A conversation in the middle of the night with me and S, then again the next day with me and Simon.
to be explained
The Portland Castles just spent a week in Kaua'i, and it was pretty fantastic.
to be continued
Had a great day riding at Black Rock Mountain Biking Area instead of working today. It was good to see that much of my skills for more difficult descents remains functional. It was annoying to recognize the degree to which my fitness is not up to snuff for the climbs. Even more frustrating is the degree to which joint pain is now also a limiting factor on top of just needing to expand cardio and strength.
Obviously, more training is required, to see what kind of shape I can manage to get into before Whistler this summer. But, still, it does cause me to consider my own physical reality, and how an e-MTB might alleviate some of that to allow more riding overall.
Perhaps that drastic a step (and controversial amongst my riding crew) can wait until I actually need to keep up with Simon and/or Violet. Perhaps.
While it has been a while, there was a time when much of my artistic imagery was of a monstrous version of myself. It evolved over the years, but the key features manifested in my early 20's in the form above. A stylized werewolf. This came from an internal development that felt poignant to me in my teens.
There was a recurring nightmare I had for the majority of Grade 10, where I would be walking somewhere alone, at night, and find myself hunted down. The details varied: the setting being the woods or streets or hallways or whatever, the sense of being followed would grow gradually or it could snap suddenly with a grim knowledge, and the end could be a grueling chase with endless desperation until I was torn apart or it could be a flash of panic and jolting awake.
At first I never saw what was chasing me, but then I generally had a good, horrifying look at the Thing. Then the nightmare developed a deeply creepy echo-nightmare: after I woke in a cold sweat and fell back asleep, I dreamt that I had found the source of my torment and so I chased it down and killed it. It felt like the original nightmare had reached the limits of how terrified I could be, so the follow-up seemed to by trying new ways to mess with me. The thing that I chased and killed exposed depths of rage I was horrified to feel. The penultimate twist was when the thing that enraged me started to more obviously resemble myself.
Honestly, it wasn't until years later when I first started retelling this experience that it occurred to me how blatantly obvious and cliché this all sounds.
The final shift eventually came one night when, just as the first nightmare was starting to get into swing, I recognized that I was in that nightmare. Almost casually, I wondered if I really needed to hunt myself down twice and experience it from both sides. Which, I should be clear, I had not actually realized was the case before - either asleep or awake. It felt like the two nightmares sort of, well, melted into me. Still asleep, I decided to be the Thing - and I reveled in a sense of super-powered romping through the neighbourhood and nearby woods.
From then on, the lucid dreaming became the norm. And I still have them, from time to time. I still cherish my taloned alternate existence.
But there's more to it. Because the original nightmares had their own particular origin, even though they grew to encompass all of my own self-loathing and sense of being an outcast and random other bits of teenage angst. That origin was the movie: Silver Bullet.
I was 12, and I watched it at an acquaintance's house one summer night. It's pretty good, though when I got S to watch it she was far from impressed. The ride home afterwards, in the dark, was unbelievably terrifying. My imagination was in overdrive, and the sense of being chased was clearly traumatizing. So, that much is pretty obvious.
What is less obvious is the way the story stuck in my head. Because the characters were interesting and fairly well-developed, it was easy to get in the heads of who they were supposed to be. The main character was simply too charming and brave for me to identify with, even though I liked him a lot. The sister (cousin?) was cool, and I couldn't believe myself to be like that either. Neither could I see myself in the quirky and fun uncle. No, I found myself writhing with a sense of understanding the werewolf.
The werewolf spent most of its existence just trying to fit in. It did its best to be the best person in the whole town. It worked at being generous, and being people's friend, at being helpful. It's just that sometimes it couldn't help but become something that everybody absolutely hated. And everybody hated it, and worked together to get rid of it. Until finally it lashed out in an obvious way and it could be gotten rid of, because that path of lashing out was a trap. The bias of this view is faintly ridiculous, but it represents how it wormed into my head. It is also seductive to imagine being powerful, because I spend much of my teenage years being forced over and over again to admit I was less powerful than the bullies.
