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Semi-Lucid Tetracyclic Dreamcasting

For the past few months I've been on a Mirtazapine for my anxiety problems, I take my pill before bedtime. If I take it a reasonable time before I go to bed I just fall asleep quickly and get some deep high quality sleep and wake up feeling well rested. If I take it too late and or get too little sleep I wake up feeling a little sedated. It also increases my apatite but besides from eating more and sleeping better there are no noticeable effects, good or bad.

I have the bad habit of listening to podcasts in bed, usually before I fall asleep or early in the mornings. Prior to my medication this was, as expected, an undramatic affair. Nowadays this has become something far more weirder and exciting. If I listen while the meds kicks in the content of the podcasts gets mixed up with my random thoughts and memories and induces a semi-lucid, half vivid trance-like state with more or less intense hypnagogic audiovisual CEV landscapes interwoven with the podcasts. It has an almost psychedelic flavour to it. Even though I've gotten used to this it's a really weird and peculiar sensation. One interesting thing is that I don't feel that my ordinary dreams are affected much, maybe they are slightly more vivid but it's hard to tell.

This was totally unexpected and when this happened the first time I got worried and wondered WTF is going on. Was I going insane?

I have come to appreciate this temporary state of consciousness. I don't think it last more than 10 or 15 minutes. It's a bit like a poor mans lucid dreaming.

Another interesting thing is that this phenomena is in some sense controllable. If I just ignore it, I just get tired and fall asleep. If I focus on it it becomes more pronounced and intense until I eventually can't stay awake anymore.

I've heard and read about people experiencing weird things while on more hardcore sleeping pills like Zolpidem and Zopiclone but not on modest doses of a common antidepressant. The brain is an interesting creature.

While pondering this I've considered that this might just be me hyper focusing on my normal hypnagogic pre-sleep state but I've always been self-conscious about this and what I described above has a very different feel to it. But imagination, suggestion and placebo are not to be underrated.

Sadly Mirtazapine didn't do much for my anxiety problems so I quit it sometime ago but this above described effect was an interesting experience.

My first bug report

I have been using GNU/Linux as my primary operating system since somewhere around 2005. My first distribution was Fedora Core 4. In all honesty I've been a freerider ever since. Providing some odd support to friends and people online and the typical obligatory newcomer evangelism doesn't really count.

However, a couple of days ago I submitted my first bug report to the Debian project, better late than never! It was quite a good feeling to contribute a little even though it was just a really small insubstantial thing.

I will try to make a habit out this. When something breaks, instead of just restarting the program or, in the worst case scenario, remove it completely I will try to reproduce the bug, track down what is going wrong and report it.

Jessie to Stretch

These are some notes on my experience of upgrading Debian from Jessie to Strech.

First I skimmed through the release notes, but I couldn't find anything there to cause alarm so I didn't expect any major trouble during the upgrade. Before doing anything else, I made backups of /home, /etc and /var, just to be on the safe side.

The next step was to edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change every instance of jessie to strech and then we get to the scary stuff:

# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade
# apt-get dist-upgrade

I use apt-transport-tor so the downloads took forever, not that I was in a rush but a small annoyance nevertheless. A small note to self; if I were to do this again in the future, disable apt-transport-tor during upgrade!

The apt-get upgrade went smoothly but sometime during apt-get dist-upgrade, after all of the downloads finished, my laptop decided it was an appropriate time to overheat and shut itself off. Very inconvenient timing. It's a weird, sometimes it doesn't understand that overheating and that it might be a good idea to turn the fan on.

I let the machine cool down for a bit and booted it up and tried to just run apt-get dist-upgrade again but got lots of errors, as expected. Mostly dependency stuff. After several dpkg --configure -a, apt-get -f install and some apt-get --reinstall install package-name I managed to get to the point where I simply could run apt-get dist-upgrade without getting any errors. That was pretty much it.

Now some changes I've noticed so far:

  • offlineimap now requires an explicit fingerprint of the IMAP servers SSL certificate in .offlineimaprc. The output is also slightly different.

