log (1999/12/17 to 1999/12/23)

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Wednesday, December 22, 1999

God bless the master of this house
The mistress bless also
And all the little children
Who round the table go

We're sitting here on the couch; M's reading "Snow Falling on Cedars". She just turned on the TV, and they were showing an ad for the movie "Snow Falling on Cedars". Just a coincidence, I'm sure!

A light dusting of snow on the rooves this morning, the first day of Winter, 1999. The kids were pleased.

The woods flow down the hill into the dell, the black trunks with their bases hidden in flat unbroken snow. He takes a breath, tasting the cold air; it steams when he lets it out. His daughter, standing beside him on the path, stomps her feet idly.

"Isn't it lovely?" he says.

"We're going in there?" she asks, incredulous, or stubborn, or cold.

"Yeah, we're going in there! It'll be fun." He remembers trudging down into a dell just like this, through snow just like this, the grownups' big boots crunching a path for him, his father's backpack, full of competent lumps, bobbing in front of his face as they walked, the world still and empty and strange. Why isn't she more interested?

But then he realizes, remembering, that he hadn't been interested at the time, either; his nose had been cold and runny, and he'd wanted to go home.

It occurs to him, standing there at the top of the slope with his daughter, about to take her hand and show her how to walk through the snow, that the doings and seeings that shape our lives, the things our parents are duty-bound to give us when we're kids, the things we look back on and warm our hearts over later, aren't necessarily fun at the time.

He's not sure what to do with the fact.

How do you know how much to feed a cat? This one seems to do just fine (not losing weight or anything) on one can of catfood a day. On the other hand, he continues to follow me around the kitchen mewing and looking expectant even if I give him twice that. Silly cat. Is he still hungry?

Monday, December 20, 1999

Interesting issue of Red Rock Eaters; seems the KGB wants to listen in on communication traffic, just like the FBI.

Had fun up Bostonward, as usual, with the various relatives of all sizes. M did nearly all the driving, bless her, and I slept quite well, and although the throat is still sort of sore my energy level feels about normal. Going into work this afternoon for a few hours, then home for the rest of the Millenium! (Ritual nod toward 2001/01/01 fans here.)

Bought some world maps and X-Files tapes at a LearningSmith that was closing down. Is the whole chain closing down? (Their home page is remarkably unhelpful today!) That'd be Too Bad; they're pretty cool stores.

Found it impossible to actually do any creative work over the weekend. Too many kids roistering around, or this sore throat, or going off to the Boston Children's Museum (highly recommended) and the Natick Mall?

I'm not sure what the prerequisites are for doing creative work. I seem to need a relatively (regrettably) long period of raw idleness and decompression, time to let my mind wind down and cool off, before I can do any really productive exploration. Is this something inherent in the way my mind works, or just that I've never developed good work habits?

I can, I think, hack code more spontaneously and without as much preparatory decompression than I can hack English. Is that just because I've had more practice, or I have better work habits, in that area? Or is code inherently easier to do a sliver at a time than is prose, or poetry?

What sort of preparation or environment do you need when hacking code, or shaping prose, or anything else you feel like talking about?

Thinking about the WTO, the protestors, the whole Trade and Globalization thing. I like the idea of free trade. The libertarian argument for it is easy: two people own things, they feel like swapping, why should the government be allowed to either prohibit it or tax it?

But the argument the other way is also easy, even if we stick to basically libertarian principles: what if one of the goods involved is stolen? Or what if it's not stolen itself, but was made from raw materials some of which were stolen? Or what if one of them was produced with slave labor? In that direction, things get more complex. More on that, maybe, some other day.

Friday, December 17, 1999

Wild! LinkWatcher has discovered a whole 'nother community of bloggers, only they don't call themselves bloggers, they call themselves "Everything and Nothing" or "E/N Sites". Here is an E/N page that links to some others (most of them link to others, of course, or they wouldn't be a community; I picked this one at random).

A somewhat different feel than the blogging community that I'm used to (although if you'd asked me yesterday, I would probably have claimed that the blogging community doesn't have a particular feel). Somewhat brasher, more frantic, more intensely designed, and with an inexplicable preference for IE over Netscape!   *8)   Also more references to Mom and Dad, and fewer to housemates, spouses, or kids. (Reminds me in some ways of the network of Doom News sites, one center of which is DoomWorld.)

I wonder if the two communities will merge in some sense, now that they've found each other? Reminds me of the how many roads are there question from the other week. How many blog-like communities are there?

He collects those tiny pieces of metal on which so much of our happiness depends.

Throat is still sore, but I have more energy today, so I should be able to at least help with the driving Bostonward this afternoon. I should stop typing here, and get some last-minute work done! Soon, real soon.

More reader responses for Move 3:

Of course, you know the answer to that. Helen will always be in your head. As you look out to the sea you know and believe that things will be different. You and Helen both know that things will never be as you might have hoped, but you can always dream. You turn to look at her, and to her new companion. She's happy with him. You leave for the forest, where you'll wait out your time. The track is dirty and dank, out here in the forest. But being in the forest has its own gains. You listen to the birds singing. You reach a stream and sit to eat your lunch. However long it may take, you'll wait here for Helen. You hope you don't run out of lunch.

Perhaps someone and Helen need to have a nice long talk, if they haven't already?

What do I do? RTFM. Wait, call the help desk. No, RTM. Wait. Wait. Click on !

Short and to the point, if not necessarily a great advance in our position, vis-a-vis the Temple of the Enormous Radishes.

It is as if all of the mysteries of existence - of mind and thought and action and synchronicity - are neatly wrapped up in this yearning, this chase. Then, on Saturday morning, wandering throught the canned goods aisle in the local A&P (not that you needed canned beets - you probably have plenty already - but it is somehow soothing, as a soundless river in spring or a bright day in a alpine meadow, where the only thing moving is a small, quiet hedgehog) that the meaning, the sense of all of this careens into focus at last. "Offer good only in U.S.A. Offer valid while supplies last. Price subject to change. Satisfaction Fully Guaranteed!" You stop and, in your long sigh, the pain of many dark years is carried out to sea. Your turn now, moving with purpose down the aisle, jumping over the pile of handbaskets meant to block the unoccupied checkout line. "What do you think you're doing?" asks the checkout clerk, whirling towards you. "I seek the raven," you reply as the automatic doors open before you.

Yes, well. What next? I will take a brief stab:

You shake your head, hoping to clear it. The whirling subsides somewhat. You have choices to make: Helen, the Raven, the help desk. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How will you get there? Is satisfaction, in fact, fully guaranteed?

One reader wrote to suggest that I put the Quest on its own page, to make it more obvious what's going on. Is something going on?   *8)


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