Wrapping up

(I have a ton of gifts to wrap, so this is what I’m going to do instead.)

We’re almost to the end of another year, and this one has been a ride. Lots of ups and downs, in both the literal and figurative senses, which seems appropriate. After all, I went into 2022 thinking it was the last full year I’d live, so why not go out with a bang?

Twelve months later…I’m not sure of anything anymore. In some ways, the few good things that have happened in my life have made it worse. Stasis is death, and I was dying. Now I’m living, but it’s hard to start that when you’ve waited until you’re almost 40. Part of me wants to get things done. Another part wants me to turn my back on all of it. I want to give of myself, yet I also want time for myself. It’s a battle most people deal with years, if not decades, before where I am now, but age doesn’t always bring wisdom.

Still, I set goals for myself, and I think it’s a good time to look at how I’ve fared with them. Then, I’m going to set a few more for 2023.

The Great Works

I put forth my four Great Works at the beginning of the year, and I would say that I accomplished most of them.

First, Alana, the site I’m building for my “real” job, is coming along. It’s hit a few roadblocks here and there, and my dev team (such as it is) is perpetually understaffed for the tasks we’ve been given. Despite that, it’s a real site, and it has real users. If there’s any one problem I can see, it’s that the roadmap has far too many items on it, and there’s very little rhyme or reason to them. The perils of having a boss with ADHD.

Second, I spent a lot of time early in the year working on Technetism. In the past few months, I’ve backed off a little bit. That’s because I feel that the philosophy is sketched out now, and it just needs some literature and a few adherents. We’ll get to it, but I can truly say that I have created a school of thought that reflects my view of the world. The rest is just filling in the gaps.

Third, I ran for office. Okay, I didn’t have much of a campaign, and my opponent even claimed I had dropped out of the race the week before the election, but my name was on the ballot. People talked to me, talked about me. My name was on the tickers at the bottom of all three local networks. Best of all, my mere presence forced my opponent to campaign, something she hasn’t had to do in a decade. I came away with 28% of the vote just by offering a choice. If I can do it, there’s hope for everyone.

Last of all, I have to admit that I mostly gave up on Iconic. It has notes and a rough outline of where I want to go, but I just couldn’t put in the effort. I still believe that visual communication is a noble goal, that METI should be pursued, and that there is someone out there waiting for our call. If I have time in 2023, I may even pick up the project again. For now, this has to stand as the one true failure of the Great Works, but it was always the long shot.

Next up

Of the few goals I have in mind for next year, only a couple are really relevant to PPC.

Foremost among these is The Prison of Ignorance. I need to go back and edit the book, adding what I’ve learned about technetism through its development. I’ll also have to slap on a preface, an afterword, and all that. Other than those trivial minutiae, my first nonfiction philosophical tract isn’t too far away from completion. So let’s get it done.

Getting into philosophy and politics has also rekindled my interest in history and the things that make our Western civilization the greatest that has ever existed. To that end, I plan to read at least 12 of the so-called Great Books. This is a list of over 300 of the most influential works humanity has ever produced, and I regret to say that I’ve only truly read a small fraction of those. I plan to fix that.

I haven’t done much writing at all this year, so I also want to rectify that situation in 2023. I’d like to get On the Stellar Sea finished in draft form, as well as Pitch Shift. (That will be the first book I’ve ever written where I’ve actually visited the setting! Can you believe that?) Releasing Homeward From Afar is on my to-do list, as well as putting as many of my books as possible on a store besides Amazon.

On the development front, I’ve recently had an itch that I can only scratch by going back to Pixeme. This was a project I started a few years ago, and even built out quite a bit, but never released. The gist is that it’s a site to help people learn languages by using pictures. I’ve refined the concept, my job has given me more experience working on bigger apps, and now I want to see if I can build something.

And that’s pretty much it. Sure, those aren’t the life-changing goals I’d attempted this year, but my life has changed enough as it is. For the time being, I’d like some stability. Evolution, not revolution. Above all, that’s what I ask of 2023.

The Great Works: Update

Before this year started, I set myself four goals, four Great Works, for 2022. I did this mainly because, in my depressed state, I didn’t expect to see another full year after this one, and…I wanted to have something to leave behind as a legacy, something that others could look at after I’m gone.

This Monday’s post should explain why I don’t feel as hopeless as back in December, but it’s worth it to take a look at those works and how they’re progressing.

