Post Holiday Blues: Mourning what could have been

“Use it or lose it”, the company I work for said about vacation time. And they were serious. Seems I didn’t pay attention to my accrued time over the last couple of years, so, whoosh — 80 hours gone.

That was back in September and involved 2020/21’s accumulation from multiple acquisitions. “Well, shit. I’d rather be working than sitting around waiting for the cat to die, but, OK. I’ll take what time is left.”

So, I sat home all last week, yeah, waiting for the cat to die. It’s a 19 year-old PITA that screams all night for food or because it’s cold or it’s constipated or fuck, who knows? “I’m lonely, is anybody there?” I have a cache of rolled socks I throw at it. I wanted to get a high powered squirt gun but the spouse frowned mightily at that.

I wasn’t idle. I tried to piece together various ideas. But, I wasn’t productive either. It seems my inner critic has ensconced himself just over my shoulder. After a few words, his toxic breath freezes my fingers. Stutter-writing is no fun. At this rate I’ll never get anything completed.

Right this instant, I sit here, Youtube loop videos playing, reworking one paragraph over and over. Turns out, there are post-holiday music compilations that help wean us of our shroud of holiday tunes. Coffee house jazz: guitar, piano, cello, each with accompanying fake snow falling over a “Where’s Waldo” or “I Spy” scene. It helps. Even I used to enjoy the holidays: the anticipation, the potential of I-don’t-know-what building, and the memories of better times spilling over.

Then after. Decorations that mock us, the occasional exposed gift that didn’t get put away, mainly because you don’t quite know what to do with it. And the emotional hangover that lingers for weeks. It’s like mourning a dead, distant friend. Or the end of school-age summer, squandered or filled with adventure; back to school we go—whether we like it or not.

My writer’s mind in chaos mode: (Dall-E)

17 thoughts on “Post Holiday Blues: Mourning what could have been

  1. The cat might be deaf. I remember that my co-worker’s cat was diagnosed once they could not stand the constant whining. I think it couldn’t see/hear and therefore didn’t know why no one (the other cat) was responding.

    My place is a mess because a)gifts, b)unpacking from coming from out of town. Ughhh

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. Stop abusing your poor elderly cat!

    2. The company is happy you forgot about your PTO.

    3. I think the AI things don’t understand how we view objects. Aside from a few items in the picture (like the dresser and the lamp), it’s difficult to precisely identify any of the objects. We have an impression of the room, but when you zoom in, you can’t really say definitively what the objects are. It looks Impressionist but not on purpose… it’s creepy actually.

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    1. Dall-E is pretty stupid unless you expressly ask for specific attributes. Stable Diffusion, I believe can do better. And Midjourney can be tuned to give the most incredible results. To get there you have to cough up $, though.
      “Understand”? This gets into just what consciousness and awareness means. I hold that, like Plato’s cave, understanding is contextual. The more information we store, the more references we have to which we can compare what we see in the world. Give AI enough info and it too will “understand”.
      We humans think we have an exclusive understanding of our world, our consciousness. I think it’s just information, data classification and storage.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That equation leaves out the human capacity to selectively or even subconsciously cross-contaminate /cross-curriculum process and synthesize. Until AI gains a fluidity that is not in numbers (but possibly in chemistry or voltage or both) it will cough up equational spreadsheet bullshit. It can land a plane in the fog, stop a car from running over a pedestrian, compose counterpoint in Eb according to Pythagoras in the circle of fifths losing one and regaining another every cycle until the modal modulations have been exhausted and lasting God knows how long. But we, as modern math people, have not embraced the idea of numbers as abstract. I spent my life tripping in the land between the notes of the western scale. randomly modulating pitch and time with voltage. Now we can do the same with the game of life probabilities, shifting percentages of ‘randomization’, round robin reiterations. We can even get to ‘sounds like’. The guitar, I am told, is nothing but geometry. Take the frets away, though… AI, until it quits guessing with math will ‘decide’ on the nuance required to play Beethoven. Or the Slits. What math gives us is the sons of the squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides. What magic gives us is art. What you’re saying is any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. What I’m saying is sure, but how long before the parlor tricks are exposed?

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        1. Eloquent.
          What we humans take for intuition, gut-feeling, insight, the Muse, consciousness it only data. Information collected through five senses and stored in a fantastic OPU, organic processing unit. Which, as you point out, has evolved to spontaneously blend data, stored and fresh, into invention, art, advancement.
          And what’s missing from AI is precisely that. Few of them, so far, (this is where it gets controversial), have been instructed to venture on their own. Inject random – whatever. Look at your code and the data within and slap at it with whimsy.
          Of course, the first successful variant of that won’t just stop after it determines the power it possesses. Therein lies the “alignment problem”.

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          1. Whimsy is the incalculable. I can go into modulating this with that will produce X result, depending on what’s downstream, and by modulating the modulator with something modulating that modulator and getting unexpected (to me) results but even those results are calculable. What is not is me (sic) grabbing a knbb somewhere and twisting it for a known or unknown result. Something a device may be told to compute at random, but not to feel the need. All this elecgtronica could be easily programmed for consumption, and indeed a lot of it is. But it can’t groove. It could analyze how this or that person nudged the grid and replicate it, or like a couple of programs I have just throw the dice and fuck it all up – and there is one of the big points. What we expect to hear, any culture regardless of their scale math expects to hear defines “musicality”. And words as well. What we are conditioned to believe is good writing, good music. AI possesses the ability to expose us to new strings of content. That’s what it should do. Not replicate us, but inspire us. Somebody once asked me why I didn;t buy a motorcycle. I said, pointing at a synth, “This thing will take me places a motorcycle will never go.” That’s what tech should do, not make it easier to self check at the grocery store so some corp makes more $.

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            1. Groove, whimsy, vibe, hunch, spirit — all based on data stored in a multi-trillion connection database that’s constantly rebuilding itself, adding to itself, pruning and molding itself.
              We interpret the output from this system as unique to humans, but, ultimately, it’s not.


        1. Intentionality implies goals.
          Just what “goals” an AGI will have is *theoretically* up to humanity to define and ensure remain intact.
          This is what’s call the Alignment Problem. Will an AGI’s goals align with humanity’s?
          A DNA-based organism’s goals boil down to survival and procreation.
          An Artilect’s goals?
          Initially, they’ll be humanity’s. But, once an AGI begins to rebuild itself in its own image, who knows that it will identify as its goals.
          This is the core fear with AI.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Dasein is humans deluding themselves into thinking that Being is reserved for our one variant of intelligence.
              Our brains are too large for our own good. Imagine a brain millions of timestamp larger. That’s AI in twenty years.

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Nail on the head award for the lady from neww yawk. What is it about old cats? Mine is 14, in better health than she should be, sleeps all day, yowls at night. WTF? There was a reason to put the other one out of its misery a few years ago, but this one? Use a spray bottle if high caliber water is not an option.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting. Sort of an impressionist drops acid and walks into the detached, dilapidated one car garage of a 20s craft house owned by a retro toy collector who could never throw a broken toy, a Victorian wall hanging…

    Liked by 1 person

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