Big Time

Ever since my COVID-19 booster shot I have been getting these epiphanies when I go near a transformer or an electric car drives past.
Like, listen, just now, recently, we woke up at, say, for example, eight but according to our phones it was only seven.
Our phones determine what time it is.
And our computers. And anything else, any other timepiece, that resets itself automatically. Or, more accurately, is controlled by someone else.
Time used to be a natural thing, man.
Then clock time was introduced, and natural time faded into obscurity except when various scientists would lock themselves into a dark cave and do whatever.
With clock time, clock time was a social construct, but it was something everyone had to agree upon and gave clockmakers a lot of power.
Now clocks, especially in cars and ovens, are at most butts of jokes. They’re always wrong, or they’re wrong half the time and then self-correct six months later.
Nobody cares about clockmakers. And I suppose remote-control clocks are a thing now, right? Never wrong.
All these remote control clocks – time is no longer a social construct, it is in the hands of Big Time. Big Time I will define here as “whoever resets the clocks”-
Daylight Savings, or this regular switching between winter and summer time, is absolutely pointless. When something looks pointless, ask yourself who benefits from it?
Big Time.
Daylight Savings exists to acclimate us to the idea that time is malleable, and not to freak out when it suddenly makes no sense. Indeed, to pay less attention to rubberized time and just… live with it.
Every six months, a big deal is made of this quality of time.
Time is precise, yet random.
You have to be at work by 8 o’clock sharp, and yet sometimes the day goes fast, sometimes it drags on and on and you are exhausted and feel like you have been at your desk or terminal or table or conveyor belt or whatever forever, for ten hours or 12 hours or whatever but you look at your watch and still have hours to go how can that be?
Well this is how it can be: Big Time is messing with your time to make you work longer without collecting overtime.
Eight hour day? Sure you can have an eight hour day. But we define what an hour is, and what eight means.
We used to have internal clocks.
Used to be, if I set an alarm clock I woke up a minute before it went off. That is a precise internal clock. (Maybe my alarm clock made a faint click a minute before it went off, and it was the click that was waking me, I never tested that… but for the sake of argument…)
Same thing – pets. Cats, and perhaps dogs and other species, some days they wake you up an hour, hours early, starvin'; other days you feed them at the agreed-upon time and they just look at it as if they were still full and ignore it until hours later and then refuse it because it isn’t fresh anymore.
At least cats.
Right?
This is because their internal clock is still accurate, and they are still in touch with it, and Big Time hasn’t gotten to them yet the way it has gotten to us.
There is only one way to deal with this and that is to take time back from Big Time. Take time back into our own hands. How do we do that?
You can’t trust anyone. Any central source of time – TV time, Internet – is under control of Big Time, you can assume. Even the dates printed on newspapers and magazines. All the same thing. You have to literally take time back into your own hands.
Physically. Democratic time is only possible when everyone makes their own clocks. This means, immediately, sun dials. Big Time does not control the sun. Astronomy and observing the migration of birds work for seasonal events, but nothing beats a sun dial for telling time. Except a clock you have made yourself. That is the ultimate goal – everyone learns to make their own clocks.
Before the advent of Big Time, one could argue for simply using analogue clocks, but with its tentacles in every pie, you can’t trust any source of time anymore – Big Time has certainly got to clockmakers now.
The only way around that is to make your own clocks. Go to Switzerland, hire on as an apprentice, how hard can it be? And until then, make a sun dial. It is relatively simple. Stick a stick into something, write numbers around it that the shadow of the stick hits, and depending on what number the shadow falls on, that’s what time it is – time is now back in your own hands. Easy peasy. Big Time is defeated, right when they thought they had us.

Suddenly, a rosebush.

