blerg

Jun. 21st, 2013 11:39 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I dunno. It's been a couple of weeks, more or less, and I'm not feeling particularly inspired. Work, gaming, counselor appointments, running. Life, you know? I still feel ... not stuck, but stalled.

Way back in spring I threw money at Con Or Bust in exchange for custom-printed business cards. I finally got around to providing a design for those last week, and will be picking them up at Readercon I hope. Since I included a URL on the cards I went ahead and registered wordsareinadequate.com and pointed it to my Dreamwidth profile page. I'll do something more real with it eventually. Possibly once I start writing again.

Around Father's Day I realised that it's now been as long since Pop Shackelford's death (11/2005) as it was from Gram's (04/1998) to Pop's. It felt like a lifetime between Gram & Pop, and it still feels like Pop only died maybe a couple of years ago. Course, from 1998 to 2005 I was in kind of a state of flux, and with notably rare exceptions 2005-present have been remarkably stable. Time is weird, is all I'm saying.

O yes, Readercon. I found a flight for sufficiently cheap that I'm willing to pay for it, so I'll be in Boston (well, Burlington) come mid-July. I think it'll be good for me. I'm looking forward to seeing people, and being immersed in genre, and traveling in general.



101 in 1001 update )

post-beach

May. 25th, 2010 02:28 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Martin Gardner, RIP. Pop's copies of (some of) Gardner's collected Mathematical Games columns from Scientific American made math fun, although I never associated them with "math" as a discipline. (What do you mean, I could make that into a vocation?) And Annotated Alice is an absolute classic, and you are seriously missing out if you've not read it.

Last week was my gaming group's annual week-long beach trip. It's starting to feel a bit more, I don't know, like a normal thing to do. Like I can go and just relax, and not worry so much about being surrounded by people.

It was fun. )

Work is very much not the beach. Even if they let me go barefoot most of the time.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Fascinating:
The people of southern Louisiana. . . consider their culture unique, inherently interesting, and more fun than that of fellow Southerners who live in the Bible Belt north of Alexandria, Louisiana, and across northern Mississippi and Alabama. Their cultural and linguistic affinities run east and west along the Gulf of Mexico, and Northern Louisiana might as well be a separate state. This divide shows up in the pronounciation of the state name, with northern Louisiana favoring four syllables beginning [luz-] and southern Louisiana favoring five syllables beginning [luiz-].

--Connie Eble, "The Englishes of southern Louisiana." Available in "English in the Southern United States," eds. Nagle and Sanders.

(Pop, who insisted that "it wasn't named for Louise," was from Jones, which is about three miles from the Arkansas border.)

[Poll #1458385]

Ran two miles on Monday morning despite not having been out running in two weeks, which I figured meant I was in decent shape. Today, struggled to get through one, and after a bit of cooldown made it most of a second. I am saddened to report that They're right when They say it's not the heat, it's the humidity. 90% is nobody's friend even if it's 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe Friday will go better.
jazzfish: A cartoon guy with his hands in the air saying "Woot." (Woot.)
And here I expected it to be clouded over tonight. But I wandered out anyway just to see . . . and it's clear as anything out there. Just a couple of stars for ambience, and the moon a thumbnail sliver below a round red shadow.

The red surprises me, I'm used to the darker blue one sees in photos. But it's definitely reddish-brown here, as though the moon's devouring a tasty round brownie.

At what must have been Xmas 1982 or '83, we were in Arkansas (so, my first or second Xmas after Germany, and thus my first or second stateside Xmas that I can recall) during a lunar eclipse. Pop had just gotten a really nice camera and tripod that year, and he stayed up to take photos of the eclipse. I, on the other hand, was sent to bed because six-year-olds simply don't stay up that late. (It was going to be around one in the morning, I think.) I didn't see the photos for another year or so, but they turned out quite nicely. I imagine someone's got them stashed away somewhere. Mom, probably, or maybe Susan.

Four and a half years ago I got to watch the last lunar eclipse as I was coming back to Blacksburg, to start making a mess of a summer. The moon shone brightly enough, even with the shadow, to be seen through the fog over 460. There's probably a metaphor in there, but I was too shadowed myself to see it.

I think there's an eclipse of the earth scheduled during tomorrow's corporate meeting.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Duke Shackelford, Pop's younger brother, died in his sleep last night. I think I'm now almost entirely out of relatives of my grandparents' generation; there's Grandmother Taylor, and a great-aunt in Lubbock who I've not seen in close to twenty years.

