Posts Tagged ‘truck’

Vacation with Saturn and proplyds

I'm in the parking lot of a motel staring at spectacular red and buff cliffs! It's the Kaibab Limestone and the Coconino sandstone and that other red rock formation I forget the name of. Spiky little lizards are playing on the fence next to me.

After a great but exhausting week at ETech and SXSWi, I'm on vacation in Arizona with a rental car and no particular plan. Last night in Sedona we picked up a flyer in the Super8 lobby, for Evening Sky Tours which I pictured as a couple of old retired guys out in a parking lot picking up some spare cash for new lenses by showing off their amateur astronomy knowledge. While this was close to the truth the Adventure was run in a scarily businesslike and professional manner and rather than being a once a week or sporadic deal it was clearly a real job. Three guys pulled up with a trailer or two full of telescopes with a D**'s mount sort of a huge wooden box like a box kite with mirrors stuck in and lenses and spotting scopes stuck on! They had a row of folding chairs with wooly blankets laid out. Reclining lawn chairs would have been more the thing.
The main dude went around in a bossy way reminding his employees the telescope flunkies to "tell 'em what they're lookin' at". It was excellent. They did an especially good job of saying "In Africa" or "In the MIddle East" when talking about the names of stars and the history of astronomical discoveries.

As the Milky Way began to slide into our consciousness we saw a few satellites and every time I wanted to scream "Satellite!!!" Might have done just that. We had out our G1 Skymaps at first but put them away so as not to be assholes. I knew Orion, Taurus, Cassiopeia, the Pleiades, the Big Dipper and North Star, and that is about it. With luck I can spot Cygnus and the Corona Borealis. Zond-7 knew where Sirius was, which impressed me. I guessed where Gemini was, but got it wrong. Then I did what one of the astronomy dudes suggested and learned "Arc to Arcturus" and "Spike to Spica". Now I know a new thing!

The Night Sky Adventure dudes explained what we were looking at very well and were patient and sweet about all the questions. It was a little hard to get them to go into any depth. But it was light years better than going to a planetarium!
Stuff we saw: M51 which is sort of colliding or interacting galaxies, M3 (a globular cluster), M81 and M82 together (they affect each other with tides!), the Beehive Cluster, the Pleiades, a red dwarf star among the Double Cluster,  Mizar A and B and Alcor, (The horse and rider!), Saturn and 5 moons, and a bit of the Orion Nebula where the Trapezium is. We looked at Sirius through a polarized filter to see its spectral lines.

Later, the Wikipedia entry on the Orion Nebula turned out to be incredibly great; hello, iron tipped glowing blue "bullets" of supersonic incandescent gas. It just got more and more extreme and crazy in the descriptions. Keep reading. It gets better and better. Like this:

The green hue was a puzzle for astronomers in the early part of the 20th century because none of the known spectral lines
at that time could explain it. There was some speculation that the
lines were caused by a new element, and the name "nebulium" was coined
for this mysterious material. With better understanding of atomic
physics, however, it was later determined that the green spectra was
caused by a low-probability electron transition in doubly ionized oxygen, a so-called "forbidden transition".

In between lurching up from my wheelchair to peer through telescopes, I kept saying over the things we'd seen, so that I could look them up later. "You must have studied this!" one woman said in amazement. "No…. I'm just repeating to myself what the guy just told us…"

I don't mean this meanly, but I have forgotten how dumb most people are. Or maybe not dumb but just, without the most basic snippets of information about things like what a moon or a constellation or a galaxy is. Compared to our amateur astronomer hosts Zond-7 and I were just a couple of people who grew up liking science magazines and who might read the Planetary Society blog once in a while. But the people around us, holy crap. One lady was asking what it meant for something to be a moon. As we explained (super nicely) she *got it* that moons go around a planet, and planets go around the Sun, and so the moons are also going around the Sun at the same time, but with extra wiggling. I could see her getting it, even in the dark! Zond-7 explained very clearly to someone else what it meant for Saturn to be in Leo (which it was). Earlier, someone else went "Is there a thing called a .. a 'quark'?" and boy howdy did I feel like Mr. Peabody just able to say "It's a tiny elementary particle" Zond-7 asked if she meant quasar, but she meant quarks which were mentioned in a movie she saw. When I hung out with large feral packs of theoretical physicists I noticed how they would speak with disdain of washed-up media whores meaning anyone who ever talked to the press or wrote a popular science article. Meanwhile I wish popular science was more popular and more people would learn how to explain (with strangeness and charm) what a quark is to a regular person.

Anyway, I was struck by how much people don't know. We don't need to know it, people go around and function and are smart as anything, but I forget that most people don't care for some of the things I like to know. And I was struck by the thought that I am used to being around people who do know and who have a fairly huge internal database of random knowledge not applicable to their daily life. The people who came to the astronomy event were self selected to be people who were interested and curious and willing to learn stuff, unlike the general population. I am not trying to be judgmental on people by saying this, it is just that I felt a gulf suddenly between my assumptions about what's in people's heads all around me, and what actually is. Heather Gold at SXSWi in her talk show at Plutopia touched on this rather sweetly when she mentioned the movie Powers of Ten and said "You know, like that thing you do in bed when you're a little kid, where you imagine you're in your address, St. Louis, Missouri, United States, North America, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, The Solar System, Milky Way, like that? … and the crowd just kind of stared at her…. As Heather did, I assumed everyone did that! Did you? But no – not everyone spends hours poring over photographs of galaxies and nebulae and reading encyclopedia articles. I have not felt like a freak for having a lot of book learning for a long time, not for years. As a kid that was a hard lesson – I thought all reasonable people would automatically know what mitochondria were, and so on.
This crowd, the idea of spectral lines was going to be so completely over their heads that it was impossible for the guys to explain anything. I was glad they showed it anyway.