Move to sofa.
Put big cushion on lap for cat to sit on when one of them inevitably comes to help you meditate.
Place laptop nearby so you can check the time so you don’t meditate too long as your phone is still in the kitchen charging.
Close eyes.
Don’t think of anything.
Om.
(Or whatever)
The woodstove makes this… rushing sound. I guess that is the hot air rising up to the chimney? And crackles a little.
Most of the house is dark.
A cat purrs on the cushion on your lap already.
Another cat sleeps on the sofa.
Dong, the woodstove makes this bell-like sound as it heats up, calling you back to the moment like some kind of meditation bell.
Dong.
Therapist last night asked, what do you like about yourself?
Couldn’t think of anything.
Cat purrs like a little meditation helper calling you back to the moment.
Dong, goes the woodstove.
I, hmm, uh.
You are interested in a *lot* of different things, said the therapist, trying to be helpful.
Yes, but without any expertise.
Does that matter? asked the therapist.
Well, I was thinking recently, after reading something along those lines somewhere, what would your 15-year old self say if they met you now? and I thought, they would think I was cool, I have achieved all of their dreams, mostly, I have not only been to Europe, I have moved here permanently; I have a beautiful wife, I have 2 awesome kids, I live in a nice house, I have kissed a girl. Car of my own.
But would I want to hang out with myself? Isn’t that why I am in therapy, to get better at hanging out with myself?
Dong.
Why is the stove donging so much? Is it malfunctioning?
The cat purrs, calling me back to the present moment.
Is the stove leaking carbon monoxide?
That’s what it always says in the newspaper article, malfunctioning woodstove.
Dong. Like a meditation bell. Or a really short alarm bell announcing a carbon monoxide leak.
The cat purrs.
At least the cat is on my lap, with its nose lower than mine, so if it goes limp I’ll still have time to hurry to safety before the CO rises to my nose.
And can, like, try to revive the cat.
How do you resuscitate a cat?
Mouth to snout resuscitation?
Imaginary boss asks, wow, what happened to your face? You try to resuscitate a cat?
I have a tortoise, you would say.
A tortoise did that?
No, it was going to get too cold to leave the tortoise outside at night so I had to bring it in and when I bent over to pick it up, in the twilight, suddenly a rosebush.
Rosebush, imaginary boss says. Wow, be careful. Did you disinfect that? It looks like you tried to resuscitate a cat.
No, you say, ha ha.
Dong.
The fire crackles.
The hot air rushes up the chimney.
Om.

Sitting worms

Some of you are thinking, What? Worms don’t sit. Well you’d be wrong. They sit under leaves and other bio-trash in drawers in a friend’s apartment, okay, to us it looks like they are wriggling when you push back the compost and check on them because you can no longer stand the Schrödinger’s Worm situation, the uncertainty, am I even really caretaking anything actually alive etc etc.
But in another way you’d also be right, because this here is about me sitting worms. A friend went out of town and I stayed at her place for about 10 days watering plants and looking after her compost worms. It was kind of cool, I got lots of thinking done and whenever a plant died i could just feed it to the worms and no one was the wiser. The worst part was when a guy facetimed someone outside the window in the middle of the night and kept me up for a hour.
But then she had a falling out with her alpha worm sitter, who had minded the worms before I took over and was supposed to take back over when he returned from visiting her out of town, and I was promoted to emergency worm sitter.
What is an emergency worm, you ask? I don’t know. That’s not what this is about. Either a worm you use in an emergency, like you are suddenly inundated with stuff to compost, or it is a worm having an emergency. But this is about me sitting worms, now longer than planned, due to a small emergency. Mostly, though, it is about me exercising more, eating less junk, successfully reflecting about my own role in my misery and coming out of the whole thing slightly but generally improved.
The worms survived, the plants flourished, even the orchids after I figured out how to water them, the plant that did die died before I started my tour of duty and I am on the fast track to a house sitting career.
There isn’t really a punchline. I lost two kg. I didn’t burn the house down. My wife was still there when I got home, as were the cats and the tortoise. Saw the kids a couple times.

Exit, whistling

Man, Woman: (load catfood, dog treats and flea/tick ointment onto conveyor belt)
Cashier: (Rings up purchases)
Cashier: (Hands woman two envelopes of dog treats) We’re giving out these free samples today.
Woman: (Examines treats, hands them back) No, thank you. We don’t have dogs.
Cashier: (Glances at large bag of dog treats they just bought, looks puzzled)
Man: Oh, those are for crows.
Cashier: (Does that half-nod thing where your chin goes up but not back down again, remaining in up position while the wheels turn)
Man, Woman: (exit, whistling)

Cognitive dissonance

On the one hand, the current state of things is a convincing argument that old, white men should just STFU for the next couple of millennia.

