Archive for ‘weather’

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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2014/01/25

Warm and Cold Places

Ooh, it’s snowing again!

So the other day (when was that?) when it was very cold, I decided to see a little more of the city, and I went up the stairs and walked on the surface (surface!) from Grand Central Station to Times Square (the route of the S train, basically).

And it was very cold!

In fact I had intended to walk all the way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (on 8th Avenue, where one picks up the ACE line), but it was so cold that by the time I came across a subway entrance down into Time Square Station I plunged down eagerly.

Also I had forgotten my gloves, but was was okay because I just kept my hands in my coat pockets. Except when I had to take them out to use my phone as a scanner in order to interact with portals and such.

Because I am playing Ingress on my new Smart-o-Phone!

Ingress is a fun ARG (Augmented Reality Game) sort of game that makes you actually move about in the real world and be near certain locations and stuff when you push buttons on your phone, in order to deal with the XM Satellite Radio signals (or something) that are leaking into the world and something something portals and mind-control fields and stuff and also lots of videos that I have not watched.

Your phone, in the game, uses a network of orbital satellites, originally launched for the military, that enables it to tell where you are in the real world to within, in good conditions, like a few feet.

Oh wait, that part is in real life.

Weird.

So that is being cold and playing Ingress!

There are lots of other things I have been wanting to weblogify about, but I don’t necessarily remember them all, but I will not let that stop me.

Of course it would help if I could remember what I have already weblogified about, but that is easily done! One moment…

Ha, I see I wanted to weblogify about Ingress, and I have now done that. A little at least. Maybe I should mention that as a neophile I am in the Enlightened faction rather than the Resistance (of course we should cooperate with whatever force is sending mysterious energy into the world to boost mankind into the next phase of evolution; what could possibly go wrong?) (also it reminds me of SMAC, which is nostalgic), and I am currently level (um) five of eight (where each level requires twice as many Whatever Points to achieve than the one before, like old-fashioned Dungeons and Dragons, so eight is wayyyyy off).

Oh, and adventures! Yes yes, that is really the main thing I wanted to write about, because woot.

The other day (longer ago than the day that I did the walking on the surface thing, I think), there was this snowstorm during the day while I was at work, and also it was very cold, and it took me about two hours to make the usually-twenty-minutes trip from The Station to home.

This was because, while not all that deep, the snow was beautiful and fine and powdery and very cold, so driving on it was sort of like driving on lots of little hills and drifts made of teeny tiny ballbearings, which is a thing that ordinary two-wheel-drive cars are not all that good at.

(Here is an Instragram of the faithful car waiting for me in the parking lot, with tiny ballbearings all over it.)

At first it was pretty much fine, driving along the local highway, as long as I did not try to go too fast, and was careful to restrain the car’s natural desire to slide gradually off of the road and into the comfy ditch at the edge.

Then I had to turn off of the local highway onto the even more local highway, and as soon as I turned the wheel slightly the car got very enthusiastic about the whole turning thing, and I left the road several yards before the actual exit ramp, and excitingly went around the wrong side of the Exit sign and up a little bank and down the other side, trying to work the controls so that the car would not stop there in a disrecommended place, and was successful enough that the car and I slid right back onto the exit ramp, about halfway along, and fortunately no one was coming because we continued (if I am remembering right) to slide right through the red light and onto the even more local highway which was where we were trying to be.

So that worked out. :)

Then the even more local highway was fine until I got about even with The Mall, from which point on the road I could tell that the Big Hill leading up toward home was all covered with vehicles with flashing lights and things, so I turned (carefully) into the parking lot of The Mall since there wasn’t anything else obvious to do, and parked, and SMS’d M about how there would be a delay in getting home.

Also I went into the bank’s ATM place to get money out since i was short on cash anyway, and to recharge my phone which was short on electricity and they have a plug there.

(Here is an Instagram taken from inside the bank’s ATM place.)

I clomped about out in the snow a bit (there were very very few other cars or people around; I don’t know what all those other people on the train and parked in the station parking lot ended up doing; very mysterious), and walked over to the bottom of the Big Hill and found out from the fireperson there that the Hill was not closed due to the tiny ballbearings on the road, but rather due to a fire that had happened on a road just off the even more local highway, on the hill, and it would probably be awhile before it was open again.

And from my prior experience, trying to get up the hill in the car over the tiny ballbearings would probably not have gone well even with no emergency vehicles or fires or blinking lights involved.

So I got back in the car again and tried to go around the other way, but found I could not go up even the relatively small rise in the street leading back around the other way, so I stopped at a little (and surprisingly open) convenience store opposite that street, and bought hot coffee, and a muffin, and some of those irresistible soft chocolate chip cookies that come in boxes. And a banana.

Then since I had seen a plow-looking thing go by and there was a good run for getting up to speed by starting from the convenience store parking lot, I tried the street again, and got over the rise, and slid successfully down the other side and onto yet another local highway, and around various corners and through lights and things to within site of The Other Big Hill that was the last thing in the way of getting home.

The whole going-the-other-way thing had been problematic mostly because of this Other Big Hill, which is quite steep for trying to get up in the prevailing ballbearing conditions, but does have a nice long run before it for getting up to speed, so I did the obvious thing and sort of slid up the hill at a comparatively dizzying rate, and skewed around onto Our Street which is a bit before the top of the hill, and slid down Our Street and fishtailed slightly into the driveway and was home.

Woot!

And we had cookies (and a banana) to go with the delicious chili (or possibly chilli or chile) that M had waiting for me. (Here is an Instragram of that; yum!)

So that is those adventures. I do love the winter!

(Oh, and if you are in the neighborhood you should go to the Steampunk Coffeehouse! Because it is good!)

2013/05/25

Owch

Here is another new poem! Even though it is no longer NaPoWriMo!

Owch

Bright sunshine and cool air,
Full belly.
One misstep on the curb
And that punch in the face
From the grill of a parked car
Is a gentle reminder
Of perfection.

It wasn’t actually the grill, since these shiny modern cars don’t actually have grills, but it was that general area of the car.

A rare picture of me with (even rarer) bodily injuries! (I was going to post a thumbnail of it here, but owch.)

This was on the way home, where, just to add to the airline excitement, my original plane was canceled and replaced with another one at 6:05am the next day, so I got to spend an unexpected extra night in a (different) hotel, and had plenty of time on the way there to slip in a parking lot after a nice lunch and bash my face against things!

That flight was then, at like 11pm the night before when I was already asleep, rescheduled to 8:10am instead.

I fell asleep immediately upon getting home when I finally did. :)

Adventures everywhere!

2013/05/21

More things which have occurred over time

(From the lack of international fame after the giant rubber duck joke, I suspect it may have been a bit obscure. Axoim of Choice? Banach-Tarski Paradox? Giant duck? Maybe you had to be there. Although I wasn’t.)

