Dagger of the Mind (TOS) Review.

Dagger of the Mind is the tenth episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk and Doctor Helen Noel visit Tantalus penal colony and discover a dangerous mind altering device.

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The title of this episode comes from Macbeth – you can see more information from the episode link above but here is the relevant passage:

Is this a dagger which I see before me
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation
Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?

This would not be the only Star Trek episode to draw inspiration from the works of Shakespeare – there is The Conscience of the King, in a few episodes time, Requiem for Methuselah in the third season, and of course Picard, over on TNG, is also a great admirer of his works.

You’re here to learn about the human condition, and there is no better way of doing that than by embracing Shakespeare.

Captain Picard (Star Trek TNG: The Defector)
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The episode opens in the transporter room. The Enterprise is beaming down supplies to the Tantalus penal colony.

The name Tantalus comes from Greek mythology. Tantalus was a king made to stand in fresh water that would recede every time he attempted to take a drink. It is where we get our word tantalise.

This seems like an odd choice for a rehabilitation colony as it suggests that the rehabilitation is always something out of reach and never attainable. Perhaps it is a suggestion that the struggle itself is worth it?

From a lore perspective this scene is interesting as it establishes you can’t beam through shields.

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The Enterprise receives some cargo from the colony – and when the transporter operator’s back is turned a man climbs out, knocks him out, and as danger music plays the teaser ends. This is a very effective cliff hanger and, unlike the previous episode, it does pay off.

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Security alert. Condition 3. All sections go to alert condition 3. We may have an intruder aboard.

Uhura (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind.)

The Enterprise is alerted to the problem, goes to full alert, and the intruder, Van Gelder, is spotted. The crewman spotting him calls it in immediately. Which is great – I am sure we are all aware of the trope of characters not doing that!

It is all for nothing though as the intruder is still able to get a phaser and get to the bridge.

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Yes that is the wrong type of bridge but a play on words still works!

I mention the security effort to apprehend the intruder because security is something Star Fleet kind of sucks at – which is often a narrative necessity. Here I feel it works a little better and we are only ten episodes in so it is not so much of a cliche yet – although five of the preceding episodes have had a security failure of one sort or another.


Martin Péchy

A question… – shouldn’t the security guard on the bridge be faceting the turbo lift?

Well he doesn’t and is quickly jumped from behind with ease – I take back what I said – Starfleet security sucks.

My name is…Van Gelder. I want asylum.
At Gunpoint?

Van Gelder and Captain Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

Van Gelder is clearly terrified of going back to Tantalus. He is subdued by some Kirk-fu and a Vulcan nerve pinch and taken to sickbay.

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There are a couple of intersting exchanges I want to comment on before we contiue.

Have you ever been to a penal colony since they started following (Dr. Admas’) theories?
A cage is a cage, Jim.
You’re behind the times, Bones. They’re more like resort colonies now.

Kirk and McCoy (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

I find this interesting because of the Norwegian attitude to crime and punishment. They have the attitude of turning criminals into good neighbours rather than it being purely punishment.

Enjoy the video – there are a number of others on YouTube

Norway seems to be doing now what Star Trek is saying is a new idea. That by no means is a criticism of the episode – you can’t always predict the future.

We disposed of emotion, Doctor. Where there is no emotion there is no motive for violence.

Spock (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

I disagree with this statement. Vulcans may not have emotions but they are still biological beings with a survival instinct. This can lead to violence. If your group lacks something another group has – we do see next season that Vulcans fight over their mates – there is the possibility for violence without emotion. I think Spock has a tendency to feel superior to humans and that sometimes that is unwarranted – that may, after all, be the point.

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McCoy can’t identify what is wrong with Van Gelder and wants to study the case. Kirk tells him it is not their problem.

You smart, button-pushing brass hat. Wash your hands of it. Is that your system? You’re both quite sure of yourselves aren’t you? Quite expert. Take him back. Let someone else worry about him.

Van Gelder to Kirk and McCoy (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

Spock discovers that Van Gelder is not a patient but a member of staff.

Dr. Adams says that Van Gelder was testing an experimental procedure on himself and something went wrong. However McCoy has his doubts and since he logs that Kirk is required to investigate the penal colony.

