grinninfoole: (Default)
Today, I got a tutorial on the basics of editing audio files with Audacity. This will be useful, I'm sure, at some point in my radio career. I also went shopping in Hadley with Stoic. Maple line Farms and Aldis are, he says, the places to get the optimal combination of fresh produce and groceries at low prices. It took longer than my usual method (go to a market, fill the cart with the stuff I want, pay for it, and leave), but who knows? It might do me good to spend less money.

I made my cannellini, artichokes, portobellos and stuff over rice dish, then M came over and we three played Dominion. It was fun. I look forward to perhaps trying it again, maybe with something other than the intro set up of cards.

Chatted online with [livejournal.com profile] usakeh and now I'm posting this. Am I really forming a new habit?

Oh, and my show went well on Friday, and mom listened in using the iPad I got her for Xmas, so that's starting to pay off.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
My saga of brother's battle with cancer approaches its tragic denouement. He was diagnosed last May with adenocarcinoma in his stomach, and after several surgeries, all the radiation he could stand, and six months of chemo, his doctor at Dana Farber Cancer Institute has thrown in the towel. He's lost so much weight, his liver is failing, and he's got hardly any appetite. I don't know how much longer I'll have a big brother.

I'm starting to think about what comes next–writing an obituary, delivering a eulogy, helping my mother carry on. I shall soon be an only child–how long til I'm an orphan? My life is in flux, as well, because I recently quit my job, so I could spend more time with the family, and finally got around to filing the divorce papers with Millari. I don't miss the actual duties of my job, and I'm still quite satisfied with how my marriage played out, but I do need to re-answer the fundamental question of mortal existence: what now?

I don't know what MU is thinking or feeling right now. I hope he's not plagued with regrets. I hope he isn't full of dread. Those are natural responses, and I'm sure every person who's ever lived felt them in some measure (I do), but I hope my brother feels loved and contented. He deserves to.

It occurs to me that, as an atheist, I should perhaps share my thinking about what it means to be dead, as distinct from the process of dying. Dying is a transitive, not to say transitional, physical experience. I sometimes find myself thinking about what it will be like for me, where and when it will happen, and what my last sight will be.

The actual source of existential dread, however, is the boundless unconscious unbeing that follows. After a life of consciousness, and especially a life of linear narratives, I really can't grasp what formless, endless, nothingness will be like. The classic answer for we unbelievers is that it will precisely nothing. "I" will no longer exist in any way, so, for me, everything will simply stop forever.

That may be the whole truth.

I do have some suspicions that it isn't, though. (buckle up)

First off, consciousness is demonstrably linked to the electrochemical processes in our brains. Whatever it means to think and be self-aware, everything we know about it depends upon our physical brains. What we don't know, and maybe can't know, is whether our experience of consciousness can be wholly explained by what our brains do. (The Baconian Idol of the Tribe, though the tribe in this case may be any living organism, and not merely humanity.) Many people have written stories about being disembodied, or existing as spirits, or an afterlife, but the truth is that no one has ever experienced life without a body, so we really have no reliable testimony at all on this matter.

Second, the atoms in our bodies are no different from the atoms in anything else. If consciousness is just something that emerges from complexity, then the fact that matter is eternal means that we are eternal. We cannot be destroyed because matter cannot be destroyed, and just as matter can't be created, maybe we weren't really created, either. Maybe we were simply latent in the universe, and even after the complex processes that make us us apparently stop, we're still just as latent, just as waiting to emerge, as we were for the 14 billion years that passed by before our cue.

Third, if consciousness is a property of sufficiently organized matter, then the patterns of that organization are governed by physical laws, just like everything else. Which, I think, is another way of saying that we are specific iterations of a universal thingamabob. The wave crashes on the shore, but the ocean is still there. Everything about "us" will survive the death of our bodies, because consciousness (in this wild notion) is inherent in the physical structure of the universe.

Fourth, this starts to resemble the Platonic ideal forms, with everything physical thing merely an imperfect reflection of the metaphysical exemplar. That may well be nonsense, of course, a charming fantasy with no basis in reality. (Or maybe just a more poetical way of saying 'math, bitches'.) I get antsy when things move away from the concrete and specific towards the abstract. But, I must admit, I can't dismiss the reality, the actual not-made-upness, of abstract concepts. Two plus two equals four, even without humans to think it (I can't believe these are arbitrary things we just invented), even though "two" has no physical reality.

I'm dozing off, so I may have lost my thread, I think that, even without indulging in superstition, the old adage may be true: omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I was summoned for jury duty today, which necessitated getting up about 90 minutes before my alarm normally goes off in the morning.  The one trial in the offing was a criminal case, and the defendant faced a slew of charges, one of which was dissemination of harmful material to a minor.  When I was asked if there was any reason why I wouldn't be able to serve impartially on the jury, I explained that I didn't see how showing someone art would merit sending them to jail.  If no one went to prison for showing kids Passion Of The Christ (and no one should), then no one should go to prison for showing another person porn .  The judge asked if I could follow the law, regardless of my beliefs, and said that I could not.  He then excused me.

i had not expected jury duty to play out like that.  While the timing would have been inconvenient, and the case sounded depressing, I was ready and willing to serve.  The rest of the charge are quite serious, and the case will, I'm sure, require jurors like me.  But, if the prosecution's other charges all fell apart, there was no way I was going to convict someone solely for smutty pictures.
grinninfoole: (Default)
1) I'm pleased by the results of last week's election.  Four more years of Obama will be better than four years of Romney, and six years of Elizabeth Warren will, I think, be better than Scott Brown.  More generally, I'm pleased that the hateful and blinkered clique that controls the GOP was so soundly rejected across the land.  I hope the real Republicans retake their party from the zealots.  We need them to call us lefties on our many failings.

2) Millari went back to see my family with me this weekend, and that was big help. She's been a rock for me, and I hope I don't lean on her too much.

3) Talking with friends has helped me to recognize that I'm someone who forms intense romantic bonds.  In the case of Grounded, the ones I formed many years ago, once unearthed and confronted with the marvelous reality of who she is now, became very strong once again.  Yet, I just don't see that she feels the same way, and I don't think the lives we have separately chosen mesh well.  So, I'm going to break off contact with her for a while, until I can accept things as they are.  I hope this won't take 5 to 10 years this time. :(

4) M and I saw Cloud Atlas the other day, and it's fantastic.  I love the book, and the movie adapts it for the screen well, keeping enough of its nested narrative structure to evoke the parallels and contrasts it featured, while keeping the action moving and providing a gorgeous spectacle.  Several actors played multiple parts in different times and places, and I think the complaints about 'yellow face' or other race fail problems miss the forest for the trees: all the actors who play multiple parts are made up in a different race or gender.  This isn't done as mockery or appropriation (the main issues this sort of race fail raises), but as a commentary on the fluidity of gender and identity.  I will not dispute with anyone who considers the experiment a failure, but I don't think it offends in the way that the Jazz Singer or White Girls do.

EDIT TO ADD:
5) I have a friend who works for FEMA, and who is deployed in Brooklyn.  Apparently, even two weeks after Sandy, things are still pretty rough out there, and many people are desperate.  Kudos to the relief workers who are struggling mightily to help people, and kudos to the activists of Occupy Wall Street, who have started organizing their own informal relief effort.

6) Louis CK did a great bit on Saturday Night Live last week in the style of his sitcom, except he was playing Abraham Lincoln as a sad sack comedian.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Here's an article from the New York Times, summing up what the scientific press has been reporting for years, that the extreme water shortages of the past decade should not be seen as a drought, or as below average.  They are, rather, the new normal, and this only the beginning of how bad it's going to get for our world.  Our society's only hope is some crazy mad science.  Write your congressman.

Seriously.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I have sore throat, so I'm loafing as much as possible today. The great storm which apparently socked the hell out of south and mid-Atlantic states left the merest dusting of snow here, after I went to some trouble to secure studded tires for Skull Jr. Typical. :)

X-mas is bearing down, but I am mostly ready. I have gifts for friends and loved ones (mostly), and I got a tree yesterday (which we shall trim this evening), and we've hung stockings (monster stockings which I got at my store), and the Team has sent many X-mas cards, and gotten together with friends and swapped pressies... it's been nice, this year. I much prefer the holiday season when I have my act together.

Mami y Papi will visit for Xmas eve, we'll dash out to Andover to see my family on the day itself, and then back home for a little household cheer on Boxing Day. M will be going to Germany, getting to know a new friend, over New Year's. I'll be looking for something to do on the 31st, but I am, apparently, cool enough to have been invited to TWO parties on New Year's Day. If possible, I shall go to both.

Xmas is my favorite holiday, but it is so precisely because of the secular nonsense that's built up around it. I'm not a Christian (and even if I were, the holiday doesn't really have anything to do with Josh from Nazareth) and I find the insistence of some, who claim that they are, on grounding any celebration in what they value quite tedious. I'm basically an atheist, and content to be so, and Christmas doesn't have to mean any more to me than 'that time when we put up lights, and decorate conifers, and swap gifts, and shop wildly, and send cards, and feast with family and friends'.

On a related note, we have had a nice Xmas rush bump in business at work, so it looks like we'll finish 2009 in the black, if only slightly. I shall be 40 in a few months, and I foresee the need to disrupt myself from my comfortable rut, but the rut does appear to run on towards the horizon.


Creatively, I'm still running a D&D 3.5 game using the Midnight setting. It's so much more work than designing stuff for 4th, but the setting requires the clunky lack of balance that 4th edition was specifically designed to fix, so what the hell. And I have a great group of players. Who knows how much longer it will last, but I have a couple of plot hooks to throw out at them, and then I expect the players to drive things to a thrilling conclusion. And then, we'll see. Perhaps the writing will come again, if I can accept that muse seems more sub-creative and transformative than path-breaking in its proclivities.


This weekend is also a good one for watching cool TV shows. Dr. Who Waters Of Mars premiered in the US last night, and it was terrific. There are two episodes of Dollhouse waiting my viewing as that plunges towards its finale, as two installments of Venture Brothers season 4 (which has been very satisfying). Also, M and I are making our way through Babylon 5, and we're at the half-way point of Season 3, having just seen Severed Dreams and Ceremonies Of Light & Dark. Oh, man, the show was so good.

Oh, and a couple of weeks ago, I happened to watch the pilot of the comedy/drama Chuck, and simply loved it. I watched the next four episodes, and this first impression was confirmed. Light, frothy, charming fun, with pretty people, Jayne from Firefly, good humor, and an actual plot arc bubbling away underneath. It'd be cooler if there were any people of color in it (besides Tony Todd in a minor part), but otherwise I recommend it.



ETA: I have been poking through older entries, and I stumbled across this post about the war in Afghanistan. I now take back what I wrote about the Bushies not fucking that up.
grinninfoole: (Default)
This past weekend, M and I went back East.  We drove out on Friday evening after I got out of work, and went to Sol Azteca for supper.  (Pollo a la pimienta, mmmmm), and had dinner with Papi and Gato.  Then we went back to M's family homestead, where we went to bed (though I stayed up and watched the end of game 2 of the Sox/Angels series.)

On Saturday, we slept late and had a lovely and leisurely breakfast with Papi and Mami.  Eventually, we managed to collect ourselves and drive to Somerville to stay with[livejournal.com profile] wandelrust  and[livejournal.com profile] omnia_mutantur  in their beautiful new home.  We had lovely chats and walked around Mission Hill, checked out Hub Comics, went out for tasty Greek food, and then back to the house.  OM schooled us all at boggle once again, and then we watched Snatch on DVD, which was just as funny as I recalled.  (Brad Pitt and his adorable accent!)  And, wow, that movie is well acted, well filmed, and well written, but really blows me away is how well plotted it is.  I hope someday to be able to do something like that myself.

Sunday, we went for brunch with both of our families.  The food was OK, and the socializing as pleasant as one might expect.  I have to put learning Spanish on my to do list, so Mami is more included.

Then home, to do lots of much delayed house cleaning, watching the VP debate on tivo (with nerf guns), and then bed.

Married life is good.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Our friend Arnaud is visiting from France for the next week.  I haven't seen him in four years, and it's good to catch up. He arrived late yesterday, and after he went to sleep, I stayed up later because a friend wasn't doing well.  (Sadly, said friend will be spending a couple of days in a psych ward--let's hope it's a short stay.)  Anyway, I slept late.

Today, we lazed about, watching some Monty Python episodes.  This evening, we went over to UMass and watched the Amherst fireworks, which were lovely.  After a bite at the diner, we went to Friday Night Rewind (thanks to [profile] sundart for getting us tickets) to 1996's tour de farce Independence Day.  I didn't remember the details very well, but it certainly punished me for knowing things as much as I recalled, and the story was full of ridiculous and unlikely coincidences.  And bad acting, too.  However, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch were lots of fun, and watching this cheese-puff patriotism was greatly improved by the rewind crowd, who had seen it before and helped coat the stupidest bits with irony to ease them down my throat.  Best part of the screening: a tie between [personal profile] kjpepper stripping the H, the N and A from a  HANCOCK visor; and trading snarky comments with reigning Pioneer Valley Queen of Snark, [profile] sydneycat.  Hurray!  Tomorrow, I'll take Arnaud to game night at the store, and next week, we'll go camping and hiking for a couple of days.  And next weekend, we'll throw a little birthday party for my mom.  Ah, it's nice to have a few days off in a row.

ETA: Today, for the first time since she joined our pride, Tilda caught a mouse and brought it inside.  Then, an hour later, she caught another one.  I don't know what's up with that, but I hope she doesn't keep bringing them inside.

Ah, July.

Aug. 3rd, 2006 06:50 pm
grinninfoole: (Default)
July was quite a month for me.  After my wedding and the hullabaloo of Connecticon (at which the store did really well), there was Secretive's wedding on Long Island.  Well, actually, there was a nice evening with friends and seeing Margaret Cho, who was pretty funny, though she did some material I had seen her do before, so I wasn't as amused as I was the first time I saw her.  God she's cute, though.  Then, there was a fun evening of gaming on Bastille Day, and Secretive was able to join us, perhaps for the last time.  Then, on the 15th, Secretive, MAMEd, and M's ex (for whom I can't think of an appropriately cool adjective) went to Fenway to catch a golden moment for the Red Sox.  Curt Schilling pitched masterfully, Big Papi hit a triple (he's not a fast runner), the weather was clear and temperate and the evening was just beautiful.  It was the one good evening, and the one good game the Sox played, that weekend.

The day after that, my parents threw a wedding reception for M and me.  It was a lovely evening in their backyard, with a lot of their friends and family that we couldn't invite to our wedding in attendance.  I had a nice time, chatting with people I hadn't seen in years, and feeling comfortably grownup, in a new way, talking with all these much older adults as an equal (that became the unofficial theme of the evening for me--recognizing, and being recognized as, a married responsible adult in his mid-thirties.)  We received some lovely gifts and a tidy amount of money, enough that I felt a bit uncomfortable.  (Not quite enough to cover the costs of our wedding, but still, I'm touched by their generosity.)

(OMG, there's a rabbit sniffing at the bushes on our back deck right now.  It's so beautiful!  oh, it's gone.  Sorry, Feisty, you snooze, you lose.  And, just now, the AC has switched off for the first time today.  I guess the heat is breaking.)

So, Secretive's wedding...  really, this should be a post all its own, but here goes:

Millari stayed up really late the night before we drove down on Thursday the 20th, clearing her decks of work so she could go.  I stayed up in solidarity.  Ugh.  There was a rehearsal and dinner that night, starting at 5pm.  (I was to do one of the readings, from Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road, so I needed to be there.)  We left later than we had planned (as is usual for us), getting on the road at 2 PM.  Millari drove, and made very good time.  We got down to New York, over the Throg's Neck Bridge and onto the LIE by 4:30.  We were about 15 minutes from the hotel when Secretive called, asked where we were, and when I told him we were approaching exit 36, told me to take that exit.  So, we did.

He directed us to a Barnes and Noble, and told us to wait there for him to pass by on his way to the rehearsal, so that we would all be more or less on time.  So, we did.  (While this was going on, G called from Tucson, and asked me to agree to be Z's back-up guardian in case she and F should both die in the next few years.  This sparked a big talk about children for M and me, which we're still having, really.  Anyway, we told G and F yes eventually.  But this is demanding some real attention during all of the following.)

The B&N was on a busy road, with two-way traffic, along a dense commercial strip.  In order to join Secretive's motorcade of people he was leading to the rehearsal, we would have to make a left turn across both lines of traffic, in and out of a busy multi-store driveway. So, we started driving down this road shortly before the caravan arrived, driving slowly (and pissing off many New Yorkers) so they could pass us.  After five nerve-wracking minutes, we managed to swerve in and join the others.  At which point things got worse.  Secretive is a terrible driver to follow.  He drives too fast, he guns through red lights, and generally drives like the Masshole he is.  The four cars following him became widely strung out.  Millari, because of years of practice following her dad around strange places around the world,  was up to the challenge, but the others got periodically lost.  After half an hour, though, it became clear that the basic problem was that Secretive was also lost.  In fact, it seems that he had never been to the church before and had only the vaguest idea where it was.  We were seriously discussing bailing on the whole affair and heading to the hotel when someone told him where to go and we made it to the chapel an hour late.

The building itself was charming, with huge windows looking out on lush, tall trees.  The rehearsal was pretty quick for an elaborate to do.  Then, we went to a upscale Italian restaurant owned by the bride's sister for a tasty dinner.  While there, I got to chat for awhile with Veritas (whom I think I have mentioned under that alias before.  He spent some time a few years ago trying to retrofit the OverPower CCG before abandonning that to develop his own CCG.   It will be debuting this fall, with previews available at GenCon, from his company, Veritas Games.)

We then went on to the hotel, the Inn at Fox Hollow, owned by the bride's uncles, which was an upscale place.  Our room, which was comped, was a suite featuring a kitchen with full fridge and stove, a couch and easy chairs, plush bathrobes, a comfy bed, and wifi.  (See their website here: http://www.theinnatfoxhollow.com/indexflashver.html) ;

Millari is home, so I'll post about the wedding itself later.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I am a bit startled to realize that it's nearly midnight.  The days just seem to slip past me of late, though to be fair to myself, [personal profile] millari and I got a lot done today: yard work, vacuuming, wedding shopping*, laundry, and had MAMEd, Mrs. Crafty, and younger child to dinner.  A good day--and good news: it seems that all of my distant, and long unseen, friends and relatives will make it to the wedding  (Though this does seriously limit the local friends we can invite, because of the limited space in our house.).  And I'm enough of a socialized American male that my day was made better by the Red Sox winning on a David Ortiz walk-off home run.

I'm not doing a good job keeping up with my writing though.  I should have spent the past two hours writing, as M has been doing.  Well, enough of this: I'll stop screwing around and at least make my quota for the day, so I can go to bed soon.  A long and busy day awaits me tomorrow.







*(I am flabbergasted by how easy it is to spend a lot of money when getting married.  I didn't set out to buy anything elaborate for a wedding ring or a tux, yet I'll probably spend over $2,000 just on those two things.  Which might even be cheap in comparison, but really shocks me.  Still, I'm only getting married once, and I plan to keep them until I die, so it'll be worth it.)
grinninfoole: (Default)
I am pressed because it's nearly July and I still have much to do on my research project. It's so easy to find other things to do, that I have not made nearly enough progress. Yet, to be fair, I have made some. I now know more or less what I am trying to do, and I think I can churn something out of it. I don't know if it will be very good, but with work it may well be good enough. All I need to do is get this done and retake the American science comp and I'm finished. Closer, closer....

Millari and I are slowly and steadily getting better at living together, and despite the occasional personal crisis for either of us, I am very happy, and I think she is, too.

I'm looking forward to getting the research out of the way, because then I can make time for many things that I have been putting off for awhile, including:

--finishing unpacking our things and arranging our home to our satisfaction.

--visiting my family. My mom called today, and she said, with a hint of tears in her voice, that she missed me. I need to go home soon. And, she needs to come visit.

--play OverPower. Unimportant, but fun.

--design NPCs, setting details, and adventures for the new D&D game I shall start running in September. And, maybe, prep another one to run at the store, perhaps on Friday nights when Jim's game isn't running. I think I can set up a campaign in the Southlands of the Cloth with a pleasing mix of old-school dungeon crawling and a lot of the politics, role-playing and macro-scale plot that I enjoy.

--Call folks out of town or state that I want to speak to at length, especially Justin, Gwyn, Fletch, Fran, Shawn, and Ronnie & Amy.

--plan and research for our upcoming trip to Europe. The main impetus is a reunion with some of the other people who were part of the Kenyon Exeter program in 1990-91. I haven't seen any of them in seven years, and I'm worried that they'll all decide that I'm lame and that they hate me, but they're special people and I wish I was close to them as I used to be. Of course, the reason I haven't been so good about staying in touch as I was a few years ago is that I am no longer so painfully lonely. I realized this when I read a letter I sent to someone years ago that got returned, and it was difficult to read because it seemed so needy. For this, I must thank my good friends here in Western MA, some of whom no longer want to talk to me, so I shan't mention names except to single out Millari for especial appreciation.

--Life goals, medium and long term. Medium: once I have the MA, I want to get a job and support myself. Talking with Jim, there may be a possibility of more hours at the store, which is very exciting, though it depends on our continued sales growth, which is definitely counting chickens early. If that proves unworkable, I'll have to explore other options. I'd like to work 25-35 hours a week, which would leave me enough time for a Long term goal: writing. I have ideas for novels and essays (and even a couple of documentary films, for what that's worth), and they may all suck, but if I don't ever confront my fear of failure and inadequacy and try, I'll never be really happy with my life.

Cool thing I have to mention:
I did well on my job performance review last week. I must credit Jim for his patience and help with my punctuality issues. I have gotten a lot better about timeliness and it no longer feels like a huge effort to be on time for things. (Credit for this also goes to Dr. Lange and my Tuesday therapy group for calling me on this a lot, and, for that matter, to Filthyassistant for her frustrated efforts over the years.)

Oh, I forgot to mention the other cool things about going to Europe: 1) we shall visit Michelle's old friend Arnaud in Toulouse. I hope to get to see the cathedral at Chartres on the way, and spend a day in Carcassone! (I'm interested in the Albigensian Crusade.) 2) I hope to see my friend Rob Shearman, a wonderfully nice, hugely talented, incredibly smart and, last I saw him, modest play/screen writer. He's working on the new Dr. Who show, which means that at least some of it will be really, really good.

Check out these links for more info on Rob and his work:

http://www.tertiary.consoleroom.btinternet.co.uk/interview-robshearman.htm

http://www0.bbc.co.uk/cult/doctorwho/cd/interviews/index.shtml

Hmm. Somewhere, I have copies of a lot of playscripts Rob wrote back in the late 80s and early 90s. I should check them out again, and then see how much he squirms when I bring them up. :)


Unimportant matters:
I have become a regular follower of the LJ life of a woman in Chicago who writes for the Onion. Check out [livejournal.com profile] rollick for a more interesting blog than this one.

And, finally, cool LJ name spotted at random: amorousuroboros


That's all for now. Hope all my friends (and any other readers) are prosperous and healthy.

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