I went to the optometrist for the first regular checkup in many years. They did the pupil dilation thing, which was sort of annoying and now I remember how much I didn't like it the last time. I probably should have used the cheap sunglasses they gave me, but I didn't. On an overcast day, on the walk back to the office, the white lines on the road were blinding me. Yeesh. My pupils looked, and still look, like an animé character's.

Night fell shortly after I got back to the office, which was convenient. And from then until now, everything is brighter than I expect, and point-source lights have pretty auras around them.

I walked [livejournal.com profile] roverthedog through the big park, which has been decked out in Christmas lights.

Wow. Pretty. Very pretty.

The strings of lights in the trees each looked like thick cables, bright but not quite painfully bright. Again with the pretty auras. If I could have turned off the streetlights, it would have been perfect.

I'm not sure I would recommend this as a way to get into the Christmas spirit, but hey, as long as I've got weird vision, might as well take advantage of the few unexpected benefits.
I apologize if you haven't seen it, because the next paragraph is probably not going to make much sense.

I can't believe I hadn't seen this movie until now. A sentimentalist like me. I liked it. A lot. I mean, aside from agreeing with the lesson that erasing someone's painful memories wouldn't be the easy right answer; aside from the two leads which had amazing chemistry and the well-done production which used effects without feeling trite; and apart from the sheer "what the hell just happened". Something through this made me quite sad and also grateful. I'm guessing it might have to do with the connections of memory-loss and life-loss. And loneliness. Joel's re-imagining the beach-house with Clem, forcing himself to reinvent a memory he could keep, with her in it- felt like a fairly major assertion about the best of our stubbornness, fighting giving in to despair. And again the motif of learning something different this time around the loop, this time regarding relationships revisiting the same emotional ground again.

So, what did you think of it?...

Ironically, after I rented this but before I watched it, dan and I were talking about what to do with ephemera such as old audio tapes. So my plan was to go through my box of cassette tapes and decide whether I need to send my mix tapes off to these folks to record them digitally at ~$6 a tape. I got far enough to realize I kinda didn't have the wherewithal to deal with that at the same time as watching the movie.

Getting Older

Friday, 12 December 2008 07:43 pm
I just went to the going-away reception for a colleague of dan's, a man of many talents who is moving west to become a CTO at another University. There were hors d'oeuvre, wine, cheese. And there were many speeches; some entirely professional and largely boring, some more heartfelt messages with personal touches. But you could tell this man will be missed for his even-keeled and wise service to the University.

And so, walking Rover just now, I was trying to determine exactly what I was feeling in response. I thought, for a while, that it was sort of a proxy pride-mixed-with-loyalty; watching all of these people who'd been working together for decades, showing honour to one of their beloved colleagues.

I'd be feeling it by proxy because of course it's second-hand imagining of their pride and loyalty, recognizing their depth of connections over the decades. And while I do feel loyalty to the University (as an excellent employer, as a source of social and societal good, as somewhere I hope to work for a long time) it's not anywhere near the loyalty of someone who had given it his all, for multiple decades, in a career he'd spent his entire life in.

So, I figured this proxy feeling was best personally described as "inspiration". And that was OK.

But you know, that's not quite it. As I watched Rover run in the school-yard I realized something else was more true. What struck me, hearing these profs pay their respects, was a personal profound sense of getting older.

Not in a negative sense, at all. Or, yes, but not only. Realizing it's the way of things. You spend your time on earth in whatever you're going to do; and possibly you pay attention and get better at things (and possibly the things you're better at, manage to find you). And perhaps you are recognized for the things you do, or perhaps you just know, yourself, and that's OK. And maybe if you're very lucky, it makes a great story; or maybe it seems dull.

But it's your life, every step, and you wouldn't be here if you hadn't been there first. And the you, now, can see a lot further because of it. And it's like seeing a photo of yourself from a decade ago with that hair and clothes and realizing shit, I really thought that would look good on me? And like listening to a Quaker friend's twelve-year-old go on about how much he loves watching The Wizard of Oz over and over, and as he gesticulates wildly with his hands, keeping the Cheshire grin to yourself (and thanking God for his parents not being bigots). And it's like recognizing to yourself the dues you've paid, ultimately OK with them even if they were crazy over-priced stupid dues.

And maybe, looking honestly and lovingly at the you-of-half-your-lifespan-ago and whether, if the two of you met, younger-you would laugh out loud in surprise (and maybe awe) at the you-of-now. And you're mostly looking forward to discovering the you-of-the-same-timespan in the future. Shit, he really thought that was a good idea then, didn't he? By God, yes, I do. And you'll please be keeping that smirk to yourself, future-me?

And maybe they won't throw a party with canapés and the University President, which is probably better off if they don't; and maybe actually the worst is yet to come. But maybe you get to use that as a stepping-off point to something even better than you'd ever imagine from here, the you-of-now who is getting older and paying attention and being open to the chance that the best is yet to come.
(Via a comment in [livejournal.com profile] sqrt_joy's journal)

What have I learned today? (By "today" I mean Saturday, technically from midnight to midnight).

* My 15+ year old Converse hightops are still in good shape and comfortable. I dug them out to go dancing to 80s music with [livejournal.com profile] hotcabanasauce, [livejournal.com profile] chezmax, and [livejournal.com profile] indigofire_net; and my feet didn't hurt after two hours- wow. Why did I ever stop wearing them?

* I still enjoy dancing. I'm less self-conscious a dancer than I was the last time I was in a club, whenever the hell that was. (2000? Underworld in Boston?) (Is that claim sensible, or is it wishful thinking? Well, I know that last night I was indeed dancing like nobody was watching... Yay self-confidence?)

* The navy jacket which my Mom bought me in 1990, and which has sat in my closet for 15+ years since it's not appropriate for dinner-wear or other semiformal purposes, by virtue of ill fit and ugly buttons, still fits well enough for dancing, looks fairly snappy, and as a bonus, the inside breast pocket fits a water-bottle.

* The local production of The Importance of Being Earnest is worth seeing (it also runs the 10th-12th).

* As much as I wish Home Hardware were open after 5:30pm on Saturday, it ain't.

* That my new boss bought me a nice new computer for when I start my new job at the end of the month. Mmmmmm, brand new iMac with 2g memory...

* That our lawn possibly still exists, and might be visible in another week of warm weather like this.

* And I learned that our new back-yard neighbours are German and have not one but two small humans in the house.

What did you learn today?

Office Supplies

Tuesday, 11 March 2008 10:34 am
I just left a backpack full of office supplies in my department's supply closet.

A ream of legal paper, a box of maroon presentation folders, and quite a lot of magic tape.

In 1997, I went on an office-supply rampage when my company won a contract with the US Department of Education. (Enough said? I think so.)

Except to add: my closet is that much emptier, and I am that much happier.

(*) If there's anybody local who needs legal paper, a box of maroon presentation folders, or rolls of magic tape I might be able to hook you up.

Thoughts on mementos

Thursday, 3 January 2008 04:00 pm
Yesterday when I was sorting through papers in a Sudafed haze, I took a few moments to re-read some of the letters I sent when I was in school. The most fun one was a pissed-off letter to Chase Bank on the resolution of a credit-report mistake, but it was also fun to find the letter I sent Cornell's library asking forgiveness concerning fees to replace two books which were stolen from my dad's truck on a trip to NYC (the fines were waived).

[livejournal.com profile] dawn_guy pointed me at [livejournal.com profile] unclutterer, which has a recent article, What does it mean to ‘honor’ mementos?

This is an interesting and relevant question for me. I would like to do something with my crate of letters, cards and other paper mementos. I like the idea of browsing them every once in a while; and a crate is not really the most suitable way to browse them without damaging them. Scrapbooking is a scarily-obsessive hobby, or at least it is rather dominated by people who seems obsessively scary. (Also, would I sort theatre and concert tickets into a binder of their own, or mix them in with other ephemera by date?... Such questions to obsess over! I just don't have time!)

Perhaps there's a digital form of preservation that doesn't feel time-wasting or obsessive. I haven't come to any conclusions here, but I'm curious if this is something you've come to peace with.

[livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball is much less sentimental than I am. And I'm sentimental about a wider range of stuff. Neither of us are "right" and I don't think we're incompatibly different about this. But it does seem to come to a head with magazines from *mumble* months ago that I've not gotten around to reading and electronics I might fix.

I just unsubscribed from Linux Journal (for a few reasons- including the fact that they run terrible sexist ads, but also because I haven't really read any of the last six issues). I've tossed the tape-eating VCR that was sitting in the closet. d. was, I think rightfully, a bit miffed that I had kept it around. If you knew his father moved 800 boxes of stuff from Cortland to Long Island, including boxes they hadn't opened in over 20 years, you'd probably see his point. And I do.

