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The Pain of Change

No, Really, Change is a Pain

Maybe it's just something that comes with age, but there comes a lack of flexibility and general inertia that prevents switching gears with the readiness of youth. Even changing my mind feels like trying to slow a drifting ship to a grinding stop before making the pivot. I'm not sure if that's just me getting old, some particularly bad brain damage from Covid, or perhaps it's a product of my spergy brain. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between those options.

Speaking of Covid and painful changes, my health has generally taken a turn for the worse over the past year and change. I won't get into it here, since I don't care to think too hard about it, nor do I feel it makes for fascinating reading. The important thing is that I caught Covid very early on in the waves of infections going around toward the end of 2019. It was probably the worst thing I've caught yet. Lying in my bed with terrible chills, unable to stop convulsing no matter how painfully I contorted myself, I had a very keen sense of the end drawing near. Fully 'recovering' took something like three months. Even then, I can't say I've been the same since. Not that I can find out much about what's wrong with me; I can't afford a doc or health insurance myself, but I'm in a position where I can't really avail myself of any 'assistance', either. Those of us caught in the middle really do suffer badly.

That, of course, is business that's been bad for a while, particularly if we start accounting for my mental health along with it. There were more recent-ish things that happened to create setbacks as well. For instance, I think you'll notice I'm no longer singing the praises of a certain Ubuntu derivative. That's because I had the misfortune of having its upgrade scripts fail on me, and in a fairly catastrophic way. My system was left in a quite a state to the point where I figured recovery wasn't feasible. Rather than trying to reinstall, I opted to skip out and go on to Arch instead, something I'd entertained thoughts of before. That's where I sit now in terms of GNU/Linux.

The change was not too terrible, all in all, once I'd got past a somewhat rocky adjustment phase. The installation process was something that took me a bit to get my head wrapped around, and I bungled it once and had to start again. Probably the biggest thing was just figuring out how to deal with Wayland after being limited to an X11 desktop environment. By the way, you'll also notice I'm no longer singing GNOME's praises, either. That's because I'm no longer enamoured with desktop environments on the whole. Yes, they're convenient in terms of getting a whole wad of things set up without your input so you can get on with your day. However, after sitting with the Sway window manager/compositor for a while, I can't say it's very necessary for me. A nice, reasonably minimal setup is all I really care to ask for; you could essentially boil my setup down to Sway, Waybar, wofi, Alacritty, nvim, tmux, Firefox, and Weechat. All other bits and bobs are just niceties — some of them are really nice, I will say.

Making the jump was a real investment, though. I was up until very early in the morning that night when everything went wrong. Even though I should've been relieved I had a system that was booting and operational by all measures, I felt more panic trying to go to bed afterwards than anything. The thought that I'd have to get used to a whole new way of doing things, particularly one that involved a lot of doing things myself, tormented me over the days. I'd feel dread every time I thought about dealing with some new bit of configuration or installing something else. My fears were even a bit justified a couple of times with some marginally working stuff that got the bin. Even now, I can't say I like the idea of making drastic changes to anything barring whatever is most necessary. The title of this post really says it all.

A Fresh Start

So, not that it's any surprise based on the circumstances, but I still imagine if you had any knowledge of my previous site, you're probably wondering where in the heck everything went. If you didn't, well, it doesn't really matter, does it? Needless to say, neither option changes the fact that I've done away with the old stuff. I was never particularly happy with the pseudo-microblog format; manually putting it together was a pain in my backside; and I didn't have the patience to figure out a way to automate the annoying parts. That, combined with having too many balls in the air, kind of killed any enthusiasm I had. Once it became too much of a burden, I made a little announcement and promptly stopped working on anything to do with the site. A 'temporary move', I told myself. Yeesh.

To walk back a bit, I'll reintroduce myself: Hi, I'm Mask. I guess I'd be properly known as Fluffy Mask, but that's just one variant of my name I've used; there are many other [adjective] Mask variations besides. I'm not anyone particularly important IRL nor online. Really, I'm just weird old sperg who likes Touhou and blinkenlight boxes a bit too much. Despite being what could most loving be called 'a nerd', it took me years to find my feet and actually get into the lovely world of GNU/Linux. Now that I'm here, I find it quite cosy and don't think I'll be returning to the old territory.

This little site is just my attempt to be part of a quiet revolution of people who want the web to be more resilient outside the influence of the big content silos. I purposefully stay away from social media (even non-corporates like Mastodon!) nowadays, primarily because I hate how it's made people behave, but also because I think the temptation is too great to use it as a locus for content aggregation, and I don't like that very much. I'm also a bit old, as if I haven't already said so, and I can't help being a little nostalgic for the days when the web was primarily people's weird little personal pages not particularly meant to be discovered or paid attention to.

Accordingly, nothing on this site is meant to appeal to any audience at all beyond myself; I am the type to laugh at my own jokes, whatever you think of that. If it somehow entertains or informs as a secondary effect, well, that's fantastic. I'll consider it a minor cultural victory, mark it in my journal, and reward myself with a chocolate biscuit. To be more serious, I just want a cosy little corner of my own, because why not. Life is altogether too crazy to not at least have something I've a little influence over.

Straight Ahead; One Direction

What really hurt me in the past was showing drafts of things long before they were ready. I ended up just having loads of half-finished things sitting around, and it was a terrible look. Not to mention it was a bit demotivating for myself. I would see all these things I had to finish and yet hadn't, and my heart would sink; I'm not exaggerating when I say I had anxiety attacks over it. Even trying to write this, I'm getting a bit of that 'tight in the chest' feeling. Am I even going to make it to the end of this post? It's nervewracking.

Needless to say, the old ways were dysfunctional, so I have to find new ways. Part of that is going to be cutting down on how much I publicise before I think it's ready. The good thing about that is that Cobalt ignores drafts by default, and when I make a new post, it's automatically marked as a draft, so I have to explicitly publish it before I can build the HTML. There is a lot to be said for that.

On the same sort of note, I am so glad to have found Cobalt, if only for the bare fact that I no longer have to hand-write the HTML. Now, it wasn't all that bad, considering I was just piling everything into the same documents, but I still had to consider the document structure along with the content. Part of why I wanted to use some kind of HTML generation was to escape that need. With Cobalt, all I gotta do is write in Markdown and the whole thing gets automagically packaged up for the web. Plus, all those little headers and footers don't have to be updated individually with templating. If absolutely nothing else, I get to have consistency. That is a godsend for me, because holy hell do I hate inconsistency. Well, at least, in form.

Is there going to be consistency in work ethic? Probably not. That's just a fact of being me; I very often hate it because, well, I'd rather get things done all the time. My current state of health, physical and mental, isn't conducive to being ready for loads of output. It can be frustrating when I have a day where I just can't get the words out. All I can really do is just try and do things incrementally without promising much. That might mean months without anything from me. That also means that whatever I actually publish is more likely to be complete. Not that I might not go back and work on things after the fact; I'm an incessant polisher. Just don't expect a whole lot of thrilling activity from this end. Go drink from a social media firehose if you want that... or go actually live life and have interests in things :-)