Journal Entry Transcripts
Diary Entry 1
// TODO Change ‘Diary’ to ‘Journal’ (call me Doug Funnie!)
What better time to start my doctor-prescribed self reflection journal than right in the middle of my work day? Granted, I work from home, and granted granted, I do my job too fast so there’s not much to do, but still.
How is this supposed to work? I’m the only one who’s going to read this. Do I introduce myself to myself? Hi, Myself! I’m you! I like long walks on the beach*, my wife’s name is Fel**, and I’m old enough to be eyeing retirement***!
It is surprising how much effort it is taking to fill this page with text. How is this supposed to help my mental health? Am I even going to remember to do this every day? I can barely even remember if I’m left- or right-handed these days.
Oops! Something is going on at “work” that I have to take care of. Saved by the occupation.
**True, and since she’s responsible for me going to therapy in the first place, this is her fault.
***Somewhat true. I’m an old fart, but who the heck can afford to retire anymore?
Diary Entry 2
The one thing my therapist told me to do with this thing was keep it light on things that are bothering me, like work and politics. Cut to Journal Entry 1 and Journal Entry 2 being about work and politics, respectively.
It drives me crazy when I overhear people discussing their very incorrect political views out loud in public. Nobody wants to be exposed to your stupidity.
Free speech was a good idea in theory, back before we realized the majority of people would turn out to be morons. Maybe we can make a change to the Constitution. You know, “amend” it, as it were, to only allow people above a certain IQ to have a say.
These are perfectly fine thoughts to keep to one’s self, and even vent about them in a therapeutic journal. What’s not appropriate, however, is confronting people and making a scene, which is what I actually did. I don’t know what got into me. Normally I just internalize it and complain to Fel, but I really laid into these guys. It was kind of embarrassing, and Fel is rightfully pissed.
I guess I have been in a pretty crappy mood. Hence the therapy, I suppose.
Diary Entry 3
My Therapist: Write what’s on your mind.
Also My Therapist: Try not to focus on the things that set you off, like work and politics.
And if “work” and “politics” are what’s on my mind, then what, Mr. Smartypants!?
New plan: Put a quarter in a jar every time I write about work or politics.
Work [quarter] has been bugging me, which is not new. That thing I keep mentioning – you know the thing, because you’re me and you’re writing about it – is taking up a lot of my time. I actually no longer have time to write these journal entries while working and have to do them off the clock. I know, right?
Whatever this thing that’s popping up is, though, it’s pretty big. I haven’t narrowed down the specifics just yet, because I hate my job and my lasting legacy will be that I shriveled up into nothing while working at this desk and never making a difference… Sorry, trailed off there!
This thing can wait, though. I have a marriage to save. Fel suggested we rewatch Prison Break, which reeks of a desperate attempt to recapture the feeling of bonding over something. I conceded, despite thinking the show was kind of dumb to begin with. Maybe the effort of writing these things, going to therapy, and watching a show I don’t want to watch will end the nagging.
Until I forget to take out the trash again, which, admittedly, is happening at an alarmingly increased frequency.
Diary Entry 4
Does it count if I’m talking about thinking about work and/or politics? Eh, just to be safe, [quarter, quarter].
Fel had us (read: me) try some meditative yoga for my “mood.” I was told to clear my mind. What ended up happening was I cleared it of everything except work – that thing that popped up – and politics – specifically, how I’m going crazy being unable to force people to do believe what I do. And guess what? It didn’t help my mood, nor did it help me remember to empty the dishwasher.
Plus, it hurt like a mother.
Afterwards, Fel walked to the store to pick up some stuff, which she does a lot and is the most annoying thing every time for two main reasons: 1) She gets more than she can carry back, so I always have to go pick her up, 2) she leaves her phone at home to stay in her “meditative state,” meaning I have to just instinctively leave after an indiscernible amount of time.
Thank God the yoga made me less irritable.
Diary Entry 5
Fel had a novel idea: What if I pay a quarter not just when I write about work or politics, but talk about it? It was even expressed that I could, eventually, pay when I start even thinking about them! I guess for the sake of my “mood” it would be best, if not the only sensible option.