Meanwhile, I don't know the parts of an engine or how to fix a toilet or knit a sweater or take someone's blood pressure as probably the people on our Star Tour do know.

Saturn's moons freaked me out the most. They just hang there. The light reflected from Saturn shades them like our Moon is shaped and shaded by Earthlight. They were more surreal to me than Saturn itself, because they looked so three dimensional.

There is a flythrough of a 3-D model of the Orion Nebula! Can't wait to try it!

When we get home I have a book called Agnotology waiting for me which promises to be about theories of Not Knowing. What don't we know? And why don't we? And how does that affect us?

One last note, Zond-7 asked one of the astronomy dudes how many stars
were in a galaxy and was told a trillion.  He gently drew out the guy a
little more and then shut up. Later in the car he told me that the
trillion stars theory was in the process of being debunked, as it is
based on "a trillion solar masses" but like 99.999 % of that is dark
matter so there are likely not a trillion stars in the galaxy at ALL.
Speaking of Agnotology!

If you are wondering about a proplyd you may go read the article on the Orion Nebula! Happy pointless knowledge voyage!

Related posts




Why I love depressing books

As a kid, I spent a fair amount of time in really small libraries. There wasn’t a lot of guidance. I never met the magical book lady with 20 cats and secret magic power who would show me the best books ever. Well, not until my piano teacher in middle school turned me loose on the science fiction paperbacks in her attic.
So I read pretty much anything, but kept an eye out for the special shelf in nearly any library that had the Caldedott and Newbery Honor books. I didn’t really differentiate between them. Those books that said AWARD and had the shiny metallic official-looking stamp on them!
A few years ago it struck me how depressing they all were. How many books about brave children struggling through the Great Depression and the Holocaust did I devour? A LOT. I think I got addicted to their atmosphere of serious angst and their heavy handed morals.
So I was a little bit amused to look at this year’s winners and see that they include:
- How I Learned Geography, where a young boy is mad AT FIRST when his father brings home a colorful map instead of some bread. I am sure it is good… yet I kind of feel like I’ve read it before, somehow.
- A book of poems about Cuba’s struggle for freedom. Do I even need to say more!?
Oh, ALA! I totally love you. Your respectable honor books sustained my revolutionary soul for so many years! I can’t wait to go to the library and spend an afternoon reading the entire “for young adult reluctant readers” award list. THey will be depressing yet uplifting, and won’t be about middle class suburban white children, I have complete faith in that, and are not meant for middle class suburban white children (though I was one) but are meant to be un-boring to everyone else. I wonder how far they succeed in that?

Related posts




I like Twilight!

So far I like the book Twilight just fine! I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The writing isn’t making me itch though everyone I know has been shuddering in horror at its bad writing style. What are they even talking about?! It’s fine! It slid right down like a glass of water last night as I was going to bed!

I like Bella as a heroine. Her parents are divorced, and she moves to live with her dad for a year. She loves to read. She drives a truck. Her dad is nice, but dorky. Her mom writes her anxious emails a million times a day. She decides to write her school paper on misogyny in Shakespeare plays. When a group of guys threaten her on a dark street, she prepares to fight and thinks of how she’ll drive their noses back into their brains with the heel of her hand. In her new school, she finds herself suddenly popular with boys, but she doesn’t really want to date any of them. She gets along with people, but feels a bit depressed and alienated. She likes to cook for her dad and doesn’t make a big deal out of what she wears. She’s embarrassed at her physical clumsiness to the point where she won’t go climbing around on rocks at the beach or go to a school dance. She describes her own process of decision making in a charming way.

I’m at the point in the book where she’s just started to be obsessed with Edward. He saved her from a car crash, he’s mysterious, he’s really sexy, and he keeps being alternately swoony and standoffish to her. Then, her dad’s friend’s son from the reservation tells her that the Cullens are vampires. This makes Bella’s slight crush much worse… “He’s not human, he’s something MORE”. She’s the kind of girl who falls in love with aliens!

So far, standard high school romance book, with a perfectly likeable heroine, and a slightly jerky but sexy vampire high school boy.

Related posts




Garage Sale for Obama

I saw this flyer up on a post outside of the Safeway at 29th and Mission, a garage sale to raise money to give to the Obama campaign.

Garage Sale for Obama

The other day in a friend’s blog I noticed her thinking of saving money for some expensive Fluevog boots, but then she reconsidered and decided to give that money to the campaign instead.

I wear a size eight and covet these boots. How can I justify spending over three hundred dollars (that I could conceivably have in a month or so) on boots when I could give that money to the ” Obama FTW ” fund. Its true…. So maybe no boots for me right now. Woe.

