Ben Mann Monthly March 2022
COVID, ramen, drugs
An index for my memory
A menu of topics for my next conversation with you
A faster way to share what I’m excited about without the barrier of writing a complete blog entry on it
A skimmable way to spread content I found valuable
Experiments and experiences
Saturday, I ran to a friend's birthday party, chatted for about 30 minutes, and ran home. I didn't even stay for the cake. But on Monday, as my throat began to ache, the party's group chat began to bubble with murmurs of symptoms. By Tuesday morning I was coughing and I could tell I was on the decline. Luckily, Diana had planned to head to Tahoe for the week. Before she waved goodbye, she dropped a few rapid tests on the kitchen counter and hugged Roong-ji. I proceeded to develop a hacking cough, 101F fever, chills, headache, nausea, fatigue, rhinitis, and pain swallowing. I ate Shin Ramyun with an egg every day and started attacking Diana's fruit juice supplies, letting our recent Costco haul rot. I put myself on a schedule of medications to suppress the worst of my symptoms: naproxen (pain/fever), dextromethorphan (cough), guaifenesin (chest congestion), pseudoephedrine or oxymetazoline (nasal congestion), albuterol (throat congestion), benadryl (antihistamine/sleep aid). To distract myself from the remaining discomfort, I continued to work, especially late at night. Getting into flow while programming is the best anaesthetic. Only when I stood up after a long coding session was I aware that I felt like I'd been hit by a bus. With Diana away, I had to drag myself into the California sunshine twice a day to walk Roong-ji. I wore a KN95 to avoid infecting others. Twice we ran into Roong-ji's doggie friends. Between masked coughs I explained I had COVID and couldn't socialize. They gingerly backed away. I worried whether others at the dog park overheard. Maybe I shouldn't be in the dog park? I stayed only until Roong-ji pooped, then went on our way. One of the days it was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. As Thursday drew to a close, Diana returned home, helped fold laundry, and took Roong-ji away to a friend's place. She hadn't gotten sick yet, and we wanted to keep it that way. By then my temperature had returned to normal and my cough was beginning to quiet. Thinking I was solidly on the path to recovery, I ran 3 miles on Friday night. Once in the shower, my strength seemed to evaporate and I lay down in the tub. I stopped the drain, turned it into a bath, and lay thoughtlessly recovering, motionless but alert and aware. Some time passed and I finished my ablutions, putting myself to bed at 9:30pm. I resolved that Saturday and Sunday I'd surely have recovered, but instead I took it easy, reading books, taking naps, watching movies, and in the evening going on a romantic masked walk with Diana. It was the first time we'd properly gone on a date in years. "I'm here, come downstairs!" she texted me. Looking at myself in the mirror as the elevator dropped, I felt the familiar feeling of warm anticipation, a bounce in my step, an excitement to see a best friend. As we walked, we held hands but kept our distance, as if we were exploring the electricity of each others' contact for the first time. A few days later we finally reunited!
🛫 Zurich mid Apr - mid May
🎂 Diana's birthday
📉 Weight trending towards goal (now ~171)
5 point Likert ratings for “I would recommend this content to a friend”, sorted
A thief purposely imprisons himself and partially wipes his memories so he can steal something from people who can see into his mind.
Fun world building and whimsical side-plots
How is heteronormative sex still so desirable and normal in such a technically advanced future? I'd expect there to be much more pleasurable ways for people to interact. Main character always seems to be thinking about the women around him romantically if not sexually.
For an interplanetary civilization the scope of the adventure feels small. Guess I'll have to read the rest of the series.
Unclear what is "quantum" about this thief, except insofar as "quantum" means "magic, but science!" In that case, "magic science thief" sounds pretty cool, and indeed he does not disappoint. Sci-fi authors, this one included, have a tendency to degrade into medieval fantasy when the writing gets hard.
DALL-E 2 4/5
Extremely impressive text to image capabilities!
Turning Red 3/5
An allegory of both going through puberty and becoming a drug dealer
A+ animation and character design, feel-good plot, woke themes
Combo autobiography of Lulu Miller and biography of David Starr Jordan, famous ichthyologist and first president of Stanford University
Well-written, easy to read, sensitively touches topics like "what gives life meaning" and "how do we cope with our trauma"
Fish don't exist because they're a category error. They look similar on the surface, but some fish are more similar to cows than a grape vine is to a tree. Similarly, what else are we assuming is a simple category when we should instead see it for the unique individuals it might be composed of?
Won a grammy!
Stilted shots and dialogue almost in the style of a gritty Wes Andersen, plus Fight Club.
Tries to grapple with toxic masculinity, feels icky and overdone (maybe that means it succeeded?)
"I didn’t play by the rules … but there never were any rules" - there's so much in social stigma and anxiety that evaporates on closer inspection. What would it mean for us to really free ourselves? At what cost?
Milking the franchise. Enjoyable, but premise doesn't make any sense.
Channing Tatum and a dog, what more do you want?
Servant of the People E1.S1 2/5
Interesting window into Ukranian culture insofar as any sitcom can be, but not good as a show.
Fun if you like couture? A biopic of a self-absorbed curmudgeon.