Lesson about Boarding Passes

Normally it takes about an hour to get from home to LGA. I left myself two and a half hours to get there on Sunday.

It was raining, and everyone was driving slowly, and there were a whole lot of everyones. And then somewhere on the ubiquitous Bronx River Sprain Brook Cross County Parkway everyone came to a complete stop for at least half an hour, for no apparent reason.

I had good luck with the airport and parking and stuff, though, and I had probably twenty minutes to get to the plane from the terminal door. Passing security on the way to the devices that give you boarding passes, I saw that security was pretty much idle, which gave me hope.

There are many pictures of capybaras on the Web; this is one of them.The device told me that the time-window for it to give me a boarding pass had closed, and I would have to talk to a ticket agent. The nearest official-looking person waved me toward three counters each with one agent in back and one customer in front, and no line, and I figured that would not be too bad.

Ten or fifteen minutes later one of the three customers finally finished their complex transaction involving purchasing airline tickets using Peruvian stock-market derivatives or whatever, and slowly wandered off. The person behind the counter punched buttons on their console for a long minute, and told me that the time-window for getting a boarding pass had expired. And there were no more flights to my destination that day. I said, perhaps rather testily, that I could probably still make this flight if she would just give me a boarding pass. “It isn’t giving me one,” she said, and uninterestedly handed me back my documents.

Argh.

(So here is a rule: even though it seems weird, always either print out your boarding pass before leaving home, or cause one to exist electronically on some device, rather than depending on the usually-but-not-always-friendly kiosks.)

Also I am now rather baffled about the threat model, or other constraint, that is behind the thirty-minute time-window in which boarding passes are not handed out, even when one is standing right there with one’s government-issued photo-id and all.

Plan B

American Express Travel Services kept me on hold for some time, but my cellphone battery did not quite run out, and when they answered the person was quick and helpful and clued, as usual. At first she said there didn’t seem to be any flights anywhere that would get me there that night, but then oh wait here is one that has just opened up, I’ll grab it for you. It has a stop in Chicago. Ick, but better than being stranded entire. Oh, and these seats are free first class upgrades. Well, okay!

I still needed a boarding pass, and the flight to Chicago was already less than half an hour in the future.

The kiosk device again regretted that the time window in which it could give me a boarding pass had closed. I moaned softly to myself, walked boldly up to a ticket agent in a red jacket who didn’t seem to be strictly-speaking open for business, but he nodded and punched some buttons and gave me a boarding pass (maybe if I’d just snuck over to him the first time, I would have gotten that first flight).

Security was still idle and I went through pretty quickly (although the guy on the carry-on scanner did wonder in a leisurely way what that was in my bag; a computer power adapter, I said, and he didn’t say anything, and let me take the bag and proceed).

Flight to Chicago was just boarding, and my First Class ticket let me slip right in between the Zone 1 and Zone 2 people. The flight proper was very nice, wide first-class seat, not-bad food, frequent offers of water and even a hot face-towel.

In Chicago, there was a reasonable amount of time to my next flight, and while many of the outgoing flights out into tornado country were being delayed, mine wasn’t. The flight that was supposed to leave from the same gate a bit before mine slipped slowly later in time, and eventually pushed into mine, and we got a gate-change and were sent into a little basement with gates in it.

At what should have been boarding time, it turned out that we had an airplane, but the crew to fly it was still an hour away, since they were coming in from tornado country, and everything out there was naturally all messed up. An hour or so later, though, they did show up, and while first class on this leg wasn’t nearly as nice (a tiny plane is still a tiny plane), it was still first class.

So anyway, I got into the hotel around 2 or 3 am (I’m a little unclear on the actual time, especially considering timezones). And gave a day of Educational Presentations on four hours’ sleep yesterday. Apparently I was quite coherent, although I don’t remember much about it.

Heartland

Highly recommended for popcorn and burgers and ambiance in Rochester, Minnesota (United States of America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, the Mind of God) is Newt’s. And for having the energy and mental acuity to find Newt’s and eat food after presenting a day of modules on four hours’ sleep, highly recommended is a nice nap.

Also, Rochester, Minnesota is apparently a bastion of honesty and virtue. Getting my bags out of the car in a semi-coherent before-nap state on Monday afternoon, I left the rental car keys dangling out of the trunk lock. This morning, in the parking garage, feeling all my pockets in a bit of a panic due to a lack of rental-car keys, I looked down the line of cars toward mine, and there they were still dangling from the lock.

I said a heartfelt silent prayer to the Goddess (wow, that page is hard to read, isn’t it?) and the good citizens and residents of Rochester.

So that is all that! And I now have an app for electronic boarding passes, at least for American Airlines, on my i-Pad. As well as a bunch of Atari video games! Naturally…

Also I am just about finished reading Charlotte Joko Beck’s “Everyday Zen: Love and Work”; it is interesting in various ways, and perhaps someday I will post about it here.

2013/01/26

So!

Who’s the wiseacre that thought it would be funny to sprinkle powdered diamond all over the car and driveway during the night? I mean, it’s pretty and all, but it took forever to sweep up. Sometimes felt like I should be using a shovel — hey, wait a minute!

I’m collecting transitive verbs that can be used only reflexively. So far the only one I’ve got is the neologism (well, it’s a neologism for some of us) “bootstrap”. (“Finally, the Internet has bootstrapped itself to sentience.”)

It can also be used intransitively, with the reflexive object implied (“Man, that spent a long time bootstrapping”). I’d expect this is probably true of any verb in this category; given that there’s only one possible object, it’d naturally become optional to spell it out.

Bonus points for a reflexive-only transitive verb that can’t be used intransitively, of course! We are nothing if not generous with points!

In WoW news, either Panda Tanks are way overpowered, or the game is just dead-easy up to at least level 70 these days. Or both.

Probably both.

Can’t spell crazy without R-AZ!

I am reading the webcomic Questionable Content from start to finish (that link points to the first one; don’t worry, the art and typeface both improve pretty rapidly). It’s very good, in a “wow I’m not really into soap operas and all, but this is great” sort of way. All friendly and geeky and snarkily heartwarming and stuff, with the occasional digression into why the advent of human-level AI hasn’t made much of a difference in the world (yet?). Also lots of cute girls in a pulchritudinous but almost entirely SFW way.

And on the other hand I have already read start-to-finish, and am eagerly hoping for more, the never SFW in the slightest webcomic oglaf. Dripping with sex an’ laffs!

Speaking of laffs, you may have heard that there are Amusing Videos on the internet! Here is one that I found!

Is that not amusing? In at least one of his other ones, he makes his cat dance on the video. Couldn’t do that with our cat; she’d rip your face clean off…

So!

2012/12/21

Various things!

