Fear of the Unknown is Good

“I already know the answers.”

“He changed his mind. He’s not sure of what he thinks.”

“How can I choose when the advice changes from day-to-day? Don’t they know anything?”

The reality is that sometimes you don’t have all the answers, and that can be scary. The anxiety of unsureness isn’t something we learn to cope with well.

Worse than that, the idea of “I don’t know” is touted as a weakness. Friends, “I don’t know” can be a strength when learning is essential. When you are puffed up with all you know, your cup is too full to take in more. Being able to accept you don’t have all the data is the real strength. I don’t mean that in an Orwellian Ignorance is Strength kind of way, but more that it’s a good idea to be able to evaluate data and know how to assign truth probabilities to it,

As a classic example from a friend of mine, “If I open my hand full of this kitten over an open running blender in a normal Earth kitchen, there is a probability of 100% the kitten will fall towards it.”

You can change the parameters of the statement. “What if we’re on a space station? What if the blender has a lid? Can the kitten jump away?”

Those are all excellent questions, but the point is that as you ask those questions, your answers become more and more refined.

Which, as anyone who reads this knows, is precisely the job of the scientific method. It’s the constant refinement of understanding.

Far too many people think that, at a certain point, answers should be concrete. At the macro level, yeah, we’ll get blended kitten. But sometimes, the answers and lives depend on added parameters.

This circles around to an argument I got into about thirty years ago. We were talking about a science fiction show. One of the people there asserted that if aliens visited the Earth, that, of course, they’d be benevolent to humanity because at that level of technology, how could they possibly be anything else?

The sheaf of assumptions associated with this assertion went deep. I could not get through to the fellow that he was extrapolating beyond his available data — a phrase my father often uses when discussing ideas. The idea that this expression is so embedded in my own consciousness from toddlerhood might explain my own indoctrination to the scientific method, huh?

But he needed to believe, somehow, that if there were advanced aliens, they’d be benevolent. We have exactly zero data to support either a benevolent or malevolent race of possible aliens. He was utterly and completely convinced otherwise.

I was not talking to an uneducated person. He’d graduated from a good school. I even think his degree was in computer science, so it’s not like he’d never studied logic.

However, he could not apply those classes to anything outside of his field. (Yes, the Heinlein fans will begin to think of Gulf, I know…)

Common problem. We need to feel sure so badly we’ll shoot ourselves in the foot on many things. The idea of changing one’s mind to meet changing data is often seen as foolish or weak-willed. Even those of us who are proud of our abilities to see the data and come to the accurate conclusion might be fooling ourselves.

It’s a constant battle.

It Took Me Thirty Years to Vacuum a Closet

I took five minutes to vacuum my closet the other day. It was part of my routine cleaning, no big deal. It was just a quick thing to check off on my cleaning list. I removed some boxes of stuff in the bottom, a few pairs of slippers, and vacuumed. I replaced the stuff and went on with my—

No. I didn’t.

No, I looked at the bottom of the closet in a state of shock and burst out laughing.

I have spent a large portion of my life trying to get organized. When I was a child, “cleaning my room” really did mean tossing everything I could think of where to put it in a closet so that it looked tidy when Mom poked her head in. I was the child with the cubby under the desk in grade school so stuffed with papers and junk that it was simply impossible to add or find anything.

This level of disorganization bothered and embarrassed me. It really hurt and made me feel like a failure.

As a teenager, my backpack also became a mess of papers, random items, books, and paraphernalia (no, not that kind. In many ways, I was hopelessly square)

As an adult, it wasn’t much better. My desk was full of bills to be paid, papers I didn’t want to face, things that were vaguely sentimental but not enough to display anywhere. My closet?

That was still the place where I hid stuff I didn’t have a place for but wanted the room at least to appear a little tidy.

How long from a stuffed closet to a tidy closet?

It took about thirty years.

I wasted a lot of that time, though. I addressed it in cycles. “Starting now, I’m finally going to get organized!” I’d spend several hours a day over a few weeks cleaning, organizing, and playing possessions Tetris with my home. After a month or so, know what? The house would look great!

