Fidget Withdrawal

Something that’s trending right now is the art and habit of meditation, this idea of mindfulness in one’s life. At the beginning of the semester, I think in January, I started using an app that guides you through this app called Headspace. The app features ten or eleven minute audio clips you can listen to each day of an Australian man named Andy Puddicombe walking you through these exercises to make you more aware, more present in what you’re doing throughout the day, giving more meaning to each action performed. Now incredibly recently, as in yesterday, my phone became nothing but a very expensive brick. The device just doesn’t respond to any sort of stimuli, and I surmise that something has knocked the connections to the display loose, but I didn’t think it was going to be a major problem. I can live without a phone for a week or so, and I still think I can, but not as comfortably as I thought I would. With a dead phone, I have remembered how aware I actually am, and it’s not because I’m no longer meditating in the morning.

Do you even meditate?

 

I have had anxiety for most of my life, being officially diagnosed with OCD when I was 9 or 10, and then with depression when I was 16. Over the years, it’s been very difficult to get both chemical imbalances under some form of control, and I still have days where one or both will flare up, but I forgot that the nature of my illness pervades my physical body, too. I feel it in my hands, feet, and legs, particularly, as my anxiousness and unrest will manifest itself in the form of fidgeting. I’ll tap my fingers on a table, or sometimes I’ll rub my thumbs like one would if beckoning for some sort of payment. I tap and stomp my feet, or I’ll bob my entire leg up and down, side to side. Yet I just never notice it unless a friend brings it up (usually to stop me). Now that my phone is gone, my morning consisted of eating breakfast and just existing without a retina display right in front of me. To put it lightly, it was odd.

I guess I first noticed it when I was walking to Blackstone, the coffee place on campus, and I took stock in just how many thoughts I was having. With OCD, I have a lot of obsessive thoughts, and they usually revolve around negative things I’ve come up with in the back of my subconscious mind. I’ll worry that something’s going to happen to my loved ones, or that something bad will befall me, all if I don’t do some sort of ritual or action that my psyche has deemed as a guarantee that the thing that I truly know won’t happen not happen. I sound like I’m talking in a circle, but that’s just the way it works; It’s an awful circle to be stuck in. No phone for me means no music and no podcasts, so I just had the music of my mind to occupy my morning jaunt down campus walk. Dear Christ, is it uncomfortable. I think about how I’m walking, my posture, how I look, that I’m walking again, about everything I’m going to do during the day, but at an unbelievably rapid pace. Usually I’m preoccupied thinking about the lyrics of a song, or seeing what my friends post on Instagram, but without that social background noise, all I can do is think. If there’s one thing I’ve learned with mental illness, I don’t like to think.

I appreciate when things slow down. I see a task before me, an obstacle, and I’ll put together a path slowly to cross over, get to, and finish it. With my mind unoccupied and at ludicrous speed, I’ll start building ten or so paths all at once, and I can feel myself thinking. It’s so…uncomfortable. That’s great that I’m using my brain, but I’m not using it in a way that is beneficial to my situation. This hyper-awareness is taxing, and it’s not helping me in any way that Mr. Puddicombe says the less extreme version will. So with all this extra brainpower and space, how do I cool things down? How do I open up the heat vents or exhaust pipes of my mind?

I’m going to try just keeping myself busy as much as I can. They say an idle mind’s the devil’s workshop, so perhaps focusing on the development of a few web pages or editing some of my essays will keep me grounded in reality. I’ve also been thinking about investing in a few fidget toys to keep my hands busy, like a spinner or those fidget cubes that seem so popular.

This withdrawal that my body seems to be going through without my phone or to occupy my hands is nowhere near as bad as actual withdrawals I’ve gone through from trying to find the right medication for myself, but I would still really appreciate if it could just stop. Maybe it’ll go away in a day or so, and there are many better things I could focus on, so we’ll see. This, too, shall pass.