Don’t they both seem like very Gen X middle class fundraising ideas, more than bake sales or auctions or whatever? It struck me as something I’ve never seen before.

Today I did a little housecleaning to get ready for Bork to come visit, finished reading I Am a Cat, thought more about Random Acts of Senseless Violence, had lunch with Bork who is here now, yay! Did a driving lesson with Zond-7 and we drove around Pee’s harbor and Ducktown Marina to look at what it is like to live there. Pee’s Harbor was more posh. Ducktown was more the sort of thing that appeals to me especially “Nancy and Jane’s garden” and how everything is a bit half-assed and jumbledy. Apparently the politics of Ducktown are: the owners are a big fancy trust, and want to sell. the people offering are offering a few million too low. Meanwhile there is Measure You-Know-What that defines that area as open space. How could they evict the people who have lived there for 30 years and have giant floating houses not just little boats on their bit of dock?

Then up to the city – rested – had dinner with vito_excalibur – went to SFinSF and liked nihilistic kid and dlevine’s stories – T.B. was very funny and scatterbrained – had a little of Vito’s whiskey – was in pain – didn’t know what to say to people who congratulated me on my verticality – gave out handfuls of Obama buttons. N.K.’s story was a Raymond Carver – HP Lovecraft mashup with 3 people drinking whiskey in a cave. I am sure Ken H. should read it if he hasn’t already. He must have? He’d like it. I shrieked “Wooooooo!!” way too loud when the chick took a mouthful of whiskey and there was mention of a lantern because I am a gamer and knew what was coming, but then felt silly. Then like 5 minutes later she spewed fiery death over a shoggoth and I was vindicated. At least vito got it. We gave dlevine hell teasing him about how he was flying colors (yay sf hanky code) but guessed his code slightly wrong. NK’s comments during the slightly doofusy “question and answer” period were awesome. Yay for people who make sense and are funny. At one point I just wanted to smack dlevine for his comments on the obviousness of deism and then his attempt at a save in saying some people did not think so but there was always room to change one’s mind. Boooo from the row of atheists! His story rocked – he read Charlie the Purple Giraffe, which I enjoyed. Zond-7 asked how one could sustain this sort of meta narrative for a much longer story which led us to some mention of Don Quixote, She-Hulk, and I brought up The Great Good Thing which while it has some twee elements was well done. Vito had some muttery comments about alternate histories and time travel and the point not being the Twist. I cannot remember the other people’s questions or comments all that well or if I do I will remain mercifully silent because some of them were embarrassingly silly. Saw Rina, J.W., klages, whump, cyn, nk’s friend who i can’t remember but who was introduced charmingly to me as my secret stalker, so I hope she comments somewhere, kate, and a jillion other people. Home, bed, merciful horizontalness, lovely warm electric blanket.

Also watched a ton of Sarah Haskins Target Women – go watch them – they’re great. The cleaning and yogurt ones were the funniest.

Tomorrow will do lots of hard work – Rook and Moomin are out camping for the rpg nerdy beach party – I will meet up later on with them and Bork – I’d like to go to the Emperor Norton party at Borderlands for a bit but it might depend on working on the book and how much I get done.

Related posts




What I think of in the bath

Moments where the heights of luxury hit me; I live like this!

With all the history I’ve read, and all the fantastic future histories, I’m dizzied that at this particular moment, I can summon enough just-so-temperatured, perfumed, clean-enough-to-drink water to cover my body, and have the leisure to lie in it, with food and a book at hand, with music playing, with a wealth of culture a snap of my fingers away, in this decadent privacy and peace, free from fear, secure in control, able to move around as I please, absentmindedly rubbing green tea and fennel lotion into my hair. I am a magician – Can this be real? How did this happen? Can it last? Might this, as I have thought many times before, be the pinnacle of physical experience of my life? How is it that I have all this? That we have all this?

A moment where I don’t take it for granted, where I acknowledge this ordinary moment of a daily hot bath is an amazing luxury I am lucky to experience at all.

coffee and book in jacuzzi

How very odd – Roman emperors or Trimalchio really could not have it any better – How smug we are and how tiny a blip in history – and how sure we are that it is deserved, permanent, this hot bath – I think the same when I eat a sandwich in the back yard – It is what we die for really – for someone’s right to this peaceful back yard or miracle bathtub. Part liberty, part theft. What splendor. No wonder we hardly know what to do with ourselves, emperors lacking any good citizen-ish Mirror for Princes. A funny picture as I consider Roman cities: thunk, the public park and fountain is plunked down in our utopian sim city grid and the people stop their riots.