Then, inevitably, the house would no longer look great. I’d clean the kitchen well enough to prevent food poisoning, but more than that? Not so much.

Ever done that? C’mon, it’s okay. We all have.

Being tidy over time is all about consistent action.

You can, indeed, get the house clean with heroic effort, just as you can work really hard to train for an athletic event.

The problem comes in when you do something intense for a short period. As I mentioned in my last post, heroic effort is unsustainable.

Several of my favorite housekeeping systems (Flylady and Unfuck Your Habitat) talk about starting very small – shining your sink or making your bed. They are so right!

It’s not about getting tidied or organized quickly. It’s about developing consistent habits. For a lot of people, that’s enough.

But for some…

Executive dysfunction can interfere with consistency.

If you have organizational or distraction issues, habits may not be enough. Autism, ADHD, and a host of other neurodivergent issues centered around executive dysfunction make it hard to do things that seem pretty obvious to the neurotypical person. What? You need to wash the dishes after a meal? No kidding. Go do it!

As I was writing this article, I broke for dinner. Guess what is in my sink right now?

I thought about it, got up, scrubbed the pan a little, realized it needed to soak some more, and sat back down here to write. Sure, sure, I’ll get to it after I finish this, no biggie. But if my sink was full of dishes other than that pan, if I had laundry on my sofa, a desk drawer full of unaddressed bills, and my phone beeping that I needed to get up and get my car to the garage to get the brakes done, would I be getting back to that pan in any reasonable amount of time?

*Hollow laugh*

People with executive dysfunction issues can find their problems painful.

Maybe some people laugh and think it’s cute to be disorganized. It never felt cute to me. It hurt because I had a hard time doing what I wanted to do. I was utterly desperate to get my life under control. Completely and utterly desperate from the time I was nine years old. That’s a heavy load.

Jokes about executive dysfunction aren’t cute.

I know the whole “squirrel!” joke about distractibility is mean to make people feel better and okay with themselves. I never wanted to be okay with chaos. I wanted the chaos to stop. It hurt. It interfered with accomplishing what I wanted to. It was exhausting. It used up time I wanted to spend on other things. I wanted a clean canvas so that when I jumped from obsession to obsession to obsession, I could feel like I was using that time intelligently rather than as a distraction from things that were bothering me.

Late fees, court cases, and lost jobs aren’t cute, either.

There’s an ADHD vlogger that I really like named Jessica McCabe. She’s brilliant and adorable, and being a little bit of the manic pixie thing is part of her brand. It gets people to listen to broad issues of executive dysfunction. People will accept and listen to that stuff sometimes and find it palatable if someone is small and young and cute. (She’s a LOT older than her looks or mannerisms would indicate, by the way).

So, the brilliant part. Quite sure McCabe knows what she’s doing with that because sometimes she drops the adorable thing. The pain of being disorganized or having a hard time directing attention is very, very clear. If she weren’t so cute, it would be unlikely as many people would listen to the important things she is saying. There’s more to her than cute by a long shot. (And don’t get me started on the sexism of it).

But that whole “cute” thing about disorganization. It’s not so cute when unpaid bills land you in court. That has happened to me. With money in the BANK, that has happened to me! (Or without money. *shrugs* That, too). It’s not cute when you have to buy a car at interest rates that are close to what you’d pay on a credit card. Yeah, that’s happened, too. That we’re in good financial shape now is a miracle.

There is a cultural narrative of *giggle* *giggle* “I’m so distractable!” to try to ameliorate the pain of being disorganized. Know what? It’s not funny. It hurts.

Proscriptive solutions won’t work.

I use a Bullet Journal just about with the out-of-the-box method that Ryder Carrol posted in that first video he did about it. I tried it, and it clicked.

Know what wouldn’t have clicked? Someone making me do it when I was fifteen.

This is where you, if you have problems with executive dysfunction, might wonder if I can provide an answer for you. Know what? I can’t.

I can say, “You need a Bullet Journal.” I mean, I’ll think it. I wouldn’t say it. Know why? It won’t necessarily work for you.

