402: Emotional Sweep with Merlin Mann

Merlin Mann joins the show to talk mental health, generative AI, and be an all around fun guy.


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Emotional Sweep with Merlin Man

[00:00:00] Brett: Hey, you’re listening to Overtired. I’m Brett Terpstra. I’m here, as usual, with Christina Warren and Jeff Severance Gunsel. We have a special guest this week. I’d like to welcome Merlin Mann. How’s it going, Merlin?

[00:00:20] Merlin: It’s going great. Hi team.

[00:00:22] Brett: Hey, um, so we, we’ve been,

[00:00:26] Merlin: That’s not really abrupt. I’m trying to be efficient because we had a really nice conversation for 15 minutes before, and I have to act like we’re just starting. Hey, hey you guys, how’s it going? I’m

[00:00:35] Brett: we just talked for 20 minutes before the show, um, and we’re gonna try to capture some of that magic again. Um, uh,

[00:00:43] Merlin: in a way that’s really organic and nobody will

[00:00:45] Christina: Yeah, you’ll totally feel it. It won’t, it won’t, won’t be like recreating stuff. I don’t know. I’m

[00:00:50] Jeff: You’re gonna love this, everybody.

[00:00:51] Brett: we got Merlin to open Chrome today.

[00:00:54] Christina: Hell yeah.

[00:00:56] Merlin: Yeah. I think I just got some new credit [00:01:00] cards or something. I’m not sure. I, a lot, I opened Chrome

[00:01:04] Jeff: That’s on us.

[00:01:05] Christina: ARC.

[00:01:06] Merlin: I

[00:01:06] Brett: Yeah,

[00:01:07] Merlin: think it took a photo of my balls. Um, I’m not sure.

[00:01:11] Jeff: We meant to take that out

[00:01:13] On Podcasting with Video

[00:01:13] Brett: you’re on video, which is probably rare for you when you’re recording a podcast.

[00:01:18] Merlin: I’m going to tell you something. I used to be on a podcast a long time ago, and it was a pretty well known, like popular podcast. And at one point they stopped doing just straight up Skype and started going to doing like video, but for an audio product. And I just think that if you have video on, I get it.

[00:01:35] Merlin: But if you don’t release that as video. There’s a huge component of it that people are missing. And like, and it’s not, so like, that’s okay. But then the problem is you, you get so used to it that you start saying things that’ll, we’re doing things like some of the faces I’m making and like, I can partner Jeff while we’re here.

[00:01:53] Merlin: And like that kind of stuff, which will not go through the listener. And I think that makes a, can make a less good show, but this show I feel very [00:02:00] strongly about. This is, I’m happy to be on video at 10, 20 AM on a Saturday morning. Because I obviously, I was able to get to my stylist and pick my fourth favorite Roderick on the Line shirt, so.

[00:02:13] Christina: Yeah. I also got to a stylist. Uh, the joke here, uh, listeners is I’m just wearing like a, a North Face like beanie and, um, uh, a

[00:02:22] Merlin: that, it’s from that, uh, that, that Italian stylist. I think her name is, uh, Ilaria Hatt, I think.

[00:02:28] Jeff: Oh, man.

[00:02:32] Brett: I tried to convince these guys to record video and put out like a YouTube version of the show and it has not gone over well. They’re both shaking their heads right now. Um,

[00:02:42] Merlin: think as long as you understand it’s a different thing, it’s good. Like with You Look Nice Today, we did video and I thought it turned out pretty good considering it was the lockdown and, but like, as long as you understand the parameters, a phrase I use that I won’t go into, but in the world of podcasts, I call it the little world.

[00:02:57] Merlin: Each podcast I love tends to have a little world. [00:03:00] It’s got voices that I like in it. It’s got bits. It’s got stuff. I, yeah, I yell at it. I like, I yell it. I yell at the guys on Accidental Tech. Podcast all the time. 'cause they’re uniformly horrible. Like, but that’s their little world. You decide what comes into the little world.

[00:03:12] Merlin: But if you never get a beat on what your little world is, you never let it become the thing that it is. Like you just start throwing stuff at it for what you regard as metrics. See, now I’m holding Caulfield. It’s so nice to be here on video with you. And I’m, I’m not

[00:03:26] Jeff: of the show Holden Caulfield.

[00:03:28] Brett: I

[00:03:29] Merlin: my Twitter, but my bio on Neston for a while was, uh, lifestyle Holden Call Field.

[00:03:34] Merlin: Have you never seen so many phonies in your whole life?

[00:03:37] Christina: ha ha.

[00:03:39] Harold, you were right

[00:03:39] Brett: to make a correction at the top of the show. Um, I said last week that, um, Axeman was in Minneapolis, uh,

[00:03:48] Merlin: The Marvel comic?

[00:03:49] Jeff: And I let you say it.

[00:03:50] Brett: Ed, and, and our, our friend of the show, Harold, um, he let me know, uh, in no uncertain terms that Axeman was in [00:04:00] St. Paul. So forgive me for that.

[00:04:02] Jeff: I love that. My favorite thing of seeing shows in St. Paul is how many times the bands go. It’s great to be in Minneapolis. Harold.

[00:04:12] Brett: I don’t want to, I don’t want to call Harold pedantic because he would definitely tell me I was using the word wrong. Um,

[00:04:19] Merlin: it’s pronounced Pedant. Oh, Francais.

[00:04:25] Brett: well, like, uh, Merlin, you and Dan used to, uh, he had a funny bit about my last name.

[00:04:31] Merlin: we, and we stopped because I, it

[00:04:34] Brett: know, because I, I was, I was, I was somehow offended, and then, like, I, I was a dick about it, I’m sorry, like, it was actually an honor

[00:04:45] Merlin: little world,

[00:04:47] Jeff: What was the bed?

[00:04:48] Merlin: Well, like, we have, we have, we have, no, but we’ve got funny ways we say things. Like, for, like, anything that’s got B’s in it is always funny. We are like, Bluetooth, bunk bag. There’s just certain words [00:05:00] that are just funny. And, and every time I’d say, oh my god, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:05:02] Merlin: I have all these services and like, Brett, I mean. QED, sorry if it’s your first time tuning in, Brett runs my life. Like, whether that’s marked, like there’s just so much stuff in my life that is, is Brett stuff or Brett adjacent stuff. And I would constantly be like, Oh, but there’s a service that lets you just select some text and then that adds the kind of markdown bullets that you like to it.

[00:05:24] Merlin: And Brett Terpstra, Terpstra, Terpstra. And he’d say it like that, but he did it very percussively. Sorry about that. It, it was meant in love, but

[00:05:36] Brett: Yeah, no, I got that after, after you stopped doing it, I’m like, holy shit, I never should’ve,

[00:05:42] Merlin: It’s like people saying to me, like the magician, and I say, yeah, like the magician, which I’d never heard before.

[00:05:47] Jeff: Brett, do you want to regain your power and just speak your name to Merlin

[00:05:50] Merlin: Yes, thank you! Thank you!

[00:05:54] Brett: No,

[00:05:55] Merlin: They called me Mr. Terpstra.

[00:05:58] Mental Health Corner

[00:05:58] Brett: I abdicate, I abdicate [00:06:00] my power. Um, so we, at the top of most shows, we do a mental health corner, and for the last two episodes, that mental health corner has run like an hour, and it’s supposed to be like 15 minutes. Um, so, if it’s gonna run long, I want it to be Merlin’s fault, so, Uh, what we do is we check in on our mental health.

[00:06:22] Brett: All three of the regular hosts have their own diagnoses. And, and we talk about how things are

[00:06:29] Merlin: from some kind of an accredited professional, or more like I’m pretty sure I’m

[00:06:33] Jeff: we work

[00:06:33] Merlin: sure I’m OCD.

[00:06:35] Jeff: 1.

[00:06:37] Brett: So, so I would like to turn it over. Merlin, how are you doing this week?

[00:06:42] Merlin: Uh, me first?

[00:06:44] Brett: I, cause if this runs long, I want it to be your fault. Like, and if it’s short, great.

[00:06:49] Merlin: um, well it, it, this is almost all I talk about, so I’ll try to keep it brief, but, uh, my mental health pretty good. Pretty [00:07:00] good. Uh, I have an ongoing project that, uh, I’m, I’m gonna just go ahead and kind of, kind of mention just for context 'cause it’s, it’s something I’m trying to socialize, which is like, it’s just, just a whole bunch of stuff.

[00:07:12] Merlin: in my life where I’ve had a reason to become more aware of certain aspects of my mental health. Something my friend John at Syracuse introduced to me, something called the XY problem, which has become like kind of instrumental in my life, is like, you tell, you want help from somebody and so you say you have a problem with X, but that expert would be in a position to tell you sometimes after minutes or hours that actually you have a problem with Y.

[00:07:35] Merlin: To paraphrase Stephen Covey, you have your ladder against the wrong wall in that sense. Um, and, Things like trauma, issues with authority, things like that. I’ve just realized I’ve only, I’ve really, I think that’s something I’m really turning over a lot right now is the role of shame in our lives and how at least I feel like we were, we’re all, I’m 57, so like the way I was raised, not in, Tensionally, I don’t think, but like, [00:08:00] there’s just so much shame in all of our lives and I’m starting to wonder, uh, about the extent to which that shame drives some of our lesser angels and how we, and how we’re motivated, how we talk to ourselves, obviously very importantly, but also like the kinds of like, we’re carrying water for gym teachers.

[00:08:19] Merlin: in 1978 sometimes. And so that’s something, pardon me, I’m getting over a cold. That’s something where like, I’ve been had a, I had a big health thing that I’ve been dealing with. And, and one aspect of that and having to be in the hospital for three days was for the first time, you know, ever was like just confronting this whole way of like, well, how much do you drink?

[00:08:39] Merlin: Did you know your blood pressure is high? Did you colonoscopy in too long? And it’s just like all these things that are meant to be. Even like, honestly, on the label useful things from a person are so often usually unintentionally grounded in shame, reiterating shame, and ultimately, at least in my, this is where I get real weird, [00:09:00] is in the way people unintentionally as a society, as a culture, as a tribe, teach us a certain kind of shame.

[00:09:06] Merlin: That we’re, we eventually learned to carry and put onto ourselves and consequently put on others. And if you’ve ever wondered about that, ask your parents why they’re how they were. And there’s a pretty good chance your parents were how they were because their parents made them ashamed about it. So now when we yell at our kids about screen time, whatever that means, like when we yell at our kids about stuff, we’re basically saying something that we hope impresses a dead parent.

[00:09:28] Merlin: So that’s something I think about a lot right now and I’m operationalizing. As a, as a project to, as I explained recently on another show, there’s like this two track approach of like, yeah, continuing to try and become a better person and a more wholesome person and a more kind person. And, and again, kindness is a lot of about what you don’t do in life.

[00:09:48] Merlin: It’s not stuff people see. A lot of the writing, a lot of your writing is writing you don’t do. People won’t see, realizing you don’t need to write. All those kinds of like those complex, like internal voyages we take. So my [00:10:00] mental health is pretty good considering. Um, but that, that’s a thing I’m thinking about a lot right now.

[00:10:05] Merlin: How are you guys?

[00:10:07] Jeff: Oh man, can I?

[00:10:08] Brett: Okay, go ahead,

[00:10:09] Jeff: Go ahead. I was going to say the thing about carrying the shame that is in a way carrying the shame of a parent. Um, there was a thing a therapist said to me a long time ago and it was like this, it was this thing to say, right? So it’s kind of funny to say these things out loud and especially in public, but it really hits there, which is like to find a way to hand it back in a way that doesn’t feel like resentful.

[00:10:30] Jeff: She was like, she was like, I have been carrying this for you out of love. And I return it to you now, with

[00:10:37] Merlin: Yeah, one of the numerous burdens we get from people that we love, whether that’s something that somebody regards as an heirloom, that’s been sitting in a basement for 10 years that you’ve been saving for some reason. There’s all these things that we give to somebody, but you’re right, but how do you, the turning back is such an interesting idea.

[00:10:52] Merlin: Like, I understand so much, I feel like, about, oh, it’s always an evolving understanding of why the people in my life are how they are, I think. [00:11:00] think in particular, my mom’s husband died when we were all pretty young, including my dad. And like, she just, I think could never bear the idea of loss of like losing me in particular.

[00:11:13] Merlin: Like I was the last thing she had apart from the Pontiac. And like, how do you, how do you do that without being a little bit of a nut? And sometimes the more we care about somebody in our head, The way I would phrase it, I would never say this publicly, but the way I would phrase it is like, no, and really, really just kind of talk yourself into being a nut about something, but because it comes from a good place, that’s who you are now.

[00:11:35] Merlin: And it’s the turning, turning it back part is so interesting, but like, I don’t know, it was a phrase I picked up somehow a long time ago, which is, uh, instrumental again for me. Stupid can’t stick to me. It’s like, I get to define the terms of my personal integrity and I get to decide. Who’s BS I’m going to carry around.

[00:11:53] Merlin: So whether that goes for news articles, I don’t need to see, you know, anger about Twitter or like whatever it is. There’s just all [00:12:00] this stuff where I’ve learned to become a little more reflective about that and go, I can understand that, but that doesn’t mean I have to eat a plate of it all the time.

[00:12:06] Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:09] Brett: God, you sound like someone who’s been through therapy. Do you do

[00:12:12] Christina: I was gonna say, I was gonna say, this is, this is definitely sounding like therapy talk, which is, I don’t mean in a derogatory way at all,

[00:12:19] Brett: No, we all love therapy.

[00:12:21] Christina: all love

[00:12:22] Merlin: it’s, it’s so interesting and so ironic, ironic, because no, I don’t do talk therapy, uh, but, you know, I don’t have time to go into it, it’s a corner, it’s a very

[00:12:34] Brett: all this wisdom.

[00:12:36] Merlin: I do pick up a lot of wisdom, that’s true. The um, but like that book, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van

[00:12:42] Merlin: der Kolk. Has just, I think about it more than anything I’ve read since getting things done. If for people who know them, the Merlin podcast universe, like it’s, I think about the body keeps the score constantly and not because I’m a Vietnam vet, but because so much we understand or [00:13:00] think we understand about how we got, how we are.

[00:13:02] Merlin: is, elides some, not, I’m not gonna be like that guy who’s like, yeah, well it’s all like medical, and it’s all medical, but the problem is like your brain is trying so hard to help you, and the more we feed it the stuff that we think is helping, it’s like drinking salt water. It’s not actually gonna quench your thirst, you’re just a guy on a boat drinking the ocean, but that feels like the right thing to do, and that book, which is about trauma, and the way that trauma kind of leaves a mark on you in a, An invisible but very real way, uh, not just about trauma, but if I had one pitch to make, well, first of all, I’d say listen to that interview with Ezra Klein with Kolk.

[00:13:41] Jeff: Oh,

[00:13:41] Merlin: got me into it. Really good interview, like a life changing interview for me. But also that it’s, it’s, it’s interesting, one of the, part of the thrust of the book that I hate to spoil is that, yeah, I know you think you don’t have trauma. I know. That’s the point. The point is that your body and your mind, which are actually highly related, [00:14:00] your brain is doing everything it can to keep you from being sad, to keep you from being expelled by the tribe for pointing out that the priest touched your tutor.

[00:14:08] Merlin: Like, whatever it is, there’s stuff in your body and your mind that represent adaptations over, you know, millions of years. And, um, and so when we say we don’t have trauma, well, it’s because That’s because that’s, that’s how the body keeps the score. Is that like you, you teach yourself to believe that only people who are in Treblinka had trauma and you’re like, well, no, if you really accept that you’ve been re injured in the same spot thousands of times, sometimes without anything actually happening.

[00:14:34] Merlin: Anybody here ever been scared when the phone rings? I don’t know why you’re scared when the phone rings. I know that I am too, and I know that that is far from a unique thing that only

[00:14:43] Christina: No, we, usually what it is is that it, you know, it’s like any sort of, you know, um, uh, PTSD or whatever is that you’ve had like an event that was triggered, the really negative thing that was triggered when someone called you and you had that experience and, and like, so, and, and it’s

[00:14:58] Merlin: I’m about, I’m about to be evicted [00:15:00] or my mom is dead.

[00:15:01] Christina: Right. Well, I

[00:15:01] Jeff: Yeah, exactly.

[00:15:02] Christina: I do, still sometimes have like, when my mom calls me to this day, I’ll never forget because when she, like the worst phone call I’ve ever received was when, um, my aunt and uncle died, um, two days after Thanksgiving and it was completely unexpected and, um, I’m going to get emotional even talking about it.

[00:15:20] Christina: No, you can’t. And in that case, it was the, the, the thing that I guess, like I have residual issues overnight and I’m again, like, you know, just, you have the emotional response, even like Thinking back all these years later is I will never forget the sound of her voice.

[00:15:36] Jeff: Mm.

[00:15:37] Christina: was like,

[00:15:38] Merlin: And Christina, I’ll

[00:15:38] Christina: worst thing I’ve ever heard.

[00:15:40] Merlin: you never want that news again, but you also never want to hear your mom

[00:15:43] Christina: Well, that’s really what it is. It has, the news is, is, is the less, um, important aspect because the, the part of that that is still emotional for me is my mom’s reaction and knowing how she felt. And [00:16:00] so, There are times that, yeah, like, the phone will ring and it’s my mom and like, you know, I’ll do like a little deep breath because you’re like, okay, am I ever going because I, I do know, unfortunately, that I will probably hear her sound that way again. And, and so

[00:16:19] Merlin: it happens in your head or in life. It happens when the phone rings.

[00:16:23] Christina: Right. Right.

[00:16:24] Merlin: like, why is everybody, why is somebody weird about, like, somebody ringing the doorbell? You millennials are all avocado toast or whatever. And it’s like, well, no, that’s, that’s, I’ve, and I’ve very much been that person. I’ve very much been that person of, like, trigger warnings, like, grow up.

