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Max Antonucci

Journalist turned full-time coder, part-time ponderer.


Personal quips and nonsensical snippets

Sometimes I want to write things that can't work as a blog post, I don't want to lose amid Twitter, or don't make any sense. For all these streams of conscious, I have my Notes. They have lots of colors to match how across the board they can get.

Keep scrolling to read my notes in order.

Note posted on September 23, 2021

Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is think less. By which I mean listening to your gut.

At any time when I'm unsure, either from too much info or a fuzzy brain, my gut is the best dealbreaker. Except when it comes to matters of food and eating. My gut has a clear pro-food bias when I know I need to be more cautious in my diet.

A quote about trusting your hunches, as they're based on facts below the conscious level. It's shown with anime artwork of someone at a computer.

Most people get and accept that to some extent. The hard part is knowing how to truly listen to your gut.

Sometimes my gut pulls me in ways I don't agree with. I only agree later, when the facts it used later arrive at my conscious mind. But at the start, it's hard to trust. So I need to be certain I'm listening to my gut, instead of some other knee-jerk thought or reaction.

The difference is, when my gut talks to me, it's in my whole body. It's a force of gravity that keeps me from doing anything else but what it wants. That's when I know I need to hold my breath and trust it, no matter the pain.

So far, it's caused me lots of pain. But little serious regret either.

Note posted on September 20, 2021

If you have an overactive imagination that needs to stretch its legs, read some good fiction.

For a while, I thought the best way to blow off some mental steam was video games. Ones with open worlds and frantic action, like Saints Row IV or Breath of the Wild. Don't get me wrong, they're fun. But they never gave my imagination the workout it needed.

Books are better for two reasons: you control the pace, and you control how you see it.

Take any fiction book. Want to imagine a scene as a slow, sepia-filtered drama? Or a graphic novel-styled animation full of slapstick humor and visual gags? Or like the last video game you played, and think of what each character's gaming style would be like as they went?

For those with restless minds, books are forever underrated.

Note posted on September 14, 2021

If Netflix has taught me something, it's that "Wheel of Fortune" is only worth watching without commercials. It also taught me not enough animes get the official English dubs they deserve, but that's for later.

I'm serious. Each round is only a bit longer than the commercial break that follows it. Each half-hour would be around 33-50% commercials. How is that worth it?

Without commercials, each episode is short and sweet. It almost feels unfair how much casual game show fun gets packed into 15-20 minutes.

Am I saying mastering time travel would be worth it to go back to when the episodes first aired and skip over the commercials back then? No, but I'm not saying that isn't the case either.

Note posted on September 7, 2021

I have a long-running list of things that are so amazing, they're almost religious. I've included the lived experiences from many folks I've asked about it. Some items on it now are:

  • A large slice of good cheesecake
  • Blowing up random buildings in a video game with realistic physics
  • Watching the end of "Coco"
  • Eating pasta carbonara in Rome, Italy
  • Kicking a nazi in the groin
  • Winning any game in The Jackbox Party Pack
  • Eating Portugese donuts
  • Seeing Hamilton in theaters with the original cast
  • Amazing sex
  • Smoking weed
  • Smoking weed and having sex while watching Hamilton on Disney Plus.

After a weekend in Portland, Maine, I'm adding something else: lobster grilled cheese.

Grilled cheese with warm chunks of lobster inside it.

Imagine how good this tastes. Now imagine something tastier. Then double it. That's how delicious it is. Get it now and you'll be praying to a new God.

Note posted on August 27, 2021

There are so many systems of inequality built by humans, it can be hard to get mad at times.

When a bear eats a fish, do we get mad at the bear for ending the fish's life? Even knowing the fish did nothing wrong, it was a painful death, and it was for a bear's selfish survival? No, because that's what bears do. Eating salmon is their natural order of things. When we recognize that, the anger fades away.

What if finding ways to control, oppress, and manipulate others is just what today's humans do? That's what systems like capitalism, white supremacy, grifting, and patriarchy boil down to. They're a human's natural drive to put themselves above others. To stand on others' bodies to push themselves further above water, even if they're already safe and dry.

There are good reasons to end these systems, I'm not saying there aren't. But when I see how pervasive and stubborn they are, the more one may think "it's just what humans do." Then my anger fades away.