What I will say is that you need to find methods that work for you.

“Okay, smartybrat,” I hear you cry, “if you can’t offer a solution, what do I do?”

Create systems that support you

This is going to look different depending on how you think. Does a beepy reminder go bing! and prompt you to do stuff? Do you like to have a menu of tasks that you choose from depending on how easily they grab your attention in the moment?

What primes you to take action?

What plans have you followed through on (c’mon, you do have some if you’re alive past 20), and what about them made you feel good?

My husband doesn’t use a Bullet Journal. He plans his day using a calendar app. If there’s an interrupt to a task, he’ll move it to another free time. When you first try this, I strongly encourage you to multiply your estimation of task time by at least four until you get good at estimating how long something will take. If you have executive dysfunction issues you’re struggling with, I’d bet at least a nickel that you’re not good at estimating how long things take yet.

What stops you from taking action? Can you remove the interrupts?

A simple example would be to take the dirty clothes hamper’s lid off if that’s enough to discourage you from tossing your clothes in the hamper. Still, I’m not talking about “Tips ‘n Tricks” here. I hate tips ‘n tricks! They’re like taking a Tylenol when you cut off your leg. You need to extrapolate that to life systems to support how you want to live.

Your system is useless until you define “good enough.”

I could skip the next two or three times I need to vacuum my closet, and I wouldn’t care. If I get to it every year or so, it’s absolutely good enough. “Good enough” means I address my paperwork file once a week and clear it out. I don’t have to do it every day unless I feel like it. “Good enough” is walking for five minutes on the hour around my living room until I get my 10,000 steps in. I don’t have to walk for three miles unless I want to. “Good enough” is spreading up the bed and tossing the shams at the head. I don’t have to bounce a quarter off the damn thing unless I get a wild hare to do that sometimes. Don’t give yourself an image of perfection you have to attain, or you’ll do nothing.

It’s okay for “good enough” to change

Remember how it took thirty years to get to vacuuming a closet? There was a time when that chore wasn’t on the “good enough” list, and ya know what? That’s fine. Have your “good enough” be slightly, but only slightly, ahead of what you’re currently doing if you want to make improvements. Incremental improvements over time, and I mean decades, are pretty dramatic when you look back.

Good enough can stay good enough

My exercise parameters have me getting in an average of 10,000 steps a day as measured over a month. That is never going to change. If the Spirit moves me, I’ll do more. But I’m not going to keep raising the bar over and over and over. This is it. I’m good. I’m maintaining.

It takes decades to get your life in order. What small thing will you do today?

The Value of 30-Day Challenges

Spending the winter getting in one’s exercise on a treadmill is deadly dull.  I plumbed the depths of the possibilities that is The Good Place. I found no other commercially produced television catching my fancy. In despair, I turned to productivity and self-improvement videos on YouTube.

These attractive young men with their nice, trim beards pontificating on how they had Solved Life’s Problems both amused and instructed me as I got in the tedium that is the 10,000 step habit.

The power of habit

Oh yeah, habit.

Is me getting in those 10,000 steps every day a habit?  Darn right, it is!  I do make a specific effort to get in a specified amount of walking every day.  That’s very true.

In fact, in 2020, I averaged 10,000 steps a day every month for the entire year.

2020-2021 Step Goals

Garmin won’t let me specify only the year 2020 in displaying the chart. Still, hey… I’ve been doing it for over twelve months anyway, so this is illustrative enough.  I hit my step counts as averaged over a month for the year.

Do 30 Day Challenges help develop habits?

I did I start this with a 30-day challenge?  Well… sorta.  I tried to get in over 10,000 steps a day for an entire month.

A 30-day challenge is an excellent way to explore a habit. 

Reinhard Engels of Everyday Systems talks about this when he talks about Monthly Resolutions.  He thinks, correctly, that too large a scale is a bad idea when developing a habit.  A large scale can be daunting.  A large scale can be so daunting it sets you up for failure because it’s overwhelming.

Reinhard suggests the Monthly Resolution as a low-investment way to try out a habit. It is easy to see if the habit works for you or if it’s really not addressing the issues you’re working on.

This is where the 30-day challenge comes in.  No sugar for a month.  No alcohol for a month! No Internet for a month!  10,000 steps a day for a month.  Go vegan for a month.

These things can be worth a try. 

But there is a dark side.

The Dark Side of the 30-day Challenge

A 30-day challenge, when misapplied, can harm your attempts at goal setting and habit formation.

For most everyday habit formation, any adult can tell themselves that they can tough something out for a month.  You can white-knuckle it and get through to the finish line precisely because you see that finish line.

For a habit you would like to keep lifelong, a month of extraordinary effort is pointless.  Been sedentary for three or four years?  Getting more fit is a project best measured over decades.  This means that doing something easy consistently is better than doing something difficult you’ll quit. The extremes you can tolerate for a month are unsustainable in the long term. For physical fitness, that two-mile walk you will take beats that 5K run you worked up to and then quit because it was unpleasant every time.

There is also the problem of “breaking the chain” for many habits. 

No, not that breaking a chain is difficult. It’s distressingly easy.  But quitting because you broke the chain?  Yeah, I know you’ve done it.  Don’t lie. Lyin’s a sin.

But a 30-Day Challenge does have you in that “don’t break the chain” mindset.  That’s less than useful for a habit you want to be lifelong.

Is habit tracking useful?

Which does bring up another point.  Is habit tracking useful?

No.  Habit tracking is not useful.

Anyone who has seen my stuff on Bullet Journals or even gives a second’s thought to the 10,000 steps I talk about earlier in this piece is about to accuse me of being a liar.  Bear with me.

You know what I don’t track?  Whether or not I made my bed this morning.  Know why?

I did.  I do every morning.  I don’t need to track that any more than I need to track whether or not I’m wearing underwear.  I do that every day.

Habit-tracking is a misleading name for what you’re doing.  You’re tracking the development of a habit.  Once it’s a habit, you offload that mentally.  You just.. do it.

I made my bed from the time I was out of a crib until I was in my thirties and living in a household that didn’t really value bed-making. When that household broke up, I was right back to it.

What you want to do is get something useful to yourself so ingrained that you don’t give it a lot of thought.  Maybe you want to eat vegetables.  Maybe you want to make your bed.  Maybe you want to avoid too much time on the internet.

I’ve talked before about Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.  He talks about starting very small and engineering the environment. Flossing one tooth levels of small.

I admit there was a time when I simply would not have believed his assertions.  If you don’t work out hard or clean perfectly, you won’t get to your goal.

Well, if your goal is to do 100 pushups and get a sixpack by the end of the year, and the first quarter is already over, and you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a soda can in years?  Probably not.

If your goal is to develop a lifelong habit that will show progress over decades?  Those little habits are amazing.

So when you see the 30-day challenges, think of them as trying on an outfit in the dressing room.  It’s a good way to experiment, but past that, you need something else.

Day of Rest

A person covered by a blanket on a sofa with feet sticking out.

When is the last time you took a true day of rest?  I mean, for real.  No housework, no checking work emails, no work?

Me? I’m always doing something productive.   I was looking over my Bullet Journal in the past few weeks, I’ve realized something.  I never really take a day off.  Even on weekends, when hey, relaxing is important, I find lists of things to do to prepare for the next week.

I bet a lot of you are like that.

I bet many people use being busy as a way to cope with rough times, too.

Are you worried about maybe driving yourself crazy with that?

Now, if you’re Jewish and observant, you probably read the first line of this post and said, “Well, Shabbos, same as always.”

Many religious traditions have a concept of a Sabbath.  The more religious you are, chances are the stricter you are about protecting that day, too.

Recently, The Man of the House and I talked about it and decided that we were going to do a secular Day of Rest.  However, since it’s a personal preference to prep for the next day the night before, we took a cue from the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath and had it begin the night before for us as well.  Our cue that the Day of Leisure was to begin would be after we fed our cats their evening gooshy food.  We do that around five in the evening.  Sun to sun doesn’t work for us.  We have too much variation in the year to find that desirable.

During our Day of Leisure, we would do No Work At All.  Not cooking. I made a breakfast casserole and had other pre-made food on hand.  Not washing up. We could put dishes in the dishwasher. Not anything that we’d consider “professional” or count towards professional time.  I even waited until after five to start even thinking about this blog post.

We could engage in hobbies. Knitting is fine because that’s not the only way we get socks.  If it were work, that would change. We can read books, visit with friends and family, (well, online.  Covid-19 is still a problem), watch movies, take a walk, or anything strictly fun.

Saturday was busy. We did our weekly cleaning, prepping some food, doing some other things I used to do Sunday afternoon to prep for the week, and making a nice dinner for when the Day of Leisure was to begin.  I even changed into a nice lounging outfit for the occasion.

The Saturday night wasn’t that unusual.  We often have a nice meal and watch something.  However, I went to be with the full intention of Not Working all day.

Deliberately.

Sunday, was pretty amazing.  I didn’t cook a darn thing other than to put a casserole in the oven.  I cleaned nothing.   I didn’t plan a thing for the coming week.  I even had a book ready to read and spent the whole darn day diving into the book. 

To be frank, my personal indulgence of sitting down and reading a book cover to cover had become an infrequent thing in recent decades.  I think days of rest are ideal for that.

I didn’t even play on social media really.  I wasn’t forbidding myself to do so, but *shrugs* I considered myself off the hook for the Outside World.

My husband spent some time drawing. 

We talked about it afterwards and decided, yeah, a full Day of Leisure every week was going to be a thing for us for a bit. 

So, what do you think?  Do you observe a Sabbath, or do you think this is a good idea?   Lemme know in the comments!

A Watch Stopped Me Drinking

File:Closed loop feedback systems.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 stopped me drinking.

I love it as a fitness tracker, as it tracks heart rate, pulse ox for part of the night when sleeping, and has a function called “body battery” that tracks your activity against your rest using heart rate variability. You can track many fitness activities and even sync it to your phone as a GPS tracker for dryland training.

Y’all knew I was a nerd and love crap like that, right?

It’s the body battery that was the major push away from booze. If I had a drink the night before, my body battery didn’t charge — as my heart rate never dropped down into the fifties for that “good sleep” slowdown.

Now, I’ll still have a drink about once a quarter, don’t get me wrong! I’m not entirely a teetotaler. However, if I think about wanting a drink, I think about how deep I want to sleep that night. Being extremely protective of my sleep, the answer’s usually “no.”

It’s the logic of, “What will this do to Future Me?”

Will I be sorry I had a glass of wine at a celebration?

No. Pleasures and enjoyment at celebrations are an important part of enjoying life.

Will I be sorry I got bad sleep after a tough day?

Yes. Most of the time, it’s the restorative sleep I need after a challenge. Challenges are a part of life, too, and doing what you can to recover from them is also important. Yeah, I would have thought that booze knocked you out so you’re all good. Turns out that’s not quite so. You’re adding something else for your body to recover from as well as the emotional hangover. I wouldn’t have believed it, either.

So…

Yes, direct feedback does have an effect on my behavior.

I also swim. But I will be quite honest, it’s hard for me to get in the pool. It’s a lot of rigamaole — getting the gym bag packed, making sure I have everything, plotting out how to get through the damn locker room with a bunch of old ladies who don’t seem to believe Covid is real, making sure my hands and face are dry with putting the mask on and off, making sure I packed my underwear…

It’s a damn production that, frankly, I sometimes don’t really want to face.

It’s not that I don’t love swimming, I do. I’ve never been grumpy more than 100 yards into a swim. I love the fact that I’m off the hook for thinking, planning, considering other people’s feelings, or solving problems for an hour. I have a lane to myself and all I have to do is swim. I can’t meditate sitting still, but woah, can I send my brain into that Mushin (no-mind) state pretty well staring at that black line. I even have a watch that counts laps for me and I swim some long sets.

