Monday, December 23, 2002

great commentary on Tolkein from Sci Fi write David Brin. Check out his stuff on Star Wars and Star Trek as well. Romantics versus Pragmatists! Elitest versus Populist! Progress versus Decline! The things that underlie a lot of our culture wars to this day. Yet more things that I feel I am on the fence on. Where else can a truly rational soul be?

But I always did think the elves were snooty bastards, things would've been better if they'd left middle earth for good.

so when I die, i expect i will leave behind a vast amount of paper, journals, notes, drawings and whatnot. I don't expect that after i'm dead i will have much desire or ability to be sad if it is just tossed aside, but my current self, not yet being dead, mourns somewhat the thought of the hours spent in producing them. Surely it was not all a waste.

it struck me one night though, and kept me awake for some time in thought, that there was a solution to this, but more than that a way of telling a story that perhaps is really independent of me. How I got to this is a bit of a longer story though... this troubling though first came to me at this place Urban Ore in Berkeley, a garbage dump, basically that people mine for bits and peices of houses. Liz and I came upon a box of papers. The thing that stood out was a one woman's daily records or every cent spent -- someone who would have been quickly enthralled by Quicken. A dollar here, a dollar there, year after year. And now no more. Is she dead? Did she stop this insane accounting? What was her life really like beyond this minuteia?

And then this American Life had this story. A couple of kids coming across this long abandoned house, break in and find this wealth of paper and letters, and other details of people's lives, abandoned as if they had pciked up and gone in the middle of dinner one night long ago. What a mystery! Who couldn't help but be interested in the fates of those peoples, construct stories and theories to fit the facts.

And so these two things came together? Woudn't it be great to take these artifacts of our lives, whether they be letters, photos, or accounts, and put them together and leave them to be found, on a train, in a cafe, hidden under some floor boards, socked away as a time capsule. What would people make of them in their minds, what stories would they create, or maybe follow up on.

Coming soon to a cafe near you!

had a brilliant birthday weekend. friday night drinks with friends at my old time favorite the orbit room. plenty of friends came out and wished me well. great cake, candied orange peel, awesome hot toddies (I had a cold after all), a chinese scroll, and i got a guitar! it was not a complete suprise, my boss orchestrated it, but kind of spilled the beans. alas. and the deal under which i have the guitar adds a little pressure to actually learn it. huzzah!

saturday was brunch and then the exploratorium. we changed the plan based on the weather reports, but the weather cheated me and stayed nice and dry all day. still had a great time, with a suprise appearance of my friend phillip b and children. the other guest of honor was a woman I knew in Taiwan long ago, from Denmark. just happened to be in town this week.

and then after and evening at Dickens Fair, Ren Faire displaced a few hundred years it seemed. Liz was more into it. Norman and I dressed up in top hats and tuxes basically and strode the grounds. We hit the end of the evening so it was coming to a close, but still it was an amusing evening. Not as much theater as I would have liked to have seen though.

Friday, December 20, 2002

my head is muddled by a cold. it feels awkward and heavy, and would fall to one side if i let it.

to boot: crappy birthday weather forecast for tomorrow. the one odd day I do mind that it rains, and it does. if i didn't have a cold, i'd probably go to the zoo anyway. though i expect the animals would probably like a sunny day as well.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

There was a great huge ring around the moon last night, the crisp cold air reminded me of late fall nights in michigan, the air snapping around you, lights and stars bright white unwinking lights, the cold settling into your bones. The moon though, was bright and full, almost directly overhead, circled by a large unbroken ring of what looked like clouds. It was gorgeous.

What is it? Moon Halo
"If it's what I think you mean it's more common than you realise. Basically it's an optical illusion when you get very clear skies and fine ice particle in the upper atmosphere. What you get is the moon, a dark circle round it then a sky lit up with refracted moonlight."

It supposedly signifies bad weather on the way -- and boy did it pour today! Even had one stroke of lightning and subsequent thunder ( a rare rare event this time of year ). Looks like it is clearing up somewhat now, which is good given that I am going to be on a boat in the bay for the Sierra Club Christmas Party!

more info on moon rings

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

review SPOILERS!!! Thanks to Amnesty International and a vigilant Rings movie fan, I got in to see the Two Towers last night. I was a somewhat reluctant admirer of the first movie, but the TT was great, hands down better than the first. Aragorn's story comes to the fore in this episode of the trilogy, as he hunts for Merry and Pippin, and then tries to convince Theoden to venture out into open battle. There are some significant changes, the biggest being that the battle of Helm's Deep was done against the advice of Aragorn and Gandalf. That to me was a little bit of a weakness -- what would they have had him done? In the movie, they are saved from absolute disaster by a regiment of Lothlorien archers sent by Galadriel arriving just ahead of columns of orcs.

The Ents were well conceived, I only wish we could have seen more of them, especially as they tore through Orthanc, a pretty amazing scene altogether.

But as one other review noted, it was really Gollum that made the movie. Not only is the CGI character really well done, but the voice, and the scripting of the character are brilliant. He captures the multiple personalities really well, emphasizing ups and downs in the fight between them, over whether Frodo was a friend or not. The weakest portion of that story, for me, was Faramir. Only after Frodo narrowly escapes capture by a wringwraith, and nearly kills Sam, does Faramir realize the danger of the ring, and send him on. It was wasn't quite explicit enough, and I liked the character in the book a little better, more akin to Gandalf or Aragorn, than his brother Boromir. If the ring was taking hold of him, he would have taken it for himself, not tried to send it on to his father.

review Balzac and the little seamstress by daisiji, a chinese author, a little fable of two boys caught up in the cultural revolution sent off into the mountains for reeducation. unlike many other novels of this era, it is not a long generational story of horror, although there are certainly elements of that, but focuses on a specific period of time, a small set of characters, discovering a wider world through translated western books, and the power of story telling.

highly reccommended!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Awesome weather these past few days. Some variations in weather patterns el nino and the polar stream are bringing a series of storms to our shores. but the wind is all blowing north which is a strange thing to see. Usually things are blowing west to east without much variation. But these days, this morning for instance huge thunderheads march and glide northwards, bringing a patchwork or rain, sprinkles, downpours, and this morning, even a bit of hail.

It is nice to have weather every once in a while. But we'll see what it does to our Christmas party on a boat on Thursday. High winds and rain due. Doh!

Friday, December 13, 2002

intimations of mortality come at strange times
like today sitting on the toilet
remembering, yet again, that one day
this body will be a husk
where will my mind be

i hope that there will be time for reflection
wish that I will get to see people's reactions
be a ghost for a while
would an eternity of hell be
preferable to oblivion

because that is what i expect
a light switch turned off
boom and my mind is gone
no cells to trace itself on
nothing that can have regrets.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

argh fallen out of habit. got a new desk the other day with a window seat. quite nice. big building across the way is always interesting to gaze at. good for my eyes too since in this cube i do not look out into the hall as i did in my old one. anyway, i have not idea what the building contains, in terms of business, but it's just kind of weird, interesting that i have this window into lives totally unconnected to mine. course you could say that about a lot of our interactions with people i guess, seeing what people are buying in the way of books, groceries, or clothes. seeing what other people are ordering reading. watching people in their cars. a glimpse, but now connection.