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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 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.

Note posted on July 6, 2021

Popular culture tells us work is important to finding dignity and meaning in one's life. That's why people should "get off welfare and find a job." Life is meaningless without a good way to contribute to society!

Another message is not to bitch when a company's values don't align with yours. A job is only a job, and a company is only a company. Don't "cancel it" because it doesn't align with everything you want. Basecamp, Github, Dr. Suess, or Mr. Potato Head didn't deserve any of this!

It seems like people want us to use our passion to find work and spend money. But then to not think too much about it once we start. Be enthusiastic and generous, but not curious or critical.

That doesn't seem like a system with the lower classes' best interests in mind. Or I'm only another millennial that looks too deep into things to understand them. It's tough to say.

Note posted on June 30, 2021

I have an idea for a new Urban Dictionary word. The definition is "the stressful rush to give an answer before someone else to show you figured it out on your own."

So if someone asks a question, and you see them preparing to type another one. You suspect they're about to answer it themselves. But you want to show you're smart enough to know the answer on your own. So you get an adrenaline rush and send your answer as fast as possible. You send yours first, so there's an indisputable record that you were smart enough to know the answer too. The evidence agrees, even if your self-confidence doesn't.

I don't know what to call this. Being knowledge pressed? Imposter texting? Imposter replying, or "imposterply" for short? Or, as one friend suggested, I could try a scary-sounding German word like "├╝berst├╝rztenachrichtzumangeben."

I don't care who names it, as long as it gets a name and adds some clarity to my life.

Note posted on June 28, 2021

"On a Sunbeam" is a great graphic novel for odd readers like it. It has queer romance, cowboy space exploration, fish-shaped spaceships, and board games. Amid all these other wonderful things, one quote stuck out to me for pride month.

This one goes out to all the folks who refuse to acknowledge or use preferred pronouns out there. You all know who you are.

You don't get to decide what's important for us. You can choose for yourself, but no one else. When you choose not to respect us, we choose not to respect you. The fact that you expect people you shit on to treat you nicely just shows how delusional you are...Have you even considered that something that's trivial to you could much more to someone else? You don't get to take the easy road out and just respect the parts of people that you recognize.

The cynical part of me thinks this is part of why dominant social groups resist pronouns so much. It takes away their ability to define the identities and roles of others. The roles that reinforce the systems and structures that benefit the dominant groups. That lets them assert they know someone's place more than the person themself.

Does letting others define their pronouns get us closer to smashing the patriarchy? I like to think so. Although, I like anything that makes powerful white men angry or uncomfortable. It's why I'm a fan of preferred pronouns, critical race theory, and female Ghostbusters.

Note posted on June 22, 2021

Last week, I wanted to prepare for the next societal calamity or psychological crisis. A lot of that prep is making a distinct reminder on my apartment wall.

  • A painted wooden canvas with the words 'you are doing okay' paired with a carved image of two people hugging.
  • A close up of the same canvas. It shows the words and corner designs are laser-cut pieces of plywood.
  • A zoomed-in look at the canvas' two people hugging. They are both smiling with their eyes closed. They're surrounded in a circular, Greek-style frame.

This was the most meticulous laser-cutter project I've made in a long time. But so many of my recent (anime) laser projects have felt too familiar and safe. It felt good to push my boundaries by adding in some paint and elaborate designs. But I don't know if I'll try a Greek border like this again. Taking apart, painting, and reassembling something that precise is impossible. At least not without a few bits breaking.

Why the "you are doing okay" message? I've found a lot of my inner monsters are from extreme pressures or expectations. So it's a good reminder that, underneath all those, I'm doing okay. I don't need to be doing amazing or terrible. All I need to is be okay as I put another foot forward.

Note posted on June 19, 2021

Here is a list of things. They are things of no particular theme and in no particular order.

  • The feeling of both the warm sun and a cooling breeze, which leaves a gentle tickle across the skin.
  • A sudden void without thought, so no words or ideas could obscure any pure emotion.
  • The contrast between a pleasant buzz, and the fact that your body removing alcohol creates a cancer-causing carcinogen.
  • Barbeque chicken that is neither tough nor charred. If also not authentic by most peoples' standards.
  • A screaming fire in one's bones and skin. The fire that makes you feel alive through internal devastation and reform.
  • Something that's both a paradox and makes perfect sense. That is rational because of how irrational we accept it to be.
  • A small dog that gives you a curious look and walks closer, but not close enough to pet.
  • Alienation with society, knowing our "normal" has caused extreme past, present, and future suffering. Yet we have no true escape.
  • Showers at the right temperature, but somehow feel hotter the longer you're in them. This is weird since it's usually the other way around.

Thank you, please continue with your day.

