Why I haven’t been posting lately

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s probably fair to say that my posting frequency has plummeted to the lowest level since I started this blog in 2013.  I feel obliged to offer an explanation.

First, we’ve been undergoing an epic reorganization at work.  In the early stages, this endeavor left me very unsettled on what my future work life might look like, to the extent that I was considering early retirement.  Eventually, it ended up that I’m going to be moving into a new job (in the same organization, the central IT shop for a university).

This is a good thing, but I’m going to be managing a much more technical area than I have in years, and that’s forcing me to immerse myself back into the details of database administration, application development, and enterprise integration, all of which won’t leave much room for a while to think about consciousness, philosophy, space, science, and many of the other things I often post about.

On top of that, my father passed away this weekend, a staggering emotional blow that currently has me adrift in a way I haven’t been in a long time.  I anticipate being occupied dealing with the emotional and financial fallout for a while.

So, just to let you know, I definitely have no intention of giving up blogging.  But posts may be thin for a while until I can get all this processed.  I think I’ll have some new insights on stress, emotion, and grief when I do start up again.

Hopefully more soon.  How are you guys doing?

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42 Responses to Why I haven’t been posting lately

  1. paultorek says:

    Sorry to hear about your father. No worries here about the quantity of your posts, especially in the circumstances.

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  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Terribly sorry to hear of your loss, Mike.

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  3. agrudzinsky says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Definitely, blogging is not a priority for you now and it should not be. You need some time to heal and settle.

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  4. john zande says:

    Sorry to to hear about your dad. The hole they leave can be immense. But congratulations on the new job.

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  5. Thanks for letting us know Mike. I did wonder if something was up, but wasn’t too worried since I would occasionally still see updates on your twitter feed. Very sorry that you’ve lost your dad.

    If it turns out that our discussions will become rare for a while, how will I fill this void? Ideally I’ll use this time to figure out how to make my own ideas more accessible, since I’ve clearly needed a full rewrite for years. I have been tinkering with reorganization, though this doesn’t seem to render my ideas any more humble than before. In the end I may need help with that.

    On that front however, if you saw the recent Rationally Speaking interview of Eric Jonas, just quickly I wonder what you thought? I doubt that Ginger Campbell would have entertained the notion that the modern tools of neuroscience remain insufficient to even comprehend the function of a microprocessor. I’m no engineer, though this is certainly a bold position that supports my own perspective. I suppose that as a computer guy who is highly interested in neuroscience, that you have some thoughts, even if they would be best for another time.

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    • Thanks Eric.

      I did listen to that Rationally Speaking episode. I thought Julia asked a very pertinent question about the software / hardware divide, which exists in computing technology, but which we have no evidence for in organic brains. I can’t recall Jonas adequately addressing her question. That said, my mind wasn’t really on what I was listening to and it’s completely possible I missed it. I’ll probably need to re-listen to that episode at some point.

      In general, when I first heard about this experiment, I was skeptical that it showed what many of its advocates claimed it showed. The problem is that we know the solution for the chip they were testing, and we know that due to so much of the information processing architecture being in software, that breaking pieces of the processor isn’t going to be instructive. But again, we have no evidence that we need to understand a separate software level architecture for the brain. Everything points to a more unified, tangled, and hence more difficult to understand system.

      To me, that seems to make their demonstration almost more propaganda than science. The problem, of course, is that pointing that out makes people think you’re asserting a much stronger understanding of the brain than science can claim right now. And, of course, no one can absolutely rule out that there’s a separate software organization we’ll need to understand. We can only observe that there’s scant evidence for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mike,
      If or when you do look further at Eric Jonas, I think you’ll find that he considers questions regarding hardware / software to be just as unsettled as you do. I suspect that his point about what happens when we deactivate various code components of a game to see what happens, was actually a demonstration of how the brain happens to be quite different and plastic than our machines. Regardless I think his point was that just as computer science can’t teach us the purpose of Donkey Kong, and so can’t be used to provide answers that are sufficiently satisfying, neuroscience can’t teach us the purpose of the brain, and so also isn’t able to provide sufficiently satisfying answers. He doesn’t have the answers, but more importantly he’s showing us a systematic challenge that may need to be overcome.

      What was the purpose of those old games? We know this even though computer science will never be able to demonstrate it. Their purpose was to make kids like us want to play them. What is the purpose of the brain? Beyond the presumption of “survival”, this isn’t known. So I think his point is that neuroscience may never be able to teach us, and regardless of how advanced Eric’s colleagues sometimes like to consider themselves. (Lisa Feldman Barrett for example told Ginger Campbell the ridiculous notion that her theory of constructed emotion is like the leap of quantum mechanics over relativity! Can you believe that Campbell bought it?)

      It encourages me that there are people like Eric Jonas raising caution signs. It makes me hope that the house of cards that I consider us to have inherited, and beginning with the morality paradigm, can sufficiently be questioned by some. This doesn’t mean that my own theory is right, but it at least suggests that something bigger than what the establishment would have us believe, may be required in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Morris says:

    Sorry to hear your news, Mike. My thoughts will be with you.

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  7. Peter says:

    Take your time, be good to yourself.

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  8. I’m really sorry to hear about your father.

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  9. Tom W. says:

    Heartfelt condolences Mike. Losing our father is very hard and somehow hits too close to home. After he was gone, for weeks I was unable to look at any elderly gentleman’s hands because they all looked exactly like how I remember my father’s. You will have many reminders of him. I hope you can use them to access fond memories instead.