Often I think of myself as an anarchist, but I am politically naive and lazy enough to have never examined or defined my political beliefs. The most glaring inner contradiction has always seemed to be my love of, and belief in, virtuous and stable institutions and laws, which I somehow cherish along with a strong tendency to veer off in order to disrupt institutions that aren’t or that I think aren’t. I was struck by this bit of tonight’s book; it’s near the end of Godfather of the Kremlin, after long exposure of corruption, embezzling, capital flight, murder and greed:

Private property or free markets alone do not guarantee a high level of civilization. Even the most impoverished countries have private property and free markets. What they lack is a healthy state and a healthy society. Today these are the two essential preconditions for civilization.
There are several salient characteristics defining a healthy state: a good legal code and the means to enforce it; the equality of all citizens before the law and the state; a sound financial basis allowing for the provision of such public goods as national defense, law enforcement, transportation, education, medical care, and pensions; an efficient and effective government apparatus. A healthy state is uncorrupted by wealthy individuals, powerful businessmen, or special-interest groups; it is an honest broker for all the conflicting interests of society. Finally, a healthy state protects the weak from predation by the strong.

This calls out to the bits of my middle-class and civic-minded soul that believe in such things. The root of the non-contradiction is that I believe it could be achieved by anarchic means. Maybe. Given some ideal state of beginning, or anarchic-alientech-ex-machina, or that proper nucleation that crystallizes and spreads that we like to imagine could be just around the corner.

Related posts




Riot Grrl Nostalgia show

There was a good crowd at the Center for Sex & Culture last night last week for the riot grrl SFinX reading. Here’s my notes!

Carol Queen read an intro for Gina de Vries.

Gina wrote Curve mag’s “Hey Baby” column. In 97 she was called “jarringly precocious” by Time Magazine.
Carol (interrupting herself): I did not know that. That is AWESOME! When I was jarringly precocious Time magazine never noticed! There was a photo… gina what were you wearing in it?
Gina: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society
Carol: How old were you?
Gina: 14
*everyone cracks up*
*more intro*

Gina: There will be cupcakes at intermission. chocolate bergamot… Homemade! I made them! *audience cheers*

Gina read a memoir piece in 2 parts. The first part was about when she was 14 and bought her leopard print mini skirt. “It was the sluttiest thing i’d ever bought.”

Her deep friendship with a very serious queer femme riot grrl, Lila. We talked about veganism, bands, racism, and pornography. (They had class differences. Lila and a lot of the other girls were richer.) Making mix tapes and trading them. Gina read “The Persistent Desire”. Traded zines with every girl I met and hundreds of others through the mail. Starstruck at meeting Kate Bornstein. The overwhelming joy of finally being taken seriously as a queer girl.

“Dykes and fags! Working together! Biphobia sucks! Transgender revolution! Fuck shit UP!” *cheers*
We were so earnest…

Melissa Gira reading from draft of Girl Out of Order … i liked best the bit about how she would work until she passed out, and the process of taking photos of cartoons on tv with a disposable camera, getting them developed at the drugstore, carefully scanning them with a sort of squeegee scanner into the huge, beige, computer at her friend’s parents’ house, then printing it out, cutting it up into bits, writing on it, and pasting it with rubber cement into a zine.

The dangers of the postal service. Sending naked photos of herself. “Parents, lock up your stamps!”

A bunch about sex. Playing out age play with her boyfriend. Pretending to be a virgin (in one of the best asides of the night Melissa added, “Of course it had only been having sex for 4 months”)

Celeste Chan – Riot Grrl was before my time but i was inspired by it, read Sassy, checked Bikini Kill albums out from the library, watched the Yo Yo gang, moved to Olympia in 2000, I imagined it all fantastic and full of fierce eyed women, like it was dyke march every day….*cheers from audience* Instead, it was like getting too close to a dream best friend. You see their flaws. Huggy Bear, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, thrifting… loved the ethos of diy and you can do anything. It was one of the very few subcultures dealing with violence against women, homophobia, fatphobia and the masculinist nature of punk culture. Addressing competition and jealousy that women are socialized into. It was great. Bring back riot grrrl!!!!!

Zuleikha Mahmoud. Femme shark. ***FEMME SHARKS!!!!!**** yell from audience. Omar and the lesbians band. Going on tour with Mangos with Chili. *cheers*

I, like Celeste, was a little too young. Was in hard core rural Pennsylvania. It didn’t quite make it there. That was the only thing that helped me imagine another life. When I was a little kid I was a strong feminist and I didn’t have a word for it. Then I started going to the library and the librarians had a really intense stockpile of feminist books.

So now I’m writing a book about slutty muslim girls. To reflect myself and the girls I love. A novel. I could read that or, *cries of “BOTH!!!” from audience* AND, I was going to read a piece about the first pride i went to, 2005 in new york.

“Jess is on her way over… she was going to bring her bass to teach me how to play. “I’ll teach you some fingering” and then we laughed but she said she really earnestly wanted to start a band with me. I hope to god she also wants to fuck me. I ran around my apartment hiding all the mainstream shit. The beauty mags and nikes. (phone call with friend) What’s up bachaim. (Farsi for “baby, dear friend”) (explanation of girl coming over) “Text me if you lose your lesbian virginity.” “Inshallah”. God, I wanted her, as much as I wanted shoes or drugs, as much as I wanted to move out when I lived with my parents. (she comes over) “Take your shoes off this is an asian house.” Jess eats a banana. DO THEY KISS OR WHAT OMG I CAN’T WAIT you will have to read the book when Zuleikha finishes it. (Note my subtle implication that she WILL FINISH IT DAMMIT… because it rocks)
2nd story from Zuleikha. First pride march. The night before. Homophobe violence. racism. a fight. I knew the parade was corporate but wasn’t prepared to have Macy’s celebrating my gayness or whatever!
Emotional moment of a parent filming their kid in the parade proudly…

(break) (cupcakes!) A bunch of us stand around and bond on how back then we learned how to do menstrual extraction and were all ready to start smuggling RU-486.