Note posted on June 16, 2021

Some life problems are quite simple. Sometimes they're problems of boredom, frustration, loneliness, existential dread, lucid attacks by imagined butterfly monsters, or some combination of the above. These feelings have a simple cause, like wanting more company or fun distractions. There's no need to analyze my activities for the last month or overturn my life goals to figure them out.

I'm realizing I hate simple problems more than complex ones. The complex ones feel further away and at least give me room to breathe. The simple ones come right up to the door and hammer at my mental and emotional health. No amount of lists, plans, or psycho-analysis will quiet them down.

Simple problems do have simple solutions, right? That's correct, oh hypothetical person from nowhere. But simple doesn't mean easy. It's not easy to go up to that door and throw it open. to confront the simple, unyielding, ever-present problem right in front of you.

The simpler the problem is, the fewer places you have to hide from it. The more chances they have to knock you down before you figure out what to do about them.

Note posted on June 14, 2021

Even after I wrote about the dangers of excess cynicism, there are days I can't help it. I keep seeing news stories or anecdotes that show how America's institutions only look out for people that:

  • Are working to exploit others through lies or lack of choice
  • Are getting exploited to some degree instead of getting help

Part of my mind knows this is overly-reductive, black and white thinking again. But the other part of my mind runs with this and takes time and energy to calm down. The longer that takes, the more damage gets done. But after living through so many economic collapses, I can't dismiss it all.

It can't be healthy to always ask "how much of my societal paranoia is justified, and how much is exaggerated?" America offers no easy answers.

Note posted on June 5, 2021

Things are getting better. Things are getting better. Things are getting better.

Things are still bad, especially outside my own state and the United States in general. But with increasing vaccinations, better ventilation and outdoor seating practices, and my own full vaccination, I can't deny things are getting better. Even if I don't know to what complete extent.

But after 14 months of pandemic trauma, it'll take some time and repetitive reminders to accept it.

So...things are getting better.

Things are getting better.

Note posted on May 30, 2021

Every now and then, it's worth it to remind yourself you have limited time alive. That you've already spent a big chunk of it, and may not have much left with your own money or health.

I've accepted I can't do lots of things I want. My strategy is to know everything I can do, and pick the ones that give me the most satisfaction. So no matter what paths or potentials hit my life, I'll have minimal regrets.

This approach has two key requirements: cut out excessive or superfluous wants, and enjoy the little things. Both get much easier by cutting down on television, social media, gentlemans' clubs, and kale. THC and CBD are optional in small (or micro) doses.

I've got a handful of good years ahead of me. After that, some kinds of major responsibilities or burdens will likely start to tie me down. Pandemic or not, we should all do what we can to wring the most meaning from them.

Note posted on May 26, 2021

I want to love New Pokemon Snap, I do. But all the game's grinding and repetition turns its huge scope against itself. I can only play the game in small doses. Otherwise, the joy turns into not being able to hit a Pokemon just right after a five-minute setup. Then I need to repeat it all three times.

The upside is I've already finished my main goal. That goal is, of course, photographing all the Eevee evolutions. This was 80% of my reason for playing at all.

  • A vaporeon diving into the ocean.
  • An angry Jolteon letting off several thunderbolts.
  • A happy Flareon yowling next to a Slugma.
  • An Espeon sitting near a glowing flower.
  • A happy Eevee jumping in the air.
  • An Umbreon standing upright with an alert expression.
  • A Glaceon using Diamond Dust.
  • A leafeon laying down next to a glowing flower.
  • A Sylveon walking in a field of flowers.

So even if I stop playing sooner than expected, I have no regrets. Other than goading a Pigeot to soar off with a Magikarp, and presumably devour it, several times. I still see its ghost in my dreams. Flopping. Gaping. Gasping. Screaming a silent scream for mercy.

Anyway...I photographed all the Eevee evolutions!

Note posted on May 20, 2021

Quarantine has shown me that part of strong thinking is knowing when to think less. Thinking is like any kind of food or drug: no matter how much it helps, it can hurt in too large doses.

Side effects of excess thinking include:

  • Full-body paralysis of any action when you aren't certain it's the best possible one to take.
  • Short-term memory loss of needed decisions, even after taking a walk to "figure out what's next."
  • Sudden onset judgment and anxiety about past actions that create doubt about future ones.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns and restless dreams, often focused around getting lost in your old high school.
  • Gambling and compulsive sexual behavior. Especially if you're within driving distance of Vegas.

If you experience any of these, ask your therapist about lowering your daily thinking dosage. Patients are not recommended to avoid thinking altogether. Unless what you're doing in Vegas isn't staying in Vegas. Then you should quit cold turkey, settle your debts, and get some non-COVID tests.