Vowel Movements and Consonation

Went to Texarkana last weekend to visit the family. Had 4 days off and needed to get out of Austin for a few. Started bellyaching on the way up, and eventually went to the ER – docs don’t know what it is, just gave me some pills and a bill. Spent the rest of the time hanging out with the mom, watching TV, refreshing Facebook. Spent some time upgrading her computer to the latest version of Ubuntu so she would still get security updates. Met with the sister, the nephew, and one of the nieces. Overall, it was a vanilla time, the kind of vanilla I needed, health notwithstanding. Now spending my work week convalescing back in Austin.

I’ve been invited to submit an original story for a friend’s Halloween story anthology. It’s a first for him, and he’s opened the invite to a select group of staff, former staff, and regulars of Epoch Coffee. When I was driving home from Texarkana, I was considering some stories, plots, and ideas. Things are flowing, at least on the back-end mythos behind the actual story. The problem now is follow-through and execution of the writing. I have a basic skeleton mapped out — it’s a space horror ghost story — and I have a handful of characters, ships, planets, legends, etc., but the mood, the tone, the writing…I think I need to work on that. More to come as it develops.

Domicile Destination

Conundrum:

  1. stay in current apartment, sign a 12-month lease extension for the same rent
  2. stay in current apartment, sign a 6-month lease extension for $50 more
  3. move within a month into not-shitty apartment for roughly $100 more (at current market value) on a (hypothetically) better 1BR apartment in this area.

Hmm.

Don't Like

Nonlike

I read a blog article written by Some Guy On the Internet who was performing an experiment. Instead of clicking “Like” on articles, statuses, and comments his friends posted, he would withhold clicking and, instead, would make actual comments if the urge warranted. What he found is that his Facebook experience became more human, less automatic. He was seeing more posts from more people, and less reposts of links designed to inspire outrage and click-through page views (outrage is a cottage industry now…ask me about my theory some time). In a word, his experience was better, at least subjectively.

With that report, I decided to do my own experiment two weeks ago. I’ll admit, it subjectively feels different, perhaps better (I’m not sure how I can even objectively quantify the difference in experience). I do feel less outraged, perhaps even more engaged with what my close friends (or who Facebook thinks are my close friends) are doing. It’s not terribly surprising.

The filtering algorithms that decide which posts to show us (out of the thousands that our hundreds of Friends post every day) need help, and they use the shorthand of the Like to decide what to give us more of. There’s a certain amount of activity on our walls that Facebook must provide us in order to keep us interested. If they give us too much, we complain about overload and burn out. If they give us too little, we lose interest and stop visiting. There’s a magic sweet spot that the site’s admins and social scientists are trying to hit to keep us hanging out.

It’s a fine line that varies from person to person, and in situations where FB doesn’t have enough to show us, the algorithms resort to presenting stuff similar to what we’ve Liked in the past (among other tricks, such as giving us wall notifications about what our Friends have Liked). If we’ve previously Liked a high enough quantity of lost dog posts, for instance, FB will give us more lost dog posts, etcetera.

By withdrawing myself from the automatic Like behavior that I’d grown accustomed to, the machine has less to go on, and so it has to draw from the larger body of posts by my Friends to see if there’s anything there that interests me enough to Like or comment. The algorithms get hungry. What I’ve found in this “algorithmic ketosis” is a steady increase in posts from Friends I’ve not seen on my wall in a long while. This makes me happy.

My, how I’ve missed those folks.

Angry Distance

I absolutely hate musicals. They’re always uncomfortable. Same as if someone is singing and they’re singing directly at me: I have no idea how to handle it.

But after 13 years, I finally took the opportunity to rent the 2001 gender-bending musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Dammit, this is a good musical.

Dammit.

There’s a delicious message in the metaphor that we’re all unbelievably split in twain and we’re trying like hell to find out other half, no matter who or what they are. It’s a hopeful idea. I could stand to have a little more hope in my life.