Or is this exhausted resignation only what those in power want everyone to feel. Until we're so tired of them that we stop fighting? If that's the case, what is our natural state without these systems?

Note posted on August 21, 2021

I've enjoyed watching M. Night Shyamalan's Old, despite the usual horrible dialogue. I'm serious, I could write better dialogue after three cocktails. But something's been bothering me.

The reason the characters' hair and nails don't grow at an extreme rate on the beach is that they're made of dead cells. So only living cells get rapidly aged, right?

If so, why did the dead body that washed ashore decompose in only three hours? Once a person dies, their cells die soon after. So shouldn't the dead body stop aging so fast?

Also, hair and nail cells get made by living cells. For example, fingernails get made by living skin cells. Those cells should still be making their hair and nails grow at a faster rate, even if they don't age themselves.

Is there a more obscure, scientific reason to explain all this? Is it filmmakers twisting the logic for dramatic effect and makeup logistics? Am I overthinking things for silly reasons?

It may be a combination of a few of the above.

Note posted on August 18, 2021

If you had to choose only one of these options, which would it be?

  1. Be a soldier in an ongoing war effort.
  2. Stay home to take care of your ailing mother.

The former is for a larger cause with a smaller contribution. The latter is for a smaller cause with a larger contribution. Deciding between one or the other is a test in seeing the ways we find meaning in our own lives.

This is from a real scenario, when existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre advised a student on this (without giving a real answer). But as a thought experiment, it paints things too "black and white." Shouldn't there be some middle ground in how we find our meaning?

I recommend adding the following options.

  1. Take your mother off to war and care for her as you fight.
  2. Train your mother to be a soldier so she can care for herself and fight in the war.
  3. Find a way to escalate the war so your home country gets invaded. That way you can fight while staying home to care for your mother.
  4. Travel to an alternate dimension where your mother is still healthy. Swap that mother with your own and fight in the war guilt-free.
  5. Set your mother up on a dating site so her new boyfriend cares for her while you're at war.
  6. Set your mother up on a dating site for active soldiers so they'll bring her to the battlefront. They'll date and fall in love as the soldier fights. The extra motivation will help that soldier single-handedly end the war. They go off to enjoy domestic bliss.
  7. Spread propaganda that the best way to end the war is caring for your mother. The army will arrive and care for her, the war will end from lack of participation, and everyone is happy.

So now which option would you choose? It's still a moral quandary, but I'm leaning towards options five or eight. But, as in most philosophical dilemmas, there is no real answer.

Note posted on August 15, 2021

According to the various romantic comedy books I’ve read, men need the following things for love:

  • Being at least six feet tall. It pairs best with a woman that's under five feet and four inches tall.
  • A six-pack described with any of the following words: chiseled, defined, sculpted, steamy, polished, rock-solid, or impossible to look away from.
  • A penis so large that it makes their partner gape in awe at it at first sight. That's despite it being one of the weirdest and most unremarkable parts of the human anatomy.

I hereby challenge any romance author out there to write a compelling, entertaining, and sexy romantic comedy novel with the male lead that doesn't meet any of these requirements. I'll wait.

Note posted on August 10, 2021

Do inhibition killers like alcohol and marijuana make it harder for us to lie? Or do they give us a good reason to tell the truths we want?

I've said many things I usually wouldn't do while under the influence of both. I ruined many long-standing plans in the process. It took months to organize another mass Unicorn migration once those edibles kicked in.

But part of me wonders if there are things that deep down, I want to talk about. And whether it's out of fear, paranoia, or embarrassment, I'm too afraid to ask about it while sober. So I impair my own judgment on purpose to steamroll forward in an inelegant but effective way.

It's the same way we run head-first into a pool with our eyes closed. Our rational minds know it's too cold, so we jump in without thinking. Otherwise, we wouldn't get to enjoy summer at the pool!

What's worse: to sidestep our own rationality and stability? Or to miss opportunities or joy we'd only find through risky shake-ups?

The sad answer is it often depends. Know what you're willing to get drunk or stoned for. In hindsight, it wasn't worth risking all those Unicorns. It'll take years before I can stage a migration that huge again.

Note posted on August 3, 2021

It's okay to just be who you are.

Not the version that's "good enough." Not the version that's "actually worthy of X." It's only you. That one is already worthy of those things.

As long as you accept and be that person.

