Today I went to Lady Dinah’s cat cafe. I was already running late and then the train stopped at a signal. After a few minutes, the guard apologised. After a few more minutes, the lights went off. People sighed.
After a short while we were told that there was an obstruction on the line and it would be a few more minutes.
I had been thinking about quietly resting on the train journey. I had closed my eyes and was quite enjoying myself. As soon as the train stopped, I felt a need to start reading or playing a game. When we were told there was an obstruction, this need popped up again. “Why?” I asked myself. “Because the journey is now longer,” said my brain, very happy with itself.
But I’ve got better at spotting answers like this for the total bollocks that they are. What was really different? And it’s this. When the train was moving, I was on a journey. I was going somewhere. What happened when it stopped? Well actually, in reality, nothing had changed. My intention was still to get to Lady Dinah’s and the best route there was still to sit quietly in this carriage.
What had changed was my belief about whether I would get there. I was no longer receiving evidence of the progress of my journey and consequently I had lost faith in whether I would reach my destination. I reacted by needing to calm myself with a distraction.
This felt like an interesting metaphor for my acting career. My acting career is developing slowly, and sometimes I have to just sit there while an obstruction on the line is cleared. Perhaps I don’t need to panic at that point, I can just close my eyes and rest until it starts up again.
Go to planet Noris to collect samples of the following
SO18t (local name: wert tree)
SO23r (local name: murtic root)
SO44r (local name: rewin root)
SO12f (local name: ros weed)
The journey will be four days there and four days back.
On the way back the plants will need the following care.
23r, 44r, 18t full immersion of roots in nutrient saline.
12f full transplantation into nutrient quartz.
Hydroponics solar replacement. 18/6 schedule.
The following tests must be done every 6 hours.
23r and 44r
Add two drops diaxylin, one drop triflorin.
Measure root length.
Measure liquid temperature.
Add two drops triflorin.
Measure height and width.
Measure liquid temperature.
Sprinkle 1 tsp ground sylen on to quartz.
Count numbers of flowers.
Measure flower width.
The ship’s warning siren blared out. Sara hauled herself from her chair and scrambled towards the mess hall. Misfunctioning sirens, again. Only it wasn’t.
Armed and armoured guards stood at the entrance to the hall. Joss and Chu, it looked like, but she was waved through before she could say hello. As she looked around, everyone seemed to be in a similar state of disarray to herself. Some had clearly got out of bed, or the aquarec tank.
Ginko sat in the middle of the room, propped up on a large crate like it was a throne. She looked to be in charge of proceedings. The air crackled with tension. Despite the ominous feeling that this was some kind of mutiny, Shar was there, at the side, with the usual piles of manifests. It was as if Captain Kya-dono had received word that the usual all hands meeting was too dull, and had drafted Ginko in to give it some pep. On the other hand, there was that ominous sense of mutiny.
“Sara?” Ginko’s was curt. “I think that’s the last.” Kya-dono was, also ominously, not present.
Ginko turned slowly to survey the gathered colonists and started what felt like a pre-prepared speech.
“One hundred years yesterday, this ship left a small blue-green planet, known as earth. We all have the digitoids of families that still exist back there, ancestors we will never be reunited with.
“Our mission is a bold and brave one. We have been sent to rescue a dying species. The thrumbo lives for hundreds of years, and they are getting weaker with each successive generation. Who would have thought that a rare herb found only on Earth” - her tone was odd as she spat out the name of their Mother-world a second time - “would be the one thing that could stop the rot and start the next generation of thrumbo back on the road to genetic recovery. And on hearing this from the Oomazhi, our ancestors rushed to volunteer to help, out of the follow-love we have for all galactic life.... and the chance to get our hands on advanced mech tech by getting into the Oomazhi’s good books, of course.
“Our great-grandparents set off one hundred years ago yesterday, in these stifling conditions that so effectively reduce our live span. They trained our grandparents and our parents as they started to die off. We were born on this ship, into this life, to carry on the torch so that our children’s children can be the ones to deliver the cryo-preserved root to Taoro, into the mouths of the next wave of baby Thrumbos.
