What's New: Edition 2024-03-31

It’s been a while since my last update, but that’s because I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of travel and work, and I haven’t had the time to sit and write very much.

My last update was about suffering, so it’s no surprise that this update two months later is about burning out. Burnout is a symptom of capitalism, of the endless pressure towards productivity without rest or gratitude or compensation. Under capitalism, you’re only as good as your latest success, and as a transgender woman in middle management, never is this truer. Eventually this catches up to you and the impossibility of failure becomes internalized, building up inside your body until it collapses. Anyway, that’s how I ended with a stress-induced illness going into Easter weekend. Good news, is that it’s a 4 day weekend. I’ll survive, but I need to find a way to make changes soon.

In this post:

Life updates

Every February for the last few years I start thinking, I should start running. I’m trying to take off a couple kilos, and last year I finished the Couch to 5K program. This year I’m going to try to keep it going by doing Couch to 10k, and I’ve managed to stick with it. I kind of hate that I feel so good on the days that I go running, that’s annoying. Exercise is so good for mental health. I admit I am a couple weeks behind schedule with this year’s effort, but that’s because I was doing some home renovations at the same time.

A couple months back, I posted about finally replacing the flooring in our hallway upstairs, a project I had started eight years ago. As we were doing this, we had also decided that it was time to replace our old washer and dryer, and I wanted to build out a proper laundry room. Also, it was necessary to tear out the old laundry room because of how it was installed, making it difficult for me to install subflooring. Those machines were being delivered on March 2, so I headed back to Charlottesville in February to get the room ready.

The utility room in its before state, with the laundry closet jutting in and a lot of crap in the way covering an uncapped floor

It was a lot of work. To finish the utility room, I had to tear out the old laundry closet, tear out the flooring, move the plumbing and electrical to the other wall, install subflooring, fix the dryer vent in the attic, reframe where the old laundry closet was, install drywall, paint, install flooring, and install trim. It was a ton of work. But damn it came out great! There’s still some more work to do in the room. I have another corner to finish up with drywall, I have to install a new door, and I want to put in some built-in storage. But for the most part it’s coming along brilliantly, and I’m really happy with how it looks now.

The recently moved plumbing and drywall completed.

The drywall in. It’s a real shitty job but it’s done.

In the midst of all this work, I also had to do multiple trips across the Atlantic. I spoke at EU Parliament earlier this month (I can’t believe it was still this month), visited my company’s HQ in Chicago, met a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and popped into London for a meeting. It’s been a lot. I am tired.

The laundry room finished, with machines installed and utility racks set up

What I’m reading

One good thing about travel is that I get a lot of reading done. While I have read some things in electronic format, I don’t like it. I like paper books. That makes for a very heavy suitcase sometimes, especially as I usually need to bring along multiple books. I’ve managed to stay ahead of my target of 60 books for this year, and managed to knock out some interesting reads, including:

I’m making good progress with my Modern Library project, a ten-year project that I’m in year 22 of. It’s the journey, not the destination, right?

What I’m listening to

After shifting off Spotify 2 years ago now (fuck Joe Rogan), I’ve been slowly reconstituting what I had saved there. Recently, I revisited Natalie Merchant’s Ophelia. This is a stellar album full of deeply introspective tracks with a distinctly feminist lens. It’s a spectacular listen, and my favorite track is probably “Thick as Thieves”.

What I’m watching

I’ve been slowly working through Star Trek: The Next Generation and was deeply amused to revisit an episode I remember from a long time ago, Season 2, Episode 3, “Elementary, Dear Data”.

In this, Geordi and Data use the holodeck to play out a Sherlock Holmes story. Geordi is frustrated with Data’s ability to instantly solve the case due to his encyclopedic knowledge of the stories. He attempts to create a novel scenario, but as the story is simply an amalgamation of the existing stories, Data is still able to solve it. The ship’s doctor, Doctor Pulaski, is skeptical of Data’s intelligence, and suggests that he would not be able to solve a truly novel mystery.

Geordi slips up and instructs the holodeck to create a mystery not even Data can solve, and the holodeck complies by jailbreaking itself and giving control of the entire ship to a Generative AI version of Moriarty. This episode is a pretty classical example of a prompt injection attack leading to an API jailbreak, but the episode aired in December of 1988, long before those terms made any sense at all. It’s shocking how well ST:TNG has predicted the modern world. And it’s a good example of why Generative AI needs to be kept on a short leash (or just thrown into the scrapheap).

What I’m learning

With all my travel, I’ve not really had time for Spanish class or German class. But one big update is that I have liberated myself from my Duolingo daily streak. Honestly, when you’re on the road, renovating houses, pushing 14, 16 hour days, the last thing I want is the owl to be harassing me. I haven’t opened the app since.

What I’m playing

I am doing my part for Managed Democracy with Helldivers II. I am awful at this game but it is fun as heck. It’s a little shallow, but I like the sense of global progress and the ability to just jump in play for 20 or 30 minutes. One issue is that the game is super buggy, which definitely makes it frustrating.

Art and culture

I lost a little money on my latest trip, but that’s ok. I set it aside to play craps at the Casino de Monte Carlo, a bucket list item I’ve had for many years. I could have left when I was up by 800€, but I was having fun in the beautiful, Beaux Arts building. It’s striking how different this is than the casinos in Connecticut I was used to. (Honestly, I still prefer Mohegan Sun).

Craps is a fun game and I have a very conservative playstyle that lets me play for a long time with a little money. It’s a game with ups and downs, and I’m probably lifetime down overall, but not that much. Once every few years I indulge myself. And doing it in such a classic location, that’s one to remember.

My dent in the universe

I had an article about Generative AI governance translated to German and published. And I managed to jailbreak Amazon’s new product AI chatbot and get it to teach me how to make an ANFO-based bomb. I deleted those posts, though. I didn’t need the press picking that up. (Please don’t make bombs).

Posted: 31.03.2024

Built: 14.07.2024

Updated: 31.03.2024

Hash: f20ad6c

Words: 1298

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes