Archive for June, 2014

2014/06/19

Cities are so full of human things

Today around lunchtime, having successfully backfilled a default value into a null field in upwards of (literally) six million records so that we could eventually remove the “if field is NULL, use the default” code from the runtime (something that frankly we wouldn’t have bothered with at the previous employer, but current employer takes code curation very seriously), I decided to go out for a little walk.

For Father’s Day the little daughter gave me this wonderful handmade set of cards (pictured here, along with the delicious truffles from M) describing various favorite and otherwise notable coffeehouses around The City. One of the favorites was Café Grumpy, which has a location in Chelsea, just a few minutes walk from here.

So I picked up a lovely ham half-sandwich from the Five Borough Bistro down the hall, took off my badge in the elevator (good opsec), and walked out into The Big City.

Between 111 8th Avenue and 224 West 20th Street, there are about five blocks, probably about four Starbuckses, the Joyce Theater, a modest number of portals (most of them Smurf Blue), and many many lovely complicated people, some on bicycles. I ate my sandwich while walking North among it all.

Sitting with my cappuccino, I wrote Profound Coffee Shop Words on the Insta-gram.

I get this feeling,
in cities,
that all the other people
are clued into some multifarious but shared thing
that I’m outside of.
Which is I think true
and false
and true.

True because being a really city-immersed and full-time city person is in fact a multifarious but shared thing that I’m outside of.

False because there are lots of different ones, even multifarious and shared; being a really city-immersed and full-time city person isn’t just one thing, any more than being any other kind of person is just one thing (not even a multifarious thing).

And true because everyone everywhere is clued into some multifarious but shared thing that virtually everyone else is outside of.

Speaking of love :) and social media, there is some amusement to be had today on the “March4Marriage” tag on the Twitter, which was started by the odious National Organization for Marriage (a small but mysteriously well-funded group devoted to preventing certain marriages), but which has attracted lots of variously heartwarming, funny, snarky, and otherwise pro-equality “tweets” that made me smile. (The “march” itself seems to have drawn maybe a couple hundred people; a fact that the Twitter has also enjoyed.)

And speaking of the more and less delightful mysteries of the human soul, there is this odd story. The story says that every time a child is born in the U. S. of A., a secret account with some large monetary value is created by the birth certificate, and that this account is used as collateral for large loans from foreign banks that keep the United States (which is secretly a Corporation) running. By filling out certain forms with certain punctuation, the story says, a citizen can get control of that account, and use it to pay one’s taxes, obtain cash, or whatever.

People who promote and/or believe this story are collectively called the Redemption Movement, which has a Wikipedia page and everything, as well as a long and painful (and sometimes funny) history of losses in court, criminal convictions, loony web pages and YouTube videos, and so on. This guy for instance seems schizomimetic on the order of the Time Cube guy:

~7 FOR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DOCUMENT-CONTRACT-PERSONS(CONTRACT BETWEEN TWO-OR-MORE-PERSONS) ARE WITH THE TERMS OF THE “PAPER-DOCUMENT-CONSTITUTION” OR “PAPER-CONTRACT-COMPLAINT” WITH THESE DOCUMENT-CONTRACTE-LOCAL-RULES BY THE DOCUMENT-CONTRACT-PAPER-VESSEL-COURT.

whereas others are either just easily duped, or relatively ordinary con-persons.

But back to cities. :) It did not pour rain at all on my way out to Grumpy and back, just a very few sprinkles. People had umbrellas up, or were carrying them down, or had their hoods up or newspapers held over their heads, or were bareheaded and looking up dubiously at the sky now and then like I was, or were just walking along. Whereas this morning at the train station up in the ‘burbs, it was raining quite definitely, and I got thoroughly splashed on the legs by a car going too fast through a gutter puddle.

It is nice not to be wet anymore.

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2014/06/16

Flying theatrical pirates!

And now, the weblog entry I know you’ve all been waiting for: the next episode of “So, I had this dream the other night…”!

So, I had this dream the other night.

I was at home, in the driveway (it was like the driveway of the house that I grew up in, not the one I live in now), and these two door-to-door salepersons came up, and they were selling cross-stitch supplies and something completely unrelated to that (motor oil or something), and I told them that they should wait until M got home, and she might be interested in the cross-stitch supplies.

Then I was driving somewhere in the car, and the salespersons were there in the car with me, and I thought “oh, wait, why are they here in the car with me? I was supposed to leave them back at the house to wait for M, oops”.