Then me

I talked about my zines and how I started identifying with riot grrl stuff, and showed a folder of a jillion letters, April – June 94, from all over the country. Then read some bits of the Slut Manifesto, which got a lot of laughs. (omg, i must find a better home for that manifesto.) I edited out a lot of the long ranty bits, warning everyone that during edits I’d say “Rant rant rant”. I had not timed it and have no idea how long I read, am hoping not too long. I enjoyed reading it so much. It was tempting to edit the hell out of it and also go back in time and argue with myself. Still I felt a sudden wave of affection for my fierce little self of years ago. Carol asked me if I had written in in irony or not. In retrospect, sure, there was plenty of irony in there but I also meant everything.

This was the first reading I’ve done since disabled again where I felt like I had a reasonable amount of energy and verve. Now, I can pull it off even when I feel like shit and have to fake it, but it feels so great to get a little of my mojo back. whew! and to feel connected with people. I don’t think I’ve ever read to, how should i put this, such the right target audience for anything i’ve read out loud. (though the capitol punishment story at years-ago-SFinX was similar!) how nice was that!!! and my riot grrl stuff does not really get integrated with the other bits of my life, very often. (though i do feel like blogging and even working with blogher are my continuation of all that.)

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha – growing up in (amherst?) – ad in the back of MRR – “I love janes addiction, i cut myself, write me” and getting a ton of letters. riot grrl wrote to her and had gone through MRR to write to every girl who had an ad. Leah was touched… parents didn’t let her out of the house… (next town over might as well have been on the moon.) Moved to NY – then was like “oh, crap, i’m really poor” also tough being mixed race punk in ny… met unsuitable guy way older – blew him off – “some guy who looked like freddy kruger at the bookstore wanted to fuck me” crazy guys breathing on you and trying line after line… 13th street squat getting busted. mystical hippie earth firsters trying to hold down a chapter in midtown manhattan where there pretty much wasn’t an ecosystem left anywhere… She was 19… admired an older 24 yr old woman who was so tough and had been living in squats for 10 years but who would not talk with her… Cops, a tank, assault rifles, it felt like us or them, 500 bodies, no matter how much we blieved in non-violent resistence… dragged off one by one… The guy was a brilliant storyteller… the way people are who have been on the street or in prison since they were kids… he was bi and assumed she was… (I forget what funny queer punk tshirt he had on but it made me laugh) took off their shirts on wall street… fucking in another squat with the guy… not really quite feeling it as sexual … though enjoyable… “like the promise of some day having a body” (I loved that description of sex)

I forget who it was (Leah?) saying something hilarious about west coast queer punk girls being all tra la about it but NYC punk girls being all like FUCK YOU I HATE WOMEN.

Nomy Lamm – old spoken word stuff from 93 – but here instead is stuff that i didn’t read in public at the time. “the ain’t” was my band and this was our song. sing with me… (we sing the bass line) … easy target… piece about living with her best friend who she was in love with. Their messy house and the junk food and fruit flies! Stuff about jealousy, about punk scene hierarchies and how could we have this movement and still have that and so many things being about conforming or conventional attractiveness. (She and another woman whose name I did not catch but who played bass did a song – Nomy played the accordion)

A whole lot of us went to Chow afterwards. I was not sure if I was at the grownup table or the butch table. we talked about Steven’s anarchist anthropologist book and i forget what all else, some about the readings, i went over and talked a bit with everybody else… I think they were going to Rebel Girl at the Rickshaw Stop.

tonight hazelbroom and I were gossipping on IM about all this and we were just listing off 90s dykey zine people and telling funny stories. I told her how I wished I had met Stephanie Kulick who I traded zines with and then later saw Mark’s page about her and realized she was likely a major kindred spirit right down to her woman symbol necklace matching my woman symbol earring which I lost in the ballerina pie fight.

Related posts




Travel journal from a working holiday

I woke up in such pain. My arms could barely move and walking wasn’t good either. Zond-7 massaged my neck and shoulder and right arm, I had coffee, stretched a lot, waited for anti-inflammatories to kick in, and now I can make a fist and can type and behave normally.

That’s always a scary feeling!

All the curb-hopping is taking its toll.

useful apology sign

Consider that even to go the 3 blocks to Old Street which seem so trivial on paper or on legs, I must curb-hop about 20 times. Each driveway or alleyway has its difficulties. I’ll count today, and take some photos.

Yesterday I tagged along and worked from the ORG office which is itself embedded in Venda’s offices. Had a drink with a bunch of them and talked sf and cyberpunk and hardware & mass production with G. We had unexciting dinner in Hoxton Square (could not get in to the nice place recommended by A.’s giant FAQ of the neighborhood) and on the way back passed a super fancy barbershop. Perhaps Zond-7 will become Highly Groomed today. We have discussed the way that there is a Hoxton Haircut much as there is a Mission Hipster beard-groomed-look, and their finer points of difference.

