DIY. Why? Because I broke my nerdboard, of course. How soldering and open source saved the day, and my nerve damaged hands.

My hands hurt. It’s a surprise given that I do tech work, but not when you consider that I also play bass guitar in two bands (one coincidentally named Static Hands) and I spend many hours a day typing. The impact on my hands got so bad that I was experiencing muscle spasms that immobilized my right thumb. Ouch.

The Kinesis Advantage ergonomic keyboard is like typing on clouds, but the price is steep at $350. At the much appreciated suggestion of my CTO, I picked one up used for $150 used. It’s wonderful. However, this one had a defect. The tilde key was sticking, not the key cap, but inside the switch. Hmmmm….

DIY electronics skills to the rescue! I desoldered the key from the cool, curvy circuit board. Then I needed to re-map the tilde key, because I use the back tick constantly for quoting in Slack posts. An open source, freeware application called Karabiner did the job, after a few puzzling minutes figuring out it’s funny interface.

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Musical Mithridatism

“Why do you listen to angry music?” The question caught me off guard, when my mom posed it out of the blue. Why did I? Angst alone would have been an adequate explanation then, I was an angsty teen. Which begs the question; Why do I still listen to angry music now, as a happy adult?

At least one reason is people keep making truly great angry music. Ken ModeHead Wound City, Meat Wave, Retox, and Frameworks have all impressed the hell out of me with recent or upcoming releases. My musical projects aim only to keep such good company. An awful lot of us keep on creating whilst being in a bad way. Why?

Counterintuitively, angry music listeners and angry music makers have always been the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Many friends and coworkers have expressed the same, that a person’s angry music preference (dare I say penchant) and a deeply positive, empathetic personality go hand in hand. Now there’s got to be some common thread among all these lovely hate mongers. I call this phenomenon musical Mithridatism.

Mithridatism is the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts.

From Wikipedia

I first heard of Mithridatism in Naseem Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile – where he posits that to become a thing that thrives on unexpected shocks, stressors, volatility, and such, one must engage rather than avoid these hazards.

Having a reliable means to release your anger is a beautiful thing… and a beautifying thing.

Taking your poison pills of powdered angst on the regular makes you a little less likely to get angry, and when you inevitably  do still feel your blood boil you have the antidote waiting. Just press play and enjoy the noise. Silently screaming along is almost as satisfying as actually screaming in the faces of your tormentors. And it’s a lot less messy than smashing things.

Finally, listening to and making music aren’t far removed neurologically speaking. In fact, there’s plenty of brain scan evidence showing that when musicians think about music it activates the same regions of the brain as when they play, in spite of the fact they aren’t holding an instrument. I think this extends to non-musician listeners and acting out the aggressions expressed in the music they listen to. As far as your brain is concerned, listening to pissed off music is a similar enough activity to expressing your own pissed-off-ness.

So what’s your favorite anger anthem?