[00:16:37] Merlin: Like, I’ve been that person and I have become more vulnerable and open to the idea that But like, I, I just, I think there’s, there’s so many unnecessary negativities that inhabit our lives that we unintentionally, um, give to others, but also are constantly looking for a way to put on ourselves. And it, [00:17:00] a lot of us are having a pretty weird day before the phone rings and like, If there’s one way I try to describe the anxiety that I have, and probably as a component I think of my ADHD, is that I experience a lot of things much more deeply than other people, especially negative things, and more saliently, it sticks with me a lot longer.

[00:17:19] Merlin: And that’s why it becomes a very lonely journey to try and explain to somebody why you don’t like the phone ringing. And that turns into like, again, this thing of like, oh, Gen Z is however, but no, it’s like, It’s like we, you can’t really describe it to people, not least because we are not encouraged to interrogate why that is.

[00:17:34] Merlin: We are not encouraged to figure out. On the one hand, like it’s, and it’s things, it’s not an unalloyed good or easy thing to just have some journey and go like, well, I’ve decided this is, you know, it’s kind of like Irish version, Irish Catholic version of therapy where you like have an afternoon and then like, okay, no, go back to your craziness.

[00:17:51] Merlin: Like it’s, it’s very difficult to try and Locate that in yourself, let alone articulate to somebody that you care about.[00:18:00]

[00:18:00] Christina: Right.

[00:18:00] Merlin: it comes out as I’m mad at everybody sometimes. Like again, Van Der Kolk talks about this. Why are these Vietnam vets coming back? They’re so screwed up. But why do they have bursts of anger?

[00:18:10] Merlin: Why, you know, something I

[00:18:11] Christina: They’ve been holding it in, because they have to pretend like they’re okay for so long. And, and then,

[00:18:16] Merlin: totally, totally

[00:18:17] Christina: it can’t do anything else. So it just

[00:18:19] Merlin: But also like when I was, I heard fight or flight as talking about the autonomic responses. I’ve heard about fight or flight most of my life. You know, I didn’t hear until, until that book was Freeze. And I think Freeze needs a lot more widespread understanding

[00:18:33] Brett: I only learned about Freeze

[00:18:35] Merlin: happened to you and you were held, were held down, I’m not even saying it has to be that, but you know, that feeling of, I can’t escape from how this is right now.

[00:18:43] Merlin: And that’s pretty close to how I feel when I’m, I don’t have. Panic attacks per se, but that’s pretty close to how I feel when the phone rings is like, what is happening right now will be the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it will last forever. And I know I won’t be able to handle it. That’s how it is.

[00:18:59] Merlin: [00:19:00] And I bet more people are like that than they’d like to admit.

[00:19:02] Brett: I’ve probably talked about this before, but, uh, both of my grandfathers died on the same day. And,

[00:19:10] Jeff: That’s so crazy.

[00:19:11] Brett: my maternal grandfather lived with us in the house I was in when I was 12. Um, and I woke up to the ambulances carting him out after a heart attack. And, um, so my mom’s already I’ve seen her cry for maybe the first time ever, um, and then the phone rings and my dad picks it up and it is the only time I’ve ever seen my dad cry.

[00:19:37] Brett: Like, to this day, it is the only time, uh, when he found out his father was dead, also of a heart attack, on the same day. Um, it was,

[00:19:46] Merlin: And, but you’re, you’re, it’s interesting how some of these stories, including Christina’s, including yours, a lot of mine, and this, this comes up, I think, in, in some of your better media, is like, yeah, I don’t want crappy things to happen to me. Like, I don’t want it, for example, there’s, I watched something [00:20:00] recently where somebody was very brutally beat up, and The, the thing about it was like the thing that made it difficult for them and for the kid who saw it was the, the kid eventually understood the kid, that guy, he didn’t want to get beat up.

[00:20:13] Merlin: My dad didn’t want to get beat up. But what he really didn’t want was for me to have to see it, to see him in that state. There’s something about seeing people we love in a, in a very vulnerable and being hurt and vulnerable and us knowing there’s nothing that we can do about it. How that’s a kind of a form of freeze in some ways, I feel like.

[00:20:34] Brett: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I only, like, I started talking about Fight or Flight to my therapist, and she clarified that it’s Fight, Flight, or Freeze, and that was, that was news to me at the time. I’m like, actually, that explains a lot of what I go through when I talk to my parents, when I get it. You know, triggered by religious stuff and things that have caused me trauma in the past.

[00:20:59] Brett: Um, I [00:21:00] freeze. I do. Yeah. Shame. For sure. I, like Merlin, you haven’t listened to the show for a while, but I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. Oh, should I just, can I just do a quick mental health corner? Um,

[00:21:12] Merlin: Well, I wish you would. And also, you know, this is probably not for the show, but you and I had a nice visit not too long ago, where I reached out to you because I knew that you were,

[00:21:24] Brett: yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah.

[00:21:25] Merlin: we had a, we, you know, we had a call.

[00:21:27] Brett: Yeah, we did. We did.

[00:21:29] Merlin: And like, it was, it was really, it was really something to get to chat with you, but I, I wish you would share that with your listeners, you know.

[00:21:35] Brett: so, yeah, so, well, I was recently diagnosed with PTSD, which is the DSM version of what I actually have, which is Complex PTSD, which is PTSD that stems not from a single event, but from repeated trauma, and, um,

[00:21:51] Merlin: yours especially localized to religion? Wasn’t there, isn’t there like a name for

[00:21:55] Brett: much, it’s very much what is known as Religious Trauma Syndrome, [00:22:00] um, and, uh, that’s also not a DSM term, which we talked about last week, but, um, they are recognized, kind of, maladies, if you will, and the, when you talk about shame, when you talk about, so like, The only people I can blame directly for that kind of repeated trauma are my parents.

[00:22:22] Brett: Um, but I also have to recognize that especially my mom came from a deep south, long line of, like, Baptist

[00:22:31] Merlin: were probably both doing their best every day. And that’s the problem.

[00:22:34] Brett: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And, and I

[00:22:37] Merlin: We always assume that we’re, we’re, we’re good at stuff and everybody else sucks or isn’t as smart or isn’t as careful or isn’t as pious. But like, this is something again from, that I wrote in this thing that I’m working on, which is like every day, everybody’s doing their, this is so annoying to people to say this, but every day, everybody’s doing their best.

[00:22:53] Merlin: And that’s the problem. Like when you say, Oh, do better. Well, like, that’s like, why don’t you just be

[00:22:58] Christina: Fuck off.

[00:22:58] Merlin: Well, it [00:23:00] is what, it was what it was to paraphrase the cliche, which is like, if you could have done better that day, don’t you think you would have?

[00:23:07] Christina: Most

[00:23:07] Merlin: And that’s, that being a parent is a lot, I mean, like, not just me, but like everybody is like, Oh man, I wish I could redo that.

[00:23:13] Merlin: I wish I could retake that. I wish I could have avoided saying like, again, I don’t want to trigger anybody, but like stuff like, you know, why didn’t you finish your dinner? Which seems like such an innocuous, we’re from a family, we worry about people in China who are starving or whatever. I’m like, yeah, but you also might be giving your kid a little bit of an eating disorder because of how often you point out that you don’t realize this.

[00:23:34] Merlin: Because you can’t realize this. You don’t realize how often you’re telling your daughter you think she doesn’t know how to eat and how to be healthy. And you mean it in the best possible way. You’re doing the best you can every day. But again, you’re trying to impress your dead mother when you do that.

[00:23:47] Merlin: And you just don’t know it. It’s my opinion anyway.

[00:23:49] Jeff: You’re trying to stay in the tribe.

[00:23:51] Brett: my mother once told me and I talked to her about this. She doesn’t remember it, but I was, I was home from college and I was talking about, I, I [00:24:00] had, I was after college. I had been recently diagnosed as bipolar. And, um, she said to me that she was sorry. And I’m going to paraphrase because this isn’t how she said it, but what I heard was, I’m sorry I had you.

[00:24:18] Brett: I’m sorry I birthed you and passed on all of these defects that run in my family, like her mother had clinical depression, her brother was bipolar, um, like there’s undiagnosed ADHD, and she felt like she was responsible for where I was at, and her response to that was to apologize for bringing me into this world, and holy shit, that is like, Honestly, the only thing I could feel was sympathy for her.

[00:24:50] Brett: The fact that she felt responsible

[00:24:52] Merlin: think she meant it as, I’m sorry, you, I mean, like, like it’s, it’s become very occurrent to go, okay, how can anybody have kids today in this world with the environment and the [00:25:00] blah, blah, blah, blah. But once you’ve had a kid, you never say, oh boy, I really wish I hadn’t had this kid, I really want to help the environment.

[00:25:05] Merlin: That’s just

[00:25:05] Brett: and that’s not what she meant. That’s just what I heard, and that’s not the way she said it. She said it in a very, like, Kind of apologetic, loving way, uh, like, I’m sorry I’m responsible for, I’m sorry I passed all of this on to you, um, yeah, which is its own form of, well, honestly, I think I got my ADHD from my dad’s side, and I’ve learned that both ADHD and bipolar are symptoms of complex PTSD, so

[00:25:35] Merlin: dude, I

[00:25:35] Brett: maybe I

[00:25:36] Merlin: every conversation we’ve had for 15 years. I can’t even tell you, like, let’s just one word, lemictal. I can’t tell you how many people I know who got whatever, they started however they are, nobody would help them because they thought they were weird, and they had a brain problem, and that’s a whole thing when you go to a doctor.

[00:25:50] Merlin: Like, oh, no, no, I’d rather just treat your strain from pickleball. I don’t want to deal with your brain. That’s like for a different, that kind of dog. Fucking pickleball. You’re wearing the wrong pickleball shoes. [00:26:00] I just learned about pickleball shoes, which to me is like a video game chair. I just don’t understand it.

[00:26:03] Merlin: But like, but, but, but you go like, I, you know, I, everybody’s trying to help. Everybody’s trying to be decent, but also everybody is, is unintentionally walking around. And I’m not going to get into a political thing that causes problems here, but just. Insert once this idea that, that what if, what if you look to people and I’m not saying it means you have to like people.

[00:26:24] Merlin: I’m not saying this just, but like the first step toward a lot of things is understanding and understanding something on its terms rather than yours. And if all we ever do is choose to see our world through our own terms, maybe the secondary thing that sucks is the world won’t get better. But a primary thing that sucks is you won’t get better because you are so.

[00:26:43] Merlin: Cleft to these parameters, these, you know, ice cube, paper thin walls of like, that have, that have like formed who you are. And I, I think there’s a way to handle that in a way that’s. muscular and assertive and is not [00:27:00] just merely about going, I’m mad at the world and want to do primal, primal scream therapy.

[00:27:04] Merlin: Not saying you shouldn’t, but it’s, it’s really complicated. But like, I can’t tell you how many friends I have now I’ve learned are, have taken Lamictal. And like, first they were just another screwed up person. And then they, Oh my God, you have depression. Okay, cool. Thanks. As my shrink told me the first month that I was with like, there’s so many problems with people.

[00:27:24] Merlin: Depression being the thing that they’ve identified in the client and then not realizing that it is actually a bipolar and maybe not even the bipolar that you thought. And guess what? If you, we’ve talked about this before, if you treat somebody for chronic depression, MDD, like any of the depressions, there’s a pretty good chance that the thing you’re using to treat them will actually harm them because the depression is just one aspect.

[00:27:49] Merlin: I mean, if you keep putting gas in your glove box, your car’s not going to go. And if that’s somebody whose job it is to put gas in the glove box, which sounds [00:28:00] like a line from a Steely Dan song, but if that’s that person’s job, they’re going to be very, is there gas in the glove box? Like they’re going to be very resistant to going, well, I don’t understand.

[00:28:07] Merlin: Why would you want gas in the tank? That, that seems like a fire hazard. I don’t know. It sounds silly, but like, it’s.

[00:28:13] Brett: I know what you mean.

[00:28:14] Merlin: But then on top of it all, I have two friends that I co host podcasts with, who started out that way, and we’ve gone through the first two, third one, oh guess what, you’ve actually got, I don’t know how we phrase this, but bipolar, a diagnosis of being bipolar.

[00:28:27] Merlin: And then in each instance, both of them got a subsequent diagnosis of Say it with me, Brett.

[00:28:32] Brett: ADHD.

[00:28:33] Merlin: ADHD. And guess what? That makes all of those preceding things so much more complicated.

[00:28:39] Brett: Mm hmm. Oh my god, yes. That is, that is the tightrope I walk, is how do I treat my ADHD without triggering manic episodes, um, and Like, when I’m in a depressive state, ADHD meds don’t do anything for me. [00:29:00] Um, when I am depressed, I can take all the stimulants I want, it’s not gonna fix it. Um, and

[00:29:06] Merlin: Can I just guess that, and if you get too much of the ADHD when you’re

[00:29:10] Brett: you’re manic.

[00:29:10] Merlin: when you’re the other, well, you know, do we say manic? When you ride on the trains in Chicago a lot all weekend, for example, a friend of mine, but like when you’re having an episode, if you were to pop an Adderall or a Vyvanse or like a whatever, that might even further escalate the

[00:29:26] Brett: so I, one of the things, um, for a long, and I know that you have been on Folklin before as well, Um, when Uh, when I switched back to Vyvanse after a long time, uh, my, the driving force was, I would get Manic, and I would, I would love my Vyvanse, uh, my Focaline. Like, my Focaline would extend my Manic episodes to a point where it was problematic.

[00:29:55] Brett: And I was basically using the Focaline,[00:30:00]

[00:30:00] Merlin: in a movie? In a movie when somebody does cocaine, they don’t do a little bit of cocaine and then stop.

[00:30:05] Jeff: yeah, yeah,

[00:30:05] Merlin: It’s like, and certainly you could say to that person in a very lucid way, Hey, you know, uh, Al Pacino in Scarface, I think you’ve had enough cocaine for now. Like, you’ve got the cocaine you need to do your work.

[00:30:16] Merlin: And now maybe don’t have all of the

[00:30:18] Brett: problem. I know how

[00:30:19] Merlin: know what makes you want to do cocaine? In part, is cocaine. And, and, and like, I know the way I’ve described this in a way that I imagine is controversial to some people is that like, I got off Adderall because it was, long story, but like, there’s never been anything that made me feel more like myself than Adderall.

[00:30:37] Merlin: 22 minutes from I wake up to I’m writing and like, let me get my hands around life in a way. It ended up that the side effects or the results of being on Adderall were not always good, but like, you have to, I feel like you have to be so careful because if you’re looking at your life in terms of.

[00:30:58] Merlin: Integrity, by which I don’t mean [00:31:00] brand, but in terms of wholeness, in a more, like, kind of Buddhist way. If you look at your life as having, like, a contiguous series of events and thoughts that represents you, it’s the triple dip cream dream to find whatever it is that helps you be who you want to be, to become who you want to become, or a Similar thing, it’s like, to feel like how I want to feel.

[00:31:20] Merlin: Now those all are very related, but those can, you have somebody who’s doing just a butt ton of cocaine going, It helps me be who I want to be. To quote the now discredited Bill Cosby, you know, uh, a great bit. No, I grew up on Bill Cosby. I’m not going to

[00:31:32] Jeff: Oh man. Why is there air? Why is there air? I played that record. I mean, as much as

[00:31:36] Merlin: Oh, for me it was my brother, brother Russell, whom I slept with and um, but there’s one where he’s talking, there’s one in, in Bill Cosby himself, the special where he’s talking about drugs and talking about people who do cocaine and people say, Hey, you got to do the cocaine cause it makes you, you know, more of however you are and you flip this.

[00:31:54] Merlin: I said, well, what if you’re an asshole? And like, yeah. [00:32:00] Some of us are an asshole, and the cocaine’s not making it better, but is that kind of what you’re talking about, where like, in that, in that, at that moment, I have, again, a dear friend of mine, that I think has been on the show, like, has to be circumspect about reloading the pistol with the stuff that seems like

[00:32:17] Brett: like I’ve, I’ve had a cocaine addiction. Like I’ve been through that. I know exactly what you mean when you say cocaine makes you want cocaine. Um, it’s a self perpetuating cycle and no, like I, I got clean. I haven’t 20 years. Uh, but Focalin. is the closest I’ve ever gotten to doing cocaine again. It brought that, uh, frontal lobe kind of pleasure and feeling

[00:32:46] Merlin: does feel like something is lighting up. Something that was dim before is now lighting up.

[00:32:50] Brett: So what’s been happening for the last week, uh, I think even before, I think I mentioned this last time we recorded, is I thought I might have switched [00:33:00] to type one bipolar because I was just having day after day of being productive, but I was sleeping and Like, I’ve been sleeping 8 hours a night, I’ve been sleeping 9 hours a night, and then having these productive days, and what I’ve realized is this is maybe what normal people have.

[00:33:23] Brett: Um, this level of energy I’ve always seen in other people who just have this constant

[00:33:29] Merlin: How are you still having, I say to my wife sometimes, like, how are you still having meetings at three o’clock? You’ve had so many meetings today, and like, you, and like, I have a place where she works, I don’t know why, they do lots of meetings on Fridays, and I’m always like, well that’s crazy for a variety of reasons.

[00:33:42] Christina: Totally.

[00:33:43] Brett: company doesn’t do meetings on

[00:33:45] Merlin: But like people but like seriously though like people others in that example though or like or people who are still like I’m like How are you is it just coffee? I know you people love your coffee drinks, but like how are you still so Conscious let alone animated at like three or four o’clock. I I might [00:34:00] I have a big precipitous drop after like 2 p.

[00:34:02] Merlin: m If I’m

[00:34:02] Brett: I am, I am fortunate to work in a company that A, just doesn’t do meetings on Mondays and Fridays, and B, um, works, it’s an international team, so we have to find times that work for everybody, and even like US based people, most of our team is in California, so the earliest meeting for me will be 10am, uh, which, I You know, it, it works.

