeling very vulnerable.”

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