6 October 2015

Dear J—

There are of course a million other things that need to happen here soon and I’ll put them together just as soon as possible but for now I’ve got enough on my plate. There’s a reference letter, a receipt to turn in, the two reports and then maybe if there’s enough time, the job in Florida that’s been consuming all my time lately. How did it become this crazy?

So, first things first; let’s make sure that we can get the errand type things done because they won’t take long. After that, I think the legal job that I’ve been doing very much in slow motion over the past couple of days. Later we can discuss the effect of things but for now we’ll just have to live with what we’ve got. Finally this afternoon hopefully I can get enough time to put together the analysis and report, assuming that we’ve got enough smarts to know how to do wo.

Does that sound like a good plan? I hope it does enough. Otherwise we’ve got trouble brewing.



5 October 2015

Dear J—

Are these shoes too small? Are they too girly? What makes shoes girly anyway? Shoes are as cool or lame as you decide and although these particular shoes are too small (you can feel it pinching everywhere in the front part of the foot) I can’t say that they’re not worth it, especially since I’m riding with cleated pedals.

The joke is that there’s two kinds of people who ride with cleats: those who have fallen over because they’ve forgotten to twist (or what-have-you) out at stoplights and liars.

I’m not yet so unconscious of who and what and how but I do know that there’s a considerable amount of pressure and binding; maybe if I just … shorten this up. tie that down. Adjust this some more. Funny thing is how much time I’ve spent getting these shoes, and pedals, and cranks, and it still doesn’t feel quite the same as before. Perhaps what I should have done is kept the old cranks and just fitted new chainrings; wouldn’t htat have been easier? And yet no, the allure of new pedals could not be denied so easily. And very tight shoes. With fuschia accents. 

We’re fine. We’ll get through the day and onwards into tomorrow and beyond too; I just wonder how this wasn’t this tight when I was wearing the shoes yesterday, right?


Warning Way

2 October 2015

Dear J—

Well, things could have gone smoother yesterday but I got enough done and I’m okay with that. 

We rode back towards San Mateo yesterday from Hayward Park because the train ahead of us, NB159, had hit a car at the Broadway crossing in Burlingame, and then, according to Twitter, the car fled. I wonder how they might have done that: did a bumper get clipped, were they perhaps too far into the intersection, what is happening? It’s strange to me how you could stop a little too short or perhaps too late and then … just … nothing. No news. It’s sort of how my day went, how we had stuff to do and I chose to ignore it in favor of other things that were not as pressing but still need to be done and … well, you know what? Also needed to be done. That’s enough and I think I’m okay, considering how much other stuff lies on my plate lately.

We have enough as we go forward, and we’ll have enough at the close of this day, and enough after that too.


Chip Away

1 October 2015

Dear J—

Not Chips Ahoy although that sounds like it would be dry but sweet: chip away, gradually drip and get there. Get there from here; we’ll figure it out and finish what we’re doing without much grief. I owe several stacks of paper and we’ll hopefully be done before we know it. I think. There are a lot of distractors, true, but also a will to be won and reports to conquer. What else have you been doing lately? It always seems to come in spurts and drabs, but it’s looking a lot more likely now.

I will get to work today and write down what I need to finish by the end of the month, uh, yesterday, that is. Then a plan to get it done and we’ll be in good shape .



30 September 2015

Dear J—

I’m riding backwards today; there’s a thousand reasons not to but there’s extra people on the train and what else are you going to do? I’m hoping that it’s not going to leave me dizzy but that’s the price I have to pay for getting on later than others. So it goes. I can’t help but think that I’m going backwards, not just physically though. There’s a few report sections that I’m responsible for and I’ve been struggling with those, and there’s a thousand other things we’re responsible for, and … I should really stop cold turkey a lot of the bad habits I’ve developed over the past couple of years.

The truth is that I end up wasting a lot of time reading what other poeple write and undoubtedly that means internalizing their style and regurgitating it back onto the page in a sort of bastardized amalgam of words. What do I really know about x, or y  or z? Nothing, other than what I’ve read about it and I bet that if you went back and read something that I wrote (ten? fifteen? twenty?) years ago you’d be able to ask me what I was reading at the time and see that reflected on the page. 

I write at work in a sort of clinical, detached style which lends itself to all kinds of excitement regarding nothing at all, of course; you end up going passive-voice a lot in business and having to reteach yourself the active isn’t always the easiest thing, which is why editing Wikipedia and making illustrations is important: you get some practice, and you get … uh, more practice, since a lot of editors are content to tweak your grammar without boldly rewriting everything you do.



29 September 2015

Dear J—

Someone pointed out to me that since SVG is a file format that is essentially based on HTML (XML) you can’t really embed it in a webpage as part of a larger chunk and that doesn’t necessarily make sense, now that I think about it – haven’t they had things like frames and subsections for forever now? – but from a simplification sense, it makes perfect sense if you’re considering it as a technology to generate appropriately-scaled bitmaps on the fly.