[00:34:29] Brett: It works great.

[00:34:30] Merlin: Today, today, 10 a. m. That’s what, isn’t that ironic or funny that that was my suggestion was 10 a. m. My time. Yeah, I know. Right, right, right. Yeah.

[00:34:37] Brett: Um, but yeah, anyway, I, I will conce, I will seed my mental health corner to, uh, whoever wants to go

[00:34:47] Jeff: Do you want to go, Christine? It might actually might lead nicely into our custom GPT, uh, conversation.

[00:34:52] Christina: No, sure thing. Sure thing. Um, I, uh, no real updates, uh, on, on my end. Um, [00:35:00] I’m still waiting, um, to hear back on, on, uh, I have to get additional blood work to figure out some of the health stuff. So no update on that. If anybody was curious, it is what it is. My ADHD has been I’ve been struggling with that and uh, it’s funny hearing you, you, to talk about like the magic and powers of, of cocaine and uh, you know, like getting kind of that thing from Adderall and whatnot.

[00:35:22] Christina: God, I wish cocaine had any impact on me. It does not. Like I have, I, and,

[00:35:26] Merlin: it exactly once. I tried cocaine and I’m, I was, I was grew up in the eighties at a time when everybody was doing cocaine. My, I had friends who I was like, you did it on cocaine? I mean, you might as well say that you like, I don’t know, did hand stuff on Mount Everest. That’s crazy to me.

[00:35:41] Merlin: I tried it exactly once. It had no effect and I could not be more grateful.

[00:35:46] Christina: I, I,

[00:35:46] Merlin: Now, ephedrine, I used to eat ephedrine.

[00:35:49] Brett: Yeah, for sure. 10, 20. No problem.

[00:35:54] Christina: I, um, yeah, I, I, I, I, I’ve been on, on Dexedrine, which is, you know, like, uh, uh, more, [00:36:00] uh, and even more pure Adderall. Uh,

[00:36:03] Merlin: That’s old school!

[00:36:04] Christina: very old school. Yeah.

[00:36:06] Merlin: Little Helper?

[00:36:07] Christina: Um, I

[00:36:08] Merlin: No, I mean, from the Stones, from the Stones song! Like, dexedrine is used for weight loss.

[00:36:13] Christina: yeah, well, with that, with that, with that was

[00:36:15] Merlin: that is the subject of Mother’s Little Helper.

[00:36:17] Christina: Yeah. I mean, I mean, I mean, it’s basically, it’s, it’s, it’s like almost pure, um, amphetamine salt.

[00:36:22] Christina: Um, and so it’s, it’s, it’s legal speed. Um, and I’ve been, uh, on some amount of that since I was, uh, 15 or 16 years old. So, um, like the majority of my life, um, at this point. And so, yeah, so cocaine has no impact on me, but. At the same time, my ADHD, which is the reason I’ve been on the Dex string for so long, I am struggling with it.

[00:36:43] Christina: And then for me, a lot of times when my ADHD is bad, that will lead to, to go back to what you were talking about with shame earlier, that trigger, that will trigger like anxiety spirals and like kind of like a, you know, panic attack stuff, which then just makes me More panicked and more, you know, like shut [00:37:00] down, which leads to more feelings of shame and disappointment and whatnot, which leads to more.

[00:37:05] Christina: So it’s kind of a perpetuating cycle. So,

[00:37:07] Merlin: uh, it’s, it’s ironic that that’s called a positive feedback loop because it

[00:37:11] Christina: right. It means it’s negative, right?

[00:37:13] Merlin: if you’re ever a little kid who’s swished back and forth in the bathtub, you can find that you can either work against the wave or with the wave, but if you work with the wave, mom is going to be mad.

[00:37:23] Merlin: And that’s kind of what you’re describing, right? Is you, you going like, Oh, this, this is good. This feels, this feels less bad. And then like, you just, it’s so hard to manage.

[00:37:33] Christina: Yeah. Well, no, I mean, none of it feels good. It’s just that, but then it feels bad. And then you, you feel bad about feeling bad and then it gets worse regardless. Anyway. Um, I’m, I’ve been struggling with my ADHD this week. I don’t really know a solution for that other than, um, I got to talk to my, uh, my psychiatrist, I guess, um, potentially about another med solution.

[00:37:52] Christina: The problem is, is I’m already on so much texadrine right now. Taking more is not going to help. So I don’t know if there’s something else

[00:37:59] Merlin: So it’s an instance [00:38:00] of like, it’s not that there’s no, I’m paraphrasing or guessing here, but it sounds like you’re saying it’s not that it doesn’t have any effect on you. It’s just that the effect that it’s having is not, I mean, there’s a thing a lot of folks I think don’t know, which is why do you take speed, you know?

[00:38:15] Merlin: And it’s like, well, you take speed because as it turns out, the thing that. Um, Amphetamines do is what helps you produce, uh, dopamine in a more wholesome way. You know, the speedy part, the like, let’s go disco dance part is technically kind of a side effect. And whether it’s mushrooms or this, there are a lot of people or handful of people who are starting to ask, like, well, is it the chemical change or is it the experience?

[00:38:40] Merlin: And in your case, the experience of the like, he, he, he, I’ve had a lot of that. You’re getting, you might get that, but you’re not getting the salutary effects that it’s on label for.

[00:38:48] Christina: Right. Right. And,

[00:38:49] Merlin: helping your ADHD

[00:38:50] Christina: was not helping my ADHD, and to be completely honest, I don’t get the hee hee hee, I’m on speed thing, like, honestly, it’s one of those things, like, I will feel my heart rate increase, and I will know that, you know, [00:39:00] like, when it’s kicked in, but it’s not as

[00:39:03] Merlin: 22 minutes for me.

[00:39:04] Christina: Yeah, but it’s not as if it will have, like, an impact on my behavior, you know what I mean?

[00:39:08] Christina: Like, other than maybe, like, have an elevated heart rate. It’s not like I feel a high of any

[00:39:12] Merlin: You’re getting what a lot of people regard as a desire or some element. Like it’s just like, you know, it’s funny. One of the things that got me off Adderall was this realization, several things, but, and I, God, I would love to be back on Adderall. I would kill to be on Adderall right now. But, but like, well, part of, part of what got me with that, with that was just this idea of like, well, I mean, this is a, as a thought experiment.

[00:39:31] Merlin: Like, we’ve all been on drugs at one point in our life where the side effects were just overwhelmingly bad and negative. Well, for me, the side effects are awesome. And then the question becomes, like, would I seek this treatment and would I adhere to it as diligently if the side effects weren’t ones that I like?

[00:39:51] Brett: Or even, or even if they were neutral.

[00:39:55] Merlin: Right. It’s certainly, I mean, I looked forward to getting up in the morning and having an Adderall. I, [00:40:00] I, no shame there. Like that’s just a fact. Because, and then like people say, Oh, you’re abusing it. But like, no, well, like if you’re, if you’re like a salesman who’s very charismatic, are you abusing your charisma?

[00:40:10] Merlin: Like people who have the wiring for this stuff to not be a big deal. There’s a reason Starbucks is on every corner. People love that damn coffee. They’re all, people’s all gacked out on all these different things. Anyway, now I sound defensive, but that

[00:40:21] Christina: but, well, no, but totally. I mean, but I will say, I will say for me, and I totally get that, um, I don’t, I don’t get that, though. It’s one of those things where, like, yeah, my heart rate, uh, will, will increase, and I might speak even more quickly, but I’m not getting, like, I guess, the positive dopamine response.

[00:40:35] Merlin: You don’t feel like super engaged, like pedals down. You don’t get that feeling of like super engagement.

[00:40:40] Christina: Um, I used to, I haven’t in a long time, and so, uh,

[00:40:44] Merlin: Can I have them?

[00:40:45] Christina: bit more.

[00:40:46] Merlin: Could I have all of them, please?

[00:40:47] Christina: oh, totally. I, I will give them all to you. But, but, I mean, I, which honestly is to, well, that’s the interesting thing, and, and I have no shame in this. Uh, this is when we’re just sharing a mental health corner, I can also just [00:41:00] share, like, drug crimes.

[00:41:01] Christina: Um, I very frequently will, like, You know, have mine with me. And because I get 60, because I take it twice a day, um, I, if somebody who is not ADHD and who could actually like benefit, like if we’re, you know, running like on like a, you know, a big project where you’ve got to work like 20 hours straight and whatnot, I will ask people and be like, do you want to take half of one of these?

[00:41:22] Christina: You’re probably going to not want to take the full thing. Cause that’s going to totally get you fucked up. But if you

[00:41:27] Merlin: especially, especially if you don’t have ADHD.

[00:41:30] Brett: Yeah. We pulled an all nighter at CES once and I gave someone half of one of my Vyvanse and it was crazy to see the effect on them. I’ve never seen him. He was talking like you do normally.

[00:41:43] Christina: Yes. Totally. And, and, um, well, imagine me, the, the few times that I have had like that instance when like the, the Dexedrine and the Nodos fused was what I imagine it would be like if, if cocaine worked on me, because it was, it’s genuinely like one of those things out of a movie [00:42:00] where some, the person is talking so fast and is so frenetic and also was so productive.

[00:42:05] Christina: But, um, I, I don’t, uh, Um, get, um, that impact. Uh, but on this note, I guess that’s why I need to talk to my psychiatrist. Um, I did, I think the last time I really kind of felt any of that. And, and to your point, I don’t know if I’m seeking the side effect or what it is. I don’t actually care. Like I, I just want to get back on the thing where I feel like I

[00:42:26] Merlin: I don’t, I don’t want to be right. I want to be happy.

[00:42:29] Christina: Right. I mean, I,

[00:42:30] Merlin: I want you to fix this. Like, fix it, and like, I don’t need a persuasive, as Tom Wolfe would say, I don’t need a persuasive theory about what my problem is. If you’ve got some, if just, if you’re not, if you think you can just give me antibiotics, it’ll make the infection go away,

[00:42:44] Christina: No, I 1000%, but, uh, I, I used to be on a drug called Provigil or Modafinil and my

[00:42:50] Merlin: I’m on it right now. It’s what I take every morning.

[00:42:52] Christina: it’s fucking great, uh, but I used to take that and the dexedrine at the same time and it was fantastic. And the only reason I stopped that, um, [00:43:00] uh, dual treatment was because of the price at the time of Provigil and my insurance company wouldn’t cover it.

[00:43:05] Christina: But,

[00:43:06] Merlin: I, I used to buy it on the, like, the gray market.

[00:43:09] Christina: yeah.

[00:43:09] Jeff: Mm hmm.

[00:43:10] Christina: know, we talked about that. Yeah,

[00:43:11] Jeff: Yeah.

[00:43:12] Brett: by Amen,

[00:43:12] Merlin: you could pick that up as, as, as Ephedrine got outlawed, like in different states. And it’s such a bummer, like that. And when I was, I’ll tell you about Grandpa Merlin going to tell you a story. 1987, you could go into the Shell station and get, I want to say 25 or 50 Ephedrine for like 2.

[00:43:29] Merlin: 99, 3. 99. And then I have, I still have a Google Sheets document tracking the price of it over time. But like, it’s, It’s um, I’m sorry, go ahead, I’m interrupting.

[00:43:40] Christina: no, no, no, you’re, no, you’re good. You’re good. Um, but my, my husband recently started taking, um, uh, provisional midopinol or whatever. And we found out that with good Rx and also our insurance, it’s actually covered pretty well. And so I, um, I’m going to talk to my psychiatrist and be like, okay, look, you’re probably not going to want to have me take as much dexedrine as I take [00:44:00] and as much provisional as I was taking.

[00:44:02] Christina: Cause that would be way too much, but maybe I could try

[00:44:04] Merlin: of those for different, uh, aspects?

[00:44:07] Christina: Yeah, I

[00:44:09] Merlin: Both of them at once, that’s interesting.

[00:44:11] Christina: I was. Uh, it worked real well. Um, uh, because, um, I think, interestingly, I think what the dextrine helps with me more for, it’s not even so much the ADHD, I think it does help my anxiety a little bit. Uh, which is counter to

[00:44:25] Merlin: it’s very paradoxical, very difficult to explain to somebody.

[00:44:27] Christina: Yes, well, well, but it’s even difficult to explain to doctors who are not well versed in it, as I know when I have to tell any general practitioner, any general practitioner who doesn’t know me, they’re like, Oh, well, you know, I think that this is your problem. You’re on this and this.

[00:44:40] Merlin: First thing we need to do is get you off all these drugs and get

[00:44:43] Jeff: Mm hmm. Mm

[00:44:44] Christina: and, and I’m, I’m,

[00:44:45] Merlin: Yeah, I’ll just hit pause on my life and like, I just won’t be a person for a while while you, you go and you and house go and just look at some posters of bodies.

[00:44:54] Christina: Which I did six months, which, which was the last six months of 2023 for me, and was pretty fucking horrific having to go off [00:45:00] of one antidepressant, start another, that one didn’t work, and then go off of that one.

[00:45:04] Merlin: Well, you poor thing. That

[00:45:06] Christina: Like, like, like, zero stars, would not recommend, do not encourage, but my point being like, but Like the, the Dexedrine does work and so I, I’ve been very, like I, I oftentimes don’t want to argue with the doctors because I’ve had bad experiences when I do, but one area where I will is when they’re like, Oh, well, your Dexedrine, that might be a problem.

[00:45:23] Christina: We like, um. Go fuck yourself. I’ve been on it since I was 15. Uh, I guarantee you that my heart rate and my, you know, speech pattern and everything else that you are, you know, associating with the speed I’m on would be identical. I mean, the heart rate might be a little bit slower, but only just. And I know this because I’ve tested that.

[00:45:43] Brett: worried about your heart rate way before you started dexedrine, right?

[00:45:47] Christina: Yeah,

[00:45:48] Brett: Yeah.

[00:45:49] Christina: like,

[00:45:49] Jeff: general practitioners, it’s like, you know what, just because you read an abstract of a recent study does not make you

[00:45:56] Christina: well, not only that, but a lot of times they will be like, Oh, I think the reason you have anxiety is [00:46:00] because of this drug. And I’m like, no, actually, this has helped with the anxiety. In fact, that was one of the reasons initially, because I was a teenage girl in the 90s. Um, it was rare to get an ADHD diagnosis, and I got one, but the doctor didn’t even think that I was ADHD.

[00:46:16] Christina: It’s just, we were like, we think that this might help with the depression and the anxiety, um, but I can’t get you a prescription for this for an off label purpose, so I will give you an ADHD diagnosis. Now, it turned out I am ADHD, but again, the 90s, teenage girl, that’s not something that you would get diagnosed with.

[00:46:35] Christina: Um, uh,

[00:46:36] Brett: girls don’t have ADHD. Only boys are

[00:46:38] Christina: even now it’s hard, but like, well, and, and thank God,

[00:46:41] Merlin: don’t seem to be a behavioral problem for me yet. So you’re a girl. ADHD.

[00:46:46] Christina: Right. Well, and, and, and to be honest, I, it was a weird, it was a weird switch where I went from having no ADHD symptoms to having ADHD symptoms and it was seemingly almost overnight and it, that was

[00:46:59] Merlin: were you, were you [00:47:00] expressing out of curiosity? I, I, this is something, forgive me, I’ve talked about so much lately because I, but like the um, uh, when I was younger, which is a long time ago, but like before we, when it was just ADD, like in the, in the 90s, the, the, the primary thing that I think folks were aware of Was the H.

[00:47:18] Merlin: At least in what I was aware of, it was the whole like, your kid needs to sit down in class. You need to get them on Ritalin, or like, you need to go to a special school. And like, I think that is the beginning of. I don’t want to talk broadly, but like there’s such a lack of understanding about what is happening and stuff that seems extremely paradoxical to people is really not that paradoxical.

[00:47:41] Merlin: It’s not that difficult to understand if you understand that there’s these pipes and wires in your brain and you look at it this one way because your pipes and wires work this way and then mine work in this other way. It doesn’t mean we have like different species brains. But like the very, the very first time I’ve, this is a, this is a, a [00:48:00] 42nd story.

[00:48:00] Merlin: My friend Leslie Harpo, RIP, my friend, um, one day she, she said to me, this is a twice told tale, but it’s, I think important circa, I was 43 folder stay. So circa 2004 or five, she goes like, oh, you know, you got a DHD. And I’m like, I think Ivory doctor says I should just drink water and take walks. And she, she gave me two Adderall and she said, take one of these.

[00:48:22] Merlin: And see what happened. Pretty much that was it. Like, you know, she’s, she’s a nut. She was the best. But anyway, the next day I did take one and I wrote three to 5, 000 words and I didn’t run around. I did not have the H. The H that I have is in my head. The H is not in my legs. The H is in my head. But. And she said, well, then you’ve absolutely got ADHD, said

[00:48:42] Christina: Mm hmm.

[00:48:43] Merlin: Harpold, because if you’d taken that and went to go out and like, I don’t know, dance to DJ Shadow, that would mean that like, you’re normal. The fact that that made you

[00:48:54] Christina: More focused in.

[00:48:56] Merlin: I had energy, but boy, the focus, that’s the thing people [00:49:00] miss

[00:49:00] Christina: That, that, well,

[00:49:01] Merlin: not that I can’t concentrate, I want to be able to choose what I concentrate

[00:49:04] Christina: Right. You want to be able to actually be able to do what you need to do, um, and be able to do it in, like, an

[00:49:09] Merlin: Which is very paradoxical to

[00:49:11] Christina: It is very paradoxical. And, and so, and look, to be clear, I am ADHD. Um. My question, and I’ve talked about this before and I don’t want to go too long, is there was a switch, uh, when I, I, I was, uh, diagnosed with depression when I was 14, although I diagnosed myself when I was 9, and I probably had symptoms going back as early as 6.