The First Work

Alana is the biggest winner in my great works. That’s because, no matter how I feel, I still roll out of bed every weekday morning for work. I’ve sometimes hated myself for doing it. I’ve started most days wondering if I would be fired for my inadequate performance. But I didn’t stop.

We’re not ready for launch yet, but we’re definitely in a beta state. Now, part of the reason why we’re so far behind (the original deadline was last September!) is because of scope creep: instead of the simple “dating site for car-buyers” my boss envisioned, we’re practically building a whole new social platform. Lucky for me, I’ve tried doing exactly that on no fewer than three occasions. (Themis, Pixeme, and Clave, in case you’re wondering. I want to revisit the second of those eventually.)

The team has expanded, too. I’m working with an actual designer. I have a front-end developer to handle all the things I’ve never really been good at. We’re ready to hire more of each. There’s a QA team, a security consultant, and too many marketing types waiting in the wings. Best of all, we’ve been getting hits from the sales pitches on both the consumer and business sides.

I’m never more than cautiously optimistic about anything I’m doing. Anyone who has followed me on here the past seven years understands that. With this project, I feel as good as I dare.

The Second Work

No matter what happens, I am on the ballot in November. The deadline for removing myself has just passed, so I’ll be listed as the sole challenger to a Republican seeking her 5th term.

The thing is, I don’t want to do it. The whole point was to get a platform for some of the things I felt Tennessee really needed: anti-lockdown measures, a ban on mask and vaccine mandates, school choice, constitutional carry, and so on. While the incumbent doesn’t support all of those, her colleagues in the General Assembly have done an admirable job dragging our state toward greater liberty without her…or me.

I can’t handle the publicity, the crowds, the interviews. I’d rather not have to. This was never more than an excuse to say I’d done it, and a way to tell those who are better suited for office that anybody can do it. So I’m on the ballot, and thus I consider the second Great Work complete. I’m content with that.

The Third Work

Technetism exists. It’s a real, valid philosophy that attempts to return to the roots of humanism, before the term was hijacked by nihilists. There’s a website that I haven’t updated in months, but also a Substack column I write weekly.

You can check it out over in the sidebar (or the menu, if you’re on mobile) to see what I’ve been writing. The gist of it, though, is that technetism is about finding your own path to personal betterment. Whether that comes from religion, politics, community, meditation, or whatever, it’s your choice. Your duty.

Since working out the tenets of the philosophy, I’ve tried my best to live up to them. I seek out knowledge, as I always have, and I’m willing to share it with others. I eschew dogma; more and more people are doing that every day now. And it really does help. Maybe it’s not great for alleviating depression and anxiety, but it does solve the problem of a lack of purpose, something I’ve suffered for almost as long.

I will continue to explore technetism in as many venues as possible, and I still want to get The Prison of Ignorance released by the end of this year. Even without it, however, I’ll consider the third Great Work to be achieved. Not finished, because something like this is never truly done.

The Fourth Work

The idea of extraterrestrial communication had mostly left my mind for a few months. I worked a little on the “beacon” message I described initially, which I’ve since named ICONIC, but that’s about it. This week’s first-light images from the JWST have now made me want to go back to the project.

A message for aliens has to start at the beginning. First, you need a way to establish that you’re intelligent, that your message is more than just the random noise of stars and quasars and whatnot. This is done through patterns, repetition, and structure.

I have that done. Drawing on sources such as Cosmic OS and Contact, I’ve devised a simple sequencing pattern that works to give any listener a good picture of what we’re sending. From there, I started work on a section introducing basic arithmetic—aliens intelligent enough to receive the message would obviously know this already, but it provides a basis for further communication.

That further communication is where I stopped. Next on the list would be simple algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. These would complete the math “chapter” of the message, allowing me to move on to physics and chemistry. Following those would be biology, I think, and then a simple language based on the concept of semantic primes, a kind of universal meta-language. (I like to think I’m good at creating languages. I’ve been doing it for more than half my life, after all.)


So the fourth work is also the one farthest from completion. Two of the others are basically done, and the last—first—is well on its way. That’s…not quite the outcome I expected when I laid out the initial plan.

Of course, a lot has changed since then. Leslie and I got back together, and now we’re making plans of our own, plans that don’t abruptly end next October. My job is steady and stable, at least for the time being. My family is recovering from the trauma of the past few years. The world is still no better, but circumstances have made it possible for me to look beyond some of the sore spots.

But you know me. I’ve spent so long at the bottom that it’s hard to look up. And…I don’t want to fall back down again. I’ve worked too hard, on these and on so many other things. It’d be nice to win for a change.