I’d like to work somewhat minimal hours and go to the British Museum, and play catch-up tomorrow. tonight is a comedy show which has a bunch of Zond-7′s friends. Will I last out the day without collapsing or resorting to Vicodin and booze?

We haven’t really had any “holiday” yet – aside from a day or two of sleeping for 12 hours. It’s really ridiculous! But my work doesn’t end, and then I have to do at least minimal blogging of my life or I feel perturbingly out of control of reality. Zond-7 is also working and has to write and practice and give like 20 gajillion talks and on top of that just like I have to lie down a lot he has to sleep extra or he just stops functioning after a few days. We have similiar patterns in that we can work like dogs and push ourselves for about a 3-4 day limit and get an insane amount of things done and feel really good about ourselves and then we just fall over half-dead. Anyway, I feel a slight pang of regret that I won’t do at least a few touristy things while I’m over here.

As long as I hit the British Museum for half a day… though I could happily spend a week in there… and I’d like to spend another afternoon in the library with my feminist newspapers and Cuban poets… and I’d like to go work out of C.’s office and scan his bookshelves for my Bookshelf Analysis of Projected Contents of Brain.

Meanwhile I continue to enjoy the hell out of living in someone else’s house instead of a hotel.

Every time I walk up the stairs (UGH STAIRS but good for me) I see a new painting or poster on the wall. I try to see them all every time, but each time there’s one I haven’t noticed before!

I also really love the feeling of getting familiar with the immediate neighborhood. I know where the big cracks in the sidewalk are, and how the men yell at each other macho-ly on the tennis court in the little square, the sounds of the trucks and people going by with the wheels of their wheely suitcase things bumping along, where to buy juice and coffee, the different routes to walk to different places… A week is nearly long enough to develop pleasant habits.

The other night coming back rather late we were walking behind an older couple who were hand in hand, and somewhat hunched over. I thought touchingly of how sweet they were and wondered if I would someday be old and lovingly supported by and supporting someone as we wandered homeward late at night. I was trying to make up bits of their lives as we continued down the block in the dark. As we both turned around the corner of Ashe Square (Ashe Garden? something like that) my illusion was partially destroyed as the hunched-over woman burst into a sort of rollicking song, boozily slurring, like some total cockney-movie cliche, swaying on her little high heels, straightening up from under her old-lady sweater. “Lips like cherries….” the song got louder and louder in rude defiant enjoyment of life & drunkenness. The man threw her arm down and began to cuss her out loudly – walking ahead – also drunk as hell. I think he might have said something even more amazing than the song along the lines of “Awww, shurrup, ya ol’ bat!” From hilarity to being slightly appalled and madly curious about what if anything would happen I moved back to feeling sentimental about the old couple, trying not to outpace them so that i could hear the words to the song. Zond-7 said he knew the song but has forgotten what it was.

Related posts




A city’s soul and a fat rant

For the next three weeks I’ll be traveling around! London, Brussels, Budapest, then London again. See you at Global Voices / Open Tech ! I’ve packed really well for the trip!

My tiny computer is very cute! I am still setting it up, but now it has functioning wireless and ubuntu on it! I described the process of installing eeebuntu on it!

Here’s a very lovely blog I came across thanks to paraleipsis, beautiful & inspiring & clean & messy all at once, really a poet of vignettes & cities:

http://rocalberto.blogspot.com/

One of the things i like about this city ( and of course i didnt like everything, you can see in many ways how spoiled many americans are) is that being direct is a quality, its just an arrow that goes directly to your heart, somethimes you say ouch!! now THATS a quality, If you are like that you skip many many problems on the way. They have created the city of either you are strong, direct and fast or you are dead, and self consciusness is high .

I liked the photos and thoughts on all those rusting things, and also when he goes to be a fireman for one week in a fireman class and thinks, Fuck Art, this is much better.

Every once in a while I come across a stranger’s blog and fall in love a little bit. Today I’m in also in love with Joy Nash and her Fat Rant #3:

I have a big juicy blog crush on justmylife and her dilemmas over her mom in law and swimming in the pool, and how her husband comes home from driving his concrete mixing truck and falls asleep in the recliner, and her potty mouthed bitching which I totally identify with and do all the time about every detail of my life complete with detail and overanalysis. There is something about the totally honest way she writes about the complexity of her extended family and daily life that I really admire. I think she is the secret-blog-friend I would most enjoy hanging out with in real life of all the hundreds of blogs I have seen in the last two months in my new job! She makes me miss Texas a bit… though I don’t know where she is…

Today in Actual Real non-blog life I dropped Moomin off with my friend SuperT (You remember her from WoolfCamp?) and her son Hamster; I worked like a dog; I then had a nice gossipy lunch with Sarah and then we had a supposedly 1 hour meeting which was so productive we just kept going for several more hours. We do work well together! And she is a fantastic project manager! We were on the same wavelength or something and just cut through all sorts of confusions, design issues, usability, and all that stuff.