This episode does a good job in building up the mystery. I unfortunately don’t remember the first time I saw the episode – so this is only coming from this re-watch – but we start with a stowaway, we find out he is a member of staff and not a patient, and then there is a question mark as to how this happened to him.

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We are introduced to Doctor Helen Neol. She and Kirk have some history having met at a Christmas party – although how long ago that was we can’t know.

Mr. Spock, you tell McCoy that she’d better check out as the best assistant I ever had.

Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

I am not sure why this plot point was necessary but it seems to be a common feature of Trek that female characters must have a romantic link – as the they have in many of the previous episodes.

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So they beam down to the planet and a scary elevator quickly finds Kirk and Noel holding each other. That seems to happen a lot too! I don’t mean the scary elevator I mean women being scared and wanting to hold Kirk.

On the planet’s surface they meet Doctor Adams. Kirk follows regulations and is about to hand over his weapon but Adams tells him that that isn’t necessary – which leads me to two questions: Why did Kirk bring it if he knew this regulation? Why did Adams let him keep it since he is up to no good?

Adams offers the landing party a drink. (Is it still a landing party if it is just two people?) And Kirk decides there is nothing wrong with drinking on duty. I suppose it could be argued that he wants to keep Adams on side.

One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.

Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

Kirk and Noel arrive at the Neural Neutralizer Room. Dr. Adams claims that it is a failed experiment but as the conversation goes on we find that this is the room where Van Gelder had his accident. The device is quickly shown to be evil as, when Kirk and company leave, the patient in the room is told he will experience great pain if he tries to recall any of the conversation that occurred between Adams, Noel and, Kirk.

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Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy are continuing their investigation. Spock calls Kirk and makes sure he can speak freely. Dr Adams leaves the room and Spock makes his report.

Van Gelder is Extremely agitated, Captain, and warns that you are in danger.

Spock (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

Noel believes there is no cause for concern and Kirk decides that the two of them will stay on the surface over night. This seems like a rather strange decision as, with the transporters, being on the ship is functionally the same.

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Spock decides that the best solution to the puzzle is to perform a mind meld. This is the first appearance of the mind meld in the the Trek universe.

(Dr. Adams), can reshape any mind he chooses. He used (the neural neutraliser) to erase our memories. Put his own thoughts there. He was surprised it took so much power.

Van Gelder during the mind meld (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

The mind meld scene is very effective. It introduce us to another aspect of Spock’s people, it is just a little creepy, and it gets out the necessary information for the story. We find out that Adams is using the device to manipulate people’s minds and mould them into something new.

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Meanwhile, on the planet, Kirk and Noel slip away to investigate the neural neutraliser. They test the machine and Noel plants the suggestion that Kirk is hungry – and Kirk feels hungry!

Yes I am making Kirk being hungry into a cliffhanger!

To make doubly sure that the device is indeed working Kirk asks for a more unusual suggestion.

At the Christmas party…we met. We danced. You talked about the stars. I suggest now that it happened in a different way. You swept me off my feet and carried me to your cabin.

Helen Noel (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

I am honestly not sure why this connection between them needed to be here. It is certainly a pretty big coincidence that they had this, admittedly small, connection. It could just be McCoy having fun with Kirk – that is always possible. So we get a brief scene of a romantic encounter – at least what could be shown in the 1960s.

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The jig is soon up and Dr. Adams and his lackey step up to the controls. He reinforces what Noel was saying that Kirk is in love with her. Then he orders Kirk to drop his phaser – the phaser that Kirk was prepared to surrender to him at the beginning. In the chair though Kirk is powerless to resit and drops the weapon. When it comes to his communicator Kirk tries to call for help but is unable to do so and collapses on the floor.

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The next part is a little disappointing. Kirk awakens in his room with Noel taking care for him. He briefly expresses his neural neutraliser induced feelings for her but is able to shake it off very quickly. I think they could have spent a little longer on this to further show the effect it was having.

They open a vent on the well leading to the ducts, which are huge because they are in TV land, and Kirk orders Noel to go through and cut the power.