Russel Brand is pretty funny. (The one with the Westboro Baptist Church loonies seems viral at the moment, but there’s lotsa others, with less icky persons. Including Sarah Silverman, on whom I must admit having a slight enormous crush.)

We went up to Boston to retrieve the little boy yesterday (and came home today). So with that and that I was in two big cities in three days, neither one because of its airport. I suspect this is a New Record for me!

Boston is cool.

We wandered Newbury Street, all the way from the I-90 entrance to the Common and back. Lotsa stores and stuff, which weren’t all that interesting, but also people and graffiti —

Oh, wait, that reminds me of a picture I took! Hold on a sec whilst I find it and put it onto flickr…

Here:

Newbury Street sidewalk

(Anyone know who w.i., or perhaps w.t., is?)

There was a whole wall of multiply-overlayed graffiti also (including another instance of this one), but for whatever reason I didn’t get a shot of that.

(Since the drop of every sparrow is now multiply noted, here’s someone else commenting on this adage (basically noting that it does not, either), and here’s a Tweet wondering whether or not.)

We stopped at one of the three (!) cupcake places on Newbury Street and got some small and overpriced but really quite yummy cupcakes (I had chocolate ganache, mmmm).

We stopped at Raven Used Books, which has really really good books, and I got a copy of “Justine” (Durrell’s, not de Sade’s) (this edition, assuming Abe Books links are relatively long-lasting), and a copy of “The Dissident Word” (The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1995) from the discount table out front, and then a copy of the Oxford University Press “Islam: A Very Short Introduction” (I think I know a bit about it at this overview level already; on the other hand I’m sure there are holes in even my relatively shallow knowledge) and the Shambhala Dragon edition of The Sutra of Hui-Neng, Grand Master of Zen (With Hui-Neng’s Commentary on the Diamond Sutra), which I’m pretty sure I don’t already have.

Then for an early dinner we stopped at Trident Booksellers and Cafe (why does any store bother not selling books, eh?), and had yummy food items and looked at all various books. I noticed there was a guy with a laptop and a beard at another table looking through an issue of Buddhadharma (to which I (also) subscribe), and a little later he passed by our table and saw I was holding the Sutra of Hui-Neng, and he remarked that it’s one of his favorites and we talked for a few seconds.

Oh yeah and at Trident I also bought John Powell’s “How Music Works” for possible use in upcoming (someday) versions of my algorithmic music composition programs. I was going to just put it into some wishlist and maybe get the digital edition, but (a) it was on sale for a nice low price in Trident, and (b) it includes a free CD, and can a e-book include a free CD? I mean, it could, in principle, contain all the bits from the CD, but does it?

In some free newspaper stall on the street I picked up the latest Phoenix, and looking through it while resting in the little boy’s room (before or after Newbury Street, I don’t remember) I found a pointer to Howling Dogs by the impressive porpentine, which reminded my (in color scheme, even!) of my own Forked Stick (which I never finished, but that might not matter, and you might enjoy poking around in also).

I thought that was some nice synchronicity.

When we finally got to relatives’ house for spending the night, I was tired.

Here is me, being tired:

Tired

So after that I slept, and we got up this morning, zoomed back into Boston in the rain and wind and scooped up the little boy after his last final, and drove home. The wind and rain calmed down as we drove, and by the time we got home it was fine really.

So that’s those things!

2012/11/05

Trapped in the Real

So the power went out, quite suddenly, whenever that was. Tuesday, last Tuesday, the 29th, maybe? That was sometime after, I think it was after, the big tree limb fell on M’s car and, as it turned out, totaled it, for the Insurance company’s notion of “totaled”, which is a pretty low bar for a 1999 model (we’re going to talk to them Monday about “retaining the salvage” and getting it fixed ourselves, rather than ouch buying an entire replacement car) .

And it was sometime before the sustained whooshing noise that came later on, a bit scary in the dark, which later turned out to be three or four or five tall trees all knocking each other over into and across the old tennis court area (good thing we never replaced the above ground pool when the last two trees fell across it).

So: no lights, no power, no heat, no landline ’cause we get that from the Cable company or something now, and it needs external power. Even virtually no cellphone connectivity; the signal strength has been bad and sporadic, so probably our nearest tower is also without power.

We’ve been running the wood stove at night and when we’re home on weekends. It’s a little Vermont Castings “Intrepid” I think it is, and wants short little sixteen-inch logs, but we have a face cord of those from last season and just ordered more (by cell from the parking lot of The Mall, where the signal was decent.)

It’s been interesting, these long disconnected evenings and weekend days (weekday days are normal, as work has power, and even had free lunch one day last week to thank everyone for having navigated the mazes of tree-blocked streets to come in). I’ve been doing lots more zazen than usual, which feels good, and more reading of the same thing for more than three minutes at a time, and probably more sustained thinking.

On the other hand I really miss, perhaps more than I would have predicted I would miss, the Temple of Seven Stars (is that what it’s called?), the Dread Wastes, and the hustle and bustle of the Stormwind Auction House, flying about on dragonback, teleporting here and there to shop for fancy clothes that I can easily afford, or to go listen to music with friends, the sixty-thousand things in my inventory, the ability to create a dirigible with my mind, to fly and script and create and play with the underpinnings of the world. Not to mention the more mundane pleasures of seeing what the usual people, and their usual people, are saying about politics and religion and weather and so on, and put in my two cents, or even a quarter, in one of a few different personae, depending.

Someone tweeted (and I can’t find or point to it now ’cause I’m back home tending the fire in the stove and the pad’s battery is down to 24% and it would be tedious to find it on the phone even if the signal happened to be strong enough) that they were expecting soon to see a horde of blog (“blog”) postings from New Yorkers about what they learned about their souls from a week of being disconnected. This is probably not going to be one of those unless I learn something about my soul between now and when I post this. :) But still it’s been interesting.

(And it may continue to be interesting for awhile yet, as Con Ed’s outage site, when it is working, gives a date of November 9th for most of the outages in this area; I’m hoping that’s a very conservative estimate to keep from looking bad by missing it and it’ll actually be much earlier, but One Never Knows…)

I started and finished two Ian M. Banks Culture novels that I was delighted to find on the pad here: Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata. Both very good, very idea-packed, very Cultury. I enjoyed finding out about two or three more branches of Contact, and the Culture in general continues to be appealing, if in a slightly Mary Sue sort of way (if that concept can apply to an entire galactic civilization, as I think it can). Which is to say, they are The Good Guys, even to the extent of thinking carefully about what that means, and they are powerful and rational and sort of always mostly win.