[00:49:31] Christina: Um, it, it, but, like, so, you know, for me, um, it is not informed by, like, for a lot of people, things have been informed by traumas and, and other things in your life. For me, not to say those things haven’t later on impacted things, but, There was a biochemical thing with my brain that I’m aware of going back to six years old.

[00:49:48] Christina: I can, I can recall when, you know, memories and things like that. And I, I diagnosed myself with depression when I was nine years old, uh, because of a TV commercial of all things. Like I was like, Oh yeah, I have all that. That’s completely me. [00:50:00] Um,

[00:50:00] Merlin: it for Burger King? What was it for? Do you

[00:50:02] Christina: uh, it was, it was, I think, I think it was for a mental health center actually.

[00:50:06] Christina: And they were like, kind of going through like

[00:50:07] Merlin: Called something like Longview or something.

[00:50:09] Christina: you know, kind of, yeah, exactly. It

[00:50:12] Merlin: We have horses. Girls can come here with their

[00:50:15] Jeff: Look, everyone wears the same outfit.

[00:50:16] Merlin: Look at that. The laundry’s easy.

[00:50:19] Christina: It was for a center called Charter that I don’t, Charter Peachford, which I don’t even know if that exists anymore, but, um, but I was, uh, depressed, and then I tried these antidepressants, and again, this was hard because I’m 14 and a girl, uh, which was rare, and at the time we didn’t have a lot of adolescent, uh, SSRI studies, and then beyond that, My bone age and my body weight were so low, they literally had no data on like, what does a person who weighs 67 pounds, what does an SSRI do to them and how do you dose that?

[00:50:50] Christina: Like they literally didn’t know. Um, so I went through a lot of shit with that, but one of the side effects was after I went on Paxil, [00:51:00] Paxil Prozac, I think it was Paxil, was uh, basically I became classic ADHD and I’d

[00:51:07] Merlin: Really? You didn’t get numb? You got That’s so interesting. Doesn’t that make a lot of people feel numb?

[00:51:12] Christina: yeah, some of it, well, I did get numb actually. But in addition to that, and it could have been a coincidental thing with hormones, brain clusters, whatnot, I have no idea.

[00:51:20] Christina: But then I also, I went from being a very diligent focused, like studious type A OCD to the max person to one. To not being able to focus on anything, not being able to concentrate, not being able to force myself to, to study, to like every aspect of myself completely switched. And, and it appeared as, and you know, was ADHD.

[00:51:42] Christina: And so I got a diagnosis for that. Um, and, and definitely the, the dexedrine helped. Uh, years later, I, Added Provigil to the mix and that was a great combo because again, I have some, um, uh, there were some other things that were helpful, like anxiety and depression. The two of them worked well together. [00:52:00] I don’t know, you know, this might just be me like grasping at straws and being like, Oh, go back to this thing that worked, you know, 18 years ago.

[00:52:08] Christina: Um, and, and that you had to give up a

[00:52:10] Merlin: I always search for my keys here because the light’s good.

[00:52:13] Christina: Yeah, uh, you know, like, right, like, like, like, go back to this thing that, that worked, that you had to go off of for, you know, medical, um, uh, billing reasons and, and not anything else, and see if that will, will fix things, and I don’t know if it will or won’t, but I do need to, and he might even say at this point, uh, he’s like, when I prescribed you to do both of those at the same time back then, that was fine, but now there’s no way that, you know, the world will

[00:52:38] Merlin: consolation, at least in my experience, in the time that I’ve sought help for this from somebody who’s actually willing to help me, um, and that’s, those are both important, uh, I, I mean, things kind of have, in terms of like a little bit of the understanding’s gotten better and some of the drugs have gotten better, it just feels like they’re, they’re still not good, but like the tools have gotten a little less blunt.

[00:52:58] Christina: Oh, no, that’s true for sure. And, [00:53:00] and I, I, I’m looking at seeing the same psychiatrist that I saw who prescribed me those things to begin with. So, um, I

[00:53:05] Merlin: sorry you’re having a bad week. That sucks.

[00:53:08] Christina: uh, so yeah, so, so I need, I need to find out, like, I need to talk to him about getting my ADHD back in control. And that was too long.

[00:53:15] Christina: Anyway, I’m, I’m done. Right.

[00:53:18] Merlin: had to go off Vyvanse because I have high blood pressure. I’m ready to throw it to you, Jeff. I just want to say that I would be back. Vyvanse, and Vyvanse, it’s, nothing was ever as good as the one before in terms of effects. I mean, Adderall is a pretty high bar. And I thought, like, uh, Focalin, you know, the first one they tried was, I think, Ritalin.

[00:53:37] Merlin: And because my, you know, as much as he is a libertarian nut, like we did start off and ramp up, especially with Lomical. And ramp up, ramp down, buddy. Um, but, but like trying just little bits and then you’d have like a, what seems like an effective dose. And we tried different things and he’s, I love the fact that he’s open to trying different things, but like, you know, honestly, Vyvanse was not as good as, you know, [00:54:00] Focalin.

[00:54:01] Merlin: Focalin was not as good as Adderall. And the whole reason I’m on Modafinil is like, he feels like that is, it’s not in the sweet spot, but it’s in the less sour spot title.

[00:54:13] Christina: Well, and.

[00:54:14] Merlin: for like, you will get some of the effects you need out of this without increasing your heart

[00:54:20] Christina: Well, I was gonna say,

[00:54:21] Merlin: blood pressure, which I

[00:54:22] Christina: I was gonna say, that’s why my husband was, was taken off of his, he’d been on Vyvanse or Dexedrine or whatever, and, and, and Dexedrine, Vyvanse, for people who don’t know, actually is Dexedrine with a couple of molecules difference, and then, uh, which

[00:54:34] Brett: yeah,

[00:54:35] Merlin: I didn’t know

[00:54:35] Christina: Yeah, they

[00:54:36] Jeff: can’t snort it.

[00:54:38] Christina: that was gonna, I was gonna say, no, I, I know, uh, the, the main change they made is so you couldn’t snort it, but you can still abuse it, you put it in water, it’s fine, um, and, uh, but the bigger thing, honestly, uh, the snorting thing was the, the cover for the real reason they changed it, it was to extend the patent life, uh, it,

[00:54:55] Merlin: Oh yeah, classic. Like those, all those allergy medicines

[00:54:58] Christina: Well, and, and, and speaking of like, [00:55:00] uh,

[00:55:00] Merlin: get a different mechanism. Yeah,

[00:55:02] Christina: there, there’s a, a, a, a very similar drug, uh, from ProVigil called NuVigil. It is not as effective. It is not as good. I’ve had negative

[00:55:09] Brett: A A A Monafidil, as it’s known. Uh, generically, yes.

[00:55:14] Christina: Yeah, but it’s called NuVigil. And again, that was done because the, um, patent on ProVigil was coming up and they were like, oh shit, we, we, we got to extend this because this modafinil is incredibly expensive.

[00:55:25] Christina: Um, even off, um, a prescription. Uh, it’s incredibly expensive, but yeah.

[00:55:32] Brett: A Monafidil is so much easier to find on the black market than actual Monafidil. Uh, like A Monafidil, you can buy black market just about anywhere.

[00:55:42] Christina: And,

[00:55:42] Merlin: sounds like somebody who runs them in militia to me. Eamon, have you, God, you know, hear what they did to Eamon? What they did to Eamon Naffadil? Don’t

[00:55:51] Jeff: not his father. Exactly.

[00:55:54] Merlin: call me Mr. Daffin, he’ll call me Eamon.

[00:55:56] Christina: yeah, but anyway, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll see. I don’t know. I, I need to find something else, but [00:56:00] that’s, yeah. Um, uh, but yeah,

[00:56:02] Merlin: But like, you know, one thing a lot of this comes back to is like, a thing I, I, uh, people always talk about, I hope my kid gets into a good school. And I’m like, well, I hope my kid gets the good teacher. Like, cause if you go to the good school and don’t get the good teacher, it’s no

[00:56:14] Christina: Oh, that was my, that was my first high school, uh, which was incidentally when my brain switched and I went

[00:56:19] Merlin: Oh, there you

[00:56:20] Christina: A when I, oh, and it’s,

[00:56:21] Merlin: the right doctor really makes a difference and not just somebody who will like kiss your ass but like somebody who is curious and sympathetic in a way that a lot of GPs aren’t.

[00:56:32] Christina: Yeah, no, and, and no, but my, my high school was awful. Like my teenagehood, part of what sucked so badly was that I went to this great school that had fucking terrible teachers and it turned out it wasn’t really that great of a school because it was so high achieving, all the kids were competitive and in a way that was toxic and the parents were competitive and toxic and the teachers were

[00:56:51] Merlin: What’s becomes known as a good school, the end is already beginning because now it’s become the sweaty place where sweaty parents want their kids to

[00:56:58] Christina: Well, it, it, it was just, it, it, and it was, [00:57:00] you know, everybody was miserable, and then the teachers were completely un understanding, uh, again, late 90s mental health stuff, they’re not gonna be there for that. Now, we, I would absolutely sue them, um, for, uh, for, for how they treated me and what they did. Oh, without a doubt, oh, 100%.

[00:57:15] Christina: Um, and then I also was trying to find the right psychiatrist, which I think I went through six or seven to find somebody. Again, hard to find treatment. Especially late 90s when you’re a teenage girl for certain things because they’re not taking mental health seriously. Um,

[00:57:30] Merlin: Yeah, talk to anybody today about trying to find a therapist.

[00:57:33] Christina: oh, I mean, it’s awful. It’s,

[00:57:34] Merlin: not just COVID. My wife works at UC, which is a medical school, UC San Francisco. And like, there’s just been this diaspora of doctors in general. There’s all this stuff you’ve heard about. A lot of doctors are retiring, a lot of everybody’s retiring.

[00:57:44] Merlin: But also, as you’ve probably heard, fewer people are becoming internist GPs. Or a term I hate and just learned last month is a hospitalist. Like fewer people are doing that because it’s not just where the money is, but it’s partly where the money is to be a specialist. And like, [00:58:00] it’s just not attracting the same amount of like, very engaged people who want to be a, a, a, a family physician like my mother before me kind of thing.

[00:58:08] Christina: right. No, everybody wants to be a dermatologist. Um, you know, or, or, or, or something when they want to make the money, which get it. But it, yeah, it weakens the pool. Um, yeah, when my psychiatrist,

[00:58:21] Merlin: how can I make your problem about your skin? Did you know the skin’s the largest organ? Instead of that dexedrine, let’s try this soothing cream I recommend. You know, if you, when you put your makeup on, use a less strong finger.

[00:58:36] Jeff: Oh,

[00:58:37] Merlin: rub it, don’t rub it, use a less strong finger, and always go up.

[00:58:40] Merlin: Here, wait, let me get that.

[00:58:41] Jeff: Always go up.


[00:58:47] Back to the Corner[00:58:47] Sponsor: Notion

[00:58:47] Merlin: [00:59:00] [01:00:00] Hey Jeff, how’s your corner?

[01:00:44] Brett: We’ve done

[01:00:44] Jeff: like we could,

[01:00:45] Brett: an hour.

[01:00:46] Jeff: I feel like we could leverage the fuck out of these discussions with SEO, um, at this point. And I do feel like we’re leaving sponsor money on

[01:00:54] Merlin: Best, best, best Christina depression. Sexy Christina depression. Um,[01:01:00]

[01:01:00] Christina: I mean, look, we could get the drug companies, honestly, if you want to sponsor us, like, I’ll read your ad read. I’m not going to actually tell

[01:01:05] Merlin: oh, me too.

[01:01:06] Christina: but I will, I

[01:01:07] Jeff: I feel like.

[01:01:07] Merlin: I won’t use your VPN, but I will talk about your opioid.

[01:01:10] Jeff: The most uncontroversial drug we talk about is Lamictal, and I feel like it comes up with guests, with us, like, Yeah, so like, that’s where we start. That’s where we start, right? The least controversial. Um, I, so, I am in a situation, I have a, well, first of all, I don’t know if people can hear dishes, but a friend of the show might.

[01:01:31] Jeff: My youngest teenager is emptying the dishwasher. To me, that’s like, uh, he’s 15 and

[01:01:35] Merlin: Oh, I have a teenager who’s

[01:01:37] Jeff: 18 soon. Oh man. It’s a lovely, they’re all good ages in a way I think, but I love that age. Um, but unloading the dishwasher, I’m never going to stop that. It’s music to my ears.

[01:01:48] Merlin: babies. Those

[01:01:49] Jeff: Stupid babies, assholes, monsters, everything.

[01:01:52] Jeff: So I have my, my oldest is, um, is going to be leaving for college. Uh, he’s a senior now. And, [01:02:00] uh, and he, man, he, my birthday was last week and he, in the card, he said, I can’t believe that soon I’m not going to be seeing you every day. And I was like,

[01:02:11] Christina: you.

[01:02:12] Jeff: and I’ve already, the, the struggle for me since the summer, because Kids leaving, all of a sudden you start noticing the things it’s the last time, you know, and, and I’ve been really struggling and mostly succeeding all year and like, don’t grieve now, right?

[01:02:25] Jeff: Like feel it, like feel feelings and be glad that you have this

[01:02:29] Merlin: It’s totally sensible, but it’s much more challenging. And for me, more emotionally, it sounds, nobody cares about parents stuff, whatever, but like, you know, I actually like this person and like, if I didn’t like this person, it might be easier. And I’d be like, Oh, finally I can go to Europe.

[01:02:45] Jeff: do not relate

[01:02:46] Merlin: I treasure, there’s a reason I was almost

[01:02:48] Christina: said that exact thing

[01:02:49] Jeff: He’s like a great roommate and a friend. Yeah.

[01:02:52] Christina: you, you really love your kids and have this great relationship and

[01:02:54] Merlin: was almost late today. Cause I wanted to watch house with my, with my son.

[01:02:58] Jeff: I love that. I

[01:02:59] Brett: parents, my [01:03:00] parents were honestly glad when, like, took it rid of me and I was glad to

[01:03:04] Merlin: you should be too

[01:03:05] Brett: yeah,

[01:03:06] Jeff: Yeah, exactly.

[01:03:07] Merlin: fine. Fine.

[01:03:08] Christina: I, I was, I was ready to leave, but now it’s one of those things where like my mom gets very, very upset, like whenever I leave, you know, like it’s one of those things, but, but at the time I was like,

[01:03:18] Merlin: I think, I’ll bet you, like, like, like Jeff and me and a lot of other people, like, every Christmas morning I think is this the last one.

[01:03:24] Jeff: Yeah. Yeah,

[01:03:25] Merlin: like, maybe because I’m dead, but also just because of, you know, who knows what comes along. Be careful crossing the street. And that kind of stuff, even if you’re not an obsessive thinker about that stuff so much, which I think I’m not, like, it’s still kind of difficult to put it out of your mind, but I think you’re on

[01:03:39] Jeff: not catastrophizing to have those moments, right?

[01:03:42] Merlin: think it’s not, but you’re also on the right track though with the, I think the, like, let’s, I don’t know, this is getting into way deeper stuff. You guys should have me on every week. Um, but, like, I’m sure your listeners would love that. But, like, it is also about being in that moment and,

[01:03:55] Jeff: That’s exactly it. You’re not in the moment.

[01:03:57] Merlin: that particular show without having to feel like [01:04:00] this, this negative feeling I have is something that will be with me for the rest.

[01:04:03] Merlin: It’s like, that’s, it’s okay. Bittersweet is an adjective for a reason.

[01:04:07] Jeff: Yeah, melancholy is usually actually a beautiful thing. I, so what I’ve been, and what I’ve been doing with this is I, I’ve resurrected years ago, I made a timeline, uh, in Airtable, which I, which I love. I go between text file CSVs and Airtable all the time. Um, and, and what I wanted, cause I had a very sort of like meandering, chaotic youth, like where I, And I had moved like 36 times and my mom and I were just, I don’t know if she was in witness protection to this day.

[01:04:34] Jeff: I wonder that we’re just like moving around all over the place. And, and I went to like three elementary schools and like everything just, it’s hard to hold. Right. And so I was like, you know what I want? I want to, I want a timeline. And on that timeline, I want A few different things. I want every address I ever lived in and who I lived with there.

[01:04:50] Jeff: Like, was it my mom’s sister? Was it a boyfriend? Like whatever,

[01:04:53] Merlin: you ever throw your kid out, I’m moving in with you because I have, I have done this.

[01:04:59] Jeff: [01:05:00] Well, yeah. And like, what I think is beautiful about it, part of why it’s helpful to me now. So when I made it actually, it was very calming. It was like a little warm hugs. It was like, Oh, look, I see, I’m not looking to see a straight line through my life, but I see the, I see the path and the winding in a way

[01:05:14] Merlin: When you see the patterns, you

[01:05:15] Jeff: knocking around in my

[01:05:16] Merlin: something in an audio app and going, Oh, this happened for a long time. This happened for a little time. Well, of course, wasn’t that obvious? No. But then also you go like, well, to me, A, that feels as fresh as yesterday. Weirdly, this super old one, it’s like my grandmother with Alzheimer’s would remember stuff from 1917, but not.

[01:05:32] Merlin: Like, what just happened? But like, it’s also that, like, the sequence of those events, and then like, oh, that was a, I lived in that place, that place must have had a big impact on me because I lived there a lot less time than I thought. Oh, and wasn’t there a girl across the street named Melissa I’m suddenly remembering?

[01:05:45] Jeff: It’s like, wow, this is

[01:05:46] Merlin: It lets you, it gives you permission to remember your life.

[01:05:49] Jeff: up, yeah, exactly, exactly. And, and, and the thing that’s helpful about it now, there’s two things about it that I’m noticing now. One is the thing that’s helpful now is that it reminds me of how much transition, [01:06:00] has been in my life and how much lots of that transition has led to really just beautiful things and who I am, even if it wasn’t good and how like necessary it is in our lives.