I didn't know Uncle Duke well. I saw him on the occasions when we went down to north Louisiana to visit my great-grandmother, but those stopped when she died (early high school, I think). He was one of the few relatives to send me any sort of high school graduation gift. I saw him at Gram's funeral in early '98, and twice two years ago for Pop's party and then funeral. He looked a lot like Pop. Talking to him felt like talking to Pop, too: same inflection and north Louisiana drawl, same quiet manner, same dry humor.

This isn't as bad as last year, or the year before. I'd really like to get through next fall without losing any more relatives, though.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
A joyous (edit: late) Sunreturn to you all, and a reminder that axial tilt is the reason for the season.

Dennis Hartley, who occasionally posts movie reviews at Digby's place, reminded me of the best Christmas movie ever. "Well. What family doesn't have its little problems?" Next year I shall begin a Tradition of watching it in the company of cool people. (The rest of this holiday season being rather full already.)

The awesomest thing I got this Xmas I didn't actually get at all. My parents gave me a smallish box with some rocks inside it ("to give it some weight"), and also a short note. The note said that they've taken Pop's old clock (now mine) into a clock repair shop, in order to have its innards ripped out and replaced with functional ones. Apparently when the clock was made the mechanism was delicate enough that it needed to be sitting Perfectly Level, or else. And, well, it wasn't, for many years.

I suspect that when they fix it they'll actually fix it, and thus remove the coolest aspect of the clock. On the fifteen, thirty, and forty-five minutes it plays one, two, and three bars of Westminster Chimes. On the hour it plays all four bars and then supposedly chimes the hour. My earliest memories of this clock involve it chiming one extra time each hour. Sometime in the late eighties Gram and Pop took it to a repair shop and had it "fixed" so it would chime correctly. Eleven times out of twelve, anyway. At one o'clock it would chime thirteen times.

I got Dad the llama movie, so we watched that after lunch. It's an anomaly among Disney films: there's only one musical number (the opening credits), the kids have two parents, and there's a great deal of actually witty banter. "Why do we even have that lever?" "I really hope this doesn't come back to haunt me later." The whole "Don't tell me. Waterfall dead ahead" conversation. David Spade is bloody annoying but other than that it's a great deal of fun.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Just finished reading Robert Penn Warren's absolutely brilliant All the King's Men, an American political novel based loosely on the life of Louisiana graftsman and governor Huey Long. Huey's become mildly fascinating to me in the last couple of weeks; I suspect I need to track down the 1970 biography. Anyway, yesterday or today it occurred to me that Pop Shackelford grew up in Louisiana, and would have been nineteen when Huey was shot. One more thing I can't ask about.



Ten-year high school reunion on Satyrday night. I went and looked over the list of people likely to show up (the ones who've written with brief bios of what they've been doing for the last ten years), and it suddenly hit me that I just don't care about (we'll be generous and say) 80% of my classmates. I'm unsure why I spent actual money for the privilege of standing around with them. Maybe I should go to the winter guard reunion lunch after all.



The Taylor family Thanksgiving movie this year ended up being Goblet of Fire. It was all right. About five minutes in I realised I was disliking it simply because the story wasn't self-contained; it took me another three hours to generalise that into "I dislike most stories that aren't self-contained." This just comes out most clearly in movies, where you can be utterly immersed in the world and trips to the Department of Backstory[1] stick out as the devices they clearly are. (Film for the most part hasn't gotten beyond voice-overs and "As you know, Bob.") The techniques tend to be smoother in books, somehow, or maybe I'm just more used to and accepting of them. Food for thought.

[1] Thanks to the wondrous [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda for that phrase.



Mom finally got in from Arkansas yesterday; Dad and a trailerload of stuff arrived, oh, about a week ago. Maybe two. The house is filled with boxes of stuff; the garage, packed full of unfamiliar furniture. Disconcerting.



Handed in my two-week notice at Walden's a week ago. Manager churn coupled with typical useless holiday help resulted in the store being an utter wreck, and I have no desire to be told to put it right for my measly pay. Measliness of said pay having been driven home on the discovery that said useless holiday help makes roughly 15% more than I do. This I don't need.



