Friday December 31, 2021 — Taipei, Taiwan
December has felt like it’s flown by, but looking back, a lot more happened than I thought. The biggest change is that I’m out of quarantine now, and very happy to be back in Taiwan. I released deeplinks, wrote a few blog posts, read a little bit, and went clubbing a lot.
The patio of a gallery/cafe I’ve been working out of sometimes recently.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this month on interactions between gender and romance — the book club I’m running is reading Turn This World Inside Out, which has been extremely good so far, and I’ve been reading What Love Is: And What It Could Be as well, which is probably the best philosophy-of-love book I’ve read so far.
The main realization that I’ve come to is that the social force of men being afraid of men is probably significantly under-discussed — it has huge ramifications for all sorts of social and societal interactions, but people don’t seem to talk about it much, I think since it’s not masculine to admit to fear, so men don’t talk about this social dynamic, and as a result, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s happening. (A bit more about this on my alt twitter).
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to express care — that’s something that I’d like to get better at, and I’ve been working on finding opportunities in my life to practice that. Still very much a work in progress, though.
One of the people in my reading group recommended the podcast “no” from The Heart, which has been another good angle to think about some of these things from.
A street in New Taipei that I particularly liked the look of.
In terms of “work” sorts of things, I got some stuff done this month. I released deeplinks, which got a few hundred stars on GitHub, but didn’t get any actual users AFAICT, which makes me feel a bit silly for polishing it as much as I did.
In general, I’m wary of attracting an audience of tech people, since they tend to be way more boring and annoying than average, but I have been enjoying thinking about some tech things recently, so I might as well write them down — I think as long as I’m being careful to pay attention to the feedback loops, I should end up alright.
I’ve also been quietly hacking on a couple projects, which I hope to release eventually. You’ll see ’em when they’re ready :)
A street cat in Shida market with many admirers.
A very wary street cat in Wanhua market, which ran off shortly after I took this picture.
I’ve been watching more movies than I usually do — a habit which I’d like to try to keep up. I’m trying to do a combination of movies that I expect I’ll enjoy and want to see, and movies that I feel like I “should” have seen, but haven’t, due to some combination of being way younger than most people I hang out with and not really having watched many movies/TV growing up. This month, I saw:
- Synecdoche, New York (2008) — Very good. I need to rewatch it to fully form an opinion, but it’s extremely up my alley.
- Paprika (2006) — Aesthetically, this movie is incredible, and it’s worth it just for that. From a story perspective, though, it’s a little lacking — it doesn’t seem to have much interesting to say about dreams, and it relies on some annoying tropes that don’t make much sense in context (why is Paprika such a damsel in distress??? ugh.)
- Taipei Story (1985) — It’s quite good at being the thing it’s trying to be, although I didn’t find it terribly interesting.
- Groundhog Day (1993) — I see why it’s a classic. I enjoyed it.
- Her (2013) — I would really like to like this, but it’s such an infohazard that I can’t :/
- The World’s End (2013) — A good, enjoyable, well-executed romp, but sadly lacking in any sort of substance or depth.
I made a Letterboxd account, which I haven’t been using much, but might in the future.
Possibly too many plants, from the flower market by Da’an park.
This was another slow month for books — other than the two mentioned above (which I recommend), I finished up Polysecure and my re-read of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Polysecure was quite good, and as I mentioned before, I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in learning about attachment theory, regardless of whether they’re interested in polyamory or not.
Re-reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has been really interesting — it was probably more influential on my when I was young(er) than I realized, and I still think it’s a useful and important book. It’s written in a rhetorical style that makes me find it extremely hard to trust these days, but despite that, I still think it gets a lot of fundamental truths correct.
A doggo about to go on a very exciting scooter ride — also Wanhua market.
A handful of other things I’ve been reflecting on/doing/thinking about:
- I’ve been on Twitter more. This was a thought-through decision, and it seems like overall it’s been a negative force in my life. It does get me some amount of regular “social interaction” that I feel I’m missing otherwise, but that’s fake, and I should focus on making passive social interaction happen via other means instead.
- I’ve been realizing that I tend towards familiarity — in media, food, etc, I’ll often return to the same things that I know I like over and over. I think that’s OK, and I’m glad to have noticed that as a force in my life!
- I’ve been reflecting on how bad I am at replying to people’s messages. If you’re waiting on a reply from me — I’m sorry! I probably think about it all the time and just get stressed about it and procrastinate on replying. This has been one of the things I’ve consistently been working on, though, and I do feel like I’m making progress. If you went from being bad at this to being OK at it, I’d love to hear what helped for you!
- I got insulin in Taiwan for the first time, and I gotta say, I knew the medical system in the US was fucked, but it’s a very different thing to actually experience the difference. I the sum of my insurance cost and the co-pay for insulin here is less than I paid just for insulin in the US, and I don’t need to worry about it suddenly costing 10× more if I lose my insurance.
A fox fren that I finally got around to finishing up.
As usual, here’s a incomplete list of some of the things that I read or re-read on the internet this month. I’ve put a “★” icon next to ones that I particularly recommend. Compiling this is the part of this reflection that takes the longest and is the least… reflective, so if you enjoy the links, please let me know :)
Public Health and Medicine
Marriage and Divorce
“Cancel Culture” / Internet Mobs / etc