Randonauting, synchronicity, and lost batteries (Learning Things: June 19, 2023)

a sketchy digital drawing of a crested owl

The New Blood Kickstarter campaign is still going strong this week! (It'll be running until July 9 at 8:08 am EST.)

Last week, I appeared on a livestream with the rest of the cast and crew of New Blood and Inhuman Beings, two brand-new paranormal shows that we're currently raising funds for on Kickstarter. You can watch that on YouTube if you missed it. I also did a little writeup about the show for the awesome horror publication Horror Press.

I had a blast on the New Blood livestream last week, and I've been loving the other livestreams that various team members have been on. Some seriously cool guests have joined streams as well, and there's more slated to appear over the next couple weeks (including hypnotist Lonnie Scott and witch and author Mat Auryn—can't wait to watch both of those). Those will all be on the New Blood YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.

Please spread the word about the New Blood Kickstarter campaign and contribute if you're able to; every little bit helps (even if it's just telling your friends about it)!

Paranormal research

It's been a busy week, so most of my paranormal research was in service of getting out the latest episode of the podcast.

Also, I updated about 75 files in my digital garden, including cross posting my recent backlog of blog posts there so that way they show up in the graph view and get linked to the proper topics nicely.

I did go on a little randonauting adventure a couple days ago. I know I've written and podcasted about Randonautica extensively, but I feel like every time I use it, it surprises me again. After more than three years of using the app and knowing it "works" (that feels like the wrong word somehow), you'd think I'd be used to it. And yet every time I embark on a quick randonauting trip, I convince myself that probably this time nothing will happen.

Well, I'm always wrong. I don't use it super often, just whenever the mood strikes. So this was my first trip since March. Lately, I've taken to dictating my trip report while I'm still out there, so that way I get all of my impressions written down while it's still happening. This time, that led to me feeling like I was having a literal conversation with Randonautica. I'd dictate something, often a possible interpretation, and then bam, I'd come across something that was a very clear answer about whether I'd interpreted it correctly or not.

It's weird, because you'd think that a technique that uses the literal environment around you to communicate would be . . . imprecise. But boy howdy, that isn't the case. This time in particular, my brain was completely broken by the precision with which it seemed to be communicating with me. It yielded an 1,100-word trip report that I'm still mulling over.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person still using Randonautica, since its viral fame was years ago now, but jeeze, it's a wild way of interacting with the paranormal.

Tech and DIY paranormal gear

I promise this section will end with some paranormal-related tech weirdness. (Though I still haven't had time to finish up any of my DIY projects.)

But first: Hey, remember last week when I went on a long, mostly pointless digression about a digital camera from 2005?

I continued down that rabbit hole a bit, watching videos about folks who were similarly nostalgic for the crappy old digital camera look.

Interestingly, one of the commenters on this video mentioned that in China and Japan, a lot of young people look for older cameras with CCD sensors in order to mimic a film look—or at least a nostalgic 2000s look.

Apparently, according to another commenter, the reason why CCD sensors have that old look is because they are actually analog sensors that convert to digital:

Izzy 1y ago (edited)
A big part of the reason CCDs had that look is because they are an analogue sensor that's converted to digital. Most simply, the photo cells are made of organic materials that react to light and then the light values are translated digitally by components behind that layer. (This incidentally means they have an unavoidably limited lifespan and older ones will start to change how they render an image.)

Though someone does mention that they should be aware that there may be proprietary or old flash memory types and connectors, which of course is the problem that I'm coming up against with my Sony cyber-shot. (My Sony Cyber-shot does have a CCD sensor.)

But that doesn't really do me much good, because I'm still stuck when it comes to getting images off of the camera.

