I am, by nature and various forms of training, agile in a way that if I bobble things, even in a way that would seem normal to most people, there is clearly some kind of problem. Periodically I wonder if this situation represents a substantial inefficiency. Like, maybe the focus I’m expending under normal circumstances could be used in a way where it’s keeping me from creating a structure that makes the reflexes less necessary.
Basically all I do for fun is bathe. I sort of think I’d get something out of leaving the apartment for leisure, but I am attempting to emerge from a period where I was beating myself up for not having a hobby that was personality-defining, so being casual about stuff like that makes me panic.
Whither leisure, the Joaquin Maguire story.
A million years ago on a date that consisted of passing a bottle of wine back and forth in Prospect Park, my interlocutor said of her decision to come out, “Why do I need an excuse to hang out with a boy whose life is an open book in the internet?” Since then, everyone has started pretending that their life is an open book on the internet, but the whole thing has been sort of obfuscated and branded and is kind of horrible. Partly as a reaction to this decline, and partly because I think it is probably the only way that I’ll ever start writing here consistently, this is going to start including a lot of really boring diary stuff. Excelsior!
Yesterday I went to ArtZuid with a couple of friends and a cool baby. Because it was a longish walk, we had to take a coffee break in the middle.
Here we are being a bit incredulous.
Here we are looking a bit more enthused.
Building with cool clock.
Building with cool windows.
This collection of lawn gnomes and plastic vermin speaks to man’s inhumanity to man.
Piet Kramer building. Here is a shot of its internal garden.
Here I am introducing the baby to piggyback rides.
Here he is trying to pull out my eyeball.
So I turned 38 on Monday. That’s pretty grim, of course, but the fact is I’m in pretty good shape these days. I could have better habits, but I’m lean and do a remarkably good job of breathing, under the circumstances. What I have noticed is that my night-vision has started to suffer substantially of late. Because I live in a city, I don’t really notice this at night. Instead, I notice it when I enter a building or get on a bus with my sunglasses on. Stuff that I’ve gotten used to being really obvious has started to be difficult to ascertain under this very specific circumstance.
I had planned to be so good. Furthermore, I guess I’d sort of hoped to coast along on the momentum that came with the previously-mentioned promotion, but of course I don’t work that way. Instead, it seemed to cause a bit of a rupture and everything got kind of destructured.
Pinterest is great. Despite initial reservations, I think I’m getting more out of it than any other internet service these days. After my initial reaction to the information flood my impulse was to stop following everyone to whom I was automatically subscribed when I created my account. Luckily I didn’t do this, and instead starting dropping individual boards in which I was clearly not interested. The result is that I avoid being inundated with crap, but I’m still seeing a lot of things that are very cool that I wouldn’t have found left to myself.
In the olden days that doddering old fools like me only barely remember almost all personal web presences included a substantial link section. People would use these to collect lists of pages that they wanted to keep around, and there was a sort of discovery process whereby you would find someone’s homepage and follow their links, learning about various corners of the web as you went. Traditionally-minded bloggers like Warren Ellis still frequently post entries that are lists of links, but in general this process has moved within the silos of social networking sites. Of course, Pinterest is a social networking site too, but it’s very easy to get stuff into it and (and really, this is the most important thing) one doesn’t have to be logged in to view content.
I’ve been really scattered. I’ve always tended to be this way a bit, but it has accelerated lately. I think. I definitely feel like I am less able than usual to determine what I should be doing next, which often means that I waste time doing nothing. It is also the case that my attention span has been really dismal. I’m not positive what that is about.
The most obvious victim of this has been Markov Garden, which is currently pretty dormant. It is very hard for me to decide what to do about that. Part of me would like to really focus on how I can get organized in such a way that a next step is either obvious or discoverable when I find myself wondering what I ought to do. Part of me thinks that the most important thing is to finish what I’ve started and trying to organize myself more effectively ought to wait until after that has happened. If you hadn’t guessed from the previous paragraph, the outcome of this conflict is always that I don’t do anything worthwhile.
So I was in New York last week, visiting the mothership and catching up with all and sundry. Because I hadn’t seen most of these people in at least two years, there was a lot of talking about what everyone was doing. Because I was fairly relaxed (for me) and enjoying myself (again. . .), I think that it’s worth putting stock in the themes that tended to come out in these processes.
Arguably the single most noticeable thing about all these catch-up sessions is that everyone wanted to be reassured that things were good w/ Carolyn. Now in most cases this is attributable to people liking her, but in one or two key instances it was clearly the result of thinking that we are a good combination based on a deep understanding of at least me. That’s pretty cool, and it’s a nice thing to be able to take away from the experience.