    Don’t fret about the blog or us; we’ve got plenty of reading material here already (and re-reading!). Focus on the more important stuff and come back here when it feels like a pleasant occupation again (as opposed to a guilt-laden obligation).

    Kind regards,
    Tom (taomath)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tom. Sounds like you know how hard this kind of thing is. My dad had a deep gravelly voice and I just heard another older man with the same type of voice and it had exactly the same effect you described. It will be a long road.

      Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Stacy says:

    Sorry about the loss of your dad. We appreciate your effort on informing us about your absence in blogging. Your family needs you more and your unity as a family. My prayers are with you.

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  11. nannus says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss.
    Just take your time to get things strait again.

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  12. J.S. Pailly says:

    I’m sorry about your father, and I hope the new job works out for you. I’ve been a little overwhelmed myself lately, and I’m thinking of setting regular blogging aside for a bit as well. Sometimes you just have to deal with stuff and get back to the fun things later.

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  13. Michael says:

    Hi Mike,

    Just came by to check in. Am also sorry to hear of your loss. Thoughts go out to you, my friend. Maybe the new job will keep you engaged in ways that are helpful–as it sounds like you’ll have to learn or re-learn some things again at a deeper level–as you live through the aftershocks.

    Michael

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  14. Times of loss, and times of havoc, are also times of growth. Wishing you strength and perseverance during this difficult time. This too will pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. amanimal says:

    I’m sorry Mike, I can relate to “adrift” – Mark

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  16. ratamacue0 says:

    I’ll echo what others have said: sorry about your loss. No worries about the blog; do what you gotta do. You’re prioritizing as you should.

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  17. Sorry to hear that you lost your father. And I apologize that I’m only just now coming around to give my condolences.

    I also felt adrift after my parents died, and that feeling still comes back in full force when I’m reminded of them. Just recently during the airing of the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam, I was reminded of what my father had to go through and suddenly got myself involved in researching his involvement in the war and finally—nearly seven years later—mustered the courage to read his letters during that time period. I learned a lot from them about him, but I’m glad I waited until my emotions were less volatile. I found that time didn’t heal all wounds, it didn’t make me forget, but it did make it easier to face memories of him.

    Good luck on your new job, and I hope you don’t get too overwhelmed doing this while sorting out your father’s affairs. That’s a lot to deal with all at once, so be sure to take time for yourself. I’ll be thinking of you and wish you luck. We’ll be here when you get back!

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    • Thanks Tina. And no worries at all on the time frame.

      I very much appreciate you sharing that experience going through your father’s letters. We had to prepare a photo slideshow for the funeral, and I found the experience of putting it together a powerful walk down memory lane. My father was an avid photographer who took thousands of photos during his lifetime, but precious few had any of him in them. The process of finding those few images required poring over photos of events and people from decades ago.

      On the new job, actually the good thing about it is it’s coming at a time when I need work to be a distraction, so it probably sounds far worse than it is. But I’m definitely looking forward to eventually getting back and visiting with my internet friends and talking philosophy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Isn’t that funny how the photographer rarely gets seen, and hardly anyone realizes that at the time? I bet it was fascinating to revisit those photos he took, to see how he saw the world…and I hope not too difficult for you.

        My father was into photography as well. In a way, those reveal more about him than his image in a photo. He wasn’t interested in taking ordinary photos of people looking into the camera and smiling, but tended to capture people when didn’t realize they were being photographed. His idea of truly landmark moments were things like my first solo visit to the toilet, or my mom putting on makeup.

        My family had so many photos that I had to pick out the top 500 to share. I ended up using a company to scan them and put them on disk, that way we could all have them. And even though I didn’t have to scan them myself, it was still a lot of work going through them.

        I hope your work proves to be a good distraction, and that you don’t have to deal with daunting tasks that act as painful reminders. I know what people say about facing emotions, but for me, it wasn’t helpful to have to face them right away and be constantly reminded of what I’d lost. I think it’s much better to get your mind off things, give emotions time to settle.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Going through the photos was difficult for me, but I’m glad we did it, and it spurred me to make sure they were well backed up. I do have a cache of physical photos I need to make sure get scanned and uploaded. Dad had a high quality scanner, which we used for some of them with him in them, but I need to scan the rest of that physical batch at some point. That said, it may be a while before I feel ready to go through them again.

          Dad took photos of people smiling, but also a lot of life in action, such as me and my cousin splashing around in the pool, or riding amusement park rides. In later years, he seemed to develop a fascination with flowers and other colorful scenery. There were entire CD/DVDs of those types of photos.

          I totally agree with you on emotions. I don’t see any virtue in suffering more than is necessary. I’ve actually been burning through my xanax batch pretty rapidly the last few weeks. I don’t want to be completely cut off from the grief, but I also don’t want the stomach churning and exhaustive grief I went through when my mom died. The drug seems to be interrupting the interoceptive emotional feedback loop, and it helps me sleep. I recommend it for anyone going through something like this. I cut it back to only evening doses after the first week, and will probably try to wean myself off of it by the end of the month.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I ended up sending the photos off to some company to scan them, but it was kind of scary to mail them. I probably wasn’t in my right mind when I did it. 🙂

            In retrospect, I realize that getting wasted and singing karaoke was my form of xanax while I went through tough times with my mother toward the end of her life. I think your method sounds a lot better.

            Liked by 1 person

          • On the scanning, it’s probably technologically easier today than it was when you were dealing with it. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have known what to do if Dad hadn’t had it all set up, configured, and ready to use.

            On getting wasted and karaoke, hey, whatever works. I used the getting wasted method myself in the weeks and months after my mother’s death.

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