Megavoltage. Touch the wrong line and you’re dead.

Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

And as Noel crawls into the duct all I can think of is: ‘This sounds like a Crystal Maze game from hell’.

Meanwhile the guards come to take Kirk back to the chair.

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Kirk is in intense pain because of the chair but manages to resit and Noel shuts off the power.

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The guards enter the power room looking for Noel. It is not entirely clear, at least not to me, if Kirk gave up the information or if the guards made an educated guess.

With the power off Kirk is able to get free. The unfortunate Adams is left in the room with the neural neutraliser and when power is restored he is left in there with no one at the controls.

Noel defends herself and is and is forced to kill a guard, kicking him into the live electricity. Doing this brings down the shield meaning Spock can beam down to the surface.

Cute Little Ship

Spock finds Kirk kissing Noel, it is Kirk after all, and by this point McCoy and the security personal have beamed down.

They find Adams and McCoy declares him dead. Which is his thing. According to Google he declares someone dead in twenty-five percent of the episodes.

Adams mind has been emptied by his own device.

Can you imagine a mind emptied by that thing? Without even a tormentor for company.

Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

As the episode comes to an end Van Gelder is restored to health. The neural neutraliser equipment has been destroyed.

It is hard to believe that a man could die of loneliness.
Not when you’ve sat in that room.

McCoy and Kirk (Star Trek TOS: Dagger of the Mind)

And the Enterprise heads off to its next mission.

Overall I find this to be a good episode. It starts well as we slowly learn what is happening on the planet and Kirk and Noel are also a good team. My problem is in the pay off as it is never explained why Adams is doing this. Nevertheless it is an enjoyable outing.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Today is a Good Day to Diet.

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I don’t do well with food. I am obese. According to Wii fit, yes I am using a game that came out 12 years ago, I am just on the cusp of obese and occasionally I drop down into the overweight section. As far as I am aware I have never been an ideal weight – well maybe once as a baby.

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When I think of the word ‘obese’ I imagine someone a lot bigger than I am. When I was in the USA many years ago I remember seeing trousers (pants) that were large enough that I could fit into one leg. Being obese though is a much broader spectrum. Also just because I have a few too many kilograms doesn’t mean I am not active.

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We have been fortunate with the weather where I live and I have managed to go for a walk, and hit my step target, for the last 24 days and I want to continue doing that. Nothing like a streak of success to motivate you.

I have spoken on this blog before about dieting and exercise and I have, once again, decided to embark on changing my diet and trying to be better about what I eat while also not completely denying myself nice foods.

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There is no way I am giving up pizza. I can’t have it that often but I can have it sometimes. If I count calories, as I am starting to do again, I can have pizza and stay within my limits. It just means cutting back on food for the rest of the day.

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I am trying intermittent fasting. As well as that I feel it is important to get away from the idea that food should be eaten just because the clock has clicked round to a specific time. This is easier while not in work – I can eat when hungry – at work it is more complicated. If you don’t eat when on break then it could be hours till the next one.

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Normal life, or the new normal, is fast approaching as the UK starts to open up. It is not yet known exactly what that will look like but when it happens everyone will have to make an adjustment one way or another.

I know there will be good days and bad days. If I am to stick to intermittent fasting then today (Friday) dinner needs to happen by 1830. However I am also counting calories and as long as I stay under that threshold I will get smaller. When work starts that will be harder. At home I can be tempted by the chips in the freezer – but eating them means cooking – at work they are always available with zero effort. I am not exactly lazy but the extra effort can be enough to go for something else – or nothing.

So I am going to measure everything right down to the square or two of chocolate. I have failed to stick with a diet before, it does get tedious logging it all, but hopefully this time will be different. And no I don’t know why it would be!

I hope you are all doing well where ever you are in the world. Stay safe and I will see you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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The Pod of Productivity

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If humanity is ever able to settle on another world one of the things we will have to deal with is a different length of day. This will be a very small consideration compared to building habitations, or making sure the terraforming torpedo doesn’t fall into the hands of an angry Klingon, but it is still a consideration.

