Is Mercury in Retrograde?

I was swimming upstream most of the day, having trouble with all my tech (software, phone) and wondered, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” Must have been just me, I guess.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac,

Three times a year, it appears as if Mercury is going backwards. These times in particular were traditionally associated with confusions, delay, and frustration. Think email blunders and frazzled travel plans.

However, this is an excellent time to reflect on the past. It’s said that intuition is high during these periods, and coincidences can be extraordinary.

The New York Times has its own sober explanation, with quotes from two astrologers who advise, “Don’t worry about it.”

Shopper's Dilemma: Technology

Daniel Lemire ponders whether to take advantage of today’s technology or wait till the technology improves.

He postulates that people who buy now are actually betting against the future (your smartphone won’t get any smarter) whereas technophiles may be best served by delaying their purchases since they believe the future will be better (look at all the new things my smartphone can do).

Liz and I existed with Tracfone cell service and cheap flip phones for years until 2017 when I bought my first (and so far, only) iPhone, with Liz following suit a few months later. By that time, many of our friends were texting and sending photos back and forth; with our phones, we could now join in the conversation. Neither of us scratch the surface of the iPhone’s capabilities.

I will likely hold on to my iPhone SE till it makes sense for me to spend gobs of money on a new one. I held on to my used cars for years before my first-ever new car, my beloved 2007 Honda Fit (Blaze Orange Metallic!). I bought the Fit in the summer of 2006 as a special order, before it invaded our shores. I’m still driving it today. The car will have to cost more in repairs and inconvenience before I think of upgrading.

Nasty Character Traits Need an Outlet

Time passes slowly at the old folks home in Amsterdam.

If you don’t have anything special to do all day long, a molehill can turn into a mountain. A person’s time must be filled with something; one’s attention has to have a focus. Nasty character traits need an outlet. In contrast to what you’d expect, narrow-mindedness increases and tolerance lessens with the onset of old age. “Old and wise” is the exception rather than the rule.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (Translator) (Amazon US)

Hendrik Groen’s diary is Adrian Mole for the grey generation.

Hunger or Craving?

Michael Graziano rather persuasively argues that the body’s mechanisms for managing hunger work just fine. Eating high-carbohydrate food products, calorie-counting, snacking, etc. mess up the body’s default mechanisms and lead to obesity.

Graziano makes the case that hunger, for many people, is a psychological state. The hunger mood can make a small plate of food look like either not-enough or not-now-I’m-full. A successful strategy for managing hunger would work with the body’s hunger mechanisms and avoid the use of will power.

He does not lay out a 10-step plan or techniques to deploy in the article. Each person has to find their own path. In his case, that meant a low-carb, slightly higher-fat diet and the permission to eat as much as he wanted at any meal. His essay goes into more depth on his reasons for adopting an ultimately successful eating plan.

For myself, I prefer eating one-meal-a-day and that has proven to be a low-effort strategy for me. But I do get plagued around 2-4pm by hankerings for whatever is in the snack machine at work.

Here’s a technique I found years ago that helps me in the moment. Whenever I feel prompted to raid the snack machine, I stand up, take a deep breath, put my hands on my stomach, and ask “Is this hunger or craving?” Before I’m done asking the question, I know that it’s usually craving. At that point, I get water or coffee, walk around outside, or socialize — anything that gets me physically moving and uses the large muscles of the body or in some way distracts my attention.

The Magic of Utility, the Utility of Magic

Wonderful summing-up final paragraph from Stefany Anne Golberg’s essay on The Long Lost Friend:

There’s a mood of disorientation and longing in The Long Lost Friend‘s title that strikes a different note than the confident claims to be found inside. Maybe this is the book’s “Long-Hidden” message, its essence, and the essence of all the self-help books that would follow it. The self-help book, via The Long Lost Friend, is an appeal to the American still wandering in the wilderness, curious about everything, needing nothing, wanting it all but not knowing how to get it, believing in the magic of utility, and the utility of magic.

A Colossal Self-Satisfaction

Walt Whitman:

It does a man good to turn himself inside out once in a while: to sort of turn the tables on himself: to look at himself through other eyes—especially skeptical eyes, if he can. It takes a good deal of resolution to do it: yet it should be done—no one is safe until he can give himself such a drubbing: until he can shock himself out of his complacency. Think how we go on believing in ourselves—which in the main is all right (what could we ever do if we didn’t believe in ourselves?)—a colossal self-satisfaction, which is worse for a man than being a damned scoundrel.

See also

Dream-child

Walt Whitman tells a story:

A woman I knew once asked a man to give her a child: she was greatly in love with him: it was not done: he did not care that much for her: he said to her, “all children should be love children”: then he thought she might repent if the thing was done: after his refusal she said: “Now I suppose you despise me.” He said: “Despise you? no: I respect you: I feel that you have conferred the highest honor on me.” Years after, he met her again. She was married—had children. But she said to him: “I still love my dream-child best.”