(The revelations about the details of Subliming in The Hydrogen Sonata surprised, and at first disappointed, me. I’d always thought it was more like “once a civilization starts to develop technologies like X, Y, and Z, and then decides to continue to Q, it’s then not long before they vanish from the universe to, presumably, somewhere more interesting or something, usually in ways A or B or C”, rather than “if a civilization holds a vote and decides to Sublime, then the big black globes from the Other Place come and take them away”. But hey, it’s Banks’s world. :) So I’ll just have to do it my way when I write my own galactic future history…)

Battery down to 21%, fire doing nicely, temperature over by the thermostat up to 58F from 56F, which isn’t bad. Hope to get over 60 before bed.

I’ve been learning about generators, too. We are vaguely considering getting one, but still only vaguely. You can get a little four-cycle gasoline generator that puts out up to 2000W or so for under USD1000, and that’s probably enough to run the furnace (oil heat, so mostly the blower) and a few lights and device chargers. Gasoline is something like 36 kilowatt-hours per gallon, which seems to mean a few days of running a 2000W generator on not too much gas, unless there’s like a 10% efficiency factor in there that I’ve missed or something. (Hm, have to look up the power draw of a refrigerator.) Larger generators can be had for more money, and eventually need like certified electricians to install and all.

Radio Shack has these little dinguses (dingoi?) that plug into a car “cigarette lighter” and provide power out a USB socket which seem like a fair way to charge devices via gasoline. We have two of them now, but haven’t actually tried either. (And my cellphone doesn’t have a USB charging cable I don’t think, silly thing.)

It would be fun to run a zendo. What would be a good name? One could like rent a little room in some local community center (or use one’s living room, especially if there is lots of parking space in one’s driveway), and put out a little classified ad. “Wednesday Zazen in Name of Town, 8-9pm, Address Goes Here.” And all you’d have to do is put out some chairs and zafus and zabutons (the expensive part!), and maybe a little stack of Welcome papers, and at 8 you’d sit down, and at 8:05 you’d ring a chime for sitting, and at 8:30 ring one for kinhin say, and at 8:35 one for sitting again, and at 9 one for being all done and then maybe have cider and donuts until 9:30, and go home. Sounds like a blast. :)

19%. Maybe I will stop writing now and read something, or just sit. It’s about 7:30, still 58F in here, a bit above 40 outside. We have our candles and flashlights and book lights and fire and cat. And lots and lots of covers. :) Will post this from work tomorrow most likely.

Keep warm!

2012/10/14

North and Back Again

Now the Internet connection is out entirely. That is, we can get to the owners’ wireless router, but the rest of the Internet isn’t visible from there. (Night before last, when there was all that wind and the remnants of rain, we couldn’t get to the wireless router even all that reliably, but the rest of the Internet was sporadically accessible when we could.)

And, perhaps suspiciously, there seems to be no cellular service here this evening either, although there has been prior days. Maybe Linekin shuts down even harder than we thought, the week after Columbus Day.

Devoted long-time readers of this weblog (especially in its prior incarnation) will be concluding with joy around this time that we are once again writing from on vacation somewhere in Maine, and that conclusion will be, or is, correct!

(The pumpkin quickbread will need to be checked again in about ten minutes; since I don’t know this oven, and I’m baking it in a glass baking dish for want of a proper loaf-tin, the time’s highly uncertain.)

 


 

We drove from home to Boston on Friday for Parents (Parent’s? Parents’?) Weekend at the little boy’s school; that was fun, mostly for getting to see the little boy, but also random schoolish events (the sample Ear Training class was especially neat). Then up here on Sunday, to the little cottage above the larger house where we stayed in hmmm 2009, probably, although I seem to have Not Mentioned It In The Weblog, which is odd. Unless I just can’t find that entry in between being distracted by all of the other ones.

On Sunday we tried to go to the nearest-by good lobster-type restaurant, but it had apparently just (like, maybe minutes before) Closed For the Season. (We’d been a bit afraid that, coming up this late, everything in general would be Closed For the Season, but the owners here had assured us that most things would still be open.) So on the advice of the other folks leaving the nearest-by-but-closed place we drove down toward Ocean Point, found a place to park around the bustling Ocean Point Inn, and made our way inside.

Turns out it was the last night for the Ocean Point Inn before they also Closed for the Season, and it was “going to be a madhouse”, and they could not give two random persons with no reservation a table, but we could take two of the last four seats available at the bar, so we did, and had some very yummy lobster stew and I think blueberry pie, and sat talking to the bartender a bit when she had an instant to breathe. Busy night, definitely, but “tomorrow, free!”.

 


 

On Monday we went and walked around in Boothbay Harbor like we always do, went to many of the Usual Stores, bought a few random things (including me the usual few books at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store), admired stuff, had ice cream at the usual ice cream place (their last day before Closing For the Season!). Odd with no children or other relatives orbitting (orbiting?) about, but pleasant and familiar, and a gorgeous day. We had dinner at the Lobsterman’s Co-op; I had my traditional actual lobster, which was very good. Monday was, naturally, their last day before they Closed For the Season.

Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat and fever and no energy at all, so Tuesday and Wednesday we did basically nothing at all, which is really okay because we’d planned to do considerable nothing-at-all, and my being down for the count just forced it to be at that particular point in the schedule.

(This is awkward and/or frustrating; I called one of the owners a few hours ago on her cellphone, cell numbers being all that they gave us, about the Internet not working, and after asking if I was sure I had done the password right and all, she said that they would “take a look when we get back”; and now it is like quarter to nine in the evening, and I can’t really tell if anyone’s arrived back over there or not, and I am too shy and retiring to call them again before they contact us. I am such a connectivity addict!)

So Tuesday and Wednesday were extremely relaxing, modulo a bit of fever and all which were quickly moderated by Night and/or Day Quils produced magically by M from the nearest grocer.

 


 

Thursday, which was yesterday, I felt considerably better, and we went to Freeport, the home of L. L. Bean’s vast megastore into which we didn’t actually go, and scads of other stores of various descriptions, some amusing, some good sources of Outlet Bargains, and so on. We found a great British Goods store, which M (being the prime Anglophile in the house) will probably have weblogified significantly about by now (and where I got some nice teas, including a lovely green tea with lemon, for my recovering throat).

We ate lunch at a restaurant attached to the Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine empire; Linda Bean being the something-great granddaughter of the original L. L. Bean himself, and now a luminary of all that is Maine and lobstery and prosperous. She seems from my little reading about her to be quite the Ron Paul Republican type, which is pretty in keeping with someone who started her own commercial empire from (one speculates) merely quite a bit of inherited wealth and corresponding contacts and self-confidence. Sort of like Mitt Romney’s semi-famous line about how he inherited nothing, in the sense that he passed along the actually cash-money inheritance that he got into a trust for his children. But inheritance is so much more than the cash money passed along…

Anyway! And today being already Friday, how did that happen, we went into Wiscasset (“Prettiest Village in Maine”, or other slogan to that effect), and waited in line and had lunch at the extremely famous Red’s Eats, strategically positioned at the Wiscasset end of the Boothbay-to-Wiscasset bridge in such a way that the length of the backup both ways on Route 27 there pretty accurately reflects the length of the line to buy lobster rolls at Red’s. (We’ve always observed that notable correlation, but this is the first time we actually stood in the latter line ourselves.)