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In the current situation I think we are all considering how long our day is – from a certain point of view.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Timescape

We don’t have the usual checkpoints of time. There is nowhere we have to be and nothing we have to do. This is both a blessing and a curse. I am sure we have all had days that felt really productive. There are also bad days:

This sums it up!

Productivity experts are fond of saying that we all have 24 hours a day. It is statement designed to illicit the idea that all of us can achieve great things. However it is my opinion that this statement is not all that helpful. Each person has their own foibles and struggles – thus what barely registers as anything to one person could be a big challenge to another.

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In the most basic sense we all have 24 hours, obviously, but not everyone is as capable of putting them to the best of use. Maybe this is me trying to correct for my own shortcomings of productivity. And maybe I am my own worst enemy. Maybe another person would say I, and you, are doing fine. Who is to say? I suspect if you have doubts about yourself as I do about myself you don’t want to seek out another’s opinion.

Mr Grey doesn’t upload often but everything he does is pure gold.

When this lock down started I had grand plans. I was going to write so much – 6000 words a day – it turns out that is beyond my capabilities. To do that would require typing six hours a day. Somehow time disappears on me. I think I have taken a brief pause but it turns out it wasn’t so brief!

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I don’t work from home in the real sense rather I am being productive with my own projects. Eight hours alone at home is very different to eight hours at a place of work. At work you have colleagues, occasions of downtime, and jobs that can be done while having a nice conversation. At home it is just you and, in my case, a brain that doesn’t always co-operate. So all I can do is try to take this advice myself. If you are staying home at the moment do the best that you can. And try not to judge yourself too harshly.

Of course many people are still working through this period. I want to close by expressing my gratitude to them and say how amazing you all are.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Internet Black Hole

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Links are what makes the internet. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, this can lead to a very long session of reading. I spent around an hour today looking at Mythcreants.

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Mythcreants is a website that has numerous articles about world building -particularity for fantasy and science fiction writers. It talks about tropes and how to create more compelling fiction.

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As today (Thursday) stands I haven’t been doing any creating because I have been reading these articles. I am well aware of the irony of that statement.

If you are a writer of fantasy and/or science fiction this is a resources that is well worth checking out. Whatever problem you are having with you writing, with the exception of procrastination, there is sure to be something here that you will find useful. They also have podcasts that discuss common facets of fiction. I hope you will check it out.

I hope that you are all well and not going too crazy in our new reality. See you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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By the Skin of My Teeth!

I mentioned last week about having a deadline. Well I made it and only just. I am not going to go into detail about the competition as it was an anonymous submission and I don’t want to risk making it known. That might be paranoia on my part but, nevertheless, better safe than sorry. And I was safe but I was almost sorry.

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My competition entry came right down to the wire. I was literally still editing even as the deadline approached. I went to email it. Time was ticking down. And…

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My computer, Majel, decided at that moment not to connect to the internet – despite the fact that other devices were connected. The time ticked by and all hope was lost. I had missed the deadline.

Then suddenly there was hope again. The deadline was in a different time zone! I had an extra hour! A reboot later and I was able to submit the work.

That’s good.

I was unable to finish the last run through and spell check – so it was certainly submitted with a few mistakes left in.

That’s bad.

However, spelling mistakes notwithstanding, it is a piece of work I am proud of.

That’s good.

Even if I had missed the deadline I would still have a piece of work to send somewhere so from that point of view it was always going to be a success.

So what have I learned from this? Don’t leave things to the last minute? Well I would hope so but I’m not sure how capable of change I am!

Now for the waiting game. It will be four months until the shortlist and winners are announced.

The waiting game sucks lets see what is on TV.

I hope you are all well wherever you may be in the world. I will see you next time for another post. Have a great night or day depending on when you read this.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Getting My Tick!

Been Watching a Number of these Videos this week there is some good stuff here

In the style of this video I am making this a two minute job today. (Actually it has been seven owing to a slow computer) The reason for the short one is that I have a deadline! And I don’t want to break the chain of blog posts!

In the grand tradition of underestimating how long something takes I have 1D 16H 51M and 59S to complete a piece of writing. Although by the time you read this that will be down to 23 hours.