Fel even said we could have a jar for each of us. One for me for work and politics, one for Fel every time we watch Prison Break. Not exactly a fair trade-off, but it was cute, so I obliged.
Now, to dig through the couch for some quarters…
Diary Entry 6
Don’t tell anybody, but I’m about to talk about work without paying a quarter.
Hey, I make the rules. Stop judging me.
In fairness, I’m not complaining. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m intrigued. That thing I keep mentioning – you still know the thing – yeah, the readings I’m getting on this thing are big. Like, impossibly huge. I’ve done what I had to do for the sake of my job, but there’s clearly more going on here. If my life would stop sucking* for a few minutes, maybe I’d spend some time digging deeper. Right now, I just can’t be bothered. I’ll glance at it every now and then.
*Generalities. No need for quarter.
Diary Entry 7
Prison Break is such a dumb show.
Fel and I just watched the episode where Lincoln – a convicted murderer of the brother of the vice president of the United States in a maximum security prison – has been exchanging letters with his son that contain hidden messages. How are the messages decoded? By reading the last word of each line of the letter in sequence. Now, as someone as high-profile and allegedly dangerous as Lincoln Burrows, would not every single thing he touched be scrutinized to death? Are you telling me that, out of all the people that probably read through his messages, no one could see something like that? I guess for the benefit of the primetime-network-television-viewing audience, they needed to keep it simple and obvious, but boy is it stupid.
To the writers’ credit, they created something that has been seen by millions and will likely be remembered for years after its creation. It’s kind of clever, I guess, if it was done a little differently. Maybe someday I’ll create something that will be seen by millions*, or at least a hidden message that could be decoded in an obvious way. Hopefully less obvious than Prison Break. Or maybe more obvious, something stupid like typing all keywords in all capital letters.
Diary Entry 8
I’ve been forgetting to write in this thing. I’ve also been forgetting my therapy appointments. Fel thinks I’m just avoiding them, but I genuinely don’t remember to go.
I’m also pretty pissed all the time. It’s probably just a symptom of getting old, like sciatica and dentures – neither of which I have. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, though.
Credit to Fel, though; watching Prison Break has been a highlight of my routine lately. My work [quarter] still sucks, the world still sucks – not specifically politics, because I’m out of quarters – but it’s been very nice spending actual quality time with my wife watching a dumb show and eating snacks, as opposed to the constant fighting that usually plagues our interactions.
What a sappy loser I’ve become.
Diary Entry 9
Well now, that escalated.
It is time I reveal to you “the thing,” which I will do so without paying a quarter because I said so.
Are you familiar with the concept of content algorithms?
What about terms of services, and consenting to the collection of data?
Of course you are, because you’re me!
It turns out all of those “I accept”s we’ve been blindly doing forever have been collected in a giant database and are being fed into a huge, nationwide Algorithm – henceforth to be referred as a proper noun. While that’s kind of obvious, the less obvious thing is what they’re doing with it.
Slowly but surely, with every response from a user from a connected network device, the Algorithm is refining its questions based on the responses.
Yes, obviously, we’re all consenting to “sell my personal data,” but what this Algorithm is working towards is far worse than that. This might sound dramatic, but this thing could conceivably develop legally-actionable consent to literally anything. We could be consenting to civil war, electing dictators – anything – without even knowing what we’re consenting to. And literally every person with a device attached to a network is going to see it.
Good thing I’ll be dead before this matters. I’ve got Prison Break to watch.
Diary Entry 10
You ever just wish you accomplished more?
We talked about why I’m not happy in therapy. I never really considered myself “unhappy,” but I guess it’s the best single word you can use to describe it. Unfulfilled, maybe? Not good either way.
My therapist took the liberty of running down the list of reasons why I should be happy, and yeah, I guess if you lay it all out there, all of the boxes of someone who should be considered happy are checked. I get paid okay, I’m “happily” married, kids are off doing their thing in life.
Society paints a picture of the things you’re supposed to achieve in order to be happy, but what do you do when you spend your whole life achieving those things and you’re not happy after you’ve done it? What then?
Anyway, it’s 3am and I got my journal entry done already. Now this won’t be looming over me as I continue to push off that work thing.
Diary Entry 11
Okay, we’re beginning to get concerned about my memory loss.