And it is quite gratifying to lighten the load, especially if it includes truly accepting my limitations. ("I'll never be good enough at micro-soldering to fix that headphone cable satisfactorily. And that's OK.")

A few years ago I tossed the crushed pair of black crushed velvet high heel pumps that were given to me by my friend Arlene for my first time to see the live stage show of Rocky Horror at Risley Hall at Cornell. Partly I wish I'd kept the shoes, even though they looked awful. Or, maybe that's really a feeling of regret I'd not treated them better.

Six interests

Thursday, 15 November 2007 10:55 am
This is a meme where you ask about people's Interests (from their LJ profile). Comment on this post, and I'll pick six of yours, and you explain them on a post you make. Then you post this on your journal and it becomes a never ending spiral... and good fun.

[livejournal.com profile] chickenfeet2003 asked me about:

zeppelins

Airships have always fascinated me; partly of course for the romance, and also for their appearance of luxury and adventure as opposed to speedy travel. I remember that I added them to my interests list this spring after my IRC channel discussed what a wide-travelling bunch we were; someone said maybe we need a private jet and I briefly googled the option of private zeppelin rental (and would that not be awesome?)

spamassassin, kwiki

I appreciate well-written software tools. These are a pair of perl-based tools that do a remarkable job at difficult tasks: the first, identifying spam on my mail-server. (since I've used the same email address for over a decade, my main address receives over 700 spam a day. On a bad day, I'll see 20 in my inbox. That's still too many, I need to tweak the rules-sets). Kwiki provides a Wiki (like wikipedia) but with a very clean user-interface and developer hooks (at least for the version I prefer, 0.18; newer versions unfortunately have a more complicated developer interface).

dim sum

Pan-fried turnip cake, steamed octopus in curry sauce, broccoli greens with oyster sauce, and steamed shrimp dumplings. MMmmmmmMMM. My first dim sum experience was on a visit to Seattle, and while I enjoyed the experience, it wasn't until d&I discovered the local dim sum place that dim sum became one of my favourite brunch restaurants. The reason? They give you a menu to check off your choices, instead of getting the luck of the draw with the carts; and the food is very high quality.

cheapass games

A board- and card- games company that publishes $5 packets instead of $60 games. They work on the philosophy that game players probably have all the dice, counters, and play money they will need. One of my favourites is "Falling", a real-time game that supposes that all of the players are thousands of feet in the air (Why? Who cares?) and they are falling to the ground. The last person to go splat wins (Wins what? not very much. But it's fast, and quite fun). Another excellent game is "Kill Doctor Lucky" which is much like Clue, but ends with a murder, instead of starting there. "Doctor Lucky" has gone through revisions and is now a gorgeous board-game that costs much more than $5.

carcassonne

A strategy board game where you lay out the map as the game progresses. I like the balance in the game, between quick resource-grabs and long-term plays. Unfortunately, we bought a few expansion sets and the game became too slow, and we haven't gotten around to splitting out the basic set again. But I enjoyed it a lot when we played it, and it reminds me of good times with our friends [livejournal.com profile] lee_ellen and [livejournal.com profile] flydi in Ithaca.
Oh, you, Timex. Radium watches were manufactured and sold by Timex up until the '50s, and they still will sometimes light up a Geiger counter even if they don't glow at night.

Timex Indiglo watches, on the other hand, excites a phosphor (zinc sulphide atoms) using a high-voltage field through a thin conductive indium tin oxide layer. Unfortunately, wikipedia and howstuffworks lack enough detail on how the physical process works, which is what I was aiming for when I did this googling. Time to call in the experts. (hey, lightjen!)

But the neat thing about Indiglo, that I will perhaps remember for my next McGuyver moment, is this: it uses a 100:1 transformer to generate enough voltage over the watch face, 150 volts AC. I didn't know that, and it's even probably less dangerous for my wrist than radioactive paint.

A brief diversion down memory lane: the song Puff the Magic Dragon holds up so much better than the cartoon version, which I remember being deeply affecting when I saw it on TV. At age 4. I'll stick with my memories, thanks. I was confused about the colours being all wrong in the cartoon, until I realized that I had seen it in black and white.

I wish that my camara-phone would take photos like this:



Instead of like this:



The former is what the free astronomy program Stellarium says the moon looked like at 10:30 last night, and y'know, it was more or less accurate, save the remarkable colours. The latter, well, it got the colours. And, being phone-sized, doesn't quite have room for any optical zoom. Oh well.

Finally, my sweetie makes an awesome fishcake with apple ginger chutney.

