The February doldrums + some advice

Mon Feb 28, 2022

There’s normally nothing tech-related to write about in February - this month is no exception. And this February in particular, there really is nothing fun to write about.

I could get into all sorts of controversial topics, but that’s not what we do here. If you’re a future historian combing old web archives, just look February 2022 up and you’ll have more than enough to write ten research papers. You’ve got everything from trucker protests to Russia invading Ukraine.

On a personal note, I was out of commission for a while earlier this month with COVID. Getting “the rona” was an inevitable development, but I made it through more-or-less intact, which is about the best outcome one could hope for. And the latest Omicron variant turned out to be more like a bad flu than the more aggressive variants that came before.

So, anyway, I promised some advice before I sign off.

Look, I know it’s hard to be positive. We were all hoping for a great start to 2022, but instead got this:

(Yes, I know I said I’d stay away from politics, but we’ll see how well this Russian war selfie ages.)

There’s plenty of time in 2022 to turn things around, though, even if the only sphere of influence you have is in your personal life.

Avoid these to improve your life

If you’re looking for a healthier, happier year, my unsolicited advice is to avoid the following, and you’ll do okay:

  • The 1988 movie Beaches starring Bette Midler. Billed as a comedy, instead this flick will have you sobbing by the end. Not funny at all. Fortunately, I managed to avoid watching this 80s movie until now. Unfortunately, I discovered that Beaches is the origin point of the overplayed Bette Midler song Wind Beneath My Wings, which nobody alive in the 80s managed to avoid.

  • The 2013 Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. After all the hype and praise for this book, I was blown away by how terrible it was. As the narrator is an AI, you could almost excuse the robotic, soulless prose. But there’s no excuse for cardboard characters and a limp plot that even a four-year old would have issue with.

  • Twitter darling and viral word-guessing game, Wordle. You can only play once a day, so the game truly is habit-forming. Coded by a super-nice guy and recently bought by the New York Times, I don’t really have a problem with the game or its creator. Except for one thing: it’s just too easy. I’ve been playing for months and haven’t lost a game yet. But, darn it, the game is so addictive that I keep coming back to extend my winning streak every day. A pointless habit best avoided lest you get sucked in too.

  • Complaining about the rain. I know we live on the wet coast, but I don’t understand why anyone complains about literal life-giving water falling out of the sky in abundance. Those same people complain about the lack of rain when the next heat wave comes along. Just stop. One day, sooner than you think, socio-economic conflict will shift from who has the most oil to who has the most water, then we’ll see who’s complaining.

  • Popular things. Popular things cater to the lowest common denominator. Just because millions of people are into Ed Sheeran, Joe Rogan, and eating at McDonalds doesn’t mean these things are good. On the contrary, they are all sorely lacking and even bad for your health. Smoking was wildly popular in the 60s too and look how that went.

  • Lastly, and this is an obvious one, I know - avoid all social media, unless you enjoy being angry all the time. “But I’m a lovely, optimistic, understanding person” you may say. Ah, but you won’t be for long if you fail to heed my advice. Just trust me, please.

So, what should you seek out instead?

Try art, meditation, or learn a new language. Make music or create a YouTube video. Cook delicious food and go for a long walk with no destination. Most importantly, balance consumption with creation. If you need to recharge, consuming what others create can bring much enjoyment. But creating something of your own will give you a lot more satisfaction.

Also, there is a big difference between wishing there was more time in the day to finish your work and wishing the time would pass quicker so you can stop working. The former is far more energizing. Be self-aware of what frame of mind you are in.

Enjoy yourself and enjoy those you love. They are lovely people and they deserve your full attention away from your phone.

Finally, one of the stupidest wise sayings of all time has to be “Life is a journey, not a destination”. Well, the destination is death, so no shit, life is a journey - the destination sucks bigtime. Sometimes we forget, when the world has gone to all hell, that we just need to look out of the window and enjoy the view while we can.

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