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beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Archive for April, 2009

A malign and mysterious force

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Something is conspiring to keep me from reaching Utah for my open water certification.  Just before Africa, I intended to go, but had a headcold, which precluded diving.  Then this most recent time, I had what turned out to be an abscess on my leg (ew) which required lancing (ew ew) and thus precluded diving.  Aaaargh!

In other news, I’ve begun reading Silas Marner, which Katie has well-described as “Eliot Lite”.  It contains this quote, which I think well-captures my feelings since coming out here, sometimes more, sometimes less, but always to a degree:

Even people whose lives have been made various by learning, sometimes find it hard to keep a fast hold on their habitual views of life, on their faith in the Invisible, nay, on the sense that their past joys and sorrows are a real experience, when they are suddenly transported to a new land, where the beings around them know nothing of their history, and share none of their ideas—where their mother earth shows another lap, and human life has other forms than those on which their souls have been nourished.


Monday, April 27th, 2009

I’m there again.  Sick, again, of being here.  I’m enjoying Austin being here, but I know he’ll be leaving and, frankly, I want to leave with him.  There are a lot of things that go into this.  One which I know is contributing to my foul mood, but which I think I should discount, is the simple fact that when I am working on a software project and it feels blocked (in this case, by my inability to grok the stupid stupid world of GUIs and the particular brain-dead library I’m using, because it’s the only thing with good sound-playing support I could find), my mood gets real bad—I enter a pretty persistent funk matched only by the joy I get on the other side, when I make things work.  But in the realm of GUIs, there’s something profoundly unsatisfying about getting them to work; it’s just fiddly crap, not satisfying wrapping-your-head-around-an-algorithm stuff.

So that’s part of it.  But part of it is feeling intensely like, despite being here, going out, doing things, trying to be here in an honest fashion, and trying this for 6 months, I’m still not succeeding.  I have made beginnings of friendships, and shied back from them, or found them uninteresting—even out of the people I knew back East who are out here, I’ve seen all but one of them, managed a few times, and then, really, lost interest.

And then, on the other side, I need more singing.  I think if I had managed to keep going to Meeting, I might have enjoyed the occasional singing there, but it runs deeper than that in any case.

There’s the one thing that really gives me pause, though, and that is the fact that my job is basically awesome, and it’s hard to envision a better way to be employed*.  So… do I risk that?

(A somewhat strange realization: one of the things I am particularly missing right now is late long summer evenings on Karl’s porch singing and picking.  It’s almost bringing tears to my eyes right now.)

* I choose my words carefully; for me, the idea of working for someone else is a little strange, since I grew up with self-employed parents doing something that they basically made up.  This seems to me the ideal.

And again

Monday, April 27th, 2009

More snow when I woke up this morning.  It’s getting ridiculous.

Also, life is happening, but I’ll post about it later, when I have interesting things to say.


Friday, April 17th, 2009

I love the weather here; the snow has been coming down all day, and it’s magical outside.  I could deal with a lovely long winter, I think; though this has had days like hiking in a t-shirt on my birthday (January 19) and an interlude in Africa…

Speaking of which, I hope people have liked the pictures.  I have little more to say about the trip, despite having given a slideshow of it to my coworkers today.  It’s more a collection of little observations than a narrative.  However, one observation I’ve consistently forgotten to mention, and which I want to not forget, is the practice of the people who walk along the street selling things: they make a sort of kissing noise, or rattle a bunch of coins together in their hands, both in a distinctive fashion that’s hard to convey in words.  That’s half of it; the other thing they do is speak in a way that my inner phonetician would love to study, when hawking their wares—it’s with a constricted vocal tract, particularly the larynx, it sounds like, and at a lower pitch than normal speech.

In other news, Rosetta Stone had its IPO the other day; pretty exciting, but also kinda ugly-feeling.  I can’t figure out quite what I mean, but I think it’s basically that I dislike the stock market and things connected to it; it just feels vacuous.  On the other hand, we got to start the day at work with donuts and champagne, which was hilarious.


Monday, April 13th, 2009

Ugh, I’ve been meaning to write about Tanzania, but I just don’t know how.  It doesn’t seem to lend itself to narrative very well.  One thing I have been telling people, a highlight of the trip, was staying with a retired Tanzanian general with whom I am somehow related (getting euro-interpretable kinship terms from Tanzanians can be exciting, given the poor mapping between English and Swahili kinship terms).  He is pretty awesome, very calm and unassuming and clearly connected like crazy; when we were stuck in the horrible traffic of Dar es Salaam, trying to get to the ferry to Zanzibar, he got it to wait 10 minutes for us.

For more, see my pictures.


Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I returned from Africa a few days ago.  The shift from Tanzanian heat and humidity to snow on the streets of Boulder was jarring, but pleasant.  I’ll post about the trip over the next few days, when I get on top of all the busy-ness again.

Also, pictures forthcoming.