15 February 2009

Gdansk for the memories.

During my recent travels I got hold of an ASUS 900 (tiny little notebook running Linux) and have generally been thrilled with it. Despite having hands the size and dexterity of canned hams, I adapted to the keyboard acceptably well. The tasks I need to perform respond with the same speed as the older, larger computer I had. An 8 gig SD card gives me ample storage for my work, as I only need to write, look at the internet, and occasionally make slide shows (I'm resisting that one with all my might, and when they must occur, I try to make "anti-powerpoints" following the hints from Guy Kawasaki).

I fiddled a bit trying to find sources for Gimp and Inkscape, then discovered that they were in the usual install page. But this afternoon, while typing up some manuscript pages (a task I put off until Sweetness gives the ultimatum of "type or do housework") I noticed that I had misspelled a word in a flagrant way. I mean, bad enough to be seen without my glasses, yet there was no red squiggly line betraying the error. Somehow, the only dictionary installed was Polish / Russian, and I couldn't convince it to go fetch an English one. So, I debated about scrapping the installed Linux for some alternative distribution, but everything else works just fine for me, so I'm debating about replacing Star Office 8 with OpenOffice 3, or going back to writing with LaTeX.

06 February 2009

Wild Bill

Today is William S. Burroughs' 95th birthday. I notice that every few years, and dig through my archives for a text file or PDF of his works, get all fired up about the notion that writing doesn't need to be a strict, linear, button-downed construct of pre-planned, scientifically proven effective monotony. Somehow though, the notion doesn't stay with me for more than a couple of days, and I end up in the same rut, unable to cut loose and just make shit up.

23 January 2009

Land of the Morbidly Obese

I am, for an undisclosed period of time, back in the US. As I am cleaning up and getting rid of some of the stuff I left in storage, I decided to type up my notes from the flight here, so that I can get rid of that much paper.

31 December 2008 10:00 a.m.
They refused to even let me bring the Red Bull to the departure lounge, so I chugged it all at the security counter. If they don't pull a jet up to the door in five minutes, I might just flap my arms and fly my own damn self to the connection in Beijing.

I swear that was Tom Waits that just walked by, or maybe some variant of Orthodox Jew.

We're 10,000 meters above Siberia. The seatback screen says it's -80°. "Free Bird" isn't the most comforting thing to hear on the armrest headphones.

22 August 2008


Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics never fails to crack me up. I'm linking this one, because the pattern is classic: polysyllabic discussion of psychological or philosophical analysis of a pertinent issue, ended with an utterance that reverses that impression. So, while those around me struggle to discern what the set-up means, I'm chuckling about "Boners Ahoy" and yet feeling smug because I think I understand something intellectual.

15 August 2008

Prescience & Caffeine

Somewhere in the past, I blathered on here about making adjectives from names, and used Kafka's name as an example. At one point, I tried to coin the term "Kafkarotic" and combine my limited knowledge of the author with pornographic stories.

Today, I noticed mention that Kafka indeed collected The Amethyst/Opals, which the article seems to indicate is a porn magazine.

The scholars interviewed didn't seem as shocked as the opening few paragraphs expected. I'm intrigued about the magazine itself. That's a cool title. Of course, the first person I ever had sex with was born in February, and collected amethysts (the birth stone for February), so perhaps I associate that word with the erotic for that reason. Whatever.

13 August 2008

Song of the South

In our neighborhood, there are at least four people whose job consists of pedaling a cart around all the side alleys and lanes, calling for junk. They buy old bottles, broken appliances, and God-only-knows what else1.

The reason I mention them is because the other day, a previously unheard voice went by, and as I lay here, trying not to die (the heat and humidity are that bad), my brain tricked me into believing that he was singing, and that I ought to recognize that tune. So, he pedaled around, asking for washing machine parts, and finally, I blurted out the next line of an old Flock of Seagulls song: "I was falling in love."

About an hour later, a woman went by, and I swear she was singing the tune for "Here Comes the Bride" with Chinese lyrics.

After a couple of hours of naming those tunes, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with that activity. Might it be racist in some way to hear only echoes of synthpop in the local language?

Then Sweetness came home, and as we were playing cards, she heard them outside, and said, "Southerners sound like they're singing all the time when they talk."

"What are they saying?" I asked.

"Who knows?"

1 - I suppose anyone who speaks the same dialect knows what they buy, but I know about two dozen words of Mandarin, let alone unknown southerner talk.

The creative spark

I just saw this video (I'm assuming it will embed above this text) of Josh Lesnick creating the latest installment of Girly. Artists fascinate me. The process fascinates me. A blank page (or screen) getting filled with the results of gestures, and those results suggest a form beyond a two-dimensional, black-and-white bit of scribbling is just short of miraculous to me. Maybe it's because my own attempts didn't turn out this way, so I gave up.

Oh, that's right, I didn't mention the Ira Glass videos. He says, somewhere in there, that it's important to keep on with whatever endeavor you start with, even if you suck at it, because continued practice is the only way to eventually not suck. It's one of those concepts that you hear from birth (or very nearly) and never really comprehend until you're over 40, far from home, and drinking heavily because everything you attempt falls short of your desires.

So, the Wacom tablet will become more than a replacement for the dying touch-pad on this machine, until I realize I'm using that notion as a mental dodge to get around doing the work writing requires. Oh well.