Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

I love Hamlet. This is not a controversial statement, really. “I have a fondness for one of the greatest works of literature in the English language.” is not a hot take. The reason this is noteworthy is because in general I hate drama in my media. I watch movies or TV shows as a form of escapism, not catharsis. When there is conflict on screen I feel it and I don't like it. So why do I like Hamlet?


The other day I decided to take a walk. It was raining a bit, so I wore my trench coat, and figured that a little rain wasn't going to melt me. I had a destination in mind, roughly two miles from my house. I set out, listening to a podcast, enjoying the freedom of just moving, just walking to walk.

After about half a mile the rain turned to snow. No big deal. Another few minutes and it was heavy snow. “Okay,” I thought, “I can cope.” by the time I was a mile from home, the wind picked up, driving the snow into my face and freezing my hands. “Now this is a big deal,” I thought. “I should probably turn back.”

But why? I was over halfway to my destination, and while there was nothing really driving me to reach my destination, I didn't really feel like turning back. So without fully understanding why, I kept going.


Some years ago I read a post by a woman that went something like this:

I did an experiment: as a woman, I watched to see how men acted when I was walking and they were on a course that would collide with me. I decided to see if they would just keep walking and run into me. And they did. Every. Single. Time.*

My first, shameful thought was the typical kneejerk reaction. “That's not true!” (I feel like there's a hashtag for this reaction, something about a condition applying to less than the totality of males?) But after a split second of reflection I had to admit that yeah, this woman's reaction was almost certainly true and honestly reported. Which led to:

Uncomfortable Question #1: Do I act like that? Do I expect others to make way for me by default?


I've made no secret of my love of twenty øne piløts. (The slashed “o” is fun, økay?) I like just about everything about them, both musically and the personae they present outside of their music. Maybe I'll write about that aspect of the band at some point, but not right now. What I want to discuss at the moment is a thread I've felt running through their music, and I recently realized that the sense that is resonating with me is the Stoicism of the lyrics.


There's an old and slightly snarky saying:

The only reason anyone reads (Insert title here) is to tell people they are reading (insert title here).

The titles in question are generally from this list:

  • Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace)
  • War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • The Iliad, Odyssey and/or Aeneid (Homer, Homer, Virgil)
  • The Analects of Confucius
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

And it's funny for a moment, and then just a little bit sad that we feel the need to criticize people for trying to learn from the past. Snark is getting old.

The point I'm trying to make is that I've held off on writing this post for a long time, specifically because I kind of fear that kind of ridicule. Which is, itself, ridiculous.


I love this quote:

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? -Rumi

And these three gates provide a lot of guidance. I've thought about these gates a lot. I think they provide solid guidance for almost any form of communication, other than just shooting the breeze or making up stories together.

Lately I've found two more gates that are useful for times where I feel like I might want to offer someone advice. One of these is based on a quote I saw on Twitter back in the day:

Advice unasked-for is criticism. Period.


1994: I'm in a high school English class, and we're doing a little mock debate thing where we discuss...something. It's been thirty years and I don't really remember the topic at hand. But in my zeal to make my point about...whatever it was, I told one of my classmates “no, shut up...” and talked over her.

2008: I'm having a bad day. I'm at work and a friend of mine tells me that he just tried something new technologically. Since I'm having a bad day I vehemently explain why I think what he tried was a bad idea.

There are a few similarities between these two events.

  1. I acted badly in both of them.
  2. I insisted on my point of view being acknowledged as “right”,
  3. Whenever I thought about either of these events I felt terrible. For years.

Hey! Someone used my Ko-Fi link! I have offered to write about a topic of your choice if you drop me a few bucks, and someone took me up on it! So here's the post:

Dallas asks:

What's your favorite mythological creature?

This is a fun question, for a couple of reasons. First off, I have been big into Greek and Roman mythology recently. And the vague nature of the question gives me a certain latitude, moreso even than the vague nature of Greek mythology as concerns what constitutes a “creature”. For example, Bellerophon, the great hero who rode Pegasus while fighting and defeating Chimera, is a child of Poseidon. What makes this interesting is that Pegasus is also a child of Poseidon. So...Bellerophon rode his half-brother into battle, I guess? The Ancient Greek myths all seem to be fine with this.

So there's a lot of latitude. I could choose a god, or a non-humanoid, or possibly even a nymph or chthonic being. I'm going to interpret “creature” to mean “not a mortal human”. And I could wander into Norse myths or other mythologies, but I'm not nearly as familiar with the other sets of mythological beings...other than the ones most frequently met in D&D. So I'm going to limit my choices to non-mortal, non-humanoid beings from Greco-Roman mythology...and maybe a little D&D. Pegasus is a contender, but not Bellerophon.

So I'll pick one Greco-Roman creature, and one from the modern mythos that is overseen by the fearsome wizards that live on the coast.


The 1970's were a very odd time for movies. The price of creating a movie had come down enough that independent film makers were able to get into the craft. Combine that with the strong sci-fi and dystopian themes that were in vogue at the time, and we get some really odd movies from this really odd time. Movies like Logan's Run and Death Race 2000. One of those weird, 1970's sci-fi movies I've always heard about, but never seen, is Zardoz. I've seen stills from it, I knew it featured Sean Connery in a red loincloth and weird sideburns, I figured I had a pretty good gauge on what it was all about.


I've written before about what I call the Adafruit Problem, the over-crowded field of potential projects that feel overwhelming and sometimes stop me from doing anything.

So let's look at the other side of this: Projects I've started but scrapped for various reasons. The other day I looked at the bits and pieces I have laying around from various hardware projects. And I found the following available: – A Raspberry Pi 400 (the one with the keyboard) – A Pimoroni Headphone “HAT” – A 6-inch monitor

And I thought to myself “self, I could leave all these things on the shelf, gathering dust, or I could actually use them, even if my use case is suboptimal.”


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