Sunday in Ithaca

Monday, 27 August 2007 11:08 am
Sunday was... hilly. I didn't get enough sleep, by a long shot- I was too excited to sleep until exhaustion hit me over the head after 1; I was up at 7:30 as usual.

In the morning, we checked out of the B&B, which was preparing for a 3-day visit from Time Magazine, who are doing a spread on EcoVillage. My parents drove into town for Unitarian services. I drove the other way up the hill to Quaker Meeting, in the hundred-year-old Quaker Meeting House out in the country. It's a wonderful old building, conducive to a very deep quiet Meeting. The windows have a wonderful wavy texture, and the trees outside are usually the loudest sound you can hear, aside from the occasional bench creaking and a car on the road. The building smells like well-oiled antique wood. And I think it will always feel like a home to me.

At the rise of Meeting I explained why I was visiting this weekend- and asked that people keep us in their thoughts as my parents try to make the best decision, and as I try to not be impatient or influence their decision toward what I'd like them to do. Afterward, I spoke with a number of retired people who wanted to say how happy they were to end up in Ithaca- including two who are tree-farmers like my dad. I wish he could've met them on this visit.

Lunch was with my parents at a friend's house in EcoVillage- Graham has a neat straw-bale house, which is somewhat similar in design to what my parents were aiming for when they built their house 25 years ago. But Graham had the benefit of an entire community of crafts-people to help build it. We talked about co-housing and its plusses and minuses, and marvelled at her garden. She's got a single cherry-tomato bush that was easily the size of 5 regular tomato bushes. They pick two quarts of cherry tomatoes a day. It's apparently all in the compost.

[livejournal.com profile] lee_ellen came by, and we all sat and talked. Eventually my parents left, I stayed for another bit and reluctantly got on the road. A few parts of the drive were fun. I listened to four hours of podcasts, and I made great time once I was finished with Hamilton. Also, I had a good visit behind me, which sustained my spirits. But the border and the hour on either side were just a drag. I was so glad to get home, see [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and [livejournal.com profile] roverthedog, and wake up in my own bed.

My profile is stale.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 10:28 am
I think my profile mostly dates from about two years ago. I was just jolted to realize how wrong it is for me right now.

I'm an easily distracted linux consultant [Not much any more, though I could be again] ...

I'm a geek who doesn't role-play, watch anime [I've enjoyed anime for quite a while] ...

I wish I got out more, and I wish I socialized more. I wish I knew more people with a similar intersection of interests to mine. [Nope, nope. Aaaand... nope.]

I know that two years ago I wasn't unhappy. Though, I was still missing the connection to local friends that d. and I had in Ithaca, five years earlier; strongly enough that I wanted to write that last bit of wishing. Well, as of now, all three wishes have been fulfilled.

And it's not tough to understand, or wishing on a star, either. It's mostly been getting to know people. Here, elsewhere. Developing shared history. Two years is a long time, and as an instant, too. I tend to generally feel lucky for my life, but just now, seeing how wrong my profile is, I feel at least twice as lucky.

...Except now I'm compelled to write a new profile. Foo. :)

As a bit of leavening to this layer-cake, here we've got two years and 6 days ago, when I wrote about the Elora Festival, the first time we were in Grambel Barn for an awesome Patricia O'Callaghan concert. And geekery with Asterisk (some things don't change). And meeting [livejournal.com profile] quingawaga (& [livejournal.com profile] mccorpsecorpse) and [livejournal.com profile] bats22 each for the first time.

Memories and Labels

Saturday, 6 January 2007 08:11 pm
Last night at a birthday party a few folks and I were musing about parents and the memories that kids solely have through the photos and the stories the parents told. Someone had the observation, "Man, I'm glad I didn't grow up when there was Photoshop; they could've totally made up stories and had the photos to back them up." That's creepy, but I bet it's been done. I wonder if there's a commercial company for that yet.

Today's been slow and calm. I took R. for a nice walk in the drizzle, ran errands, and went to Staples. I came home with the two items I went there for, and one of them wasn't a label maker. I still want one, as impractical a purchase as it is. Mmmm. Labels.

One part of the Getting Things Done extravaganza that amuses me is its invitation for people to buy a label maker. So organizing becomes more fun- if you've got a new topic, *bam*, print a new label, stick it on a file folder, and file it away. Viscerally, I like that. But I don't label nearly enough to justify. I wouldn't even label my pets like somebody I know.
This morning was frustrating, for work reasons including a canceled meeting and a long fire-alarm that left me with a headache from the sirens. I was headed for one of those work funks that was going to last all day. So instead of booking the afternoon off, I took part of my lunch hour to work on my Canadian Citizenship Application.

