Friday, March 13, 2015
  Constants and variables 24

Been thinking a lot about analog vs digital in all the possible aspects. Nature is purely analog from the bottom up. It's all waves. We like to impose steps on Nature, and we often fool ourselves into thinking those steps are real. We call them particles or numbers or decisions.

Most are purely arbitrary and symbolic, imposed by human intelligence, but Nature does provide a few step functions in the form of thresholds and limits.

I've been observing one of those real steps lately. Since the end of paid work project in early Feb, I've dropped into a bad broken sleep pattern, and can't seem to pop out. I'll get 4 hours of solid sleep at the usual time. No matter how hard I try to distract and relax, sleep refuses to resume. So I get up after wasting an hour on futile resumption, then after 6 hours of activity the remainder of sleep finally clicks in, at an inconvenient time wrt regular mealtimes and dumptimes. Net result: Semi-functional all the time. Wasted "overhead" of ramping up and down and futile resumption.

Every 10 days or so the pattern is interrupted by a normal 6-hour sleep. This morning was one of those blessed normals, and I was able to observe two step-like differences.

First, the extra hour of good sleep is crucial for healing. During the broken period, skin on hands is dry and cracked, refusing to heal. Broken sleep = broken skin. This morning the cracks are fully healed, just like they never happened. One solid night is enough.

Second, the extra hour opens up brain pathways that remain closed on short-sleep days. Example: Listening to EWTN radio discussing Lent and meatless Fridays. Remembered junior-high cafeteria, which always catered to Romans by serving macaroni and cheese** on Fridays. (Back then all Fridays were meatless for Romans.) Wondered why this was considered necessary in the public school, since nearly all Catholic kids attended the parochial school, which was .... pause to fetch a name that I hadn't thought about in 50 years .... Seven Dolors.

On short-sleep days, the request to fetch old name would have failed. I can't reach some parts of memory.

= = = = =

** The cafeteria's non-Friday equivalent of mac and cheese was John Marzetti. Poor old John. His corpse miraculously provided an endless source of rectangular food-like bricks. Always seemed to me that the religious connection was backwards, because there was nothing miraculous or Lazarine about mac and cheese.


= = = = =

Addendum 7/25/2015: Another filled-in memory after several days of good sleep.

Whenever something reminds me of incompetent teaching, I think about Miss _______, the 10th grade history teacher at Manhattan High. She mispronounced everything, but that wasn't the worst part. Her American history course focused heavily on the battles of the French and Indian War but barely reached WW2 in the last week of school. Nothing at all happened after 1945. No Korea, no school integration, no JFK assassination, no Vietnam.

One day, after attending a History Conference, Miss _____ started class with a sort of Special Bulletin, informing us of a fact she had picked up at the Conference. "We need to watch very carefully the new leader in China, Mister Mayo Tiss Tongue. Mr Tongue may be causing trouble for America soon." Well, Mr Tongue had been in power for exactly as long as the students had been alive, so Mr Tongue was NOT fresh information to any of us who had been watching TV news. Obviously Mr Tongue was fresh news to Miss ______.

For many years I had completely lost Miss _____'s name. I tried Irish names like Gallagher and McGhee, but they weren't right. This morning, while mentally zooming through the story again, Miss Berger recovered her name. No pause, no hesitation. The name is just calmly back in its slot.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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