The lobster rolls were very good, largely I think because they contained very large amounts of very fresh lobster meat, still in the form of claws and tails and whatnot. And the sweet potato fries were a nice addition. And the Maine blueberry cake.

It was cloudy and chilly and windy during all of that, and we ate our lunch in the car, but when we emerged it was sunny and almost clear, and it stayed gorgeous like that as we wandered about the town and bought various smallish items of a vacationy sort, including a copy of The Submarine Boys on Duty and an oldish Texaco road map for me, and various things for M that she can weblog on or not.

We stopped by the grocery for random things on the way home, I made (and somewhat burned, as it turned out, but don’t worry it wasn’t because you were distracting me with weblogging) a pumpkin quick-bread from a box of mix (and water and oil and a couple of eggs), we found that the Internet didn’t work, and pretty much here we are, caught up to date!

 


 

Incredible how many years we’ve been coming up here. This is the first Empty Nest trip, with the little daughter all out being a college graduate and gainfully employed adult, the little boy a college Freshman in Boston, both of them living in apartment buildings (something that neither M nor I have ever done, and I sometimes feel that they are already more authentic grownups than I am because of it). We really haven’t figured out the whole Empty Nest thing at all yet, that’s going to take awhile just to seem real, much less to get used to.

Thirteen years, in fact, hasn’t it been? Since those very first postings to the then-new (and now-very-stable) davidchess dot com and associated domains. How young we all were! Although in the mental map in my head (that I suppose I formed when I was about twelve, and have updated only lightly since) fortyish and fiftyish are about the same really; so us adults haven’t aged much. :)

We didn’t come up here in 2011 or 2010, at least that’s our current theory. And then in 2009 we were up here, with M’s sister’s family, just across the street there, but apparently I managed to not weblog about it at all. So I last weblogged from hereish back in 2008. Reading back there, I note that (a) there is commentary on the Red’s Eats traffic situation, and (b) even then I was talking about how sporadic my weblog posting was becoming. That latter trend has certainly kept up, eh?

 


 

I could do the usual List of Books Lying About, but right now I am too lazy to get up (well, to get up again; I just wandered off to the kitchen upon remembering that I’d been heating water for hot cocoa, and got that, and came back). And what does one do about the iPad? It has various books on it, and it is lying around, but do they all count? Or just the ones that I at least halfway intend to perhaps read whilst up here?

(Not to mention the infinite number of books and potential books and book-like-things that are also virtually lying around when the Internet connection is working; but that’s obviously a whole nother universe.)

This house, cottage, is across the road from the one that is right on the water, and that has its own dock. And we’re further up the Bay than we were those first years, and the water is calmer. So I’m not sitting by the open window breathing the air and listening to the waves plashing (and, come to think of it, the air is supposed to be well below freezing tonight, and it’s headed there already, and we don’t have any windows open). Still, though, there are waves out there, plashing quietly, and a million extra stars up in the black sky (I saw them all, looking up when I strolled over earlier to see if the owners were home and might be able to fix the network connection, not that I’m in withdrawl or anything no no nothing like that). And it’s quiet, very quiet, and a car going by makes one lift one’s head to see what that sound is, as opposed to at home say where a sudden cessation of background motor sounds would have the same, if opposite, effect.

Those first times up here were so, what?, pivotal, or not pivotal so much as exemplary, maybe, thematic. Life-changing not in the sense that life would have been some other way without them (although to an extent it would have been), so much as life-changing as in showing in a lovely clear way how life had changed, having sentient children, a prosperous family, having chosen certain life paths over others, being in a rental house on the coast of Maine rather than crouched with tired fingers in a harvesting shack on the edge of some large and well disguised marijuana field somewhere in California, listening for helicopters and planning what to do with the next big payout.

Just for example.

And then over the years they’ve become more familiar, comfortable, known, part of life rather than some sort of distillation or fragment of metaphor. Being the first Empty Nest vacation is definitely a new thing, but still such a definitely-new thing that I have nothing much to say about it; that train has arrived, but the cargo has not yet been unpacked. The definitive bit of Empty Nest weblogging has yet to be written, and that may not happen on the coast of Maine at all.

 


 

There’s a road somewhere between here and elsewhere called New Meadows Road, and there’s a river near there called New Meadows River. And, thinking as I sometimes do about places and how they get their names, I found the river one sort of baffling.

I mean, it’s relatively straightforward how you get some meadows called New Meadows, because there were some other meadows first, and now there are these new ones also, the New Meadows, and if then a road goes in that runs by, or on the other side of, the New Meadows, that could be New Meadows Road.

But the river, that river was already there. It was there before the New Meadows were there, and it seems pretty likely that the New Meadows are close enough to the (if you will) old meadows, that even when the old meadows were relatively new, people knew about the river (rivers in general, and this one in particular, being no small things or easy to overlook), and had to refer to it now and then.

Did everyone just call it “the River” all that time, and it wasn’t until after the New Meadows were named that for some reason it became necessary to call it something? Not really convincing.

Was it originally called the “Odious Bobcat River”, and people living along it got tired of the name, and consciously redubbed it “New Meadows River” for psychological reasons? It would be a good story, and it’s possible, for all that one naively doesn’t think of persons in antique times being into that sort of PR.

M suggests that the meadows and the river could, after all, have been discovered (or discovered to the extent of needing names) at the same time, and rather than having started using some new meadows a stone’s throw from the old ones, it could be that our intrepid explorers came around some curve in the forest track, or reached a hilltop, and behold there were some meadows, gleaming in the sun as though newly-minted, and a river flowing merrily beside them, and they named them the New Meadows and the New Meadows River accordingly. (Although M says that “Fresh Meadows” might have been a better name in that situation, I pointed out that perhaps they had looked on the Internet and found that Fresh Meadows, Maine was already taken.)

 


 

Ha, and now it appears that the Internet is available again! (Approaching bedtime on Friday night, it is.) So I will stop typing for now and see what the world has been up to, and post this probably once we are back home, quite likely typing more in between now and then, in the traditional burglar-resisting style.

And now and now, it is near bedtime Saturday night, and we have various things all packed up, some even in the car, for the long drive home tomorrow. We went for a lovely walk and climb over the rocks way down at Ocean Point, taking lots of iPictures, and then back into town for seafood and icecream (the icecream store was actually open, although officially closed for the season, the owners we suspect having dismissed the thirteen year old counter persons until the Spring, and having fun selling off the last few flavors to weekend tourists themselves).

