Print Story Solitude, comma, thoughts in.
By ana (Tue Jan 31, 2012 at 07:42:22 PM EST) (all tags)
Noise. Signal. The noise-to-signal ratio.

It was one of those days.

Yesterday, well, over the weekend, I had this idea for investigating the problem I'd been working on last week. The problem is an extrapolation to very low energies of the charge collected (called the "pulse height") vs. photon energy relation. It's mostly linear, but a few years ago we allowed ourselves to be convinced it's increasingly nonlinear at low energies.

Well, it's not as nonlinear as we thought. So, self, how about just plotting stuff*pulse_height instead of stuff*energy, and we'll see how nonlinear it is (since I have a devious way of knowing what the energy really was... grating spectrometers are nice that way).

Got that done by noon, and the guy who created the gain file allowed as how it looked pretty flat, all right, and so give him a week to figure out how the code used to work and he'd take out the tweak & we'll see.

Which leaves me a week during which I can't really work on that project, except to figure out what to do with the gain file when I get it next week.

So, anyway. There are always a couple other projects I could be working on. Dunno how much I can do in a week or whatever, but.

I was on my own, driving-wise; one carpool buddy is out working on an instrument on the mountain in Arizona, and the other was taking a trampoline lesson mid-afternoon.

So I thought maybe I'd go to the monastery for Mass tonight. With the new, low-rehearsal choir regime, there's not much time for anything but music on Sundays, at least until it's coffee time (and I"m serving next week, so not then, either). The monastery service is relaxed, has some time for meditation or contemplation or whatever beforehand (and after, if you want to stay around). It's a more direct experience of The Divine than the busy Sunday service. And maybe that's just a function of me not being involved in making it happen.

But I came home instead. Dunno why, exactly.

It's one of those days when I'm kinda hyper. If I had to create a metaphor for it, it's like there are worms crawling in my head; maybe in and out, or maybe just swimming around in the fluid or something. And I didn't drink that much coffee today; sometimes getting wired feels like that.

So not very sociable. Or something. In the afternoon I wanted to come home and take a nap; not so much because I was sleepy. Just to shut off my head for a while.

Anyway. Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast of Radiolab, which was a rerun from a time when Howard Dean was running for President (was that just 4 years ago?), and using in interesting ways to organize his volunteers. They were exploring meetup in more general terms, with some reference to Robert Putnam's book Bowling Alone that came out not long before that.

Statistics were quoted to the effect that groups of all kinds, lodges, scout troops, churches, bowling leagues, things to do to occupy your nonworking time, all had more or less constant membership up until some point about 25 or 30 years ago, and they've dropped 30% or so since then. What are we doing with our time? Working, mostly.

Another study was cited that a major risk factor for illness and early death is not belonging to any group outside of work. Belonging to zero social groups is as strong a risk factor as smoking. (!)

Which leads us to the question of coping with life alone.

Not long before Christmas, a clergyperson I know and respect posted an article written. She's also a chaplain at Mass General Hospital, and the sermon was about how much holidays can suck if you don't have family (or can't stand them) to be with. She has some interesting ideas there, and I'd love to hear more.

I don't think I'm in any way unique*. Very many people are living alone these days. Social networks need to be more than casual friendships. But I find myself drifting farther out to sea, with only tenuous connections to actual people.

So maybe I didn't go to the monastery to Mass tonight because there's no peace in my head. It's hard to concentrate on peace, and nothingness, and letting the Spirit blow where it wills when there's such a noise level.

Or maybe I just wimped out. It's easier to pretend all is well if I don't have contact with actual people who can see that it's not.

A couple weeks ago an acquaintance at the church picked up on a facebook post I wrote that was a two sentence summary of this diary about my own mortality and the experience of the church without me as a participant. Last week he asked about it, and it occurs to me that the piece he may be missing is that the marriage is over. There is a rumor mill, but it's not that efficient, I guess, and it's had to know who knows (and is keeping a respectful distance) and who doesn't know (and is mistaking my shyness for being intimidating).

It's a lot to sort out. And nothing nearly so pointy as a baby who won't stop shrieking. Best wishes on that, and I don't know that I have anything useful to contribute beyond an ill-informed, but sincere, sympathy.

*Well, maybe only in how amicable our relationship is, and how strange. In some pretty wonderful ways, sometimes.

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Solitude, comma, thoughts in. | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Dean for prez ? by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 10:43:16 AM EST
wasn't that 8 years ago ? Last election was clintoon/obama, and dean headed the DNC or something ...

2004 is correct. by ana (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 12:03:32 PM EST

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

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I believe so by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 12:13:47 PM EST
Th 50 state strategy used by the Democratic party in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles was Dean's brainchild.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
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On being alone... by belldandi (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 11:51:46 AM EST
I can hear you on that one; that is my main 'fear' of dissolving my marriage. And it has to be rough when you aren't the one who made the direct choice to end it. What I've been looking into though are volunteer activities and meetups to fill my time when I wouldn't have my kids around.  I understand about the church meeting a spiritual and partial social need, but maybe there are other activities that you could involve yourself in? If you don't cringe at interacting with kids, what about tutoring options? You seem to be a math/science wiz, and fairly laid back; if you have the patience for it, you may find that a rewarding experience.

Wishing you well!

Indeed. by ana (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 01:24:08 PM EST
I'd say that once most of the grief is cleared away, the two unexpected elements of life nowadays are the solitude, and related to that, the lack of any witness to my life.

I lived alone from age 26 (when I moved and left the last roommate behind) until 50. You'd think I could remember what kinds of things I used to do in the evenings, but apparently that's not the case. So there are lots of hours to fill.

And nobody's watching; nobody else cares, or will be thrilled or disappointed, by what I choose to do with my time. Except at work, and I suppose I'll be retiring when the present project ends, sometime in the next 5-ish years or so. And then nobody will care, at all, about anything I do.

So, yeah, reaching out is important, perhaps more for me than for whoever is on the other end.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
I seem to have the opposite fear by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 06:04:10 PM EST
What if I can't actually live with someone and I keep having failing relationships to keep from finding out.

Belonging to social groups by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:19:39 PM EST
I think I'm healthier mentally as well as physically since I started cycling.  I hang out with the cycling group once a week after the ride, it's a fun group.   

Not belonging to any groups can be a vicious cycle.  One may be slightly depressed so not make the effort to join social groups and then become more deeply depressed because they don't have any friends.

If you have a link/reference to the study linking illness/early death to zero social groups I'd appreciate it.  I know someone who needs to see it.

I think not only work, but the internet, and ironically, "social networks" have also contributed greatly to not belonging to lodges, churches, bowling leagues, and the like.  Social networks are really anything but, they are almost anti-social networks, they have a tendency to push aside face to face contact.

Well... by ana (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:29:39 PM EST
I dunno if radiolab is online for free, but this blog is a step in that direction. Apparently the episode was called "Contact".

Let's see what else I can dig up.

Ah... maybe this: clickety

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
That's it! by ana (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:51:18 PM EST
wow. It's amazing what the intarwebs know.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Many thanks! [n/t] by FlightTest (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 11:04:01 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Solitude, comma, thoughts in. | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback