Finally ended my contract at the day job. It's a source of remarkable ambivalence for me -- on the one hand I enjoy recieving monies and buying nutrients, on the other I was pretty tired of that job, and especially of the particular species of gross corporate dysfunction that afflicted that company.
And, because I'm vastly more fortunate than I deserve, I seem to have fallen into a new day job, back in the SF bay area.
I just thought that I'd have so much more time. I'd be able to finish all those outstanding projects, do everything I said I would. And instead it looks like I'm leaping back into the red queen's race. A more interesting job, better-paid, but still not quite what I think I wanted.
Read Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312. Surprisingly good! In general, I think hard SF is pretty boring, but this really shows a lot of the strong points of the genre -- what you might call the romance of physical reality. There are a bunch of scenes where he just describes how grand it all is, and how wonderfully we've come to terms with the sheer expansive possibilities of existence in that future.
It reminds me of Jablokov's stuff in a few places, with its offhand descriptions of massive interplanetary engineering projects. Less elegant, but I suppose that's scarcely avoidable.
Not a terribly quick read, but not a slog either. Recommended, with the reservation that "for those who like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like."
Sometimes I read my 419 spam. (Terrible habit, I know.) But this one's amazing in its metacity.
I am Mr Ibrahim Lamedo the chairman of ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION (EFCC).EFCC in alliance with economic community of West African states (ECOWAS)with the head office here in Nigeria.we have been working towards the eradication of fraudsters and scam artists in western part of Africa with the help of the united states government and the united Nation.
We have been able to track down so many of this scam artist in various part of west Africa countries which includes(NIGERIA, REPUBLIC OF BENIN, TOGO,GHANA CAMERON AND SENEGAL)and they are all in our custody here in Lagos Nigeria. We have been able to recover so much money from these scam artists.The United Nation Anti-Crime commission and the United state Government have ordered the money recovered from the scamers to be shared among 100 lucky people around the global.
This email is been directed to you because your email address was found in one of the scam Artists file and a computer hard disk in our custwilliamsody here in Nigeria.you are therefore being compensated with $1.5Million Dollars.we have also arrested all those who claim that they are barristers,bank officials,lottery Agent who has money for transfer or want you to be the next of kin of such fund which does not exist.
I mean, the audacity of claiming to originate from Nigeria would be good for a chuckle by itself. The idea of paying out giant rewards by lottery to people who fell for an earlier 419? Purely brilliant. Subsequent paragraphs warn that an immediate transfer of 120 USD will be needed to claim the money. Of course. And it closes with a warning that there are other fraudsters about, and that any scams should be forwarded to them immediately. They are, after all, dedicated to the eradication of fraudsters and scam artists.
Went under the fence at an abandoned elementary school. I don't know, it's all a little too preciously gothy for me, but there's a definite power in that desolation. I went to a school that looked a lot like that, and those memories, such as they are, remain irresistible.
I took these pictures, inasmuch as was practical, from about three and a half feet off the ground. Especially from this angle, this ramp seems like some kind of architectural whimsy.
Abandoned playground equipment is always sinister.
Still worked. Didn't drink any.
There was some graffiti, but less than I'd expect. Most of all, I found the sheer bright primary-colored rectangularity of the school's design striking.
The plants broke in waves over the fences like stop-motion filmmaking. For the most part, the structures seemed fine. Just overgrown. Relics of a vanished world.
Been (re)reading some of Murakami's minor works. (I'm just making this category up, but I'm pretty sure it's a reasonable division to make.) One of them was After Dark
, which I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that I thought he was just phoning in. It's got his usual character types behaving as you'd expect. Dual world, evocation of Tokyo, eccentric teenage girl who saves the day through some act of self-realization.
I may have made this complaint before. In this space, even. I'm deliberately putting it in the worst way. It's better than it sounds -- I actually enjoyed it quite a bit this time through, perhaps because, even if he's not pushing himself, he's made something genuinely comforting. I'm not sure how that works. I found it relaxing, engaging. Light, but not devoid of merit.
Besides, there's one of the classic Murakami rants on page 15. Behold:
"No matter how much I scream at them to make my toast as crispy as possible, I have never once gotten it the way I want it. I can't imagine why. What with Japanese industriousness and high-tech culture and the market principles that the Denny's chain is always pursuing, it shouldn't be that hard to get crispy toast, don't you think? So, why can't they do it? Of what value is a civilization that can't toast a piece of bread as ordered?"
Doin' my taxes like a responsible adult. I'm getting kind of used to it -- I know what forms I need to file, so I don't get flashes of outrage anymore at having to do schedule SE, or the momentary frustration of checking the flowchart and finding I'm not able to file 1040EZ. Hard to believe, though I guess it's just more proof -- "you can get used to hanging if you hang long enough."
Of course, as previously documented, I'm not actually very good at filing my own taxes, and should probably leave it to professionals. Or at least software. But I am pretty stubborn, and every year I think, "Well, this year I'll get it right." Hasn't happened so far.
Sitting up and listening to the rain. As amusements go, I've partaken in worse. Drink some tea and marvel at the texture of the rain, the subtle rhythms as it waxes and ebbs. Eat some Basler Leckerli. Listen to the wind. It's difficult at times like these to remember that I suffer from any ambition at all.
I think it's having grown up in LA -- I could wander in perfect sympathy with the Dune Fremen, marveling at the water falling from the sky. It always surprises me somehow. No matter how often I see it, in however many different places, it's still a little bit magical, and it's difficult to shake the feeling that it is magic, and furthermore a bit of magic assembled purely so I could experience it.
And besides, there's something ineffably pleasant about knowing that the rain's outside, and you're snug at home, safe and warm. (In my case, equipped with tea and cookies.) I think everyone's had that feeling.
I'll be glad when the election's done. Not as glad as the voters of Ohio, I trust, but pretty glad. If someone would just firebomb CNN, that would be really helpful.
I don't personally vote, for reasons best described as rampant tinfoil-hattism, but I think it's a good idea in general. I was also amused to find that, on all the ballot entries I had any interest in, I was entirely in agreement with the LA Times endorsements at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/
. I'm not sure what that says about me. I prefer to think it's because there aren't any truly radical positions on the ballot -- if there were, my more outre policy views would make themselves felt.
Last time the Space Shuttle will ever be in the air is tomorrow -- Endeavour arrives at LAX tomorrow around noon on the back of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Still not sure exactly what I'll do. Probably try to get to sleep early and wake up early. Might watch from work, might watch from the hill near the apartment. Both have their advantages -- work has a better view of the approach, Clutter's park is closer to the end of the runway. Lots of choices. Sleeping through it isn't really one of them.
I was never a huge fan of the shuttle program, but they solved a bunch of impossible engineering challenges, and the orbiters did everything they were designed to do. And they've been the U.S. manned space program my entire life. It's the end of an era, and it seems right to mark its passing.
And then build something better. We know a lot more now.
Update: The Endeavour has landed.
Watched it from work. Pretty much everyone there did the same, sort of a party. It's parked outside by the end of 25R right now. Amazing. And the low-altitude flybys were doubly so. Definitely looking forward to seeing it move in a month or so.
Now I have a pet mouse.
This wasn't something I planned. It just happened in some grand show of universal perversity, as so many things do. Last week, I was sitting on my couch, enjoying a beer, playing Final Fantasy 4 on a borrowed Super Famicom, and I saw a mouse amble across my field of view.
Amble. Nice casual stroll. Rather unmouselike behaviour. I look at it, it sniffs the ambient piles of electronics and studiously ignores me. It's not quite friendly enough for me to pick it up, but it's also not savvy enough to figure out that boxes with peanut butter in them aren't naturally occurring. Ten minutes later, it's in a box and eating peanut butter.
Ordinarily, in this situation, I would bike it a few miles and let it go, but this mouse plainly has no survival skills worth mentioning, and it's bright white to boot. Life expectancy of a suicidal mayfly. So the next day I go out, buy a cage and some proper food, and declare it my new pet. (I put up some flyers, just in case it was someone else's pet. 5 days have passed, no response, so I think my conscience is clean.)
I've named him "Nourishing," after one of the rats in Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. He shares with his namesake a certain lack of survival traits, but also enough luck to make up for it.