Here's a weird synchronicity: last week, I mentioned that I couldn't find the cord for my Windows 8 machine, which I wanted to boot up to try to see if it could read the old Memory Stick Pro from my ancient Sony Cyber-shot camera. I was listening to a playlist of tech-related YouTube videos, and a video from a few months ago about how all support for Windows 8 has ended, so the devices aren't exactly . . . secure . . . to use anymore. Just then, I opened one of my (many) boxes of old tech stuff looking for something else and I immediately found the Lenovo charging cord for my device, which had been lost for years. I definitely checked that box last week, too. Anyway, strange bundle of little synchronicities there! There's a weird irony in finding the thing I was looking for right when I learn that it'd be useless for my purpose anyway.

In case you're wondering, the (old-ish) machine booted up just fine once it'd charged, and I did try to get it to recognize my Memory Stick Pro. No dice. And there are no drivers for it on Sony's site, which was basically like, Microsoft no longer provides support for Windows 8 and earlier, so neither do we. Good luck trying to get this to work on newer machines, because we won't provide drivers for those, either. So that's . . . fun.

But now that I've got my Lenovo up and running again, I'm thinking I'll get a Linux distro installed out it. It's been a while since I last had a Linux machine, but my little 3rd gen Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e feels like the perfect candidate. It's a bit underpowered; it's a device tailored toward the education market that I picked up for $300 in 2017 (though I upgraded the RAM to 8GB when I bought it, and it ran resource-hungry Dragon Dictation just fine back in 2017). So I'm not in a hurry to put Windows 10 or 11 on it. (Maybe I'll do a dual boot of Windows 10 and Mint? Gotta do more research there.) But I absolutely love the Thinkpad keyboard (I did a lot of good writing on that machine), and it's built like a tank, so I'm happy to be resurrecting this device.

My daily driver is a desktop PC, but for those of you keeping score at home: I do have a stack of laptops sitting next to me, including a 1st gen Framework laptop that works when it feels like it, a barely-alive Windows Surface Pro 6 that's the only computer I can get to connect to my printer, a thrashed mid-2010s Macbook (my wife's old machine, which I use on rare occasions when I need a Mac), and now my 2017 Lenovo. What a motley crew of half-broken machines.

Oh, also, one paranormal-related note here: we have ongoing issues related to batteries and chargers at our apartment. It's a long saga, but to make it short: it seems that the entity that haunts our apartment likes to mess around with batteries. (Especially during times of change or before or after we go out of town.) I have had so many instances of batteries appearing, disappearing, and reappearing in my apartment that I've lost track of many of them. So I should probably try to note them here.

This week, I had two battery-related incidents:

  1. the synchronistic Lenovo battery charger reappearance (after I'd checked everywhere for it last weekend),
  2. a couple weeks ago, I ordered a new RTC battery to try in my Framework laptop. It's disappeared. Once again, I checked every place where it could be. It'll probably reappear soon—maybe as soon as I order a new one.

Art and paranormal investigation

No progress on this one, really. I kept forgetting to bring my sketchbook on walks with me this week, so didn't end up doing any automatic drawing experiments.


Good writing week this week! It felt nice to be back at it, writing this solarpunk fantasy book I'm working on, after taking the end of May off. I'm really in the thick of this revision, which is intensive but going well, and I'm about to rewrite the finale that keeps evading me. So wish me luck there, I suppose.


Out of curiosity, over the weekend, I tallied up how many words I've written since I began this weekdaily blogging thing. Turns out I've published 105,000 words worth of blog posts since mid-March.

Or, if word counts mean nothing to you, that's either a bit more than twice the length of The Great Gatsby or a bit more than half the length of The Fellowship of the Ring. (I measure word counts on a scale of Gatsby to Fellowship, don't you?)

Last week, while working on the latest podcast episode, I found myself having trouble remembering whether I'd mentioned something on the blog or not. And I guess now I know why. It's a lot to mentally run through, and my site (annoyingly) lacks a full-text search.

I switched up the look and feel of my website a couple months ago, but I'm thinking I need to make some additional quality-of-life changes because of how much content's on there now. At the top of my list: 1) adding a full-text search, and 2) making it more browsable (and less reliant on seeing things solely based on chronology.)