So that's how lycanthropy became a personal metaphor for self-loathing, but also a symbol of how I claimed my own power and grew to accept myself.
I've only recently heard about Mayer Pete, and his candidacy for President. And, well, wow.
S put it best when she described him as being focused on mindful process, instead of clinging to particular issues. And how it's like he's functioning from his center instead of from fear or need. It's Obama-esque. And it's rather exciting.
"That's not how it works."
I'm squinting, even more than usual, struggling to understand. My huge, fuzzy Orbodun partner persist with the questioning. I can hear his fear underneath his impatience, and it echoes my own. "What? So you're saying that you don't have to know the plan in order to follow instructions?"
The medically incapacitated Takolee is only capable of conversing via direct contact with his internal comms, which might be what makes his texted responses come across as, shall we say, snippy?. "No, you towering mound of unreasoning fluff. IT knows what I'm going to do better than I do, that's the whole point. IT never gives me good instructions. Nev-ver. IT gives me cryptic suggestions, and I always end up doing exactly what IT wants. Every uncle-zarking time. There is no double-crossing. There is no second-guessing. Just the implacable hand of fate moving people like game pieces."
"So, lots of mathematician stages?" I hear my partner state the obvious, but it doesn't fit the gravitas of the Takolee's desperation.
"Zarking NO. You think mathematician, and you think probabilities and really good guesses. I've done jobs to fuck with scary mathematicians, and while they tend to not make mistakes they are still limited by reality - you can get at them by sneaking in the really improbable cracks. This is more than that. IT isn't making shrewd calculations, IT just zarking knows."
Having this conversation purely in text means that I'm much easier to understand, even as it mutes the Takolees ability to emote. "Just knowing stuff... that sounds like a mentalist."
Itty bitty black eyes roll in my partners fuzzy face. "Missionaries are still robots, right? They don't get access to mentally-based abilities."
An awkward thought saunters into my few-track mind. "It could totally have arranged broad access to a powerful mentalist, though. Mix that in with a handful of stages of mathematician, and the big bastards going to - pardon me if I don't get the quote totally right - just zarking know a lot of stuff."
The long sigh that flows out of the Orbodun's nostrils is a ripe mix of appreciation and fear. For my own part, I deliberately verify my connection with my mini-missionary weapons to reassure myself that the monster isn't near. I have no idea of what to do now.
The Orbodun is laughing? I crane my head around to take a better look, to see how badly he's cracked. He's reaching up with a massive paw to wipe a mirthful tear from one side of his scarred muzzle.
"What's going on?" Oh, right - the Takolee can't actually hear anything.
My partner shifts his own guarded position to reach over and make his own direct connection with the limp Takolee in my satchel. "Sorry, I was overcome with the beauty of it all."
The Orbodun really has cracked, because that makes no sense at all. I feel an awkward lump in my heart as I contemplate putting him out of his misery.
He must have sensed something, because he catches my eye with his own gaze, and shakes his head meaningfully. He's got a look of pity about him. Is he pitying me, or the Takolee... or all of us?
"So, basically, this means that your master sent you specifically to get caught by us. Intentionally, so that you could say this to us." He's looking at me pretty deliberately. He's saying something more to me than just these words to the Takolee.
"Yeah, I get that IT basically sent me to die. I never thought the day would come, because I'm so useful, but I have never doubted for a moment that if I were to die it would be ITs will."
"Ha. No." A beatific smile creases the Orbodun's muzzle. "It sent you as a messenger."
"What message? That you're just as zarked as I am? Great. Glad to be of service."
"Pissy, aren't we? We're going to let you go now."
We are? Dammit, I'm having a hard time swallowing this idea. I do a new sweep of the park to catalogue all potential observers and rank them threat-wise. It's a long list of small numbers.