Thankful? I'm thankful I'm able to write. I'm thankful I've got good friends, and family. I'm thankful I'm not outside. I'm thankful I'm not who I was ten years ago.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Quick note before I fall off the face of the earth again. Mom should be here in about half an hour to pick me up. Jamie's driving down tomorrow, with baby Kylie, and driving back on Sunday or Monday, so I'll probably catch a ride back with her. (It's anyone's guess when Mom will go home, and Dad is unfortunately in Geneva for a few weeks.) Pop (James William Shackelford) was Mom's father; his wife Gram (Frances Adele Bergholm Shackelford) died in spring '98. So far they're the only extended family I've lost since I've been able to remember, except for two great-grandparents that I met all of about twice.



Still not entirely sure how I feel. I had a lot of respect for Pop, and I'll miss him, but ultimately I didn't know him all that well. (Distance in space and in time, and neither of us were all that talkative.) I've still got memories: catching catfish on Jake Lake when I was ten or eleven, sitting in the den just being there with him and Gram, watching his face when he opened Christmas presents. As for books, he gave me Foundation; I gave him David Eddings, whose stuff he liked enough to read through the entire Belgariad and Malloreon at least once.

It's the house, the sense of place, that I'll miss most. I hadn't realised how much emotion and memory I'd invested in that house until last Thanksgiving, seeing how much it'd changed in seven years without Gram. And there'll be pictures, but a snapshot of the green carpet and the white-and-black tile floor doesn't convey how you had to run across the tile in winter to avoid freezing your feet. The glass-top table, with the clink of tiles and Gram saying "Well, if you don't have anything you want to discard, then you must've Mah-Jongged." That horrible organ (electric, I assume), the walls and walls of books, the clock that chimed the hour plus one (until it got "fixed," and then it chimed correctly except for one o'clock, when it chimed thirteen). The ridiculously steep driveway and my first taste of honeysuckle. And dogs, dogs, dogs: the only dogs I've ever liked lived at Pop's, and were without exception calm, quiet beasts. (I have an odd memory of a half-dozen hunting dogs yapping and jumping excitedly inside the dog pen, from when I was, oh, seven or eight and Pop still went deer-hunting. That is literally the only time I can recall any of Pop's dogs barking loudly or moving faster than a brisk trot.) Heidi and Oley and Underdog and Sissy and Dobie and probably several I'm forgetting.



Salon has made the entire Caedmon collection of Dylan Thomas recordings (eleven CDs) available for download (sit through their silly ad once and you can then get all the files); listening to "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" and "A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London" didn't help precisely, but was neat regardless.

I'll try to check mail and LJ but I really don't know if the 'net will still be on or not. Have fun.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Pop died earlier this afternoon.

I expect I'll be going out of town tomorrow. It may be a bit later than Friday before results are posted. Keep 'em coming.

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.

--UKL, "The Creation of Éa"

To live til you die
Is to live long enough.

--Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching (UKL, trans.)
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Sleet outside, all grey and cold and miserable. Time to break out the winter coat. I'm just glad I stopped to change into long pants this morning.

Still no computer; going to swing by PCLand (home of computer equipment and salespeople with iffy English; between me not being entirely sure what I want and not being entirely able to communicate it, this should be an Experience) after work.

I've been amusing myself by learning perl at work (again). It's incredibly useful for things like 'change these forty config files so that they point at a different server' or 'make twenty copies of this batch file with a slightly different filename for each.' It's also fun, in that way that developing new or long-forgotten abilities is, and the programs I've been writing are short enough that even the debugging is fun (that is, the things work properly after only a bit of hammering on).

Spent, um, weekend before last in Arkansas, at Pop's ninetieth birthday party. Pop's always been exceptionally healthy (despite a limp left over from polio when he was a baby), so seeing him at ninety, three days out of the hospital for a UTI and coughing a lot (the words 'congestive heart failure' were bandied about in low tones) was something of a shock. He seemed to be doing a lot better by the time Dad and I left on Sunday, though, so maybe he'll see ninety-one after all. And despite Pop's condition this trip to Helena was a lot less harsh than the one at Thanksgiving: partly because Gram's death finally hit me then and it's sunk in by now, but mostly because Susan's college-age kids (my cousins), Paul and Alice, were there. Paul's doing a largeish (semester-long? year-long?) project on technological innovations in utopian science fiction; I pointed him at Dispossessed and Trouble on Triton but I don't know if he'll have time to read them, and Alice was reading Lord of the Rings for the first time. So, y'know, peers. Nice to have.

I'm exceeding happy that I went to the party: among other things, I finally got a chance to tell Pop thanks for casually handing me his copy of the Foundation trilogy when I was about ten, and thus kickstarting me into the world of Real Grown-Up science fiction.

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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