Methodology Module Reflection

This is a direct link to the webpage I’ve crafted for this module.

From this project, I’ve learned that developing web architecture is much harder than I thought it would be. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when writing an HTML based web page with CSS elements, and from the looks of my current page for this methodology module, I still have a lot to learn and technique to define. I have found, however, that this is something that I really want to do well just because of how interesting it is. I have a lot of fun seeing a page develop right before my eyes, and the instantaneous feedback you can get after saving the changes you’ve made in your text files is very welcome.

For the module, I chose to work with visualization, and I utilized the ImageJ program and the IMJ tool developed by professor Whalen. I was able to create some interesting composite scans of the comic book 30 Days of Night written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith. On my page you will also find each of the 80 pages condensed into a single barcode image, which allows you to see how the color palette changes over the course of the story. You can also see the exact page my trade paperback began to fall apart from the multiple folds into a scanner.

I think the thing that’s going to stick with me the most is this idea presented at the beginning about not always trying to find the most scholarly thing in a dataset, but to use programs to also have fun with what you can manipulate. Often times, that goofing around will cause you to stumble upon an observation that is groundbreaking, or at least very intriguing.

Digital Polarization Intro and Weekend Plans

Today in class, we’ve begun the unit on digital polarization and fact checking news articles on the web. From the twenty minutes of work I did in class today, I’m quite surprised to see how stories can be proven false so easily, or rather, how little energy it takes to find the real story, provided you take time and care to check official reports. Like the awful series of events that were the shooting of Philando Castile. Some friends that I discussed this with back when it happened told me that Castile was an armed robbery suspect. With just a bit of fact checking, that is proven completely false. Those claims came from an officer on the scene, remarking that the shape of Castile’s nose is what made him think he looked like a suspect. Looking at all the details, it seems like this officer is just trying to cover his ass now, and this is a different officer than the one who shot the man.

I’m with a new group of people for this project, and I’m excited to put names to new faces. More and more I’m becoming a morning person, which makes me more of a people person in this Digital Studies class.

As for the weekend, I don’t have much to do except experimenting in the Melchers dark room. I learned how to develop photos yesterday, but I think this weekend should be spent taking photos, getting better acquainted with my film camera and new lens. I’m gonna take some time to play a new game that just came out, Nier: Automata, for I caved and spent the $60. I haven’t paid full price for a new game, but I want to start creating written content responding to games as they come on the market. It’s what I want to do for a job, so I figure padding my own website with some pieces will help me out in the future when I’m applying for jobs. Austin Walker and Patrick Klepek’s discourse over the game on the Waypoint podcast also did a great job of pushing me to pick up the title. I love pieces of work that get into what it means to be human, and Patrick’s on his 32nd hour of play, so I’m thinking it’ll end up being good bang for my buck. I’ll let you all know once the 46gb monster stops downloading.

Maximum Disrespect

At the moment, I don’t know what game I want to dive into utilizing the capture card I just installed. I want to get into making interesting/stupid videos about games, but nothing’s quite grabbed me, at least until I saw these two videos below. For Honor is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and features vikings, knights, and samurai in a massive continent-spanning war for honor (duh), resources, and supremacy. The combat system in the game has been hailed as fresh by the reviewers and forums I read say it’s very intuitive, easy to get started with but quite difficult, although satisfying, to master. But now I know that there seems to be a fair amount of cheese, and this footage from the beta shows a bunch of things I hope will still be fully released game. Finally I can get a sense of all of those crusades jokes I keep seeing passed around by spamming flip-kicks as a Peacekeeper and knocking people off walls in 1v1s. Well, I know that’s what my brother’s going to be doing.

These two videos showcase a bunch of funny tricks and some absolutely fantastic editing that is major inspiration for myself.  If you like what you see, consider looking at Iron Pineapple and yung maestro‘s other stuff and maybe subscribing. I bet they’ll appreciate it.