Then I drove back hauling ass through massive traffic to pick up Moomin and I got to hang out a little bit with SuperT! I gave her a cd with mashups and I showed her how to make music playlists in iTunes and how to organize bookmark toolbar in Safari! A little computer help is a birthday present too! We sat and sweated and talked about our lives! I miss hanging out with her.

And of course I am still completely fascinated by the Obama with roses and unicorns. I would totally get this airbrushed on my truck if I still had a truck. Hello! He’s ejaculating roses! He has sparkles! What is he holding in his hand, I can’t tell?

Related posts




Action movie preview rant; racism in Indiana Jones

I went to my friend’s steampunk beach wedding with Rook and Zond-7 and all and sundry!

there is no charge for awesome

Aren’t they cute as hell?

Held a giant chiton (described in post below, but here’s the photo to show how huge it was!)

Went to RoboGames! Drove all over hell and back! Drove to Oakland and hung out with Minnie and Moomin and small Mr. Screamypants!

I saw the Indiana Jones movie, loving it and hating it. I was steeling myself for an inevitable ancient-Harrison-Ford romance with a plucky yet needing to be rescued 24 year old actress, and indeed the movie had all the pain of Smurfette Syndrome, ie, a bunch of male characters of varying kinds and one plucky girl. BUT…. it had the saving grace of having TWO female characters. The plucky girl was older than one would expect from craptastic sexist ageist Hollywood, like actually old enough to have a young adult son, and old enough for it not to be completely stereotypically annoyingly prize-like for her to be involved with Indiana Jones. And she got to kick ass some of the time. The other female character was the totally awesome Evil Psychic Communist in uniform complete with shiny black gloves and obsession with aliens and mind control. She was okay.

There was a really stupid and unnecessary racist bit with the …. clay-covered “naked savages” springing out of the masonry to defend the temple. Why, why, why? Why was that necessary? “Insert mob of non-white naked howling irrational people here.” What??? Why?! Covered in MUD! Wearing GRASS SKIRTS! HOWLING! I believe even ULULATING! Inexplicably kept alive for 5000 years! Fanatically DEVOTED! Mayan, yet Peruvian, yet grass skirt wearing yet wielding BOLAS! Then awe-struck, and bowing to the Artifact! Arrrgh. Rook and I sat there groaning and scoffing. Come on! More skulls, giant insects, sword fights, stone mechanisms rolling shut just a hair too late, waterfalls, yes, Racist Crap no. Anyway!

The pulp-like “ooo mayans” and “ooo nazca lines” and “ooo now we’re in the amazon” was just funny and overblown. I didn’t even get annoyed by it like I did with the weird stuff in Emperor’s New Groove. It was so bad it was hilarious. Same with the “magnetism”!

Back to the villain – I enjoyed the bit where

SPOILER!!!!!

She was going, “I WANT TO KNOW” and staring at the alien skeleton and the aliens began to beam stuff into her head! Yay! I wanted her to know! Go, Hero of the Order of Lenin! Go, psychic scientist crazy woman! My higher level analysis was that her gender was being conflated with communism and the “hive mind” of the aliens. Manliness was the independent thought and maverick status of Indiana Jones and his little rebel boy sidekick. The communist villain spoke at length about her evil plot, which was to gain enormous psychic powers so that everyone in the world’s thoughts would be like hers, they would be taught right thinking, but they wouldn’t know it wasn’t their thoughts. They’d think they were having their own ideas – but it would be communist mind control. Then, she ended up marvelling at the beauty of the alien hive mind, and merging orgasmically with it and squirting up into an interdimensional portal. You can see why I cheered. I don’t think I was meant to and instead it was meant to be punishment or comeuppance and a fit ending. I think also the idea of women in authority, in positions of equality and authority, in communist countries, was mixed up with current (and past) anxieties about feminism, PC-ness, and women’s rights, so that woman in authority = hive mind = evil.

Onward and backward to the previews!

The movie previews promised to be good since they would be action movies. I’m a HUGE sucker for explosions, chases, fights, and other action movie bullshit. Add space battles and I’m extra happy. So, no horrible “romantic comedy” previews I had to suffer through. Instead I got to admire the explosions, while bitching about the Smurfette Syndrome about 5 times in a row. “The Spirit” – Frank Miller movie, made fun of preview already, hilarious voiceover with superhero going “The city screams, she is my mother, she is my lover.” Sooo that makes you a motherfucker then? *sigh* So stupid! So annoying! So unnecessary! Then yet another movie about a Man having Important Man experiences with women as peripheral sex prizes (some movie about a guy living backwards in time. I would prefer they just LEAVE WOMEN COMPLETELY OUT, thanks but no thanks. Give explosions and battles, keep nasssty chips.) Hellboy which looked fucking awesome!!!! Awesome! Hello! Just great! But again, is man having his Man Moments because hollywood if in an action movie has to show how being a Man is all about heroism and heroism is all about being a man! I am so annoyed. I bet if the female characters have any good fighting moments of bravery it will be only because they are defending their man, or their dad, or their brother, or carrying out their father’s last wish, or some other annoying-ass thing whose subtext implies that women only exist in relation to men, especially when they kick ass. Then, Eagle Eye, which looked to be even more of the same. It is all about the profound experience of the lone man who in his lonely way has an Experience. Do I make myself clear, here? Why is this always the plot? It’s like the Joseph Campbell sexist as hell Hero’s Journey just mutated itself into every story possible.

