A meandering week (Learning Things: May 22, 2021)

engraving style flowers based on a 19th century illustration

This past week has felt especially meandering to me. Time seems slightly twisty; I've found myself repeatedly writing the date as either March 2023 or May 2025, so I'm not sure what that's about. I suppose I should just be grateful that my brain finally feels like it's broken out of March 2020, which it was stuck in for a couple years. But I really am baffled by my brain's insistence that it's 2025. I don't think I've ever gotten my brain stuck in the future like that before.

Anyway, as you might expect, my progress has been equally . . . wavering . . . this week.

Paranormal research

Somehow I found myself a bit behind the eight ball, so my main goal was getting last week's podcast episode out. I'm really happy with the episode, which draws heavily from some of my blog posts about Polaroids and instant photos as paranormal evidence. Though I did included some updates, such as my attempts to manipulate some Polaroids that I shot myself.

As for paranormal research, I started reading a great book about Hilma af Klint (more on that below).

Art and paranormal investigation

This week, I dove into the Hilma af Klint biography written by Julia Voss. The English translation came out in late 2022, and as of right now, I believe it's the only English-language biography out about her. It still floors me how little information there is out there about af Klint; the biographer actually had to learn Swedish in order to do the research to write this book.

Anyway, it's a great read so far. I'm not very far into it, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it's an engaging, not-too-academic book (I'm always slightly wary of that when picking up books published by university presses). I'm sure I'll be writing a lot more about it as I continue reading.

DIY paranormal gear / tech stuff

Alright, still in a holding pattern on the biodata sonification device and other DIY paranormal investigation gear that I want to play around with.

Part of the reason for that is I had a handful of non-paranormal tech-related chores to tackle this weekend. So I'm going to talk about 'em, even though they're slightly off topic.

Back in February, I bought a secondhand Framework laptop, which I'm really loving—when it works. It's not my daily driver (I use a desktop PC most of the time), so I really just use the laptop when I want to work away from my desk. The awesome thing about Framework laptops are that they're user repairable! I believe in their mission and am thrilled to have a modular laptop that I can repair myself. (That's also why I felt fine buying one secondhand; I felt confident that I could repair any issues that might crop up.)

The slightly less awesome thing is that there's a known issue with the RTC/CMOS battery on the particular model that I have that's been causing some . . . annoyances. (Like the system clock losing time, the machine not charging or turning on, etc.) I've done all the basic troubleshooting things (updating the BIOS, using a "dumb charger" when it won't charge and then switching back to the PD charger once the light goes back on, opening it up and ejecting/reinserting the RTC battery, etc.) Anyway, I'm still having issues, so I'm back to troubleshooting.

As of Saturday, it's charging and turning again, so that's great. But I saw one thing that concerned me when I reopened the laptop this weekend. I can't tell if something is screwed up with the RTC battery holder, but it might be. So we'll see if my latest fix works. If not, I ordered a new rechargeable RTC battery. So I'll replace it if it glitches out again and see whether that works. If not, and if there's something wrong with the RTC battery holder, that's . . . not great.

I expected some fiddliness when I decided to buy a used, 1st gen laptop by a new company, and I was fine with that because I support Framework's mission (and feel pretty confident in my ability to fix things, since they make it easy). But I've definitely encountered more reliability issues than I expected, and gosh I hope that I'm able to get this RTC thing worked out without having to buy a new mainboard.

I really do love the Framework when it's working, but I'm going out of town in a few weeks and I'm hoping I'll be able to bring my nice, new (to me) Framework rather than my busted, barely running 2019 Surface laptop. However, last time I traveled, my Framework stopped charging and turning on the night before I flew out, so I'm not 100% confident about whether my Framework's currently reliable enough for me to travel with yet. Which is kinda a bummer.

Other than that, my other tech project this weekend was replacing the switches on my new mechanical keyboard.

For the last year or so, I've been searching for a keyboard I really love. I've tried a low-profile Keychron, which I liked all right. But I never seemed to get totally used to it—I ended up mistyping on it constantly. Anyway, a couple weeks ago I got a cheap (sub $40) Redragon K552, and I'm really loving it.

The only problem was that I bought the version with Outemu Blue switches, which I thought I was really going to love. And I do love how they feel. It's the sound that's the issue.

It turns out that they're a bit louder than I'd expected. More importantly, my wife and I both work from home, and she could hear them clearly through the closed door between our workspaces, so I had to figure something else out. I bought some Outemu Browns and swapped 'em in.

This was my first time changing keyboard switches, and I was pleasantly surprised that it took me less than 45 minutes. The keyboard was hot swappable, too, so no soldering required. In case you're wondering, I'm really happy with the Outemu Browns so far.

Oh, and I also plan on replacing the keycaps with something more fun. I think I'm gonna go with some amazing Voynich Manuscript inspired keycaps that I found. I was floored that someone decided to put 'em into production, since they're so darn niche. They're probably gonna look awful on my keyboard, since they're off-white and my keyboard is white, but they might be too delightfully esoteric to pass up.

Anyway, while neither of those projects were that time consuming, they did happen to take up all of the tinkering time that I had set aside. So my nearly-finished biodata sonification device remains on my shelf, glaring at me.


Last week, I mentioned that I had a light workload this month so was going full steam ahead on revising the novel I'm currently writing.

Well, I ended up taking on a couple more freelance projects that I'm now racing to fit in before the end of the month (and before I vacation). Somehow I always end up taking on too much work right before vacations and then end up in a mad dash to finish everything. Go figure.

So anyway, that's good news for my bank account, but bad news for my writing, which I'll likely have to put mostly on hold for the next week and a half while I'm in work crunch time. (Once again, the joys of being a freelancer: I had some free time earlier this month and then had clients swoop in as soon as I'd resigned myself to a slow month.)


You know, I'm a big fan of Marta Rose's idea of neuroemergent time. Basically, the idea is that neurodivergent people experience time differently (she writes in particular about Autistic folks and people with ADHD). There are periods where you're extremely productive (often way more than a neurotypical person might be), and other times when you slow way down, spinning out and gathering stardust in preparation for another period of hyperfocus and activity, which will occur at some unspecified future date.

Anyway, I felt a bit frustrated when reviewing this week's progress toward my goals and within my areas of focus.

But I'm trying to remind myself that this is part of the cycle of neuroemergent time, and that it's normal to sometime feel a bit stuck. But it's always easier to tell other people that than it is to convince yourself.