Bitmaps are more easily understood: here is a coordinate, paint it this color, move on to the next pixel. I’m happy with that and I couldn’t tell you the number of times I used to play around on the pixel level, especially in SuperPaint (Silicon Beach Software). That program had a nice vector mode, though I was always intimidated by it and never used it much until I took some CADD classes later. Very obviously, we aren’t comfortable with the notion of vectors and control points. I wasn’t sure what to do with Bezier curves and handles for quite a while, not until I had to illlustrate my thesis and was forced to learn it through trial and error.

On the other hand, forced may be too strong a word to describe it; we could all simplify our lives by being honest and honestly, I did want to learn it, and honestly ,I do enjoy drawing with vectors, though I’m not at all certain how it benefits me when we’re talking work-wise, but I’ll stick with it as a fulfilling activity.



28 September 2015

Dear J—

When you were young and computer typefaces were bitmapped, the Macintosh came with a serif typeface called New York which was meant to be a close analog for Times New Roman. All the fonts were some sort of city, with Chicago, Geneva (Helvetica), Venice, Monaco (which I still find more readable than Courier) and others now lost to the sands of time, I suppose. The big innovation was the outline fonts that screens weren’t good enough to reproduce but which printed much nicer back in the System 7 days. After a while, you forgot what bitmaps were and whether or not you were even supposed to be paying attention to them.

I have problems on the weekend finding enough ways to occupy our time. Whe we first moved over we had routines carried over from San Diego: you’d get the kids in a stroller and push them down along the bridge to downtown and explore: here is Central Park, here are restaurants and shops and libraries, here is your new city, arrayed and ready for you to discover. Now if there’s any prevailing emotion it must be one of insistent certainty: I know, I know. I know I’m not going to enjoy this, and indeed, you won’t if that’s the attitude you’re taking. 

We end up disconnected and individually situated, no particular place to be and no particular agenda, just a few hours to kill between meals when we might bestir ourselves enough to be active. I suppose you can’t change the world overnight but that’s not what we’re asking, is it? There’s a long ton of activities we could do together and we just need the will to do so. Otherwise we risk being left behind as something new comes up and is adopted; are we the bitmaps or are we willing to be more?



25 September 2015

Dear J—

Well, it took the better part of a week but I’m finally doing some work now. Sort of. In the late afternoon. You let these things pile up and boy it’s like you’ve done nothing for the past week, or so it seems. Just like that. Meanwhile any ambition I might have had regarding getting it all done this week gets squeezed as we try to find the end of the week.

We can only keep mimicking work for so long, after all. The nails on my hands tell the tale; if I was serious about getting it done I wouldn’t have such long nails, which only get in the way as I type. On the other hand if I was really going after the lazy then I suppose all bets are off and we could only hope to be as vector-enabled and lightning-direct as we claim to be. There’s a fair amount of otherworldly work to be done, and sometimes the threat of that is enough to send me into a spiral of despair.


All Opposed

24 September 2015

Dear J—

We’re not in opposition on this one; there was a lady who got on the train at Menlo Park yesterday morning; she subjected the bicyclists in her way (you know, waiting to get off the bike car) as she was boarding and plopped down next to me, filling all spaces and interstices with her luggage (a roller bag, a duffel, her purse and one of those folding metal racks/handcarts you never see now with the advent of the built-in rollers. She wanted to know if you could walk to El Camino from the San Antonio stop as we were pulling up to it and I would have checked on my phone to show her but instead just nodded and helped her on her way.

This is what you have time for some days. Do you do an adequate job of driving on from there? How long did she walk, and did she curse my face every step of the way? Based on the nonspecific anecdotal evidence of last night, it may not have been an immediate curse, or the distance was relatively sustainable although it’s not immediately clear how long it took. She said she had waited for the bus, which never came, so I’m thinking ECR, which has an hourly frequency at that time? This time? Are you guessing and pretending again? AGAIN? 



23 September 2015

Dear J—

I got to say the phrase “frame relay” and hear the secret handshake word “hicap” in response yesterday, talking with another train rider and learning that he works for AT&T. To be honest I don’t remember too much about the telecom work that I did. Yes, the terms are familiar and I could probably write a few MUX messages given a bit of practice, but some of the hard-wired knowledge like DOW and WBDXC x NBDXC sounds like so much gibberish now.

In twenty years, will I be doing the same things and how much experience do you need to call yourself competent at it? When you fall asleep at night do you dream of what’s coming next? I haven’t thought of ways to remember dreams well enough but I know that lately I end up collapsing into bed more often than not, and sleeping blackly until the alarrm prods me forward, thinking that my time is mine and not to be sacrificed on the altar of some great indifferent fate.

I have to reevaluate what is truly mine, after all. If I can spend so much time thinking about and living with, then I can certainly spend more time together and disconnected.



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