On the other hand, I am an old, white man who likes to write, if not talk, although I do that sometimes, just not on the telephone, if I can avoid it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So.

I have been told amplifying non-old, white, man-type people is good. Unfortunately, my megaphone is tiny, but I will do what I can.

I have also been told, for example by my therapist, and other women I respect, to just fucking relax, so I will also be working on that.

When I was younger I read only books (and consumed only art and other cultural output) by heterosexual CIS-males, because it was more relatable for me.

Now that I try to broaden my cultural consumption, that old stuff often feels really shallow when I return to it. Maybe that is just a function of getting older, though.

There was a tweet (? i think?) where an old dude said his hardware was old, white, CIS-male dude, and he was stuck with that, but his software had been updated multiple times.

I guess that’s one thing you can do, get your head out of the seventies, or whatever.

I was talking to someone about the acceleration of time as a function of age, and how to ameliorate it. All I could come up with was mindfulness, paying attention, remaining curious, which I guess you accomplish through meditation and related practices, or doing scary things beyond your fear threshold, or things you love, or things that fascinate you, whatever gets you in the flow. (My only relative who lived to be over 100 was a curious, friendly, artistic type all her life… and an early feminist…)

Concentrate on things you love. What else?

This is good news for me, bc as a person governed by anxiety for most of my life, there are plenty of options beyond my fear threshold. Maybe this world, the old known world that just speeds by, is my safe little lobster trap, while that world, the scary, interesting one, with sharks and mermaids and things with teeth and things that glitter, where time slows or stops entirely, is unknown but has so far not killed me, either.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I mean, both get you eventually.

Maybe I’ll try to talk my wife into skydiving. If it works for her I can try it.

Have you tried something beyond your threshold of fear? What was it? How did it turn out for you?

On fermentation

I bought a set of 2 one-liter fermentation jars last time I was at the mill shop.
They look more or less like Mason jars, slightly cheaper-looking, with 2 sets of lids – 1 normal, 1 with little rubber valves. I guess they are fermentation jars due to the valve lids and the glass weights you get to keep everything underwater.
Gamma likes the fermented Korean specialty known as 김치. Those partial to the Latin alphabet spell it kimchi, kimchee or gimchi, so to avoid confusion we will use the Korean spelling 김치.
I had been wanting to try fermentation and pickling (2 different processes, I gather) for a long time, since old-timey pre-lockdown times.
I did an Internet search, picked the easiest-looking recipe that still came from an Asian person and we went to work on our 김치.
Chopped up what is known here in Austria as Chinese cabbage, soaked it in a salt brine for a while, added chopped spring peppers and matchstick sized daikon only we didn’t have any daikon so we used Bierrettich which looks the same but is said to be spicier, but this wasn’t very spicy so we’re ok. Made a sauce out of Korean chili pepper flakes, soy sauce, ginger, miso paste, soy paste (I assume the same thing, just marketing? slightly different taste), I might be forgetting something, not sure. Garlic. Maybe something else. Didn’t use carrots due to some people in our target audience being allergic, mixed it all up (after draining the cabbage), put it in the (sterilized) jars, topped it off with brine, put the weights on top, and stashed it downstairs in the basement.
I am not a huge 김치 eater, and a novice fermenter, so it was not clear to me what my cellar would smell like when my project got going.
Nothing happened during the first two days, but when I went down there this morning the jars were standing in a puddle of brine that had leaked out the valves. And my basement smells like a 김치 factory.
Anyway, tonight I switch out the lids, to limit leakage, hopefully, and stick the jars into the downstairs utility fridge, which is used for beer, sourdough starter, photographic film, vegetable overflow, etc. And, now, 김치.

The Ratman Cometh

Yeah, so, ding-dong, someone was ringing the doorbell with some urgency. It was the Ratman. Guy in reflective outfit, says he is here on behalf of the municipality to check on the rat poison trap. Not wearing a mask, so I stay 2 meters away from him at all time and assume kind of a negative frame of mind towards him, vibe-wise, because it doesn’t occur to me later than I could just say, for example, put on a mask, you realize, don’t you, that you are killing rats in the year 2021 bc they spread a deadly disease in Europe in 1720.