And then up in the sky I saw all of these people sort of floating there in a long line stretching off into the distance. Since I could fly myself in the dream (as in many dreams), I wanted to go and join them and wait in line too (perhaps I hadn’t known until then that other people could fly; not clear), but what about the car?

So I gave the salespersons the keys and had them promise to drive the car home to wait for M, and not steal it or anything, and I floated up to get in the line.

And although the line looked very long, it must have been moving very fast, because soon I got to the front of it, which was in this wooden structure (up in the sky presumably), where there were lots of theatrical pirate supplies (hats with feathers, odd baggy pants, unconvincing swords, etc), because we were going to be pirates.

Flying pirates!

And I think I spent the rest of the dream happily playing with and trying on the supplies.

And there you have it! :)

Be sure to tune in again next time…

Update!!:!:: As I somehow forgot to mention but a commentor inadvertently (I assume) reminded me, M and I had just seen Monty Python’s Meaning of Life on the Net Flix, so there is an obvious connection with the Crimson Permanent Assurance. Which didn’t fly, but still…

2014/06/08

Greece v Galloway: well that’s annoying!

subtle coercive pressuresYou can tell I’ve been busy because I failed to notice this last month:

Prayer that is solemn and respectful in tone, that invites lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing, serves that legitimate function. If the course and practice over time shows that the invocations denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion, many present may consider the prayer to fall short of the desire to elevate the purpose of the occasion and to unite lawmakers in their common effort. That circumstance would present a different case than the one presently before the Court. — Greece v Galloway

Basically the Supremes were given the chance to say that sectarian prayer (“we acknowledge the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross”), or even prayer in general (“blah blah blah God blah blah”), is out of place in government contexts since some of the salient citizens could obviously feel excluded; and they did something close to the opposite, on the amusing and infuriating assumption that this stuff “unites” us in our “common effort”.

There is good coverage of this on Friendly Atheist and very good analysis on ScotusBlog.

Justice Kagan gets it just right in this bit of dissent:

Contrary to the majority’s apparent view, such sectarian prayers are not “part of our expressive idiom” or “part of our heritage and tradition,” assuming the word “our” refers to all Americans.

but also disappointingly does exactly the same thing herself in writing

None of this means that Greece’s town hall must be religion- or prayer-free. “[W]e are a religious people,” Marsh observed.

Not assuming that the word “we” refers to all Americans, eh, Justice Kagan? Hem hem!

The conservative Justices are saying, as conservative Justices tend to, “people like us have no problem with this, and people who aren’t like us don’t really matter much.”

And that’s always bad.

But it’s sad that, as ScotusBlog notes, even the dissenters seem to assume that government prayer is just fine, and the only thing that might make anyone feel unacceptably excluded is if it’s the wrong kind of prayer.

Phht.

2014/06/05

Subtleties of the Seventh Avenue Subway

tracksIn the morning, on the way downtown from Times Square, a packed express (the 2 or 3) stops every minute or two, and the doors open and lots of people get out, because they were on their way to Times Square from uptown.

This leaves room for other people to get in, and then it stops at 34th street (Penn Station) and then at 14th Street which is where we are going.

In the afternoon, on the way home going uptown, a packed express also stops every minute or two, but hardly anyone gets off (not many people are going from downtown to 14th street), so it stays packed, and only a few people (who are willing to squeeze more or less forcefully in) can get on.

A somewhat less packed local also stops every minute or two, so we get into that instead, and we stop at 18th and 23rd and 28th, and then at Penn Station, and finally Times Square where we are going.

Which is not bad, the subway is a fun place with a wide variety of interesting people. It is just a thing which I have noticed.

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2014/06/04

Intensive

oryoki

The Enlightened One
Spills his oryoki bowl.
Rice everywhere.

As well as being of course all profound and stuff, this is a Celebratory Poem on my having signed up for the Basic Space Meditation Intensive up at Zen Mountain Monastery in September.

Just around my birthday; a present!

It is also a reference to the fact that oryoki seems to be the main thing I am worried (“worried”) about vis-à-vis said Intensive. Which is kind of funny, in some elusive sense, but it’s always good to know where the barriers are.

Or, well, to have a theory about it.

Because then you have the fun of discovering you were wrong. :)

And working on different surprise barriers instead.

Or as well.

So anyway I am extremely looking forward to it; devoted (really really devoted) readers will recall our previous weekend at Zen Mountain Monastery back in (omg haha) 2006 (a mere eight years ago), and how great that was.

Not that one part of the Pure Land is superior to any other or anything heretical like that! :) But still…

It will be tiring, bouncing up and down eagerly for like four months.