So I need to look at that deadline and I will see you next time. I hope you are all keeping well.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Where the Title Should be!

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I sometimes hear people talk about experiencing boredom on their days off This may well have been exasperated in the present situation as so many of us are stuck at home. For those who lean towards being introverted it is less of a problem. The outside world is best avoided!

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At least that is what I would have said. Yesterday I found I just had to go for a little walk. I wasn’t doing so well so I took a walk and I feel it made quite a difference. So more walking is good! (Although today is Saturday and I have not been out.)

I would love to be able to tell you I have done loads these past few week but it hasn’t come together. I don’t know why that should be – although I have spent a fair amount of time watching stuff I have also been productive – just in other areas! For instance today I was dealing with emails for 90 minutes!

I think, as hokey as it sounds, I am starting to figure some stuff out about myself. I think I am zeroing in on a conclusion that is just out of reach. Maybe…. we shall see.

Thank you so much to all the essential workers whereever you happen to be. You are wll amazing.

See you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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When Life Feels Overwhelming

This wonderful post expresses exactly how I feel and I wanted to share it with you.

Defining Yellow

I do not need to explain why emotional overwhelm has been at an all-time high lately. The news is terrifying, yet I can’t seem to keep my eyes off of it. I’m worried about every person that I care about, yet I can’t do anything to protect them. I planned to write about overwhelm even before the coronavirus outbreak, but I’m honestly glad that I waited because it’s more relevant now than ever. We’ve all been there. There are a couple of ways to deal with overwhelm: make it worse, or you can make it easier.

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Introvert in Solitary

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It is somewhat weird being introverted during this time. I do not go out all that much during a normal week, with the exception of work, therefore for me this time shouldn’t be all that different. In fact it should be easy – my lack of desire to leave the house has been replaced with lack of ability.

In the beginning it did feel a little weird not being able to go out but now I have mostly settled to being okay with it. Emphasis on the mostly.

On the whole I am doing okay but I am getting moments of stress and feeling like there are too many thoughts in my head.

https://www.pexels.com/@mehranb

Is this picture a bit too on nose to describe my mental state? Yeah it probably is but I am going to go with it! I am allowed to make disparaging remarks about myself.

I had come to the conclusion that I was mostly stressed because I was having trouble balancing the various facets of my life but it turns out it might be more than that. I now have so many extra hours and it is still not enough.

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And frankly that has what has got me worried. I have done 34 hours of my own stuff this week. I am still feeling drained, which I count as different from being tired, and have some aces and pains in my body – but maybe that comes from sitting at my desk all day.

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Emotions have been a complicated thing for me for a while. I feel I have unsure of myself for a long time. Part of that uncertainly is a feeling of not meeting my goals – now though I know that those issues are not connected with lack of time – it is something else – and I need to discover what that is.

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My experience of this unprecedented period is simply one of isolation and an attempt to find what what is wrong with me.

In expressing these thoughts I in no way mean to take away from those who are suffering. I am sure that everyone has been effected – some in big ways and some in small ways – but I think we all need to consider all of our friends and family – from those who just need a quick text message – to those who may need more done for them. Take care of each other and see you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Cookies!

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I live in a small flat. There is barely enough room to swing a cat (idiomatically of course) so as you an imagine it is a bit of a difficult thing being within these five walls all the time.

Don’t worry that is the right number my flat is a funny shape.

As I said last week it is only a small amount of time before I go a bit peculiar although it has probably already happened.

One of the problems of being at home all this time is it is very easy to eat poorly – because I have the self control of a monkey at a banana factory – except with biscuits (British) and cookies.

So the solution is not to buy that stuff which is the one I am going to go with. (He said eating another chocolate digestive as he types)

I have at least managed to get a small amount of exercise – both at home and a walk in the park. It is not enough but it is something.

This lock down will continue for quite sometime to come. I think as it goes on I will get more and more used to it and start to get a grip on how to live the way we all now have to live.

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I want to close by saying a massive thank you to all the essential workers. There are so many all around the world who are putting themselves at risk during this time and that is amazing. What they are doing for the rest of us is beyond amazing and beyond words. Thank you.

Stay safe everyone. See you next time.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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