What was once a cute, “Old man conveniently forgets to put away the laundry,” became, “Old man forgets his wife at the store, she waits for several hours without her cell phone, decides to walk back with her arms full of groceries, loses her balance and falls in a ditch.”
And now she’s dead.
Kidding. She sprained her ankle. She’ll be fine. But I feel terrible that I forgot her. I don’t even remember hours passing without her being here, you know? Surely that’s not normal.
Fel and I fought for a while about it. I told her I’d work on it. In actuality, I made an appointment to see the doctor, which she will not know about. She gets worried about these sorts of things. We’ll see how that goes.
Diary Entry 12
Good news! I remembered to go to my doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, I scheduled it for a day I had therapy, which I forgot about. Can’t win ‘em all.
It’s going to be a long process. Tests were done, things were discussed, nothing set in stone as of right now. I’m hoping for something somewhat serious that I can blame my marriage ineptitude on, while not serious enough to kill me. That’d be perfect.
I did get a note that’ll keep me out of work [quarter] for the rest of the week, which is cool. Now I can sit on my couch instead of my desk chair for most of the day.
Diary Entry 13
It can’t be…
You know what? Not today.
Diary Entry 14
Fel had the day off, so I took her to therapy with me. Mark this down as a day where I made a terrible mistake.
She and the therapist decided today was the day to crap all over me – blame me for our marital problems. Fel brought up the idea that I’m too controlling, too set in my ways. She claims I think we either do it my way or the highway, and I’m unwilling to compromise on most things.
What she fails to realize is that the reason is because my way is usually the right way. It’s been proven time and time again. Why compromise when one side is so clearly and unequivocally correct, and it just so happens to be my side?
The therapist had a field day with that one, though! It’s unhealthy and other people have different points of view blah blah blah. Listen, life is a series of choices and consequences. I am very skilled at making the right CHOICE that leads to the fewest consequences, and the sooner people get on board with that, the better. The world would be a better place if everybody just followed my lead. If you don’t, don’t blame me for what happens to you!
I’m a little peeved, if you couldn’t tell.
Diary Entry 15
Okay, no matter how much I try to ignore it, it’s here. I’m not bargaining, but I’m well on my way through the stages of grief.
I have Alzheimer’s.
Fel doesn’t know. I might not tell her.
I’ve got a lot to think about.
Diary Entry 16
Yeah, it’s been a while. This journal didn’t seem that important in light of, you know, my impending doom. I did miss it, though.
I’ve mainly been trying to distract myself in any way that I can. I guess the beauty about this particular slow, humiliating, undignified death I’m headed toward is that I won’t be cognizant enough to realize what’s happening. That is currently not the case, though, so it is getting to me at present.
My Prison Break time with Fel has kept me from going crazy. Even when we fight, we can reliably turn on an episode and calm right down. It’s currently the only thing I look forward to. We’re running out of episodes, though. Fortunately, while I thought there were only FOUR seasons, they rebooted it, so there’s a season we haven’t seen yet.
But it won’t last forever. I wouldn’t remember it even if it did.
Diary Entry 17
I threw a whole roll of quarters in the jar. That should cover me for a while.
To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only one with… uhh… knowledge of what The Algorithm is capable of. I figured I would get around to doing something about it eventually, but “eventually” is no longer an option. I can’t let my indolence get in the way. I have to do something about it.
Nobody can know about this. Fel, especially, but no one. The people that would want to stop it would be too stupid to be of any help and would just get in my way. Anyone else would just try to stop me. Plus, who would believe a guy with Alzheimer’s?
Or maybe The Algorithm will be able to adjust, and try to stop me itself.
Diary Entry 18
Fel, while usually wrong about most things, isn’t an idiot. She knows something’s going on with me. She’s also noticed I’m putting in longer hours at “work.” I know she’s just concerned, but at this point, what good could come of her knowing? My brain is going to be mush soon no matter what. No need to make her sad about it.
Speaking of brain mush, it turns out Alzheimer’s sucks. Turns out short-term memory loss is a KEY feature of it. I need to really get cranking ON fixing this Algorithm issue before I forget how to use the bathroom. It’s also taking considerably more time and mental energy to write these journal entries. Definitely time and mental energy that would be better spent working on stopping The Algorithm.