Don’t even get me STARTED on Wall-e. FFS. I mean, I want to see a fucking awesome movie about some robots. In space. Why must it get all messed up with gender stuff? Why not just put some eyelashes and lipstick on that rescue-screamy-flirty-sexy robot girl? WTF with the robot gender roles? You know, if I were a robot, I’d think the nicest bit of would be getting to be ungendered. Like we didn’t go far enough with the movie where all the ants were heterosexual male/female couples (??) and the Bee one, and the one where the (male) cattle had udders? What?

Okay I’m glad I got that off my chest! Otherwise I had an intense few days (and nights) at work, a weekend packed with social events, I am concentrating hard on walking but it’s very hard, and Rook and I gardened a little bit, which was super nice since it’s been so neglected.

I have been noticing how my car is like my spaceship and everywhere I go is like an expensive gravity well. Some places, like the building I work in, or a grocery store, suck you into their enormous gravity well and it is hard to achieve escape velocity. For those, I need the powerful shuttlecraft of my wheelchair. For gas stations, small cafes, and places that can be traversed easily, I can achieve escape velocity handily with only the EVA jetpack of my crutches or cane. You think I am joking about imagining that those annoying slow wheelchair lifts are the airlock? No… I’m really imagining it and enjoying it with a slightly embarrassed smile in case anyone can read my thoughts. I prefer the Belter lifestyle without going near those annoying gravity wells where I am way too heavy, give me the asteroids any day. What this means in practical reality is that I go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through a lot these days.

Related posts




Road trip north!

Mountains that look like volcanoes, covered in snow! Lots of tantalizing roadcuts that we have whooshed past! We got on 101 at Cesar Chavez at 10am. It’s 7:30 now, coming up on Eugene, Oregon. All three of us have to stop about once an hour to pee, which has been extremely pleasant; no one is impatient with anyone else’s bladder. We have healthy food and chocolate from Sarah’s shopping trip and yet chips, sodas, ice cream, beef jerky, ends up in our pockets.

We had lunch at Big D’s BBQ/ Silva’s Restaurant in South Weed, right under Mt. Shasta – sat on a deck outside in the sun & gawked at mountains & devoured the best bbq sandwiches. I highly recommend their coleslaw and potato salad. The sandwiches were on perfectly soft giant buns slathered with garlic butter, toasted, then mayo & lettuce and tomato… *drools in memory*

Everything has gone green! After the pass coming down into Oregon, no more sagebrush and scrub.

I saw some columnar basalt, a lot of mudstone and sandstone layers, something I think was a giant roadcut of ash (as it looked a lot like the painted desert and it was right before we got to Ashland), some stuff to the west that looked granitic (in how it was weathering). Maybe on the way back I’ll stop and look a few times. When we pass a roadcut or some bare rock I get so excited like my cats get when they see a toy mouse.

We are pushing on to Portland tonight so that tomorrow there is only a little to do – that way we can rest.

I need that rest as I started out loping along with only a tiny bit of help from crutches. By now though I am in some pain and limping a lot. Next stop I might need the chair.

I talked with my mom and my grandma rallied a bit & is back in rehab. She was in the hospital with a possible TIA and pneumonia, then out again to rehab sort of place, then last night they couldn’t wake her up and brought her back to the hospital and my mom was very upset & thought she was dying. She might be. She sounds really confused. They have had trouble feeding her. It sounds really tough. My mom is being really brave and a good advocate.

My throat is still horrible. Not scratchy but it seems very swollen. Zond-7 has a cold too and also had a root canal yesterday and was jet lagged and just ill in every way. We ordered pho and went to bed at about 9:30, whimpering with the unfairness of it all but very comforted by the soup and cosy bed. Though, a horrible awakening at 6am as his roommate’s dog got into the house and for some reason shit all over the carpet by the bed so his roommate helped us take up the giant carpet (which was half-pinned underneath the bed) It turned out the dog had kind of lost control various other places so she is probably sick… From there everything went uphill as Zond-7′s fever had broken and I felt perky and good. Coffee, some cheery early-morning reading of Ubik, email check & I was off to get Sarah and cindymonkey. We are enjoying each others’ stories & music.

This is all a bit flat as I’m so tired now!

Earlier I was very excited because of the gorgeous mountains!

At various points in rural highway California we were all eyed in a friendly way at gas stations by cute women, definitely checked out by the check-out girls. OH HAI we are the city freaks! But in Oregon as we neared Grants Pass cindymonkey told us about this one time she was near there at a gas station bathroom and there was a giant obvious group marriage of women in old fashioned dresses giving her dirty looks. She was waiting in line for the bathroom. & one of them came out and gave her an evil-sweet smile and when cindy went in she realized the woman had covered the bathroom in poo like all over everything. (How, in one of those long dresses!?)

My plan tonight is a motel somehwere or Sarah’s friend might find us a hotel. I think they all will go out drinking if we can find a motel at a truck stop with food and a Trucker Saloon, while I gracefully fall onto a motel fainting couch with Vicodin by my side.

Related posts