A stupid text message I got today from a stupid spammer.

Uncle Terrance | Eruditorum Press

There are countless figures who made Doctor Who what it is. Indeed, there’re countless figures who made it great. But Terrance Dicks is the man who made it a show that thrills and vexes me enough to pen a million words analyzing it and still not feel done with it. He made it at once inscrutable and approachable, simple and fun yet endlessly thorny. He’s not why Doctor Who is good. But he is why generations love it, and why generations more will. There will never be anyone like him again on the program. There never could be. People like him don’t happen twice. They scarcely happen once. Thank the gods they did.

And the latest update. I have Downlink set to update my desktop every 20 minutes today. Not sure of the lag time between the satellite snapping the image and the app processing it, but it’s effectively real-time for my needs.

Working at home today, awaiting the rains from Hurricane Dorian here in central NC. The coast has been evacuated. This screenshot is of my desktop; the photo is NASA satellite imagery from a Mac program called Downlink.

Where supper and the toasted butter coconut pie cannot be improved on.

K&W menu board

Removed the On This Day page since it was not updating in the two themes I tried. I may try again later.

I copied @cleverdevil On This Day script to produce any entries on my page at brownstudy.info/on-this-d… . I set the tz to “America/New_York” (thank you, Wikipedia tz page!) but it’s not picking up anything. Should I troubleshoot individual posts’ html code? (Posts were imported from a mix of Wordpress, Tumblr, and Squarespace, so I have no idea how the xml transforms worked on them.) Also, at 1:46pm on Aug 19, the page is showing the date as Aug 17, which baffles me. Thanks for any clues you can provide.

I will often fight drowsiness or boredom or even needing to pee if I’m committed to what I’m doing right now. But if I get a food craving, I cave in immediately. Why does hunger feel more real – and unmanageable – to me than other cravings?

Settling into Micro.blog

Over the weekend, I imported 1,902 blog posts written since 2005 in Bloggr, Tumblr, Wordpress, and SquareSpace.

I exported all posts from these platforms and imported them into a temporary Wordpress.com blog; the worst part of that experience was setting up the Wordpress.com blog, actually. However, Wordpress.com’s importing and sorting of all those files worked a treat – there were no hiccups and all posts were sorted in reverse chronological order, no matter their platform of origin. I then exported the combined posts to three XML files that I imported into micro.blog.

I used MarsEdit to then download all the posts into its editor. I now have, for the first time. everything I’ve ever written in one place and easily editable.

As I dip into those old posts, I’m deleting some posts, fixing busted links to others, adding categories to a few more. I decided to keep my categories simple this time around: a Commonplace Book for quotes and images and a Favorite Posts. I will have to rely on search to find anything else of interest.

A lingering tech problem is that my domain, brownstudy.info, needs to be transferred from its current registrar to SquareSpace; from there, I want to point the domain to this site. (I have a second domain registered with SquareSpace that will be the home for my “professional” writing.) I’m quite nervous about doing the transfer since it’s not something I’ve ever done before, but I’m sure it will go well.

As I go back through my old posts, I’m wondering how those old Tumblr pages of captured graphics will fare; a few still look good, others are blank. Also, many images on this blog are still pointing to media loaded into brownstudy.info. I have no idea at this time what to do about those files; I’m still unsteady with the micro.blog platform and where media files live.

Currently reading: Aug 9 - Fog by Kathryn Scanlan 📚

Is Mercury in Retrograde?

I was swimming upstream most of the day, having trouble with all my tech (software, phone) and wondered, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” Must have been just me, I guess.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac:

Three times a year, it appears as if Mercury is going backwards. These times in particular were traditionally associated with confusions, delay, and frustration. Think email blunders and frazzled travel plans.

However, this is an excellent time to reflect on the past. It’s said that intuition is high during these periods, and coincidences can be extraordinary.

The New York Times has its own sober explanation, with quotes from two astrologers who advise, “Don’t worry about it.”

Recent Enjoyments

An acquaintance asked for recent books or movies I liked. This is what I wrote.

We enjoyed watching an effortlessly charming little BBC comedy called The Detectorists; series 1 and the Christmas special are best, with series 2 and 3 good but not as new and blooming wonderful as series 1. Small people, small ambitions, small stakes, all of the characters leaving no traces in history but trying — very, very hard — to enjoy themselves while they're at it.