I won’t post the list of books lying about, because for one thing some of them are already in the car. But the ones I finished include Modesitt Jr’s “The Parafaith War”, which I enjoyed (from the blurbs I sort of expected a fast-paced clever-idea story, so because it’s actually a rather slow and thorough growing-up sort of story I found it extremely slow moving until I adjusted my expectations), and something named “The Buck Stops Flynn”, which was odd and quirky, and Sam Harris’s “Free Will”, which turns out to be very short and to say pretty much what I expected in my “Getting Free Will Wrong” entry the other day, but which I may eventually write a more nuanced entry on.

And that’s it! :) Probably no more typing here tonight, and possibly no more until I figure out exactly how and where to post this once we are back home. Probably to the shiny new wordpress weblog. Should I also post it to the old traditional davidchess dot com weblog as a Special Anniversary Update? If I remember how? Maybe!

In any case, be well, have been well, and whatever tenses English is missing. And thanks, as always, for everything.

 


 

(And now we are home! Things not mentioned above include half an hour of zazen sitting on a mossy stone on the scenic Maine hillside, which I’m not sure just when occurred, and a stop at a Cracker Barrel on the way home for our direct intravenous cholesterol injections. The cat is going completely bonkers at the return of her staff, and we are unpacking. Welcome home!)

2012/01/15

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Having said that the longer I stay away from WoW the less I miss it, I have now naturally started playing it again. :) I picked up a (human male) Warlock that I’d rolled up a long time ago, who was sitting at like level 28 or something being bored in Westfall, and looked to see what they’d done to Warlocks lately, and started leveling him, and now he’s like level 83 I think, doing Cataclysm quests and instances and stuff.

It’s been fun, I’ve been RPing him very lightly (it’s an RP server) as an Evil Necromancer type Warlock, enjoying going around drinking any souls that come to hand, consorting with demons, making diabolical (although in fact actually beneficial) alchemical potions, laughing maniacally at the Light-sucking fools RPing around the Stormwind Cathedral, and all like that.

But wow, WoW is easy these days. :)

Continuing to think how very very painful it must be to be an intelligent Republican these days, with all the anti-science and religious purity-tests and things that seem to dominate the party. Not that the Democrats are all that wonderful, but they are at least not so incredibly blatant.

Also in politics, fascinated to see the Administration coming out rather strongly against the whole SOPA/PIPA “let the music companies censor the Internet” thing. Brief speculation Twitter that maybe someone had just hacked whitehouse dot gov and put words into their mouths seems to have been unfounded!

Right now I am listening to some live music streaming in SL, with lil Dale standing at the back of the crowd swaying subtly while I do things in other windows.

Oh! Question for readers: there is an old movie, I think it is an old movie, although I’m pretty sure in color, and in this old movie there is an aspiring actress, and at one point the aspiring actress has this script that she’s going to use to audition with, and she goes over the scene with a friend or another aspiring actress or something, and it’s a relatively ordinary conflict between two people like yelling at each other, and then later in the movie she goes to actually audition the scene with some older and maybe famous and maybe slightly has-been (I’m not sure) actor, and the scene goes completely differently, still conflict between two people but this time extremely intense and passionately charged, with them snarling at each other with their lips like an inch apart, and although it’s the same words it’s amazingly different from the earlier runthrough.

So! Anyone know what movie that is? :) I have no idea. I’m pretty sure I didn’t just dream it though.

Drove the little boy up North into the colder and further-apart parts of New York, for an audition for the Music School of a College that he’s already been accepted to (we’re two and zero so far!). That was a fun little expedition; we got to stay in a Hotel because it was a bit of a drive, and the audition was in the morning, so we drove up the day before and drove back after.

We ate dinner at the Cracker Barrel next to the hotel. Cracker Barrel’s got quite a thing going there! There aren’t any very near us for some reason, but we’ve been to a few now. They’re all basically identical, they have big porches with rocking chairs and checkers sets (all for sale), and big stores inside selling all sorts of classic Old Fashioned Country stuff (did you know they still make Moon Pies and Cracker Jacks that come in cardboard boxes rather than metalized plastic bags?), and then big dining rooms with old-time ads and farm implements on the walls, and menus with lots of classic and high-calorie and not very expensive food.

(Humans were intended, I think, to eat the meals that they serve at Cracker Barrel, but only after having spent at least four hours in hard physical labor.)

I had the Chicken and Dumplin’s, the little boy had something with macaroni and cheese and shrimp, and we got the free corn muffins, and I had a Stewart’s Root Beer, and we both bought little candies in the store (malted milk balls for me, huge Smarties for him), and it all came out to just about twenty dollars.

There was snow on the sides of the road starting about halfway there, and on any cars coming from the north, but it didn’t snow on us at all. There was a detour on the way back, but we only got slightly lost. :)

Watched another episode of Buffy last night; I’m still somewhere in Season Three. Willow is extremely cute; I’m looking forward to the season where she becomes like a scary evil super-witch (although sad about the reason).

And now The Magnificent Seven is on the teevee, and I’m listening to CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster doing a live set in SL (currently doing shoutouts to the people she recognizes in the crowd and anyone else obvious, and about to launch into “Lay Lady Lay”), and we’ve had our bagels, and I’m just sitting here relaxing. Maybe I will go make level 84 with that warlock…

2011/12/21

Solstice

The longest night, the shortest day. When we gather around fires, and around evergreens, and tell stories about death and rebirth, to celebrate that it’s the darkest time again, and so it’s going to get lighter now.

And as well as to celebrate, we cuddle up to reassure ourselves and each other that it is, in fact, going to do that getting-lighter thing again. And maybe to have company while we worry, a little, that this time it might not.

But it always does. :)

A pendulum is fastest at the bottom of its swing, and pauses at the high points at the ends. But the year, I think, is slowest at the bottom of its swing, and down here at the Winter Solstice we feel everything pause in the darkness and the cold, everything holds its breath, motionless for a moment.

We hold our breaths, long enough to look around, make sure that the warm place, the bright place we’ve secured in the darkness, is all ready, all warm, all bright. So the moment of most-dark can pass easily, quickly, smoothly, with us quiet and watching, and after that breath-held dark-quiet pause, motion can start again, and later the sunrise, and not too long after that the Spring.

2011/11/18

P.S. I bought a stretchy hat

This is not the post about Occupying things yet, because I am still recovering from the capsaicin in the leftover takeout Chinese food that I had for dinner (thank you, ConAgra) and generally sitting around, and I might not get to that post until tomorrow like.

This is just a post to mention that I forgot to mention that on the walk between Grand Central Station and Times Square in New York City I bought a stretchy hat, so I would not be cold. Here is the stretchy hat:

It says “New York” on it because I got it in New York. Also it has that “NY” symbol (glowing eerily in this picture for unknown reasons). I got it at a little shop of New-York-themed goods staffed by a couple of Indian descent whose English was, at least, better than my Hindi. Or whatever.