Note posted on August 2, 2021

We all have different ideas of what it means to be "spontaneous." But at what point does it stop being spontaneous at all? When instead is it something too predictable or too chaotic?

Going out to a random restaurant and getting a random entree would be spontaneous to most people. But what if you limit it to restaurants in a single city? A single block? Sticking to a single restaurant? When does it become predictability?

Furthermore, when does spontaneity become chaos? What if you broaden your restaurant scope to the entire state? The whole country? The whole world? What if you make an unplanned trip to Russia only to try borscht as a hole in the wall in the state capital?

I think this "predictable - spontaneous - chaotic" spectrum looks different for everyone. It all depends on our risk tolerance. One's person's chaos is another person's predictability and vice versa. That changes with age, sense of security, or the company you keep at that moment. Or, especially lately, how much you're willing to chance catching COVID.

That last one hasn't affected Americans' risk tolerance as much as I expected it to. Or wish it would have.

Note posted on July 27, 2021

I have concerns with this Richard Aldington quote from "Death of a Hero."

"Adventure is allowing the unexpected to happen to you. Exploration is experiencing what you have not experienced before."

Let's say I accidentally drop a television on my foot and sprain my ankle. It meets the criteria for both adventure and exploration. It also doesn't feel as enjoyable as either one. It'd make for an amusing comic, but I don't know how much that helps its case.

You could argue some experiences are painful at first, but you're stronger in the end. The end result is positive, right? I agree, but the quote does not clarify this. So this "new and unexpected injury" loophole remains.

I'm now petitioning the quote to have a disclaimer for "net positive experiences." Otherwise, people that keep dropping dishes on their feet or banging their heads on doorframes will call themselves "adventurers." No one wants that. We deal with enough half-truths in dating profiles.

Note posted on July 17, 2021

It's important to notice major changes in your family. For example, the ways your family gathers.

In our teenage years, we had the "bar and bat mitzvah phase." That was when we celebrated our entry into adulthood, despite not being able to drink yet. In our late twenties and early thirties, we're entering the "wedding phase." That's when we celebrate the joining of two drinking-age adults with lots of champagne. I'm not sure what follows right after, but I know it ends with the "funeral phase." That's when we gather to mourn those who drank too much, too fast.

I'm thinking we should have some other phases to balance this out. How about a "first trip to the bar without worrying about a ride home phase?" Or a "swearing off alcohol and only drinking soda for two months phase?" Or a "texted someone I shouldn't have after the fifth drink phase." They're all important reasons for our family to gather. It can be either for support, laughter or well-intentioned ridicule.

As long as we don't gather for a "first hangover sickness phase."

Note posted on July 16, 2021

Almost all of us have trauma in our past or even our present. If you think you don't, here are some things to remember about trauma.

  • Trauma isn't always flashy and dramatic. It can be something small or invisible to others. Someone else could have lived it and not gotten traumatized at all. But it was traumatic to someone else, so it's still trauma. Don't let people gaslight others with "that wasn't traumatic, you're only overreacting."
  • Trauma doesn't always have a villain. Events out of everyone's control can cause it, like natural disasters or horrible luck. If a person or people caused it, it may not be due to hatred or ill intent. That person could have acted the same way anyone else like them would have, and it happened to cause trauma. I would argue even if they're not guilty, they should help those they affected to recover.
  • Trauma can be simple. There may not be an elaborate backstory or deep, psychological ripple effects. It could be someone getting bullied or getting enough human contact. That doesn't make it better or worse, easier or tougher, or more or less worthy of help.

Trauma can be terrible, but also a terrible thing that simply happens as part of being life. One of the many things we need to manage, recover from, and help others deal with as we keep going.

Note posted on July 12, 2021

Sometimes, the toughest problems are the ones rooted in being alone. It doesn't matter if they're social, emotional, or physical in nature. At one point, your body is screaming that only having someone else near you can solve things.

These problems are tough since, no matter how much my focus goes to others, the solution isn't there. The urge to curl up and wait for a convenient savior does nothing. The solution still goes back to my own actions and responsibilities. My action of getting up or reaching out is ultimately what helps.

That's not to say curling up and wallowing now and then is wrong. We're only human. But at some point, I need to clap my hands and try things for myself again. No matter how much fruitless wallowing and screaming my body still wants.