Yes! It's time; I've been a Permanent Resident for long enough that I can apply. I could've applied a month ago, but I wanted to leave lots of leeway because they count all the time I'm out of the country between four years ago and when my application is filed.

By the end of filling out forms, I actually felt better. I got my photos taken (in the adjoining plaza. The guy who works at the photo shop is a character. He doesn't remember me, but he's taken all of my immigration photos, over the last four years and two attempts to become a permanent resident). I paid my application fees online, which was reasonably painless, and I printed forms. They'll go into tomorrow's mail.

Today made a particularly symbolic date to have on the forms.

Tonight is also the tenth anniversary of when [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and I first decided we were a couple. (Not our first date, a semi-formal where I went home with someone else. That's another story.) Ten years ago was a drive in the country followed by star-gazing in some farmer's field near Ithaca. There was a total lunar eclipse. You can look it up.

Six months or so later, we were living together with two other people; the next year with one other; the following year just the two of us.

Five years ago, plus a month, we moved to Canada. And the first full day we were here, we sat in the HR office where we filed paperwork for the University's health insurance, and the HR person asked what our marital status was. Well, since we were now living in Canada, and we'd been co-habitating for more than one year, we were common-law. She checked the box. She left to copy the forms and we said to each other, hm, that was a bit anticlimactic, wasn't it?

Anniversaries aren't such a big deal in our household. I'm bad with dates, and dan's anti-sentimental. So, marking our twice-five anniversary with bureaucratic forms seems oddly perfectly appropriate.

Forgive me a bit of introspection, but that's life. It's the days that roll by to become years, to become a decade. And I had so little idea ten years ago where I'd be today. But I can't help get a bit emotional about how damn lucky I am. Tomorrow is just as unknowable as ten years from now. We could get hit by a car. The world could end. God willing, there will be a good long series of tomorrows with us together in them.

So, I was thinking about this as I got on my bike to come home, and I glanced down as my bike's odometer rolled over again from 999.9 to 0.

Yes.
[livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball's latest best of the last two years is worth a re-read. Not only was the original post worth remembering, but in all three posts, the conversation continued after I last read the posts, and those conversations were particularly high-calibre.

May I say, just for the record, today I feel like I'm one very lucky guy.

(no subject)

Sunday, 13 August 2006 02:48 pm
This morning in Quaker Meeting, two people spoke about grief and grieving. In the silence, my mind was transported back five or so years, to a particular Meeting for Worship, held by Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns. Someone who was beloved by that community, and who has since died of cancer, sang out of the silence, Morning Has Broken.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where her feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day.

(no subject)

Friday, 2 June 2006 12:13 am
da: (grey)
Heartfelt best wishes for anyone reading this who had a harder day than mine. And I know some have had it bad today.


Be like a bird, who, halting in her flight

On a limb too slight, feels it give way beneath her;

Yet sings, sings, knowing she has wings;

Yet sings, sings, knowing she has wings.


A round sung by Libana, with text adapted from Victor Hugo.

This was passed on to me by an old Quaker friend, and I think of it often.

kid's books

Thursday, 11 May 2006 11:08 pm
One thing led to another and I was just looking for one of my kid-books on amazon.

They have Old MacDonald Had an Apartment Building, which has been reissued. (yay!)

But I realized that the author and illustrator, Judi and Ron Barrett, also did two other books I loved to pieces, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and (probably my favourite), The Giant Jam Sandwich.

Oh, plus Mercer Mayer's Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo. These were the happy stuff of my childhood. I can remember sounding out letters in these, so that would put them at approximately age 4, or a bit earlier.



If, by some chance, you want to raise a kid with an early and strong appreciation for whimsy, these books won't hurt. (Though if you asked my parents, I'm sure they would say they DID hurt, by the 25,000th repetition.)

Mmm. Happy memories.

Gimme! Coffee

Tuesday, 9 May 2006 10:20 pm
(This is turning into a high-post day for me, but I have them seldom, so I guess that's OK).

Earlier I was googling for 'gimmel' so I could paste one in the browser. My fingers knew what I wanted more then I did, and I googled for 'gimme'. Top link? Gimme! Coffee, my favourite coffee shop in Ithaca.

Their blog has a photo of the most awesome barrista-art I've seen )

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