It kept me quite warm, so I recommend that you should also buy a stretchy hat when you go to New York City, because it’s chilly there!

The little boy likes stretchy hats of this general style. Myself I don’t normally wear them (preferring the “Fedora with narrow leather band” look), although I think I did have one or two back in college when I would occasionally me fais du ski, as the French say.

(Actually I don’t think the French say that, as faire du ski is not reflexive, unlike brosser les dents. It should be, though, don’t you think? Zut alors, je m’ai fait du ski! Ouch, I have ski’ed myself!)

2011/11/17

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Okay, so, random update! I’m on vacation this week, which has been very nice and restful. Some small (well, variable-sized) voice is telling me that I ought to be actually doing special vacation-things during it, but mostly I haven’t been.

I did go and get a massage at the Club, which was pricey but lovely (all that oxytocin!); tomorrow the plan (slightly tentative, but a plan) is to go down into The Big City, maybe see Steve (who yeah hasn’t updated for awhile), maybe go to Poet’s House, which is for no particular reason my current NYC Heart’s Desire (having finally accomplished my original one the other year, and my second one more recently (did I really not write about that anywhere? seems implausible)), maybe just sort of bop around insouciantly (WordPress thinks that is not a word, more fool it).

I didn’t go today because (A) it is Cold and Grey out, and (B) the city is all busy being occupied, and while I do support the protestors in spirit, I don’t seem to be prepared to either occupy along with them, or route around them, in person (and why not, another variable-volume voice inquires, why not?).

I have made basically zero more progress on the novel, which is somewhat surprising. I figured a week’s vacation (which means nine days all told) would be the obvious time to write an’ write an’ write, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I am not into forcing myself to do stuff while on vacation. :) I’ve tried a few times, but the Story So Far is apparently not something that I see alot of inspiring possibilities in.

(It is funny how Word Mavens and spellcheckers insist that “alot” is not a valid word, and everyone should write “a lot”. I am not quite descriptivist to think that anything where you have to keep telling people that they’re doing it wrong is probably therefore correct (I am a hard-liner on apostrophe-use, for instance), but eventually one does have to cede the field, especially on things that I like to use.)

I seem to be entirely bored with World of Warcraft (and apparently I’m not the only one); it’s amusing to see that in a break with some previous practice WoW is apparently getting playable Pandas in the next expansion. We’ll see if that lures me back; I dunno.

I’m sort of plateaued on Glitch at the moment also; I’ve done a bit of everything, I’ve run around everywhere; there are a bunch of more badges and trophies that I could get but… For now I’ve released my piggies, and I’m just poking my head in now and then.

For unknown reasons I’ve started playing Illyriad, which is one of those sort of multi-player online versions of Civilization, where you build tanneries and upgrade barracks and chop wood and send scouts and armies around and stuff. This is I think me here, but we’ll see how long I remain actually interested.

Second Life, in contrast, continues to be fresh an’ interesting (the virtues of user-generated content). I’ve been generally hanging out and exploring stuff as usual, and for the first time gotten into some PvE combat, which I’ve never really done in SL before. And in order to figure out how that works I’ve started fiddling with my own combat scripts; maybe I will post the sources to the Wiki once I have it all working (it will be simpler than the full blown open-source RPG system that’s out there now, so maybe easier to learn stuff from). Unless I get distracted. Which I usually do. :)

(Today’s distraction, while I was fiddling with combat scripts, was a friend I hadn’t talked to in ages IMing me at random and eventually mentioning that she’d gotten into SL Golf lately, and of course we ended up going off golfing a bit together, which was fun.)

What else what else? I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (in order from the beginning) on Netflix streaming on the iPad (did I mention that?). I last watched Season Three: Episode Five (“Homecoming”). It’s a kinda guilty pleasure :) but really it’s pretty good, most of the time. I get annoyed when things happen too obviously for plot reasons, but that’s only once in awhile.

Soon I will be caught up as of the end of 1998!

And finally, what’s up with people behind counters saying “Can I help who’s next?”? (Or possibly “Can I help who’s next?”) Is that an East Coast thing? A New York thing? A suburban thing? Do people say that around you? Maybe someone can ask Language Hat

2011/09/10

Saturday

So I am sitting here writing this as a passenger while the little daughter drives her car, if you can believe it.

Many many things have happened, and even are still happening; some of them I will write about later when they are more culminated. I spent threeish days of Labor Day week in airports-and-hotels-and-raised-floor land, sitting around waiting for something to go wrong that I might be needed to help with, and nothing did, which was good but extremely dull, because for much of the time I had no network connection nor any of my computers, and not enough printed out on paper to occupy the time.

The little daughter, as suggested above, now has her very own car, a natty little 2007 Nissan Sentra that we saw sitting at our local Nissan dealer with used-car price-numbers on the windshield, but when we made up our minds to probably buy it, and went there, the dealer had no idea what it was doing there, and said it wasn’t one of theirs, and didn’t we want something more expensive instead. (This is a good story, so I will continue it into a whole nother paragraph.)

We didn’t want any of the more expensive ones, and went home, but someone not me remembered there had been a URL on the license plate frame of the car, and we went there and the car was actually there on the website, and eventually we bought it. (For anyone in the area, Hudson Auto Traders is a very nice two or three vaguely Slavic young guys in a clean little shack by the side of the road, with a couple of desks and computers and lots of cars sitting around for sale, and they handle all the license and registration stuff, and wash the car very nicely for turning over, and the reason it was sitting at the Nissan dealer was that a service light had come on and they’d taken it to the service department for a new transmission, which is a good thing in a used car.)

So anyway now we are taking the little daughter back to school for her Senior Year of College, and M and the little boy are driving in the big car with most of the stuff, and the little daughter is driving her car with the fridge and the old TV and the beer and some shoes and things, and I am sitting here writing in my weblog, and helping her with her highway driving by gasping and making panicky little motions whenever she does anything dangerous, like driving on the same road as other cars. We are listening to Spanish music on th’ car radio.

There is a thirty-foot dumpster in our driveway back there at home, from Mr. Cheapee Carting, and it is surprisingy (and almost entirely) full of stuff that we have and don’t want. A fair fraction of the stuff was rendered (even) less desirable by being soaked in six inches of water in the basement; the rest is just stuff we realized we don’t want even in a dry condition, and Julian and Antoine hauled out and tossed in. It’s supposed to be removed on Monday.

In one of the ancient decaying cabinets that are now in the dumpster, M found a cache of books, mostly paperback SF, presumably placed there by me in the distant past. Once we’re home again maybe I will type them in, ’cause we like lists of random books here. M’s comment was that in the one place she would not have expected to find books, there were books.

