The Whippet #62: the not-wine in a wine glass

Hi all! This is a hard week for a lot of people (back at work, barely feel like they got a real break) so be easy with yourself if that's you.

I'm still high on holiday-break decluttering and I came across this quote which so perfectly describes something I constantly had to remind myself of:

  • "If every time you go to purge, you worry that an item is worth something or too good to give to charity, then you suffer from rag-picker syndrome. My great-grandfather was a rag picker by trade; he bought an old dress in one shtetl [village] to tear up and sell for rags in the next. To engage in rag picking is to pursue a noble but time-consuming profession. But the question you must ask yourself is, is it your profession?"

from Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan C Pinsky, although it's appropriate for anyone who wants organising to be easier and less time-consuming.

So - yeah: If you currently have a job - maybe too much job - then should you be taking on extra part-time work selling or distributing second-hand goods? If not, then, when sorting through your stuff, don't get complicated. Keep, charity if someone would plausibly pay real money for it, trash otherwise. That's it. Don't bother selling stuff on ebay or giving it away to exactly the right friend or family member who could use it. If you were the kind of Type A power-shoulders person who could handle that kind of complexity and administrative/logistical burden, you probably wouldn't be overwhelmed with clutter in the first place.

If you're underemployed, and could use the money, or enjoy spending your time that way, then by all means. So long as you've asked yourself: "Do I want an additional part-time job right now? If yes, is this the right part-time job?" Make it a conscious choice, weighed against what else you could be doing with that extra time / mental resources (including other forms of volunteering or helping out your friends, if that's a motive for you.)

Useful word: ullage

Pronounced UH-lidge (like 'village' but 'uh' at the start).

It means the not-wine in a wine glass, the not-tea in a teacup - the space in a container that is not filled by its contents. (Also, the air in chip packets that people get so mad about, that's ullage.) It's like whitespace in design.

Ullage in a house is HUGELY valuable. If you have drawers that are 100% full, you will always be pulling things out to get at other things, and making messes, and sometimes you won't have time to clean them up so you'll get home from work and stare at this pile of clothes and think "I can't do it, not today. whatever, I'm putting my shoes and backpack on top of the pile too" and it spirals.

So, when you're decluttering you can't just look at whether you like the object itself yes or no. Free stuff isn't free, because your storage space is finite. You have to remember that every object you keep costs you ullage and increases your risk of overwhelmed-messiness spirals and stressful "ahhh where is that Item i know it was in this drawer" mornings.

(You could avoid ALL getting dressed hassles by just wearing a slanket every day and eating nothing but tinned chickpeas, but your personal trade-off sweet spot is probably at least a little further along the spectrum).

Shake your head (or laptop) back and forth till you see him


(couldn't find source sorry)

Words for the strange, quiet time before dawn

hour of the wolf (Swedish: vargtimmen)
the blue hour (Norwegian: den blå timen)
nectar time (Sanskrit: Amrit Vela. Nectar in this sense like ambrosia, drink of the gods)
the thin place
creator's time

shared by people in this twitter thread

A parasite that makes you grow extra legs

or at least, makes frogs grow extra legs.

The Ribeiroia flatworm has a super complex lifecycle, all of which is horrible. Skip to next section if you prefer.

Okay, so the adults reproduce sexually inside birds and mammals (meaning specifically that they're mixing genetic material). The birds etc poop in ponds, and their poop is full of Ribeiroia eggs. Eggs hatch, and the Ribeiroia infect pond snails. Specifically, they infect snails' genitals and castrate the snails as they develop. They breed asexually within the snail and turn into a different form, which then goes back into the water and infects a frog (making it grow extra legs). Frog then gets eaten by bird/mammal, adult worms breed sexually in the bird, and so on.

Do deaf people with schizophrenia hear voices?

(Note: only about 70% of hearing people with schizophrenia hear voices; meanwhile 5-30% of the general population also have occasional auditory hallucinations.)

But still, in general, fascinating question! For a long time researchers assumed they did, because they said they did. But it turns out that's just because deaf people are used to the word "hear" being used casually to mean "received a real time face-to-face communication". If the researcher says, "do you hear voices?" they say "yes" because, you know, basically.

Like, when someone says "picture an apple", some people literally form an image of an apple in their mind's eye - but many people just kind of hold the thought/idea/concept of an apple, not an image. But they assume everyone else is doing the same non-visual thoughtform but using the word 'picture' semi-metaphorically. (I typically use thoughtforms/'gists' but I can call up an actual image at will if someone wants me to. Some people can't do that at all. Some people will have no idea what I even mean by thought/concept/gist because they only think in images and don't realise that's not universal.)