I'm reading Tom King's graphic novel Vision: The Complete Series, about the Avengers android moving his synthetic family to the suburbs. Tragedy is seeded in the first issue alongside the whimsy. I sit down each night to read a chapter with anticipation and dread.

Also: The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann. The graphic novel bio of forgotten travel writer William Seabrook was overlong but interesting; Seabrook created or popularized the word "zombie" and for a time succeeded as a gonzo adventurer/writer in the early 20th century; he achieved some small fame and notoriety that he could not maintain.

Two good movies: Submarine, a coming-of-age movie (based on a novel) directed by Richard Ayoade (best known as Moss from the brilliant BBC comedy The IT Crowd); a blend of sodden Welsh gloom and dark humor with some quirky storytelling techniques that add to the fun without overshadowing the story.

Also, a great little documentary called Seth's Dominion, about the Canadian cartoonist/artist/book designer Seth. There's a companion book/DVD. Set this portrait of an artist creating his own self-sustaining and fully imagined world against the Seabrook bio and discuss.

Shopper's Dilemma: Technology

Daniel Lemire ponders whether to take advantage of today’s technology or wait till the technology improves.

He postulates that people who buy now are actually betting against the future (your smartphone won’t get any smarter) whereas technophiles may be best served by delaying their purchases since they believe the future will be better (look at all the new things my smartphone can do).

Liz and I existed with Tracfone cell service and cheap flip phones for years until 2017 when I bought my first (and so far, only) iPhone, with Liz following suit a few months later. By that time, many of our friends were texting and sending photos back and forth; with our phones, we could now join in the conversation. Neither of us scratch the surface of the iPhone’s capabilities.

I will likely hold on to my iPhone SE till it makes sense for me to spend gobs of money on a new one. I held on to my used cars for years before my first-ever new car, my beloved 2007 Honda Fit (Blaze Orange Metallic!). I bought the Fit in the summer of 2006 as a special order, before it invaded our shores. I’m still driving it today. The car will have to cost more in repairs and inconvenience before I think of upgrading.

"Nasty character traits need an outlet"

Time passes slowly at the old folks home in Amsterdam.

If you don’t have anything special to do all day long, a molehill can turn into a mountain. A person’s time must be filled with something; one’s attention has to have a focus. Nasty character traits need an outlet. In contrast to what you’d expect, narrow-mindedness increases and tolerance lessens with the onset of old age. “Old and wise” is the exception rather than the rule.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (Translator) (Amazon US)

Hendrik Groen’s diary is Adrian Mole for the grey generation.

Hunger or Craving?

Michael Graziano rather persuasively argues that the body’s mechanisms for managing hunger work just fine. Eating high-carbohydrate food products, calorie-counting, snacking, etc. mess up the body’s default mechanisms and lead to obesity.

Graziano makes the case that hunger, for many people, is a psychological state. The hunger mood can make a small plate of food look like either not-enough or not-now-I’m-full. A successful strategy for managing hunger would work with the body’s hunger mechanisms and avoid the use of will power.

He does not lay out a 10-step plan or techniques to deploy in the article. Each person has to find their own path. In his case, that meant a low-carb, slightly higher-fat diet and the permission to eat as much as he wanted at any meal. His essay goes into more depth on his reasons for adopting an ultimately successful eating plan.

For myself, I prefer eating one-meal-a-day and that has proven to be a low-effort strategy for me. But I do get plagued around 2-4pm by hankerings for whatever is in the snack machine at work.

Here’s a technique I found years ago that helps me in the moment. Whenever I feel prompted to raid the snack machine, I stand up, take a deep breath, put my hands on my stomach, and ask “Is this hunger or craving?” Before I’m done asking the question, I know that it’s usually craving. At that point, I get water or coffee, walk around outside, or socialize — anything that gets me physically moving and uses the large muscles of the body or in some way distracts my attention.

The Magic of Utility, the Utility of Magic

Wonderful summing-up final paragraph from Stefany Anne Golberg’s essay on The Long Lost Friend

There’s a mood of disorientation and longing in The Long Lost Friend ’s title that strikes a different note than the confident claims to be found inside. Maybe this is the book’s “Long-Hidden” message, its essence, and the essence of all the self-help books that would follow it. The self-help book, via The Long Lost Friend, is an appeal to the American still wandering in the wilderness, curious about everything, needing nothing, wanting it all but not knowing how to get it, believing in the magic of utility, and the utility of magic.