(This is fun! says the little daughter, zipping down Interstate 287 South.)

There are a couple of industrial-strength fans in the basement, drying out the last few wet patches on the amazingly empty cement floor, and Julian and Antoine and their boss (boss-of-the-moment, perhaps) Manny have applied professional-strength disinfectants to discourage mold and fungus and other microorganisms that flourish in dampish basements.

My trip into airport-and-hotel-and-raised-floor land was complicated rather by the storms and tornadoes around Atlanta, in which city’s airport I was originally to change planes. After the airline drove me at their own expense from one airport to another one an hour away, I discovered that I was still not scheduled to arrive at my ultimate destination until the next morning, which was not According to Plan. Fortunately when I wailed about this to the gate agent, she said “oh, well, there is a direct flight to your ultimate destination leaving from that gate there in fifteen minutes, do you want to take that?”, and I did, and that simplified things considerably.

I have my third over-80 character in WoW (did I already say that?), a sore-faced Dren paladin named Spaenorus. “Sore-faced” is a joke, referring to the notional rolling of the face across the keyboard that WoW players invoke to imply that something is easy.

And WoW is easy! I think it’s that they’ve accelerated their “make everything easier, to increase new-user retention” policy, rather than that I’m just an awesomely skilled player haha. But, just for a fun-story example, there’s this semi-boss that’s level 80ish Elite, and after doing a quest chain you get the ability to set off these runes that he is foolishly walking around on, which do him lots of damage when activated. So I decided to see if I can vanquish and/or defeat him without using the runes, and I was able to do it handily, finishing with full health and mana, and the only reason I even had to use my Lay On Hands cooldown was (this is the good part) that halfway through the battle I got disconnected from the server, and when I got back in he was at full health again and I was at like 1%; but I had no serious trouble recovering from that and winning, still without using any of the runes.

If you made a graph of how hard WoW is now, it would stay flat at “push two or three buttons repeatedly until you win” all the way from level 1 to level 85, go up to “have some idea what you’re doing” in the last few level 85 instances, hit “optimize your gear and think about rotations” in heroic level 85 content, and then “actually be in a well-prepared and skillful and well-geared group, and do the right things” only at the very highest level 85 large-group raids.

Which means that hitting the advanced 85 content is quite a shock for people who’ve just been facerolling for their whole WoW lives, and random PUGs (pick-up groups) can get pretty ugly.

But presumably that effect doesn’t hurt user retention or revenue, or they wouldn’t do it? It’s a funny world!

Anyway, the little daughter is now all safely installed at school, and after a great sushi and tempura dinner, I have driven the rest of us home in the big car, and we are watching the second men’s semifinal of the U.S. Tennis Open, which involves tennis.

Ah, and here are the random books M rescued from the basement!

Star Trek: Vulcan’s Glory. A Star Trek novel, likely involving a Vulcan or two. And some glory.

The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, by Mary Stanton. “If you loved Watership Down… this is the book for you”.

Piper at the Gate, by Mary Stanton. “The exciting sequel to The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West.”

Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad. Famous!

The Loud Halo, by Lillian Beckwith. Apparently stories about life on a Hebridean island, with complimentary jacket-blurb from The Daily Scotsman, and an old sticker saying “PF50”.

“How to Parent”, by Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson. Hahaha a bit late there. Given my general disdain for parenting books, I’m especially baffled by this one.

The Teachings of the Mystics, by Walter T. Stace, a Mentor Book, 1960.

The Celtic Twilight, and a selection of early poems, by W. B. Yeats. (I wonder if there’s a digital edition of that.)

Beneath the Wheel, by Hermann Hesse. His second novel.

Mars, by Ben Bova. Many many pages.

The Peter Principle, by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his [sic] level of incompetence.” Bantam edition published February 1970.

Dayworld, by Philip Jose Farmer. A SF novel.

And finally, not a book, “Joy to the World, Three Dog Night, their greatest hits”. This is a primitive plastic device, with many moving parts, called a “tape cassette”. Ancient legends say that they were once used to record audio tracks, like a strange mechanical iPod; but if so, the method of extracting the recorded sound is long lost to science.

A satisfyingly odd collection, I’d say… :)

2011/08/26

Storm a’comin’!

There is a huge hurricane more or less approaching, and it is very exciting!

We have gone around the outside of the house, grouping things into categories:

  • Things that there are alot of, and the storm will probably blow them around, but it doesn’t really matter (sand grains, leaves, sticks, squirrels, etc), which we leave where they are,
  • Things that there are only a few of, but that are hard to move and if the storm manages to blow them around we will have already fled the area (the house, the garage, large boulders, that wooden deck-thing in the back yard), which we also leave where they are,
  • And finally things in between, primarily lawn furniture and plant-pots and like that, all of which we have now stuffed precariously into the garage.

So having done that (and also M having gone to the local Warehouse Store and bought large quantities of various things, and me having dropped off my car at the shop for Regular Maintenance and asked the service lady to have it done tomorrow before the roads become impassable although I’m not sure she actually wrote that down), we are now safe from the storm, and the things on the news, like the evacuation of New York City and all, just add to the excitement.

Citizens residing in the vicinity of secret underground bio-weapon research labs should avoid contact with flood waters, which may contain genetically-engineered viruses capable of converting ordinary humans into flesh-eating zombies.

(If anyone fleeing Manhattan due to the zombie onslaught could post a quick Tweet to give us in the suburbs a little extra warning, it’d be great; thanks! We want to be prepared, like these people.)

(We note with alarm and delight that the CDC actually has anti-Zombie posters. Good to know the government is on its toes!)

If you observe black FEMA vans slowly cruising nearby streets with the lights off, spraying something into the air out of silent nozzles, and dragging people from their homes, you are experiencing stress-induced hallucinations; report to the nearest FEMA van for counseling.

(The adorable cat is also very excited, because there is a small fly in the house! This is at least as exciting to her as the prospect of a major hurricane, cats not being really big on mere prospects in general.)

Rabbi Yehuda Levin blames hurricane Irene on negative reaction of everyone on the East Coast to his blaming the recent earthquake on gay rights legislation.

(In other news, he is an enormous douchebag, to use the technical term.)

And although it isn’t directly hurricane-related, I’d like to hear what the Tea Party has to say about word that the same Republicans who think it’s critical to extend the Bush tax cuts for billionaires are opposed to extending tax cuts for working people. Where’s the rage and the quaint hand-made signs now, eh?

Sheesh.

(As a possible antidote to that thought, here are many pictures of nude persons; most, I’m afraid, female and in need of a few hamburgers, but what can one do, eh?)

This is just like th’ old days! Posting random things for no particular reason, and boldfacing various phrases!

Woot!

(We also have a sandbag on the front porch; I hear these are useful in floods and hurricanes and things. Although I think people generally end up using more than one.)