War Cry

Dear J-

You identify the need first, then a means to achieve it. I have ill-defined goals in my life, like learning a particular software program (Inkscape) so I can create vector art in the style of Tlingit carvings in order to illustrate a particularly resonant story (Natsilane); with perfect justification I went ahead and got a laptop to execute the plan, thinking that of course I’d need to have some sort of tablet-like stylus and this leads down a primrose path of good intentions (from there, inevitably, upgrade to a SSD, do you have enough RAM, what distribution of Linux is most convenient?) and the result is I’ve got a couple of laptops sitting on the side table that haven’t been cracked open in weeks, if not months. Surprisingly, this is not much of an improvement over the past, but at least this time the laptops are working models.

I’ve got a million such unfinished projects, and this dates back to growing up when I’d never quite be done with something, or when I’d figure a good start is nearly finished (case in point: the BMW M6 model I begged for and badgered until I got, whereupon I couldn’t bring myself to finish after I discovered how fiddly little plastic pieces could be when you’re trying to do it right). This has direct analogs to my later life, when I got a paper model kit of a Mercedes (540K?) that sat, half-finished in the closet and moved on around from North Park to Clairemont Mesa to the recycling, one of these things I started before kids and never finished afterwards. There’s a fairly steep loss of interest with time and effort that I never appreciate.

Yesterday I found the name and thesis of Chiang Kai-Shek’s great-grandson, who completed a PhD at Berkeley; you put his name into Google and it will spit back an address in the hills, and I stopped there wondering why I’d gone so far. To what purpose did I take it that far? I suppose I thought of comparing notes — our time there overlapped, and there were similarities in our backgrounds, too. Does this happen to you as well? I fall far enough down the Wikipedia rabbit hole some days that I’m editing some of the entries based on research and articles I find; that particular one was dug up by learning about the assassination of Henry Liu in Daly City, circa 1984 (there were allegations at the subsequent criminal trial the order was given by one of CKS’s grandsons). There’s a lot of information about … well, everything if you’re willing to dig in and stick to it, so … all right?

Mike

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