“So here we are on our historic quest. Only” she paused a long time for dramatic effect and drew the next few words out “no-one asked me if I wanted to save a takking Thrumbo.”
And then all hell broke loose.
I’ve learnt a new meditation idea. We are upset when reality doesn’t match our expectations. This seems to be pretty straightforwardly true - I’m upset when my dog dies because I didn’t want it to be dead.
So why am I upset when I am tired in the evening? I think this has to do with the joy of waking up to a new day with many creative projects to undertake, and deferring them until the evening after paid work is completed. Imagine! I think, How Delightful the evening will be when I can work with wild abandon on whatever I like. How I Will Enjoy My Life Then.
And then the evening arrives, and I am tired, too tired to even cook myself dinner, and I feel that the day is gone and all I have to look forward to is a repeat of this tomorrow. (Until The Weekend!)
This reminds of the oft-cited challenge of retirement. We spend our whole lives looking forward to it, and then it is slightly boring and too much all in one go. The solution to retirement is to spend your money, and time, earlier and more frequently and, similarly, the answer to Fix My Evening Issue is to enjoy the day more, not bemoan my bemoaning of the evening.
I am finding the idea that "my feelings can't be wrong" to be very useful to me right now.
Thinking it through, the idea that feelings could be wrong is a kind of category error. Wrong is a word that we use for a jigsaw puzzle. That is the wrong piece to fit there.
We try to analogise to people - I am the wrong person to fit with you. This is not the same situation. We then try to analogise to feelings -this feeling is the wrong one for the objective that I have.
This is different because there is no other jigsaw piece feeling to put into its place. Feelings do not work like that. A feeling is entirely created by and linked to its context. For the same context, the same feeling. A feeling cannot be wrong.
Principles of good security
By Ghaazadin Bvat, Chief Security Officer ATIC7142V
The magi came from the west. Don't they always? The rumours were that the magi were descended from the Old Ones, but few people got close enough to find out, and those that did were too scared to ask.
The magi, were literally magic. The clue is in the name. It's a funny business though, magic, and often it seemed as if the magi's magic was a rather complex form of taking credit for things that were going to happen anyway. No-one mentioned this in their presence. I imagine that the rumours met their ears eventually, or their magic allowed them to feel it out from among the other data created in reality.
Magi socialised with the Shah, and other important dynasties. Whoever the current Shah was, they were always very polite about the magi in public. Us non-magic people didn't get to sense what they said in private.
The room is quiet. At first it looks like there is no-one inside, because Alana isn't moving. She sits totally still, in the dark. She is thinking.
At her right hand is a small notification board. It blinks quietly. The message is from her parents, who live hundreds of light years away. It is not a notice of a death, or a birth, or another family event. It is a detailed description of a new idea.
Alana doesn't talk with her family much. They are pleasant people, and interesting - if you get them on to the right topics. They just never feature in her life. They are too far away, and too self-contained.
This line from The Life of Brian by Monty Python sums up the need at the time for people to defer to machines, even when they did not understand what the machine was doing.
There is a lot of hype around AI right now. People have a sudden and strong conviction that on the immediate horizon computers will be able to do anything people can do.
This was summed up for me by a sign outside SpecSavers advertising their “styling technology”. It is not possible for a computer to tell you what glasses suit you, better than a person with a good eye for design.
Why do people want a recommendation from a machine? I think the answer lies in our need for cetainty. A person with a good eye will give you a better result than a machine but they won’t give you the same result as another person with a good eye.
Certainty over rightness is what the “machine that goes ping” sketch was all about.
My friend Dom shared a fun game on Facebook today. A gif flashes through various affirmations that could apply to you. When you take a screenshot it resolves into a single image. It's a really simple way of making a modern fortune teller-type game.
I couldn't remember how to take a screenshot, so I used the snip tool. I decided half-way through that I didn't like the affirmation that had been chosen for me and I stopped snipping immediately in order to try again - half way through selection, as it turned out.
This was the result! How I laughed when I saw it. I'll expect my Shakespeare role in my email inbox soon.