[01:06:09] Jeff: I know that for him, like I’m excited for him. I know, I know what it means. Just like get out, start your life. Right. Um, but I need to, I need to find, I’m loving finding ways to just put this on the timeline and realize that like, You know, should everyone survive? Which you never know, right? Like, but I’m not really that hung up on that.

[01:06:27] Jeff: Like that timeline is

[01:06:28] Merlin: that, that is extra, I mean, that sounds

[01:06:29] Jeff: really cool shit in it,

[01:06:31] Merlin: That’s extra incentive though, to remember that this is all you have. Like, I think I like to say to my friend, Alex, is however you, anybody in the world feels about me, I’m all I’ve got, I’m very disinclined to change who I am because somebody else doesn’t like it, not because I’m obdurate, but because like, well, there’s no bottom to that.

[01:06:48] Merlin: But like it also means like learning to become, mindfulness is such an overused word and it’s become synonymous with piles of rocks and meditating while a bell plays and all that kind of stuff. But mindfulness to me is, is, is less [01:07:00] about quote being Zen and much more about just catching yourself or finding yourself in situations and going, well then how do I feel about how I feel?

[01:07:08] Merlin: And, and that’s such an important part of integration. It sounds like therapy, but like, it’s such an important part. And like, it’s okay to be sad about it, or it’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to be all of those things. And like, feelings are like roaches. You can only chase them out of the room for a little while.

[01:07:23] Merlin: And like, why, why not own that?

[01:07:26] Jeff: Yeah. And you just made me think of something that kind of changed how I think about feelings and where they can exist. So I did, uh, I spent two days with a forensic anthropologist years ago to do a profile. I was a journalist for like 20 years and then left because I hate how journalism is done overall.

[01:07:41] Jeff: But I, um, I spent two days with this guy and basically he, he pioneered how you, um, exhume mass graves, um, in, you know, places that had dictatorships, whatever. And he has this picture that he showed me that was like He was part of a team that was exhuming a mass grave in Guatemala and, and around the rim [01:08:00] of the hole are the relatives and there’s children there and everything else, right?

[01:08:03] Jeff: And, um, and they’ve been sitting there for a while because they’re just waiting to see who comes up basically, right? And, but if you look at this picture, some of them are talking and laughing. There’s a kid eating an ice cream cone. Like there’s all this different stuff. And I was like, what, what is that?

[01:08:17] Jeff: What am I looking at? And he said, here’s the incredible thing about doing this work is that it’s the only. context in which I feel like I’ve experienced every human emotion being available. Uh, because it’s just like, you go to the very worst and then people are naturally going to get to a point where they’re like, I want a fucking ice cream cone.

[01:08:35] Jeff: Or like, remember this story, I’m laughing, right? Like, um, I think that’s really, it’s, it’s an intense way

[01:08:43] Merlin: mean, like on the emotional palette, this is really a lame. analogy, but like, we don’t get to, we don’t get to pick what our own emotional palette is, unless we are a little bit deranged. But like, something I feel like I want to say this in a kind way that’s useful, but like, [01:09:00] you also can’t choose other people’s emotional palette.

[01:09:03] Merlin: You can’t tell them how to feel, you can’t tell them what’s appropriate, and for the love of God, please stop telling people how to grieve. Stop telling people they’re grieving wrong. Stop telling people they’re being depressed wrong. Stop telling somebody who’s sad that they’re actually happy, because now you’re also basically just telling them they’re sad and they’re a liar.

[01:09:19] Merlin: And that’s not going to be, that’s not helpful. It seems helpful. Let’s go back to 45 minutes ago or whatever it was. That feels like something your parents say to you, Oh no, you’re pretty. You’re really pretty, and if they don’t like you, they’re not your real friends, and like, well, I’m not pretty, and I know they’re not my real friends, and that’s the problem, and also you saying this makes me feel like you think I’m four,

[01:09:37] Jeff: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, okay. So then what’s the transition

[01:09:42] Merlin: Were the bodies, were the bodies, like, recently buried, it sounds like?

[01:09:46] Jeff: They had been, no, probably,

[01:09:49] Merlin: 40s.

[01:09:50] Jeff: no, they were probably at the time 10 years old.

[01:09:53] Merlin: in like Rwanda or something?

[01:09:55] Jeff: was in Guatemala. So like they’re, the people are looking for clothing they recognized or, you know, [01:10:00] that kind of stuff. I mean, it’s really, it’s awful. Right. And I don’t mean to like hit that hard.

[01:10:04] Merlin: I watched, uh, because I watch plane crash videos. Um,

[01:10:08] Jeff: Oh, he also pioneered how you actually do, uh, body identification in plane crashes. This guy was. We called the thing The

[01:10:16] Merlin: when you look at that debris field, like it is rough. It isn’t just like, Oh, here’s this pair of baby shoes and stuff like that. It’s just the, the, the, anyway, sorry. It’s just, I’m

[01:10:25] Jeff: Yeah, no, no. I mean, well, okay.

[01:10:27] Merlin: that. How long ago was that? How long ago?

[01:10:29] Jeff: I

[01:10:29] Merlin: You had that experience? Uh,

[01:10:31] Jeff: oh yeah, in the 2000s. That was a whole time where I was either in a war zone or talking to people who are doing the terrible things

[01:10:38] Merlin: I’m from Florida, so I can relate.

[01:10:39] Jeff: Yeah. You could see, you could see that. So here’s, okay. So here’s what I think is a transition to, I mean, hell, maybe custom GPT becomes the gratitude for like, but so like one of the things in doing that.

[01:10:50] Jeff: That timeline that I find delightful is the shit that all of a sudden you want to put in, like, I want to put in, uh, when, when Jaws 3D played on [01:11:00] television and you got 3D glasses in the newspaper,

[01:11:02] Merlin: God. You are in my caress,

[01:11:04] Jeff: Like, I want to

[01:11:04] Merlin: God. You’re

[01:11:05] Jeff: I want to put in the actual scope of the Dean Martin roast series, right?

[01:11:09] Jeff: Like, it is like, I want to know where all these things

[01:11:12] Merlin: But could it also be stuff like, this is when that one Arby’s closed, or this is when our neighbor got a different car? And like, to anybody else, that sounds nuts, but like, me, I was remembering that our next door neighbor in 1976 had a 65 Mustang that I really liked. I think it’s one reason I really like, you know, old Mustangs.

[01:11:29] Merlin: And like, but there’s just all of this, like, impressionistic stuff, and I don’t know how to say it, it doesn’t sound corny, because you can’t grok this until you do it. And I’m right here sitting right now in my chat GPT section, where like there’s so much stuff where like I have unintentionally given myself permission, maybe to remember things, but also just to think things that I didn’t know were up there.

[01:11:51] Merlin: And you don’t have, it’s therapy’s great, talking to friends, it’s great, all that kind of stuff. But there are paths you can take on your own guys. Sorry, this is what writing is. [01:12:00] Writing is not about publishing. Writing, writing is about, writing is about having the temerity to believe that the things that are in your head are worth looking at and thinking about, you know, in a way you could

[01:12:08] Christina: about and exploring, yeah, no, I mean, for me, the reason that I, I’m such a proponent of therapy isn’t so much from the realizations or the therapy itself, but because that’s given me permission to think when I’m not in therapy, to do that sort of introspection, you know, whether it’s through journaling or through other things.

[01:12:25] Merlin: wholesome. So weird to other people, probably. I hate to sound so touchy about this, but again, Holden Caulfield. But like, that’s, that is such a gift to give to yourself.

[01:12:33] Christina: Yeah. But, but, but sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt, just wanted to comment on that because yeah, I think you’re exactly right. Like that’s one of those things where it seems. Like, that’s what, like, it’s important to be able to have these, these thoughts and have these memories until you go through the process.

[01:12:45] Christina: I don’t think it’s cheesy. I think that that’s, that’s what makes us human. And that’s what, like, makes art.

[01:12:51] Jeff: And also, amazingly, like when you let things tumble out in that way, whether you’re writing or it’s making a timeline or whatever, it can make me feel [01:13:00] more present. Like I said, last year I hit this point and I, and I’m mostly there still where it’s like, all of a sudden I felt. everything that I had lived.

[01:13:08] Jeff: I just felt it, but I felt it as I am now and, and not as it knocked about in my head. And the thing about making a timeline, like it’s almost like the GTD thing of like, get everything down. Right. It’s actually wonderful. There are stupid

[01:13:22] Merlin: Especially, especially if I could say, especially if you go into it saying to yourself, this is not about anything except capture. Like I don’t have to do anything about any of this. It sounds nuts, but you’ll,

[01:13:29] Jeff: have to do anything about any of

[01:13:31] Merlin: which is, it’s not my, I need to do a mental sweep, or in this case, maybe an emotional sweep.

[01:13:34] Merlin: Alright? And so like, that’s what I’m gonna do to get all this down and I’ll make something out of it later. But the more you do a mental sweep about your work, the more you realize you need to do about your work and the more about your work and more about your life. If you do that about your emotions and your family, you’re gonna have some really interesting things come up.

[01:13:50] Merlin: that just have not been top of mind.

[01:13:53] Generative AI and other excitements

[01:13:53] Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s wonderful. Okay. So let’s, let’s talk about, I mean, you’ve talked a little bit [01:14:00] about it. Yeah. If you’re keeping these, this kind of data, or if you tend to keep this kind of data, it’s just one thing you could plug into a custom GPT and Merlin, I want you, if you don’t mind, I’ve been building them for my own personal and work reasons,

[01:14:12] Merlin: Are you, are you using the OpenAI version of that?

[01:14:15] Jeff: Yes. And I would love to hear you talk about how, how you use it and how you think about it.

[01:14:21] Merlin: your, your listeners are familiar with what a GPT is. We don’t need to explain that, right?

[01:14:26] Christina: I think, I think it was most people know at this point. Yeah.

[01:14:28] Merlin: I’m sorry. I cut you off, Jeff.

[01:14:30] Jeff: no, that’s fine. I mean, mostly I want to, and we have the freedom here to not get into the kind of tedious, uninformed ethical issues. And there are ethical issues, right? But like, we don’t have to talk about that. Let’s just talk about what we’re doing with

[01:14:43] Merlin: I heard, I heard OpenAI kidnapped a kid once.

[01:14:46] Jeff: yeah. Just assume we’re all adults here and we’re going into it with open

[01:14:49] Merlin: So my only little bit of prelude on this is to say that I’ve been pretty interested in this stuff since that, whoever the YouTuber is, that English guy who just retired, he did a YouTube. Yeah, that’d be him. He did a [01:15:00] YouTube, probably back la well, year

[01:15:02] Christina: It was last year.

[01:15:03] Merlin: now at this point. You’re so good.

[01:15:05] Merlin: My god, you’re encyclopedic.

[01:15:06] Jeff: Yeah. No, it’s

[01:15:07] Brett: font.

[01:15:08] Merlin: all of your Dexedrine? I’ll give you an address. Um,

[01:15:12] Jeff: need a spreadsheet.

[01:15:15] Merlin: he had talked about just this thing that, that at the it just blew my mind, because I’ve thought I’m getting interested in things like this. I mean, when I had a Quadra 800, I would, I would try to make it work by my talking to it.

[01:15:26] Merlin: And of course it didn’t really work. And like, I, I’ve been vaguely interested. I was thinking last night as I was, I was posting some stuff last night about this and thinking about how the hours I spent in 1988, like making a moose talk on my Mac for, through talking moose and like all this stuff where like, you know, sound, this is an app that’ll play sounds from David Letterman and like those kinds of things.

[01:15:46] Merlin: And like, wow, I mean, like where, what a different place we are at now. Um. All I want to say in terms of prelude to this is, I’m really glad folks know what that is and we want to explain it or be weird about it. Um, but you know, part of my journey with Chet GPT and OpenAI stuff in [01:16:00] particular is this constant yearning for more memory in the sense of Like, I want it to remember more about what I say.

[01:16:07] Merlin: I want it to remember more about what I, what I, what I tell it, really. And that’s been a journey. So like, threads got better at that over time. But still, you start a new thread, no more memory. Then it got custom instructions, which has been mostly real good. And then when GPTs came along, of course, for somebody like me, And this was practically made for how my brain works, unfortunately.

[01:16:28] Merlin: It’s like so difficult to explain to people why I have a Google spreadsheet that covers the heights of celebrities.

[01:16:36] Jeff: Yeah. Yeah,

[01:16:37] Merlin: I, it’s like, how do I know that Elizabeth Debicki is 6’3 Because it’s in the doc. Okay, that’s in one example. A second example, and these are trivial, but I think useful to know. I came into this with my brain wired for, Oh man, could I do something with this?

[01:16:52] Merlin: I, I, you know, and like, you think about the things we’re like, think about what life was like before Google. And then, and people, you know, and then Google came along and it was [01:17:00] real good for a real long time. I’ve read Paul’s Google Hacks book. Like I, I know about Booleans and I still use, you know, OR in all

[01:17:07] Jeff: Yeah. Yeah,

[01:17:08] Merlin: it’s increasingly less useful.

[01:17:10] Merlin: But the point is you remember what it was like when you first went, Oh, this is a blank page. You type it, it finds it. And that, that seemed like for somebody who was even on the very good AltaVista at the time, that was from another universe. All right. And I could instantly see the possibilities. Of having my own GPT.

[01:17:27] Merlin: So one would be like a jokey stuff. I thought like, it’s a joke amongst my friends that I’ve got all these spreadsheets, right? Cause it’s true. Like, um, every flashlight I’ve ever bought, I can tell you how many lumens, what it costs per lumen and what kind of battery it has. I can tell you all my 3d filaments.

[01:17:42] Merlin: I can tell you what the density is, what the color is, how much it costs, all that kind of stuff. Um, celebrities, right? That’s another celebrity playlist. One I made a few years ago. that I sent to my pal John Roderick, uh, was I made this thing called, um, I made this spreadsheet where I said, here’s the [01:18:00] people, like a bunch of important people in my family, including my, the people who live in my house, my beloved, you know, uh, late, uh, mother in law, father in law, all those things.

[01:18:10] Merlin: And for each one of those, I did the most basic thing, which is I just entered in the day that they were born. And then using just a few easy formulas, I was able to just quickly calculate like, Oh, you know, this many days in water to blah. Then I made the. Like a manual version of a pivot table, where I said how, how old, I was able to finally say stuff like, how old was Grandma Stinus on this day?

[01:18:34] Merlin: What, and so on and so forth. And I’m just going to, can I, is it okay to say something in this chat? Is that going to be weird? Like, here’s an example of like, that in action. So this is where I have gone in. So, so in that instance, I took those spreadsheets, turned it into a CSV, And I think I am doing this poorly.

[01:18:54] Merlin: I don’t know how to add an image. Um, I just took, I took the CSV. Do I just drag it in [01:19:00] here? How do I get in this window? Can I copy and paste?

[01:19:02] Jeff: anything in there.

[01:19:03] Christina: I don’t know if,

[01:19:04] Brett: never, we’ve never had an image

[01:19:06] Christina: never added an image.

[01:19:08] Merlin: sorry, that’s not going to be as fun, but like I, I entered all that in and then I put it into a GPT, a new GPT, and I explain what it is that I want to do. And so, but I’m able to do things like say, and so Grandma Steinis, that’s my beloved mother in law, my, um, my son’s grandmother, and I can say things like, what was a popular song on the charts the year that Billy turned five?

[01:19:29] Christina: That’s so

[01:19:30] Merlin: That’s weird. Why would you want that? Well, I find out that, uh, somebody that I used to know by gotcha was, uh, well, I don’t know how you say it was popular then. Featuring Kimbra, whatever that is. What was a popular song the year my late mother in law turned 30? Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin. On what date was my late mother in law the same age that my kid is now?

[01:19:49] Merlin: December 14th, 1945. If that’s not interesting to you, that’s okay. But I hope somebody out there will understand how interesting and like, [01:20:00] like sort of like we were talking about Jeff, like now that’s opening me up to this whole new world of stuff I could be doing with this, including that timeline thing.

[01:20:08] Merlin: The app I’ve wanted since the 1990s is an app that lets me, it’s this thing I’m obsessed with, which is how many years it’s been since this thing is the same amount of years since that thing. We’re able to.

[01:20:18] Jeff: I do that calculation all the

[01:20:19] Merlin: Yeah, like, like the time since synchronicity, the time since synchronicity is like the time since like the first Duke Ellington record to then.

[01:20:26] Merlin: Like, I wish there was just an easy way to do that. I, that is in my, in my grasp now. I’m not sure that would be incredibly useful, but guess what? I learned a lot from doing this and I can apply it to other things. So my interest in this started with just extending the weird stuff where I could use, I would, I feel like I would benefit from technology.

[01:20:43] Merlin: And again, I know we’re not talking about scare stuff, but so far we’re not talking anything about nuclear missiles being launched. We’re not talking about weird decision making. We’re not talking about plagiarism. And despite the people who love to yell at me on Mastodon about how it doesn’t really understand math, it’s just saying words.

[01:20:58] Merlin: And it’s like, yeah, but like the [01:21:00] rest of the internet doesn’t understand anything either. And I keep using that. So, I mean, especially when it comes to, I think I said this on Mastodon a few weeks ago was like, if you have the 20 boy account on this, and you’re not using this to make. Constant, low stakes, trivial, fun things.

[01:21:17] Merlin: The serious point is, you’re kind of missing out on something that’s probably going to be good for you to know in general, especially in the future. But also, you’re just missing out on a lot of fun. Because if it gets that date of when Mac the Knife came out, like, it’s going to be okay. Right? It’s going to be, but like, The thing is I, I like projects and I like treating life as an experiment.

