Learning Things: May 1, 2023

What I got up to last week.

A halftone version of the Buried Secrets Podcast logo with a black crow and a white crow inverted and facing each other.

Happy International Workers' Day, May Day, Beltane, Walpurgisnacht, or whatever else you might celebrate around May 1.

I've been a bit sick this past week and didn't feel well enough to record the podcast episode that I meant to drop last Friday (which is about paranormal investigation and nostalgia). I'm not quite 100%, but my throat seems to be better, so I should be able to get that episode out this week.

Anyway, here's what else I was up to last week:

Paranormal research

I'm still slowly working my way through Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel. This week, I also listened to two Mitch Horowitz books on audio, The Miracle Club and The Power of Your Subconscious Mind and How to Use It. They're only tangentially paranormal-related; they're more about new thought. (Also, there's a lot of overlap between the two books. I like hearing things more than once because it helps me absorb information, but mentioning that for reference in case anyone else is thinking of reading 'em back to back.) I'm generally a little iffy on new thought, but I'm always interested about the places where it overlaps with paranormal phenomena.

Other than that, I read some of Claire Goodchild's The Book of Séances, which has some great practical info about different paranormal investigation techniques. It reminds me a bit of Solitary Séance by Raymond Buckland in terms of content, though I am definitely enjoying The Book of Séances more. (And the book is very aesthetic, with beautiful art.)

Also, I fell into a whole rabbit hole this week about remote viewing, so I'm listening to the audiobook of one of Russell Targ's books (I've always had trouble finishing his books, though, so we'll see.) I've also been dipping a bit into the Monroe Institute's Gateway Tapes.

DIY paranormal gear

The PCB for the biodata sonification build came in this week, so I got started on assembling that. I'm almost done with soldering in all the components, though I had to take a break when I realized that I didn't have enough 10 ohm 1/4W resistors on hand (the PCB build requires seven, but the breadboard build that I unsuccessfully attempted a few weeks ago only required one). I'd thought that I could sub in some 10 ohm 1/2W resistors that I had on hand, and I probably could have if I really wanted to. But because the resistors are mounted on the board vertically, using the larger 1/2W resistors would have meant that they'd stick out awkwardly. So I've paused that assembly paused until some 10 ohm 1/4W resistors that I ordered arrive.

But I do feel pretty good about the PCB build itself. Once I get it assembled, I'll be able to determine whether the breadboard build that I wrote about trying a few weeks ago didn't work because I programmed the Adafruit Feather wrong, or whether it was something else. So that's something.

(Though I will also say: This week, I hung out with a programmer who I used to work with, and I was complaining about how I probably programmed the board wrong. He told me that even just compiling C++ is tricky. So that made me feel a little better about all the error messages and issues I encountered while trying to load the program, and how I'm still unsure whether what I did worked.)

Also, while soldering, I followed along with the Electricity for Progress assembly instruction video on YouTube. I found that video surprisingly pleasant. At this point, I've followed along with multiple step-by-step soldering/assembly videos by several creators for different projects, and I'm finding Sam Cusumano's instructions especially relaxing and educational. As a somewhat impatient person who has a tendency to assume that I've done something wrong, his calming tone, reminders to take your time, and explanations of why some bits might be harder to solder than others have gone a long way toward making the assembly experience pretty pleasant.

Art and paranormal investigation

This week, it's been weirdly cold and rainy (multiple days in the 40s, ugh), and that combined with feeling under the weather made me not want to go outside to commune with the tree I've been hanging out with while trying out automatic drawing.

But I did finally bite the bullet and order a couple books about Hilma af Klint's work. I've been interested in her paranormal/spiritualism-inspired work since seeing the exhibit of her work at the Guggenheim in 2019. (Eagle-eyed folks might have noticed that my podcast logo—the one with the two crows—is a very loose homage to her swan paintings.) Until a couple years ago, you couldn't find many books about Hilma af Klint in English, but several have come out somewhat recently. However, like many art books, most of them are pretty pricey—and the combination of them being new, sorta academic, and niche means they aren't available for cheap on the secondhand market. But I picked up Hilma af Klint: A Biography (2022), and I found slightly discounted used copies of Hilma af Klint: Spiritualistic Drawings 1896–1905: Catalogue Raisonné Volume I (2021) and Notes and Methods (2018). So I'm excited to delve into those and see what I can glean about automatic and inspired drawing from them.


I'm still moving slowly on revisions of the queer solarpunk fantasy romance novel I'm writing, but I did do some research and work on worldbuilding, and rewrote the first couple scenes. So. Progress.


For the past few weeks, I've been saying that I need to revisit that spirit box code that I had ChatGPT generate and try to get it to work. Still haven't done that, but I'm mentioning it here in the hopes that I'll remember to do it this coming week.