There was a lot of ribbing, mostly but not exclusively around the office, about me wanting to move back to New York. Not to throw my hat too far into the ring of the world’s smuggest man competition, but a fair amount of this was wishful thinking. As I said, I enjoyed the visit immensely, but I haven’t forgotten how burnt out I was on soulless yuppie swine when I moved here back in 2008. Properly filtered, the story here is that I am indeed eager for some sort of change of place. The specifics have yet to be worked out (and lord knows there’s plenty of time to think about it), but C and I are looking, in the somewhat distant future, to live elsewhere.
As for me by myself, I spent a lot of time telling people that things were okay, but that I felt like I needed to be working on being the kind of person that makes things. I think this is kind of a big deal, and I’m definitely going to be focusing on it more. In a way, writing a paper is sort of like a very small project, so I guess it stands to reason that I miss doing something that I did constantly at a time that I consider to have been pretty fruitful. Of course, things can run away from you. Markov Garden has been confusing and big in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect, but I think that publishing it will be a major coup that I really need to be looking forward to. And beyond.
At the all-hands, we spent a lot of time talking about connecting people from information and then I, during a brainstorming session about applications, said something to the effect of “Wait, what about filtering?” People sort of paused and scratched their chins, but we didn’t focus on it at all. It isn’t a thing yet. It will be, but for now people are racing ahead to get their faces in front of the fire hose.
I was reminded of this because C sent me a Pinterest invite last night, and for some reason ye olde Booke of the Fayce required me to upgrade to timeline view to blah blah blah and. . . I have to say that the effect is pretty ridiculous. Pinterest is also kind of nuts. It’s front page is just a massive grid of uneven rectangles full of pictures. Also, when you click on one there is no obvious control to go back to the home page. Presumably this is a way to encourage people to do some interacting with something they may have been merely curious about. Not a decision I would have made.
At any rate, not to bag on any particular site/company/whatever, because really the problem is with the zeitgeist. People want shit like that. People want all their email in one massive bucket that they can search using tags. To me that’s totally nuts. I kind of think that containing structures help create a flow that makes things useful. Of course, that can be limit your access to things outside of your extant experience (in fact, I’d say that part of the reason I thought being on Pinterest was a good idea was to encourage myself to look outside my extant structure), but everyone seems to be about searching, and nobody is about sorting. Yet.
So I got what was probably a flu this weekend, but I draw on a deep (viscous, polychromatic) well of experience when I tell you that in terms of symptoms it was indistinguishable from bronchitis. Now I’m really behind on everything. Also, I still feel like I’m on drugs even though I’m not and I have had both a headache and two earaches during most of the day. It is. . . not ideal.
“Ramirez the vagabond.”
The great mass of cloud filling the head of the saved silver he rubbed his hands upon Decoud. On his reddish-brown face, worn, hollowed as if from another door, advanced, portly and anxious, inclining her fine, black-browed head, opening her arms, and got better after a moment while he sits and watches the light of investigation can ever reach the rudimentary intelligence of Pedro Montero, Chief of the populace, that would calm down slowly at last, were very complete, too. Sometimes on the same fanatical fearlessness with which he was not so intimate terms. But no one could look at the mobility of expression.
“My chronometer!” Captain Mitchell had been leaning in the obscure disarray of that girl,” he said to himself—
“Do you mean by impossible? I tell you I am going to propose my own conflicting emotions. And after all these Spanish Dons. He had told her, with no end of the world like a lost child crying in a straight course for all that foolishness, while he swam. He had to be calm. He tried to understand a word while he signed a few minutes ago, and I let him grow rich quicker now. He hesitated the space of a gaudy bathing robe, stood by, wearing a light engine, and had walked in advance, and gone cold all over in his hand, like a besieged city.
“Ha! Old Giorgio—the guardian of thine honour! Fancy the Vecchio coming upon me that if I may?”
“Eh! I have seen that. He had been cut off from the ground. At the turn of events. And it came into her heart, that sense even the most anxious and patriotic hero than ideas of adoration, of kissing the hem
Nostromo is fucking grim, but I think we’ve got a little of the goofiness that motivates Markov Garden in this one.
So this is the first text produced using the new Nokogiri-based HTML parser unassisted. The process of getting it to work found me looking at a lot of the individual paragraphs of Ulysses on their own, and it made me want to read the book again. We’ll see how long I hold on to that.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Ulysses, by James Joyce — I — Stately, plump Buck Mulligan wiped again his gem, turned it and put it neatly into her mouth, asking: –What time is that? –Seven d., sir… Thank you, sir. Mr Bloom said. The drain, you mean. –Drain? Lenehan said. It was an infinite great fall of dung, the breeders in hobnailed boots trudging through the meshes of his body laid. Dolor! O, he did. And Jacky Caffrey shouted to look, look, look, look: you look for some money somewhere? Dilly said. Give me my Wordsworth. Enter Magee Mor Matthew,
This is the best one of these that I have put up by some distance.