[01:21:38] Merlin: I like treating things in life as an experiment. And I like those things accreting and, uh, building on themselves. One reason I love this 3D printer I’m pointing at is like the more I learn about my 3D printer, the more I’m able to do, which leads me to learn more. It’s kind of a lot like what they used to call education, which is you learn enough to know what you need to learn next.

[01:21:56] Merlin: And eventually if

[01:21:57] Christina: go down these rabbit holes of, yeah.[01:22:00]

[01:22:00] Merlin: Yeah, but it isn’t, it isn’t all just like, you know, find better porn or, or find a way to plagiarize. It’s like, again, that word, and I’m so sorry, it’s such a big word for me. The incuriosity of people not seeing how the low stakes fun you can have with this.

[01:22:17] Merlin: Well, you know what? Maybe it’s going to become better. And maybe that won’t need to, I won’t need to say the phrase low stakes, but you know, there’s just all kinds of stuff where I can just go in and, and, and say stuff that it makes sense. So that’s my prelude. My

[01:22:31] Jeff: Oh man, can I just, can I pick up on the low stakes thing? So I just this morning was listening to this week’s Political Gab Fest and Emily Bazlun was talking

[01:22:40] Merlin: love that show.

[01:22:40] Jeff: oh, it’s so good. And

[01:22:42] Merlin: I love John, John, John Dickerson mentioned me on there a couple months ago.

[01:22:45] Jeff: uh, yeah, I heard that. I remember.

[01:22:47] Merlin: the nicest, he’s the nicest man ever.

[01:22:50] Jeff: who’s both increased my vocabulary and, and,

[01:22:53] Merlin: He’s so big, you can

[01:22:54] Jeff: a love for metaphors.

[01:22:56] Jeff: Oh my God. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, but anyway, she was talking about a podcast, I [01:23:00] forget what it’s called, but it’s kind of examining how television series close out. It’s kinda think it’s called Stick the Landing. But she said

[01:23:06] Christina: Oh, yeah, yeah,

[01:23:06] Jeff: like, what’s lovely about it is it’s passionate and low stakes. And I was like, what a nice

[01:23:12] Merlin: Talk about, uh, uh, talk about, uh, uh, uh, a two by two table that I love,

[01:23:17] Jeff: yeah,

[01:23:18] Merlin: you know?

[01:23:19] Jeff: yeah.

[01:23:20] Merlin: That, that, that’s right in my quadrant.

[01:23:22] Jeff: For sure, for sure. Oh, that’s awesome.

[01:23:25] Merlin: There’s nothing to be lost by caring a lot about something other people don’t care about. And I wouldn’t have to say that except I feel like I do, but like, it’s so, well, I, it’s just, you know, it’s funny. Like I went to this weird liberal arts school in Florida and like the thing I often say about that school is it.

[01:23:40] Merlin: What I, what I took away from it was, yeah, a little bit of like, like, you know, learning about curve auditing and stuff, but also it, it, it, in a way that I had not been before, it, it taught me to learn how to learn. And that’s so, it’s such an ineffable thing to say, and it sounds so pretentious, which is such a bummer.

[01:23:57] Merlin: Because, because there’s so much like of this, [01:24:00] we all grew up, at least I grew up with all this, I almost, I have, I have still had the parking sticker on my guitar case from when I was going to go to electronics school, because no school would have me. And like, nothing wrong, you got to fix electronics, but like, I have a friend who got real, became a big shot at uh, NCR, like fixing cash registers.

[01:24:15] Merlin: But like, If I’m not trying to, this is not advice, but like, Oh my gosh, why aren’t we allowed to be curious? And why aren’t we allowed to follow that? And why are we supposed to feel ashamed if we do something that other people don’t immediately see as valuable? And I can certainly make the case that whether it’s FDM printing or GPTs, I know a butt ton more than a lot of people about stuff that’s not just about FDM printers.

[01:24:36] Merlin: Like, There’s a lot of stuff you pick up when you decide to be curious. Giving yourself and the people in your life permission to be curious, to be vulnerable in that way of saying, like somebody was trying to like, like dunk on me the other day and like call me on something about like a fact. And I was like, I, my response was you would be shocked how many things I am open to learning. Like, I am so not ashamed by you telling me a

[01:24:59] Christina: [01:25:00] No.

[01:25:00] Merlin: I haven’t heard. Like, what, what did you think, what did you just win?

[01:25:04] Christina: Exactly. It’s like, I, I, I, I, I love it when people tell me things I didn’t already know. What is annoying is when someone assumes that I was, I’m, you’re A, incurious and, and unwilling to try to learn things yourself or B, you know, like,

[01:25:17] Merlin: That you’re dumb, you overlooked it, like, you know, that feeling of like, that, like when you, when I, I go, it’s a BMI bonnet, but like, I’ll be like, Oh my God, you know, this Moby album is really good and people go, you know, it’s better as another Moby album. You’re like, okay, fine. Okay. Or you forgot. This is my, so I do, I do a thing on Spotify cause I love making playlists and I love music more than anything.

[01:25:36] Merlin: And I do a thing called Gentle Introductions, which is like a band that I love or a band I think more

[01:25:39] Christina: I love that. I, I, I do a similar thing, but I

[01:25:42] Merlin: Do you? And you share it with people?

[01:25:44] Christina: Yeah, exactly. Like, like, we’ll be

[01:25:46] Merlin: That’s how it started. It started out with me doing that when I did one of those for Big Star, for Alex, I did one of those for, uh, Richard and Lena Thompson, for my wife.

[01:25:54] Merlin: But here’s the thing. It’s called a Gentle Introduction, and whether that’s Cheap Trick, Old 97s, [01:26:00] Blondie, there’s seven and exactly seven songs on the list. Because that’s just a thing that I decided. So I’ll say like, and again, my one about the police, here’s the thing. You might have heard these songs, but if you think you know how you feel about the police, maybe check out this playlist, because these seven songs might help you feel something different about the police. And, and of course, invariably, they’ll understandably, people are playing with me in the space and they’ll be like, you forgot, you forgot X, you

[01:26:27] Christina: You’re like, no, but that’s not the point. It’s like,

[01:26:28] Merlin: How is Roxanne not on your list? And

[01:26:30] Christina: because it’s, this is a gentle introduction. Like,

[01:26:33] Merlin: yeah, yeah. And like, people are familiar with Roxanne, but I’ll bet a lot fewer people realize how much they could love Truth Hits Everybody.

[01:26:40] Merlin: Like, are there people out there who enjoy music like we enjoy and maybe have never heard, really heard the very good first album by The Police? I lost my virginity to Can’t Stand Losing You. I imprinted on that album. Like, but like, you know what I’m saying? And I understand why people do that. I understand again, who needs context anymore when we have keyboards, but like it’s, it’s just.

[01:26:59] Merlin: It’s, it’s [01:27:00] frustrating sometimes that there is, does feel, I hate to say like, oh, I’m so put upon, but it really does feel like people are constantly there to go like, my certainty about what I know and who I am trumps everybody’s vulnerability, interest, and curiosity. And I’m always there to crush the bunny for anybody.

[01:27:17] Merlin: I’m not just saying like, yuck on a yum. Although that’s part of it, but like, it’s just there are people who seem to think it’s like their job to set you straight on something you’re stupid about, and I don’t have the time or inclination to say, not only am I not stupid about that, you’re being a little short sighted about that, and I just, I don’t have time to hold your dick for an hour and explain why that’s the terms of service on every Apple app.

[01:27:39] Meeting Robert Duvall

[01:27:39] Jeff: Yeah. Well, and you know, the other piece of it too, right? Like there’s the curiosity piece that’s like, what do you, do you not love story? Cause I feel, I feel like that’s what this is like last night, a friend told me this amazing story. He was in an airport and, uh, he had been a host of like a HGTV show for a while.

[01:27:54] Jeff: Right. And he was in an airport and he gets a tug on his sleeve and he turns around and it’s fucking Robert Duvall. Right. And Robert [01:28:00] Duvall says to him, Hey, are you that guy on the show?

[01:28:03] Merlin: sorry, somebody who’s talent on an HGTV

[01:28:05] Jeff: No, no, like, yeah, like a host on the on the

[01:28:07] Merlin: Okay, but like somebody who’s doing an on air person.

[01:28:10] Jeff: Yeah, yeah. So like, Robert, Robert Duvall has watched the show, basically, right?

[01:28:13] Jeff: Like, and so he says, I’m right. He doesn’t say I’m Robert. He’s like, Hey, are you the guy from the from the bathroom show? He’s like, Well, yeah, I am. And then what, what

[01:28:22] Merlin: you the guy from the bathroom show?

[01:28:25] Jeff: and what came to him, and this

[01:28:26] Merlin: I would kill to hear Robert Duvall say that in an

[01:28:28] Jeff: and this is not a bit that he came up with, this is what he, he froze on. He said, Are you the guy from Days of Thunder?

[01:28:36] Jeff: And so, I love that story. T’Witchy, of course, he just kind of goes,

[01:28:40] Merlin: He’s not a wartime consigliere. I think

[01:28:42] Jeff: goes, no, he is not a wartime cons. He goes, uh, yeah, yeah. But

[01:28:45] Merlin: And by the way, I love your pictures.

[01:28:46] Jeff: Yeah. And,

[01:28:47] Merlin: know. I admire your

[01:28:48] Jeff: which is what he ends up saying to, to him. He’s like, well anyway, I love your show. And so anyway, and my friend was of course like, I mean, I think this is a perfect story, but he was horrified after he left.

[01:28:57] Jeff: He’s like, well, also you’re the, but it’s per, I told [01:29:00] him, I said, you may have even made a memory for Robert DePaul. Right. Like, who says

[01:29:03] Merlin: I did, I did a talk at Max, I did a talk at MaxFunCon, uh, which is a thing. And I, anyways, I talk about creativity and I think the title was of the talk was with all due respect to the seduction community. And it was about what I had identified as the fetishism of certain things in the world of productivity and increasingly creativity.

[01:29:22] Merlin: And I finished the talk. And this little imp ran, this is, this is a humble brag, but it’s, it’s something I think about a lot cause I really love this person’s work. It’s like this little imp, this little forest creature runs up to me and I’ve been talking about creativity and I’ve been talking about, you know, ways to realize that you have more creativity.

[01:29:40] Merlin: Like I say now, like you, you, you write more than you realize, like you, you write so much and you don’t know it and you think that that’s, but like this little forest creature runs up to me and goes, I used to do morning pages from that book, The Artist’s Way, and the person ran away. And it was Maria Bamford. Who is absolutely one of my favorite comedians. [01:30:00] Like, when my family’s out of the house, I’ll just watch a bunch of Maria. I’ll just watch the Christmas special with Burton Blossie. She’s absolutely one of my favorite people. Becomes more so every year or so as she talks more about OCD. And like, she’s such a fascinating person.

[01:30:13] Merlin: But like, You, everybody who’s, I used to say this when people were running around looking at their site meter and their Google Analytics and it’s like, that’s fine, that’s really good, especially, you know, but like once you find out you, first time John Gruber tells you he would link to this if you fix the typo, that is a big day.

[01:30:32] Merlin: Because in several ways, one is that both Gruber and I eventually learned, we’ll not link to things if it’s got a really bad typo. And he’s like, hey, just a heads up, if you fix the typo, I’ll link to this. Not because, ooh, thirsty, I’m going to be on Daring Fireball. But more like, I don’t fucking care. Sorry.

[01:30:46] Merlin: I don’t care. But like, I admire that piece of shit so much. I used to. Now I’m friends with them and it’s the worst. But. Seriously, seriously, when somebody you admire notices what you do, like there is nothing like that, [01:31:00] not just to like give you a hard on about how you’re famous, that’s not, that’s not what I’m

[01:31:05] Christina: No, no, you feel seen and you feel like, oh my god, like, I

[01:31:09] Merlin: And you feel you’re having an impact with

[01:31:10] Christina: what I’m saying. Yeah,

[01:31:11] Merlin: about. You never would have known otherwise.

[01:31:14] Brett: Like when I created the Blogsmith bundle for Tax Mate

[01:31:19] Christina: Fucking best. Ever.

[01:31:21] Brett: And I got this comm I got this comment on my github repo, not directly to me, but on my github repo, and it just said Jesus Christ, and Merlin Man, and I was like, like, this is back, this is back in like,

[01:31:38] Merlin: our first pseudo

[01:31:40] Christina: 2007, I want

[01:31:41] Brett: this is like 2004, and I was like, holy shit, this guy I’m reading on four forty one forty three folders, just like, commented

[01:31:50] Merlin: I didn’t know how to do the first thing in Ruby. I didn’t know how to do the first thing in, in Ruby, but seeing DHH, this is at that time, quite famous demo of Ruby

[01:31:59] Christina: [01:32:00] I use TextMate. I use TextMate because of that demo.

[01:32:02] Merlin: was like, forget about development, like what is this app?

[01:32:04] Christina: No, I

[01:32:05] Jeff: yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

[01:32:07] Christina: was like, I was,

[01:32:08] Merlin: It’s so funny.

[01:32:08] Christina: I was like in college and I was just like, holy shit. What is this? I love text editors now. Yeah.

[01:32:15] Merlin: I know.

[01:32:17] Jeff: Okay, my final question for you about GPT, and like, just to, to, no, no, this is great. Believe me, this is great. To, the, the,

[01:32:26] Merlin: I’m sorry, I’m how

[01:32:27] Jeff: close out, no, this is

[01:32:28] Merlin: I’m like, it’s like I’ve got measles. Like, I just show up and everybody gets sick.

[01:32:34] Jeff: There was no one sick. This is, this is fantastic. And I’m just, I’m just continuing an amazingly winding thread, which is the only way I think or talk. Um, so you go home to your chat GPT and you go, all right, Robert Duvall, you know, this happened in, in, you know, I think it was like 20,

[01:32:50] Merlin: is the timeline.

[01:32:51] Jeff: Yeah. So, like, how far is, first of all, how far is, like, Days of Thunder from there, right? And inside of Days of Thunder, how far was he on either end from a [01:33:00] truly great movie, right? Like, like, where did this, you know, when he’s sitting there horrified because he’s like, oh, he’s also in The Apostle, he’s also in The Godfather, right?

[01:33:07] Jeff: Like, but where does all this sit? Because that helps me to think, how did he process, oh, are you the guy from Days of Thunder, right? Because he had, by that point, done another, like, 15 movies,

[01:33:17] Merlin: my god,

[01:33:18] Jeff: of which were amazing,

[01:33:19] Speaking of celebrities, Chevy Chase

[01:33:19] Merlin: kid and I, I talk about that with my kid with Chevy Chase. Where like, my kid knows Chevy Chase from Community.

[01:33:25] Christina: Yeah, of

[01:33:26] Jeff: That’s amazing.

[01:33:27] Christina: Well, how else would he,

[01:33:28] Merlin: from everything before community. And

[01:33:30] Christina: I was going to say,

[01:33:31] Merlin: up.

[01:33:32] Christina: I was going to say, does he know him from the vacation movies at all? Because I could see, a community I would see is the main thing, but I didn’t know if like you forced the

[01:33:38] Merlin: no, no, no, I mean, my kid has seen Confess Fletch twice, but never seen Fletch. But you end up

[01:33:44] Jeff: god, yes.

[01:33:46] Christina: which I

[01:33:46] Merlin: a really good movie by the

[01:33:47] Jeff: Doctor, doctor,

[01:33:49] Merlin: That’s a, that, just so you know, the, the John Hamm movie, Confess Fletch, is

[01:33:52] Christina: Yeah, it

[01:33:53] Jeff: Which I have not seen.

[01:33:54] Merlin: these two pie graphs were 90 percent of what I know, well, anyway, this is just, I’m just trying to make a point.

[01:33:59] Merlin: But like, what [01:34:00] I know about Chevy Chase, like, was fully formed, certainly wasn’t helped by reading the oral history of SNL. Ooh. But! But, but she’s currently, uh, he’s currently reading, uh, Colin Jots book, very Punchable Face and it’s

[01:34:13] Jeff: Oh well.

[01:34:14] Merlin: But, um, but uh, but like everything I know about is pretty much from before 1986 and everything he knows is from one TV show.

[01:34:21] Merlin: And I, I always have to sort of avoid the thing to go be the bald nanny and like, oh, my kid’s not gonna enjoy Caddy Shack. Why would I even bother? But like, that’s for, I I for him. I bet that’s, he’s not a young man.

[01:34:33] Christina: No.

[01:34:34] Merlin: How old is he? Let’s find

[01:34:35] Jeff: not a young

[01:34:36] Christina: probably 77, I’m guessing.

[01:34:38] Merlin: Okay, anybody else? How old is, I’m gonna say 82. He was in The Godfather, oh wait, let’s

[01:34:45] Christina: He’s 80. So we were literally right in the middle. Are you talking about, oh, that’s Chevy Chase. Robert Duvall is probably older than that. Robert Duvall is probably like in his 80s.

[01:34:55] Merlin: What was he in before, uh, The Godfather?[01:35:00]

[01:35:00] Christina: Oh shit. Robert Duval’s

[01:35:01] Merlin: and Clyde? Whoa! Gene Wilder was in Bonnie and Clyde. That always screws me up.

[01:35:06] Christina: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She, she modeled her, um, uh, Warren Beatty,

[01:35:09] Jeff: Cause if I was gonna guess the gene, it would have been Hackman.

[01:35:13] Christina: Not Civil Shepherd. Uh, the other one. Um, um,

[01:35:16] Merlin: He was in Superman. That’s why he’s

[01:35:17] Jeff: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.

[01:35:19] Merlin: Some people, some people, uh, can read a candy wrapper and understand the secrets of the world. Ned

[01:35:26] Jeff: you, do you use, do you use ChatGPT or CustomGPT to make these spreadsheets now?