Diary Entry 19
Okay, we’re making progress, although it’s not ideal.
I’m developing a virus – for lack of a better term – that will leech onto The Algorithm and spread itself out to any consumer device The Algorithm touches. Ideally, I would have time to develop the thing to destroy just The Algorithm without consequence, but we don’t live in the world where my brain isn’t disintegrating. In my current state of health, I’m only able to internally fry any device it’s on – which is, as you might have guessed, literally all of them. We’ll call this the “my way” option.
Simultaneously, I’m developing a failsafe that will delete the virus in the event that I’m too far gone to get it working properly, or it takes me too long to get it up and running to the point where it’s futile. This will aptly be named “the highway.”
I’m such a jerk.
Diary Entry 20
I really need to be focused on working (quarter prepaid), but I just can’t stop thinking about Fel. Specifically, how I blew it with her. I could’ve tried harder to fix us. I should have. A long time ago.
Now, all we have is our blessed occasional fortyish minutes while watching a TV show I can no longer remember the plot details of where we’re not at each other’s throat. And those are running out. My last memories of her, if I have any, will be of us yelling at each other because I was too stubborn and lazy to make any changes.
Stubbornness only gets you so far without hurting your loved ones. Laziness gets you nowhere with them. Hindsight just depresses you, and now there’s nothing I can do. Not for us.
For her, though, she can be free of me.
Diary Entry 21
It is no longer a matter of “time,” it is a matter of “capability.” It gets harder and harder every day to work on this. Just simply typing is becoming a major issue, and is slowing me down dramatically. Good thing I write very succinctly.
To combat this, I’m developing a software wrapper around the virus that will automate a lot of my work. The foundations are already in place, so if I develop my own algorithm (heh, irony) that automatically presents me with my next logical steps, I can initiate them with just a PRESS of a button on the keyboard, instead of having to write everything from scratch. Good thing the only choices that matter are logical ones!
This will also help in the inevitability that I will forget what I was doing and will have these prompts to piece together the context. I’ve also uploaded all of my journal entries, so I can access them if I need a memory jog.
Hopefully, this is enough to get this done before I’m a vegetable.
Diary Entry 22
We’re winding down on my ability to continue these journal entries.
My wife is gone. During one of our fights, I broke it off. I told her to get out. It took some doing, but she finally obliged. This way she won’t see me get worse. She’ll remember me as the jerk that couldn’t figure out our marriage, not the man she loved who died before her eyes.
I’ll miss her. If I remember her.
Whatever her name was.
Diary Entry 23
There’s still time. Not much.
There’s one more thing I need to do. I can still change.
Diary Entry 24
Virus complete. Have to test connection with Algorithm.
Diary Entry 25
Connection successful. Virus ready to deploy.
There’s another way.
Algorithm is on to me. Third option…
Diary Entry 26
Don’t deploy or delete. On DEPLOY screen…
I, as the creator of this software, have only two logical options from the virus deployment screen: Deploy the virus, futilely delaying the inevitability of The Algorithm’s total global influence, or delete the virus, and have humanity continue its natural, logical course.
I did not write any hidden messages in the journal entries to avoid The Algorithm’s discovery. I do not have [incurable cognitive disease]. My [wife/husband/partner] named [Felicia/Felicity/Felix] did not leave, and we are happy.
I will return to the virus deployment screen and do one of the only logical options.
Diary Entry 27
If you’re reading this, you were smart enough to figure out the obvious hidden message.
There is one more choice you can make. At the end of this message, you will have the option to use the virus to deploy an error screen that will pop up on anyone’s device that has been affected by The Algorithm. This screen will present irrefutable proof of its capability. The virus will then delete itself, and all the devices will function as they were.
Not everything is as black and white as you see it. There is always a perspective that you’re incapable of having. I wrote this third option to present everyone with the actual facts, with hopes that the truth will lead to enough people doing the right thing.
It’s too late for you to be happy. It’s too late to fix your marriage. But you can die knowing you made a compromise, and I can’t think of a sweeter final act than proving Fel wrong.
And don’t worry – they confirmed there won’t be any more Prison Break.
You, when you had a brain that worked
PS: I left quarters on the table next to you.