So it's the same with deaf people telling psychologists they hear voices. In fact, only deaf people who lost their hearing in adulthood - or who still have partial hearing - 'hear' voices. People with schizophrenia who have been profoundly deaf hallucinate childhood see signing hands, or lips forming words.

"A third, intriguing group comprised those who had reached adulthood without learning any formal language. These individuals might have learned sign language in later life, but with difficulty, having already passed the critical age for language acquisition. For them, hallucinations were more vague, described by Joanna as a “sense of being got at, being criticised or hostile facial expressions, lacking clear linguistic content.” Full article.

Whether voice hallucinations are hostile or friendly varies by culture

In the US (and probably the rest of the West), people with schizophrenia who hear voices report they are almost wholly unwanted, negative, hostile, scary, cruel, mean. They are usually perceived to be strangers.

In Ghana and India (and probably other more collectivist / less individualistic cultures), voices are usually perceived as kind, friendly, peaceful, positive. Not always! But far, far more often. And the hearers are more likely to say they know the voices - that it's a family member or friend.

"Luhrmann and her colleagues chalked up the differences in how the voices were perceived to distinct societal values. Americans desire individuality and independence, and the voices were seen as an intrusion into a self-made mind. Eastern and African cultures, meanwhile, tend to emphasize relationships and collectivism. There, a hallucination was more likely to be seen as just another point in the schizophrenic person's already extensive social network." (Full article.)

Apart from being interesting, it could be massively useful in treatment. Hearing voices isn't inherantly a problem. It's fucking horrible to hear someone yelling threats at you all day, but a benevolent and helpful voice probably doesn't really need further treatment. I can see the appeal behind a CBT-style approach of reminding yourself the voices aren't real, but this (and some other anecdotes in the article) suggest trying to form positive relationships with the voices might end up being a better approach.

Take this quiz to find out your gender!

Gender, what a mess! This quiz will sort you right out. Asks all the right questions.

(by Julia Kaye, who I guess was following me around for much of mid-2018)

The Mountain in Spring (woodblock print)

Kitaoka Fumio (1918-2003)

Unsolicited Advice

'Try harder' is not a plan and it will never work for you

If you have made a mistake - either hurt somebody else, or just caused some hassles for yourself that you'd rather not experience again - you might feel really upset with yourself. You might want to try harder next time!

This is a mistake. Because verrrrry few screw-ups in any adult's life comes from not trying.* If you didn't have enough willpower to stop yourself from doing x then, where are you imagining this new store will come from?

If you hear yourself say, out loud or just to yourself, "I'll try harder", you need to STOP because that means "I am definitely going to do this again" no matter how sincere your intentions are. And then instead, think of a strategy to avoid the situation next time, or respond better. IF-THEN structures are good.

Like, say you have a tendency to get into pointless twitter arguments that waste time and sour your mood. You think "I need to try harder not to get engaged in those arguments". STOP! Not a plan! A plan: IF I feel that skull-tightening, eyebrow-scrunchy sensation of irration when I'm typing a twitter reply, THEN I will immediately log out of twitter.

If you've cheated on your partner and you don't want to do it again, you need to look at the circumstances and avoid them. Like you can't just use sheer willpower, because clearly that doesn't work for you. Maybe: IF I'm super-attracted to someone THEN I will not have more than two drinks around them. Or IF I end up alone in a room with Person, THEN I will immediately leave the room and go mingle. Or whatever would help.

I use that example because this "strategies, not trying harder" is also important when building trust back in a relationship. If someone (friend, romantic partner, business partner) has broken trust, and they seem genuinely sorry and you've decided you want to keep the relationship, you totally can and should ask them what their actual strategies are for not doing the thing again.

If you are like, "I am trying as hard as I can [to be better] but my partner is still mad at me!", maybe they are unreasonable, or maybe it's because "try harder" looks to your partner like "repeat the same pattern but hope something is magically different this time". Come up with strategies and tell your partner about them and it will probably make them feel more like there's progress.

Additionally: If you, in the past, have made a mistake, 'tried harder', and then made the mistake again, you probably have a lot of self-loathing about that. Please let go of it! You didn't not try hard enough, you were doomed to fail from the start. Don't beat yourself up, come up with a strategy.

*Maybe you think, "No, I know I didn't try hard enough. Because I remember thinking there might be a problem and saying 'ahh it'll be fine'. So I kinda knew, but I was being lazy."

The strategy for this is still not Try Harder. It's IF you hear yourself think "ahh, it'll be fine", THEN stop, re-assess, and do whatever it is properly.

If you want solicited advice, send questions to or just reply to this email.

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