So yes, a bit of moderate exercise and letting yourself off the hook for anything but what you’re doing in the moment usually does leave you feeling better, right? Well, it does for me, anyway.

I need to apply the same logic to not-drinking to swimming. How do I usually feel at the end of a swim? At worst, high end of neutral, low end of good.

Today, I was singing Uptown Funk at the top of my lungs on the drive home, and I’m sure my town thanks me for doing so with the windows closed!

Still, getting over that hump of getting myself out the door and into the pool is real.

I’m trying to think of things to engineer the hump away. You know, like people who have a hard time throwing their clothes in the dirty clothes hamper if there’s a top on it, but for some reason will toss those suckers right IN if there’s no top? (Yes, this is a real thing, especially with people with attention deficit problems)

Do y’all have things that were blocks, humps, or choke points? If you did, have you tried to engineer them away, and did that help?

Support and Defend: Article IV Section III

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

We can admit new states to the Union. We are not allowed to divide states, nor are we allowed to combine them, unless both Congress and the legislatures of all the other states agree. So, let’s say Northern California wanted to be its own state. Congress and all the current state legislatures would have to agree.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

That being said, Congress gives itself jurisdiction over territories that are not states. Think Puerto Rico and Guam. Yes, Puerto Rico is an American territory and its people are US citizens. So Congress has the authority to establish a National Park in Puerto Rico. Indeed, the National Historic Site with the iconic fort in Puerto Rico is maintained by the National Park Service, as permitted by Consitution.

Support and Defend: Article IV Section II

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

This means that if I live in New Hampshire, I am still allowed to own property or work in Vermont. I can’t be prevented from traveling to another state. If I decide to kill someone in Florida and then go to New Mexico, I can be sent back to Florida to stand trial for that murder.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

The Thirteenth Amendment got rid of this one. Basically, an enslaved person who escaped could be returned, even if they made it to a state that did not permit slavery. When slavery was abolished, this clause became irrelevant.

Support and Defend: Article IV Section I

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Let’s say Joe and Maurice get married in Vermont.  When they move across the river to New Hampshire, their marriage is still legal, even if their marriage wasn’t legal in New Hampshire.

Then they move to Nevada and live there awhile and they adopt a couple of children.  Those children are their legal responsibility in all states. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to adopt legally in another state.  That doesn’t matter.  Joe and Maurice are still legally the parents of those children.

Then they move to Louisiana and unfortunately, their relationship deteriorates.  They get divorced.  The divorce decree, including property division and parental responsibilities, are legal and enforceable in all the states, even if other states have other laws.

The idea behind this is that if you enter into a contract that is legal in the state in which you entered into it, it is enforceable in all the states.

Ultimately, the responsibility for how such inter-state differences are enforced are the responsibility of Congress.

To Support and Defend: Article III, Section III

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Treason isn’t flipping off the President or even hanging him in effigy. It is either an overt act of war, or aiding government who are directly in a state of war with the United States of America. Being against a war isn’t treason.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

If you are convicted of treason, Congress decides on your punishment. Historically, this has been anything from a prison sentence to execution. Some people who were convicted of treason have had Presidential pardons.

However, if you are convicted of treason, your children cannot be punished for your crime and conviction. It might sound strange, but in Tudor times, if you were convicted of treason and were a peer of the realm, your title died, your oldest son could not inherit and your estates were forfeit to the Crown.

To Support and Defend: Article III, Section II

The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

It is the Judiciary’s responsibility to interpret the Constitution and all laws passed by Congress.  It will also interpret treaties made with other nations.  When there are disputes between states, people who reside in different states, or any disagreements between states and the Federal government, it shall be the responsibility of the Judicial branch to handle that.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

So, when some official from another country is here and has something happen that needs the Law to sort it out, the Supreme Court is the original jurisdiction.  Otherwise, any Federal case will start in the local Federal court and will only go to the Supreme Court if there is an appeal.  Congress has the power to make changes to this in law.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

All criminal trials in Federal cases will be by jury and in the jurisdiction in which the crime was said to have been committed.  If a crime was not committed within a state (such as in a US territory), Congress can say where the trial shall be held.