[01:35:31] Merlin: Um, good question. No. Um, I mean, I feel like there’s

[01:35:35] Jeff: And why?

[01:35:36] Merlin: Good question. Um, um, Google Sheets is my oils. in life. Like I just, my think ever since whenever, God it wasn’t even Excel, but there was this Mac spreadsheets program that I used to use, don’t even try to help me, it was like, this is when I was making Gantt charts, like back when I was a project manager.

[01:35:55] Merlin: But um, but like it’s just that when I first learned especially about like [01:36:00] Pivot tables, which for a long time were very hard to do on a Mac, unless you had like full on real Excel. But like, the way that you like, okay, this is really like, uh, it’s kind of like a database, but I can like see it all at once.

[01:36:10] Jeff: It’s like Hogwarts shit.

[01:36:12] Merlin: Yes. And you know, something like the first day, this sounds crazy now, but the first day you learn about like a formula, but then you also learn like equals, you know, a, a two minus a three times this convert

[01:36:26] Jeff: This could be ASMR for me. If you just said that a little quieter, I’d listen to it for hours.

[01:36:30] Merlin: Yeah, let’s see here. Um, I think I can do this. Pivot.

[01:36:36] Jeff: Is that the actual?

[01:36:39] Merlin: Formula. You

[01:36:40] Christina: Uh ha. Have you ever have, ever,

[01:36:41] Merlin: Workdays.

[01:36:43] Christina: have you ever used Power Bi or, or Looker or, or Tableau or anything like that?

[01:36:48] Merlin: are all made up. Those are all completely

[01:36:49] Christina: Okay. So

[01:36:50] Merlin: my answer is no.

[01:36:51] Christina: okay, so, so, so the reason I ask

[01:36:52] Merlin: what is it? Portishead? Tabboy? What are they called? What am I

[01:36:55] Christina: Yeah, um, so they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re all, all three of them are different things. The reason I was asking, these [01:37:00] are like, I guess they’re known as like business intelligence apps.

[01:37:02] Christina: That’s the,

[01:37:03] Merlin: Oh, like, uh, PKI or whatever it’s called.

[01:37:06] Christina: Yeah, I guess so.

[01:37:07] Merlin: bill ratio of your business. How’s your sales funnel?

[01:37:10] Christina: well it can, but the thing is, is like,

[01:37:12] Merlin: Faces

[01:37:12] Christina: I asked, the reason I ask is because, like, Power BI, which is kind of a nightmare, but also it uses Excel pretty well, and there’s some other ones. That’s why I mentioned the other two. Um,

[01:37:23] Merlin: these going to be in notes?

[01:37:24] Christina: yeah, yeah, I can put this in notes.

[01:37:26] Christina: Um, the, the, the reason I ask is because if you’re into all of this, like, like, Gantt charts and tables and whatnot, like, those tools basically let you do that sort of thing and then go beyond and, like, make interactive dashboards and shit based on your data.

[01:37:39] Merlin: my gosh. I’ve used your sponsor as well as another app that you mentioned for things like that. Um, I would love to hear more about that, but I think I’m still leaving one interesting unanswered question, which is like, ChatGPT?

[01:37:55] Christina: gonna say I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Sorry, go on.

[01:37:57] Merlin: No, no, no, you didn’t at all. I’m sorry, I’m the interrupter. Um, I, [01:38:00] I, I, I, like I say, I pretty instantly realized what I could use this for.

[01:38:05] Merlin: And can I just say in passing, I would not have realized, and here I’m talking about GPTs, which is a terrible name for this,

[01:38:11] Jeff: No, it’s the worst.

[01:38:12] Merlin: like having your own chatbot that’s your stuff and the way you want it to be. I was only able to instantly grok what that would be useful for, fun for, for me because I’d spent some time already in regular chat GPT.

[01:38:24] Merlin: I’d learned the ups and downs. I’d learned the strange melancholy you feel when your thread stops remembering you. It was like a weirdly emotional experience the first time we seemed to have such a good relationship.

[01:38:33] Jeff: this! Well,

[01:38:36] Merlin: And then like, the struggle in some ways to go like, in a minute I guess we’ll probably get to this health one I’ve made, which is far and away my biggest focus right now.

[01:38:44] Merlin: I struggle, in a GPT even, with getting it to remember what it knows. I struggle to get it to remember all these various things, and I’m trying all these different sorts of hacks to do that, the equivalent basically of cron jobs, to tell it to remember to always follow these instructions, and then [01:39:00] it still suddenly goes like, to quote Westwood, it looks like nothing to me.

[01:39:04] Merlin: There’s still times where

[01:39:05] Jeff: in memory care. You’re kind of like, no, no, you do know this. Like, you, you know,

[01:39:09] Merlin: Which, which it doesn’t help to say over and over, you know, it just lets them talk about Glenn Miller and like, don’t be a jerk about it. Read a book called The 36 Hour Day. It’s really good. Um, but the, so one, just to, so like, here’s a good example is this thing I’ve done for my health. So I had this, I was in the hospital, uh, I’ve talked about so many other places.

[01:39:30] Merlin: All you need to know is that like, I like, I like data. And I like being alive. And so one of the first things I did was using a variety of apps, including Apple Health and some apps that let you export things. I exported a lot of my up to date vitals into JSON, uh, eventually just settled on JSON, put that into this thing and then try to really help it learn what I want to do with it.

[01:39:52] Merlin: The biggest challenge is, like I say, is getting it to remember it. Dude, you understand JSON so much more than you realize. I’ve even told you to remember. So like [01:40:00] something I, like when something wouldn’t work right, and then it would work right, like this is how you use chat GPT. I would say, Hey, you just nailed that.

[01:40:08] Merlin: Whatever you just did that time, tell me what you did and I will create, basically create a prompt that I can then tell you so you can remember. And I eventually went so far as to create a document called orders. md and created a command inside of what I call my toolbox, long story, but I can say eat your vegetables.

[01:40:25] Merlin: And every time I say eat your vegetables, it rereads my orders format and then goes, Oh, that’s right. You like line graphs. With big labels and, but like, it is kind of frustrating and yet I still get benefits from it. Sometimes those benefits, because again, I, the phrase I use with Alex on Dubai Friday this week, the problem with GPT is sometimes you’re in a cursed thread and don’t know it.

[01:40:46] Merlin: Like some, some threads are better than

[01:40:48] Jeff: to just clean it

[01:40:49] Merlin: It’s like a seed in, um, like, you know, what do they call that? Like a seed to start off in, not in encryption, but like, you’re just in a, you’re in a curse thread is the main thing to know. And sometimes, some days [01:41:00] it’s good and some days it’s not. It’s a lot like my grandma with Alzheimer’s, but like some days it’s just like, it’s incredible and I’ll be able to associate things.

[01:41:07] Merlin: And then one day, like, okay, finally on this, I had this idea after weeks of working on this because it matters. Like, I’m getting, I was getting blood tests three times a week. I had an MRI, I had a CT scan, there was still not any mutual, like, huge assent on what was wrong with me. And the only thing I could trust was my shrink in my data.

[01:41:24] Merlin: And so, like, that’s what I was focusing on, to be able to visualize things, look for patterns that existed in ways that, like, I couldn’t say. I couldn’t say to like somebody who’s like a fucking 28 year old try hard. Hey, you know, the relationship between my ALT and my Billy Rubin, like should, is that looking the way it should look?

[01:41:43] Merlin: Cause I know the Billy Rubin should go up as AST go down, but like, how does that work? And then, but all I have to say to this thing, if it’s the right thread is just go, uh, find interesting and novel things in my results, but here’s what I did. And I posted about this, but like, this, this was, Alex is always talking about like, Oh, tell it [01:42:00] that it’s a Unibomber and it’ll make you a bomb.

[01:42:02] Merlin: And I’m like, whatever. But in this instance, I said, Hey, just for the next 10 minutes, you’re an extreme skeptic of AI in general. And, um, GPT, generative AI in particular, you’re also knowledgeable about All different sides of the debate about this. And you’re up to date on who’s making the most, listen to every fucking syllable of this, you’re up to date on the most recent persuasive ideas about the ups, the downs, whatever.

[01:42:30] Merlin: I made this really good prompt and then it killed it. So then I was able to say to her, I said, so how do you feel about it? And I’m like, blah, blah, blah, blah. But I was able to say to this thing, now read my test results and tell something, I write better than I think. I said something like, now, now please rescan my test results.

[01:42:48] Merlin: And point out the, I said, no, you, this is so weird and this is so like, I was encouraging it to realize that it isn’t an [01:43:00] AI for lack of a better, it is an AI that has access to all of this stuff, but that is the AI that is the content. But I also said, you have access to all of this data. You have access to everything, you know, about me audit.

[01:43:12] Merlin: How you’ve been doing, look at what I gave you and tell me the things that are most likely to raise a red flag with people who are other skeptics of AI. Which I never would have thought to do if I hadn’t spent time with

[01:43:23] Brett: it’s so interesting

[01:43:24] Merlin: Including stuff like pointing out test results that somebody missed.

[01:43:28] Merlin: Like, oh, this shouldn’t be this high when that’s that high. This mitigates against a differential diagnosis. Like it looks like it is acute hepatitis A. But like telling it to be like that. Now, why did it work that one time and not other times? I don’t know. I didn’t make it. I can’t approve of this. But if you don’t think that’s interesting, you are not welcome at my lunch table.

[01:43:46] Brett: so interesting to me, and also so obvious that you have to tell ChatGPT what its bias is. Um, like, it’s fascinating that you can even do that. But, like, most of the good,

[01:43:58] Merlin: there are barriers. [01:44:00] Last night I had it.

[01:44:01] Brett: Yeah, most of the prompt tutorials I’ve seen have started out with you explain to chat GPT what its perspective, what its role is, and then you move forward.

[01:44:13] Brett: And that’s, that’s kind of fascinating.

[01:44:15] Merlin: Absolutely. And I mean, like, again, and the problem is, and I know we’re not doing this, but like, if it becomes, I’m going to send you a link to something on mastodon if you don’t mind, um, if it becomes something where we all just start associating this, and I’m probably contributing to this, carrying water for the, the worst people, but like, if you start thinking that this is really just something that people use to, um, use to, to cheat on things.

[01:44:37] Merlin: It’s like, well, there’s a lot of ways you can cheat on things. And talk about throwing out the baby with the bath.

[01:44:43] Christina: mean, and that’s the thing. People are going to cheat with or without this stuff. Now, will this make some of it easier? Yeah, okay, maybe, but like,

[01:44:49] Merlin: Maybe it’ll also make teachers revisit the kind of assignments that

[01:44:52] Christina: no

[01:44:53] Merlin: Not because, not because of JGBT, just because maybe they’ve been flipping the same three ring binder for 20 years.

[01:44:59] Christina: I had this [01:45:00] conversation with my mom a year ago when we were in Las Vegas, uh, for, for Adele for her 75th birthday. Um, I was explaining, which was a great trip. Yeah, I, I,

[01:45:08] Brett: 75.

[01:45:10] Merlin: yeah, that’s her record. Her new record, 75.

[01:45:12] Jeff: Yeah. New record 75. It’s great.

[01:45:14] Christina: It’s, it’s, the heartbreak on this one really came through. Um, you wouldn’t think that, you know, in the, the septuagenarian years, that she would still be able to write bangers, but yeah.

[01:45:24] Christina: Um,

[01:45:24] Jeff: It’s just in her.

[01:45:25] ChatGPT and your mom

[01:45:25] Merlin: I think she does real well. There’s good days and bad days, just like with Grandma.

[01:45:29] Christina: honestly, honestly. Um, no, but, uh, I was explaining ChadGBT and, and, and all that stuff to my mom, because this was like January of, of 2023. And so, they were like, you know, six weeks old. And, um, and she immediately picked up on some of the. Like the cheating stuff. And I was like, yes. I was like, however, and she agreed with me because she used to work in education, not as a teacher, but, um, uh, with teachers and, uh, she’s a school, um, counselor, but, um, you know, we both agreed.

[01:45:58] Christina: I was like, well, maybe, you know, a lot of [01:46:00] teachers suck. Like, let’s just be straight up on us. I know I’m not supposed to say that.

[01:46:02] Merlin: But that was her first thing she taught was, like, you didn’t have to say anything. Did she immediately go, like, well, people could abuse this. It was her first.

[01:46:10] Christina: Yeah, absolutely. But, but then she was able to at least, but I said to her and she agreed with me when she kind of thought about it. I was like, yeah, I was like, but this could be an opportunity. Like, if it’s so easy for you to cheat, you know, using

[01:46:22] Merlin: That’s, you’re putting that

[01:46:23] Christina: maybe, then maybe we should be focusing on a different way of,

[01:46:28] Merlin: maybe we go all the way up the stack to, like, who gets into the school. Because if you’re attracting that many people who are willing to pay N dollars a year for this, or, I don’t know if it’s public school, but, like, if you’re getting people, like, I realize now if I could redo college, I would treat it so much more seriously.

[01:46:42] Merlin: The non traditional age students who were there, like they got divorced and then went to

[01:46:47] Christina: Oh, no, they cared. Yeah.

[01:46:48] Merlin: They, and they’re, they’re spending, it’s their money every time

[01:46:51] Christina: well, the, the, the second high school I went to, um, not, not the shitty first one that was super competitive and supposed to be so great. I, I was going to graduate early. I wound up not, [01:47:00] uh, because I had a great experience, but it was actually full of teachers who cared. And most of the students who were there were not high achievers like me who happened to have mental health issues, but were like drug addicts, um, who,

[01:47:12] Merlin: It’s not just a bad school, but the wrong school for you.

[01:47:15] Christina: Well, no, no, no, this was the new school, which actually was the right one. Um, uh, the second school was, was full of like people who had drug problems, had dropped out, teenage mother, like pregnant, uh, teenage girls, like people who, to be completely honest, still went through all this shit and wanted to graduate and actually showed the fuck up.

[01:47:31] Christina: And I have

[01:47:31] Merlin: mean, like we, we don’t appreciate how much your life outside of school has such an impact on

[01:47:35] Christina: and, and I have more

[01:47:36] Merlin: or abuse.

[01:47:37] Christina: no, but I have more respect for those kids who I went to school with at that second school than the, than the, than the fucking assholes at the first school who were just like me, who were privileged as fuck, who were like taught to believe that you will be a high achiever and do everything.

[01:47:51] Christina: Fuck all of us. Like the ones who actually like had had real problems and dropped out and then came back or were pregnant and like went to school and then like had a baby and still [01:48:00] kept going to school, you know, cause the school had a onsite childcare. Those, those kids actually wanted to be there. Like, you know what I mean?

[01:48:07] Christina: Like those are the real fucking kids. And the teachers to the same point cared, and they taught based on those things. And I didn’t have AP classes there, but I had teachers who were very, very good, who would give me different assignments because they realized, okay, you will, you’re past all the stuff I’m teaching you.

[01:48:26] Christina: So I’m going to grade you differently, and I’m going to give you different curriculum. And. Obviously, not every teacher can do that, and No Child Left Behind fucked up a lot of things with funding tied to test scores, and the whole, you know, public education system is fucked. But, if it’s so easy to cheat at these things, and if you can so clearly, like, get this grade, then maybe that means we need to have a bigger, like, broader, like, discussion about how are we grading things, what are we assigning, and like, what are we doing?

[01:48:54] Christina: Because this is a symptom, this is not a

[01:48:57] Merlin: talking about something that creates a lot more [01:49:00] work for people who are already working a lot. Like, if you had to do more essays that were very specific, again, it’s a distinction without a difference to almost everybody I know, but like, I’m, I’m not as interested in like, how do you feel today?

[01:49:13] Merlin: I’m way more interested in how do you know how you feel today? Asking somebody to talk about that in their own terms, I know it’s still cheatable, but like, who’s going to want to do that when you could just hand somebody a spantron?

[01:49:24] Christina: No, and if you’re, if you’re actually like, to me, it’s also, again, it’s just one of those things that’s like, if we stopped, you know, if we stopped fucking teaching tests and grading things based on that, then it’d be a whole lot harder for these tools to also work so effortlessly to cheat, you know what I mean?

[01:49:38] Christina: Um, and, but, but I think also, like, the stakes would be lower, too, if people feel like, Oh, I actually am engaged and want to learn, then, like, you’re less likely to want to do it. Most of the time, people cheat for two reasons, I think. One, just, like, laziness. And, but the big thing is, just, you don’t care.

[01:49:51] Christina: You’re not invested, right?

[01:49:53] Merlin: people, one of the things about privilege we don’t talk about enough, and that’s not a word I love, but I do get what we’re talking about. So [01:50:00] you talk about like people who got into the good school, and maybe let’s say that’s even five years into being a good school, which is a very specific kind of thing in San Francisco.

[01:50:07] Merlin: I mean, everybody knows that’s a good school. And then like, even before we get into like, Oh yeah, and how are the moms and dads having an impact on how people run that school? Like before we even get into that, um, there’s just this thing of like. Sometimes you meet people, I’m not trying to be unkind to rich people or privileged people, but like, there are people who love to talk about grit.

[01:50:30] Merlin: Oh, you kid needs more grit. Well, what they’ve experienced is a pretty assured, first of all, they’ve never missed a meal, they’ve never worried where they’re going to sleep, they’ve never had dirty clothes or smelled weird this day, or like, had to sleep in the garage because something was going on with the fan.

[01:50:48] Merlin: Like, I don’t know, like, fine, whatever, I’m a liberal, what do I know? But! But, um, the, the, the, the challenging part of that is like, I think sometimes people of privilege [01:51:00] who love to congratulate themselves about their bootstraps and their startup and all that kind of stuff, like really look past like a different way.