  • I got a weird error from mutt when starting it; press key to continue. I didn't have this problem prior to the system upgrade and it turned out the actual error message was suppressed due to my extremely clever alias alias mutt='torify mutt 2>/dev/null'. It's not easy to track down what's going wrong when you send all the useful information to /dev/null. I had set a nonsensical charset variable in my muttrc.

  • When starting mutt I also got this error GPGME: CMS protocol not available on startup error which I couldn't find a reasonable solution to so I caved in and reinstalled gnupg2, gpgsm, gnupg-agent libgpgmepp-dev, and libgpgme11.

  • Another thing I noticed was that mutt, or perhaps more correctly gnupg-agent now remembers my gpg-passphrase between mutt sessions for some time span. I don't like this.

  • My monitor now gets a nice 1920x1080 resolution out of the box, everything is small!

  • There was some trouble with tex-live but I was lazy and tired so I just purged and reinstalled it.

  • Some packages just disappeared from my system into oblivion e.g. mpv and network-manager-gnome. Wtf?

  • My Swedish dictionary for aspell also disappeared.

  • Good news! Debian Stretch ships with the free mathematical software SageMath. I've only played around with it a little before and If I remember correctly I had to compile it myself back then. I'm currently working my way through their excellent tutorial, fun stuff!

  • SSH sandboxing.

  • pulseaudio default sink is now 0 instead of 1. Had to update some keybindings in i3.

  • My mpd + pulseaudio setup broke. Spent some time trying to fix it but I wanted to listen to my music so I purged, reinstalled and reconfigured everything according to this.

  • My instance of nikola (the program I use to generate this blog) disappeared from my system even though I had installed it via pip. Hmmm?

  • keepassx now uses a new database format. Luckily it was very easy to import my old database and convert it to the new format.

Otherwise everything is pretty much the same in userland. I'm not a poweruser and I boot directly into tty1 and then startx into i3 where everything was the same.

I have a feeling that I might stumble upon more problems from this upgrade later on.

PierCarlo d' Alessio Fountain Pen

After being exposed to some excellent fountain pen propaganda from Hacker Public Radio;

I got inspired and went ahead and bought a cheap PierCarlo d' Alessio from a guy on the Swedish eBay Tradera.

It uses small standard international ink cartridges and, according to the seller, there isn't enough room in it to fit one of those convenient converters. I'm unsure of the size and shape of the nib. However, I have come to love it, even though my handwriting skills still sucks big time, I find it a lot of fun to write with a nice pen in a good notebook. I try my best to establish a routine to write a little with it everyday and I hope my skills (or currently lack thereof) will improve over time.

A note to self: If I were to buy a new fountain pen sometime in the future I would probably go for one with an even finer nib.


Update 2021: This was actually a really nice fountain pen. I either lost it or it broke down somehow but I miss it.

Best of Euclid's Elements Swedish 1867 Edition

I'm currently taking a class in The History of Mathematics and it's very interesting, with the additional bonus of a minimal workload.

We have so far spent quite a lot of time analyzing Euclid's Elements from a mathematical-historical perspective, even more so than in the class I took completely dedicated to basic Euclidean and Non-Euclidean geometry. In all honesty, I never really enjoyed geometry much, I often found it tedious, boring and uninteresting. What made it somewhat bearable was its axiomatic deductive structure which appeals to me.

However, It wasn't until I stumbled upon various models of Non-Euclidean geometry, i.e. models of geometry in which the negation of the parallel postulate holds true, and in particular the very simple yet beautiful Beltrami-Klein model that I truly started to appreciate geometry in all its glory. Non-Euclidean models combined with an excellent class on basic differential geometry helped me put ordinary high school style geometry into a deeper perspective. When I realized that geometries can be really weird the subject became interesting to me.


Back to the topic at hand. We got some exercises connected to Euclid's Elements and that gave me a good excuse to dust off my Swedish copy from 1867.

Unfortunately my copy only contains the first six, the eleventh and twelfth book. Which basically means that it lacks all the good stuff. No Pythagorean mysticism for me.

I think it's a beautiful book and I wanted to share some blurry pictures from it.