[01:51:06] Merlin: I look at it differently. I think a lot of people who are very well off and have a good background, like why, why is your kid so good at tennis? Well, cause his dad’s Andre Agassi. Like that’s part of it. And what does that mean? That also means they had the resources to send that kid

[01:51:18] Christina: Exactly. The resources to have the lessons, to have the time, to be able to dedicate and focus on it, to recognize that he had a talent,

[01:51:24] Merlin: is not even the mean part yet. This is not the mean part. Here’s the mean part, which is like, there’s a lot of fucking chodes out there who were born on third, as they once said, somebody once said about President Bush, born on third and thinks he hit a triple. There’s a lot of people, and that’s fine, whatever, like enjoy it, but you’re not allowed to invoke grit because essentially your whole life has been a so far uninterrupted path To success and money and all of those things.

[01:51:48] Merlin: The grit required for you to get into Harvard is a lot different, especially if your parents went there, it’s a lot different than the grit that’s required to get through third grade [01:52:00] in schools in San Francisco. It’s a different thing until I get so, it’s, it’s frustrating to me, it leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.

[01:52:06] Merlin: The way we’re constantly announcing that all these people, and it’s like it’s survivor bias, like. These are the planes that came back. Of course they have this pattern in the wings. The survivor bias of like being somebody who just happened to like have the resources and continuity of care in their life to just fucking show up and then go to college, that’s such a bigger deal than somebody whose mom has four jobs and they have to get wifi at McDonald’s and it’s like, talk about grit.

[01:52:30] Merlin: What people, you don’t even know what somebody is going through to get to just being able to show up at school and it infuriates me.

[01:52:36] Brett: Yep.

[01:52:36] Christina: No, I, I, I completely agree. And, and I think that most people who talk about grit are the reason I, I, I’m being reflexive and saying like, you know, and maybe somewhat unfair, but I think it’s largely true. Having experience is because when you have gone through things, even if you have privilege, even if you were born on third, that doesn’t mean that you haven’t experienced hardships, haven’t struggled with things, but you won’t invoke that.

[01:52:55] Christina: You’re not going to invoke that. A, I

[01:52:57] Merlin: won’t do it until you’ve become successful. How many people who are [01:53:00] successful TED talk givers, who love talking about failure, have never succeeded at

[01:53:05] Jeff: Mm.

[01:53:05] Merlin: Not many. That’s, they’re now at a position where they get to go, boy, it was really hard at my first startup, we were really underutilized and our B round was murp murp murp, and you’re like, Oh my gosh, you are so out of tune with the rest of the world and you think that you’re winning,

[01:53:19] Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.

[01:53:22] Merlin: we should go.

[01:53:22] Merlin: We’re gonna go soon? Can we go soon? Did you guys get my bird?

[01:53:26] Jeff: So, wait, you can’t go without, so that bird, not only a, a good bit, but really powerful and, and talk about it. Describe it

[01:53:34] Merlin: So I said, last night I was doing one of my occasional like updates of like, I exported my JSON file, put it up, and I said, blah blah, do this. And I was just playing around. And then I had this funny thought where I was like, and like, this is the kind of thing I’m, I’m, I say I’m surprised other people don’t do this more, but I’m actually really surprised that I don’t do this more because I know I can do this.

[01:53:52] Merlin: So I said to it something like, please re, please scan. The phrase I use, whether or not it helps or not, please deeply analyze fileblah. json and [01:54:00] fileblah. json, use the schema that I gave you, da da da da, please deeply analyze all of these documents. And then, um, I was like, write a haiku summarizing my health records.

[01:54:12] Merlin: And it wasn’t very good. And then I said, something longer, I said, please write a villanelle, like a longer form type of poem. And that went okay. And then I said, now please write a really dirty limerick about it. And it was like, I can’t do dirty things, but it would be so funny if a guy got his head stuck in a bucket.

[01:54:26] Merlin: And, but it was also. Also about my Billy Rubin levels, that would be funny, and then finally I was like, I mean, fuck it. I was like, make a, this is preceded by things you don’t see that included like, please deeply analyze my, all my health records since November, and um, produce a Hieronymus Bosch painting, and here’s two photos of me, put me in it and make me a bird.

[01:54:46] Brett: Yep.

[01:54:46] Christina: it

[01:54:47] Merlin: And then I, then I came back and I said, now please.

[01:54:48] Christina: this is brilliant.

[01:54:50] Merlin: Then I was like, please make the bird sadder and angrier and then, and then like to show that this actually does work. And then I had to go look this up. I didn’t know this off the dome. I was like, oh, co focus is a triptych, right? Three [01:55:00] paintings in one.

[01:55:00] Merlin: Like please focus on the third part of the triptych, which is called of Gardner Earthly Delight, which is called the Last Judgment, which is the good one that has like the, the walking assholes and people peeing and crying.

[01:55:10] Brett: Yep.

[01:55:11] Merlin: Yeah. Spend some read, watch some YouTube videos on Bosch. He had a hell of a thing going and I love.

[01:55:16] Merlin: All of my birds. These are all my precious little guys now.

[01:55:19] Jeff: Mm-Hmm.

[01:55:20] Merlin: And the thing is you can’t see it, maybe, but like if you really zoom in, there’s great stuff in the background, but also, something I didn’t realize until after I posted this, you can see the brush strokes. In some of these you can actually see where it looks like a painting.

[01:55:36] Merlin: It didn’t just open it up in Affinity Designer or whatever and trace it, I love Affinity Designer, but it didn’t just trace it, like it made this thing, it made it look like a painting.

[01:55:45] Christina: Yeah, yeah. No, the the stuff is, is amazing. So what did you use, uh, did you just use Dolly too for this? Or what did you use to, um, create this?

[01:55:52] Merlin: Dolly is turned on in this GPT, and because, because this is the, it’s a good question. The reason it’s in this GPT is this is the one that has [01:56:00] all my health stuff in

[01:56:01] Christina: Oh, gotcha. Okay, okay, okay. I, I got it. So you named your own custom GPT Lab Insight.

[01:56:06] Merlin: Yeah, sorry, yeah, yeah, lab results, yeah,

[01:56:08] Christina: no, no. This is on me. I, I didn’t look at it closely. So, listeners, if you, if you look at the Mastodon,

[01:56:12] Merlin: Good bird though, you gotta admit, pretty good

[01:56:13] Christina: bird.

[01:56:14] Jeff: of good birds in there. So,

[01:56:16] Christina: This I think ties back

[01:56:17] Merlin: sad and angry. Did

[01:56:19] Christina: uh,

[01:56:20] Merlin: you see the little guy in the corner? Did you see that little orange guy? How

[01:56:23] Jeff: or the one coming at you in the, in the upper left. In the first one.

[01:56:27] Christina: No, the little orange guy, he’s just

[01:56:28] Merlin: Oh, the bird? The big bird coming at me? Yeah, I think that’s the woman in the hospital who once asked me, Why do you fart?

[01:56:35] Jeff: haven’t answered the question.

[01:56:37] Merlin: that actually really encapsulates a lot of my hospital experience as being who I am. Was like, do I, no, no, and not for like stupid gross reasons, but for like, do I fart?

[01:56:47] Merlin: Like, can I fart? Have I farted? Did I just fart? Other questions you get asked in the hospital. Have you had any contact with people?

[01:56:55] Jeff: Mhmm. I try not to. Mhmm.

[01:56:58] Merlin: but like, wait, so why [01:57:00] are you asking me that? Yes, I have had contact with people. I’m generally in one of these two places, but like, have I been on a bus in the last six weeks?

[01:57:06] Merlin: What period of time? How many people? Was I sick at the time? It’s like, is this your first day? Have you just never asked them? Do you fart? What an odd thing to ask in the middle of the night. House, House would know better. House would hit me with his goddamn cane and go, uh, you know,

[01:57:23] Brett: Oh, we didn’t even get to talking about House.

[01:57:27] Merlin: my house impression. Oh, wait, House ASMR.

[01:57:32] Jeff: shake your pills!

[01:57:35] Brett: should we, uh, should we skip Craftitude this week? We’re at two hours

[01:57:40] Jeff: and I just hit it.

[01:57:41] Christina: Yeah, I think you

[01:57:42] Merlin: You know, yeah, let’s get, no, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m fading. I, I, I like all the apps. I like everything you do.

[01:57:47] Jeff: Exactly.

[01:57:48] Merlin: Well, almost everything, I have some objections, but

[01:57:52] Jeff: But we don’t want to end

[01:57:53] Merlin: honestly, you, the input devices on my machine are frequently doing Brett things, and it’s,

[01:57:59] Christina: this is [01:58:00] for all of

[01:58:00] Jeff: Yeah,

[01:58:01] Merlin: yeah, no, I mean like it’s, I don’t know what to say that doesn’t sound corny, except that like, I mean, it’s a, it’s almost kind of like a full system.

[01:58:08] Merlin: I mean, there’s stuff that I’m doing in the Finder, there’s stuff that I don’t want to like go on about it, but it’s really been a big deal for me. And I, I, I’m very, so grateful for all of that and like what it’s enabled me to do and who it’s enabled me to be. And I’m just eternally grateful. You piece of shit.

[01:58:24] Brett: I,

[01:58:25] Merlin: ska. You played ska,

[01:58:27] Brett: I asked on the forums at, forums, forums at brettterpstra. com, I asked, does anyone actually use what I build? Does anyone here who’s joined the forum actually use what I build? Because I don’t get a lot, I don’t, like, embed analytics or anything. And, and the people who came back were like, I used this and this and this and this thing you

[01:58:50] Jeff: And six things I can’t tease

[01:58:51] Brett: that you totally forgot you ever made.

[01:58:54] Merlin: end of It’s a Wonderful Life and they’re bringing you a literal basket of money going, of course we love you. [01:59:00] Every

[01:59:04] Christina: Ha

[01:59:05] Brett: Things I forgot I ever even worked on. Yeah.

[01:59:08] Merlin: time a bell rings, Brett gets an in app purchase.

[01:59:12] Christina: Genuinely, yeah. Well, hey, but do you remember, Brett, when we had, um, and maybe I, because I remember I even got a Mashable write up for you on it. Remember Brett Terpstra Day?

[01:59:21] Brett: Yes, I do. Uh, uh, Gabe Weatherhead

[01:59:25] Merlin: Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:59:27] Brett: Yeah. Back in the day it was for a couple of years, it was a great birthday and then, and it fell off. Yeah. Mac drifter.

[01:59:36] Christina: Yeah, MacDrifter is such a great blog. Um, I, uh, I first got into Synology stuff because of Gabe. Um,

[01:59:44] Merlin: oh man. Talk about a rabbit hole. My

[01:59:46] Jeff: Oh my

[01:59:47] Merlin: on my list is to figure out my dynamic DNS, why it’s not working and why I can’t access things locally again.

[01:59:53] Christina: Oh God, have you used Tailscale at all?

[01:59:56] Merlin: I have used tail scale. I’m not using it now. Is it, do you feel like that’s a good way to [02:00:00] handle that? And you, okay. Because I like the people who make it, and it

[02:00:04] Christina: do too. And I know them, I

[02:00:05] Merlin: Isn’t that what’s his head? Isn’t that the, the guy from the thing? The guy from, uh, uh, the guy from, uh, isn’t that, uh, Maycheck?

[02:00:11] Merlin: Does it? Isn’t he

[02:00:12] Christina: yeah, and, and, uh, and also, uh, uh, Yeah, Majay, and also, uh, Brad Fitzpatrick, uh, of, uh, um, Go, Memcached, and most importantly, LiveJournal fame.

[02:00:21] Merlin: Oh my god, I just had a neurological event. Please say all of those things just as fast one more time. Start with

[02:00:27] Jeff: But end with Livejournal, because that was a, that, that landed me

[02:00:30] Merlin: sounded like you just went into pure, like, Yosemite Sam can’t, like, like, like Thiefs can’t. Like, you just went into Brassa Frassa Snaggle Brassa, Brad Garrett. Oh yeah, check that out, that sounds

[02:00:42] Christina: Yeah, no,

[02:00:43] Merlin: think I know that guy from the LiveJournal. Yeah, I don’t

[02:00:44] Christina: Yeah, no, yeah, exactly, Brad Fitzpatrick. Well, he created LiveJournal, but he also created Memcached, uh, because Yeah,

[02:00:50] Merlin: That was, what?

[02:00:52] Brett: Right? Right?

[02:00:53] Christina: yeah, he created Memcached so that LiveJournal could stay up. And now

[02:00:57] Merlin: Oh, this is like when WordPress realizes it [02:01:00] needs a cache.

[02:01:01] Christina: I mean, that’s what WordPress used and also what

[02:01:03] Jeff: been

[02:01:03] Merlin: I got fireballed last night.

[02:01:05] Christina: Yeah. Um, so, so yeah, he did that. He was on the Go team, uh, for like a dozen years

[02:01:11] Merlin: I love LiveJournal. Oh my god, I’ll be so grateful to

[02:01:14] Christina: OG, OG Tumblr.

[02:01:15] Merlin: still not an app to this day that understands how you want to be able to share things

[02:01:21] Christina: No, I

[02:01:22] Merlin: There’ll be custom, custom groups that have like two

[02:01:25] Christina: fucking A.

[02:01:26] Merlin: and I made, I made a custom CSS header that I would drop into the top.

[02:01:30] Merlin: This is because I’m broken inside. It was the year 2000, whatever. And I would drop things into the top of the header that would say, you, this is a friends only post and put a cut, you know, and say like, this is something only you can see. So please don’t share this and that kind of stuff. It was amazing.

[02:01:42] Christina: it was the best. To this day, like, nobody ever accomplished, um, you know, as you said, like, being able to post to select groups. You could do friends, you know, friends only, but you could also, um, have, like, a subsect. Only these friends, right? Like, I don’t want my roommate, who’s on my friends list, to see that I’m bitching about her, which [02:02:00] is, like, a real thing.

[02:02:01] Christina: That, you know, when you’re in college,

[02:02:02] Merlin: What do you think it’s for? What do you think, is this a blogger?

[02:02:05] Christina: exactly, well, that’s the

[02:02:06] Merlin: not licking the Jason Kotke, I’m talking about my goddamn roommate.

[02:02:09] Christina: Exactly.

[02:02:10] Merlin: the music I’m listening to. Oh my god, have you heard Paramore?

[02:02:13] Christina: you’re, yeah,

[02:02:13] Merlin: Have you heard Paramore?

[02:02:14] Christina: the Russians came after the, um, the,

[02:02:17] Jeff: did they come.

[02:02:18] Merlin: are, the Russians are coming.

[02:02:20] Christina: Well, yeah, they, they, they, they bought it from

[02:02:22] Jeff: That was the real Red Dawn.

[02:02:23] Christina: it up?

[02:02:24] Merlin: was the true Red Diamond. I, and then to quote, uh, the character, I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it’d do

[02:02:30] Jeff: yes.

[02:02:30] Christina: but yeah, no, but Brad works on Tailscale as well as, as some of the

[02:02:33] Merlin: tell him I said hi.

[02:02:34] Christina: uh, I will. Uh, but, but

[02:02:36] Merlin: I’ll look at that, and I’ve, I’ve got the, I’ve got the, the package. Pardon my saying. I’ve got the package and I played with it a little bit. Matt Howey first, I think, turned me on to it. And like, but like once I do that, like here in my little officina, there’s a thing and then I’m home.

[02:02:50] Merlin: I’ve got a thing. And with that regard to things like IP range, any of that stuff that, and my phone, that all becomes part of one tail scale sort of thing, right? Everybody, anybody else who, does this get your okie [02:03:00] dokie?

[02:03:00] Jeff: was just told I needed to start last week.

[02:03:03] Brett: Nope. I love

[02:03:04] Merlin: It’s running on my machine right now. It’s just turned

[02:03:06] Christina: No, it’s amazing. Yeah, I, I turned bread onto it, I think, um,

[02:03:09] Merlin: do you, where do you do, do you, do you start with turning it on?

[02:03:13] Christina: You can turn it on wherever. It doesn’t matter. I mean, I would put it on kind of your Synology or whatever, but you can have it set up and you can, you can

[02:03:19] Merlin: I did, like I said, I’ve got the package on all of them. It’s just, I, I didn’t wanna, because I’m already so screwed up and I’m a thing I’m trying to work on. Shut up, John Syracuse. So, I know you won’t hear this, but like, my problem is like, I don’t wanna just start the way I think of it as tearing wires out of the wall.

[02:03:33] Merlin: Speaking of Gene Hackman, if you’ve ever seen the movie

[02:03:35] Jeff: Oh my god.

[02:03:36] Christina: Oh

[02:03:36] Merlin: I don’t want to just end up playing my saxophone in a room full of wires. And sometimes when I’m just like, I can fix that with a tail scale, I just need another reverse proxy for my reverse proxy. And like, pretty soon I can’t leave my office.

[02:03:49] Merlin: It’s becoming like Brian David Gilbert and his, and his gaming setup. I feel like it’s all just getting smaller and smaller.

[02:03:56] Jeff: Beautiful.

[02:03:58] Merlin: Can we all leave now?

[02:03:58] Brett: hey,

[02:03:59] Jeff: you, [02:04:00] Merlin.

[02:04:00] Brett: Merlin. Yeah, thank you. Thank you for showing up today. It’s been great chatting. We will definitely, we will definitely try to invite you back if you’ll have us.

[02:04:09] Merlin: I’m a fan of, of, of you. I didn’t, I’ve only met Jeff today, but I’m a fan of, of, of both you guys. So thank you for your kindness, and

[02:04:17] Christina: This was really

[02:04:18] Jeff: thanks, Merlin.

[02:04:19] Merlin: it’s my pleasure.

[02:04:20] Merlin: It’s been a pleasure. Hey, everybody get some sleep.

[02:04:23] Christina: Get some sleep.

[02:04:27] Jeff: There it is.

[02:04:28] Merlin: Oh, here’s you.

[02:04:30] Jeff: Hire, hire!

[02:04:32] Merlin: Oh, is it more like a Joy Division kind of thing?