"You're going to do what now?" While the Takolee is incredulous, the Orbodun pings me to do the thing. So I extract the Takolee-damping dart after giving the RELEASE command.
The Takolee is out of the satchel so fast I have difficulty moving my various pointy bits out of its way so that it doesn't hurt itself (any further). Then it's behind a tree and lost to sensors in the blink of an eye.
In the subsequent stillness after that flurried moment, the Orbodun and I gaze worriedly at each other. Probably for totally different reasons.
"So, where to first?"
I bring a talon to gingerly scratch at an itch on my snout. "Well, I suppose it makes the most sense to finish off the shift of your weapon configuration with that annoyingly capable technician."
While the Orbodun is nodding, the Takolee reappears from behind a totally different tree. "Wait. So not only did you let me go, and you're not trying to chase me, you're actually going to wander directly into the place you were sure was a trap? I am clearly missing something."
With a cock of my ear and and a sideways glance, I regard the Takolee. "You still smell terrified. Maybe we're misleading you with casual banter while we actually plan on tracking you by scent. Again." The Orbodun expresses his frustration with me by coving his face with a giant shaggy paw.
The Takolee is quite discomfited. That's a word, right? He's agitated - even for a Takolee. "No, you immense talking sphincter, I'm worried because I'm missing something - and I Don't Miss Things."
While I'm trying to formulate a joke about that being the Orbodun's line - him being a sniper and all - he goes and intercedes. "Well, really, you explained it perfectly well. This super-powerful missionary we're in the orbit of, there's nothing we can do to out-maneuver it. Regardless of whether it's math or magic, it will always be a step ahead of us. And I think it's pretty clear that we can't fight it head-on, considering that lesser missionaries easily kicked our asses. So it gave our Massetin friend here very few options."
I snort at that. Not entirely intentionally; the frustration is still bitter in the back of my throat.
"What options? I told you that you're zarked."
The Orbodun gives a patient chuckle. "True, you did say that. But why? Does this extremely powerful missionary have a habit of toying with people? Unlikely; that's a sign of insecurity, and that doesn't fit. Does it?"
The Takolee is uncharacteristically still. "No. Now that you mention it, it really doesn't. Now I'm even more confused."
"Well, because it must be trying to warn you to go away - right? But it doesn't do that; it just makes people go away before they even know they're at risk. I was so freaked out by feeling like I had screwed up..."
"Right, you must have gone a long time without getting tripped up, it would throw anybody off. But no, it's not a warning. I mean, it could be if we wanted it to be, and we probably wouldn't be worth chasing - but we'd never really know and it would suck. No, there's another side to the message you present."
"You both are zarking annoying. Just say something straight, damn it."
I grimace and say it. "It's a job offer."
Shout-out to my new online obsession. Love, Death, & Robots
I've been trying and failing for a while now to translate my feelings regarding extremists, particularly white power, and have to admit that it's still mostly just incoherent disgust.
But this SMBC strip is an amusing approximation.
Recently I've found myself sucked into a new science fiction series called "The Murderbot Diaries". Honestly, I felt it was worth peeking at purely for the title. That same irreverence is carried satisfyingly throughout the tone of the stories I've read so far. Also compelling is the very insightful way in which a sense of social awkwardness and profound introversion is lived by the main character.
I give it two assault blaster rifles firing celebratory shots into the air (without consideration for habitat structural integrity).
It's hard to admit that all you see your company leadership does as being easily replaced with a simple set of annoying alarms and buzzers.
One more year of this shit, and I'm transforming all of my efforts for self-improvement outside of the company.
The path to inner peace is
not my fucking problem.
This was my favourite quote after a week of collaboration training in Atlanta. The best parts were facilitated by a troupe called Banding People Together, which was a musically-themed approach built around a novel personality assessment resource. It was rather compelling, even to someone as innately skeptical as myself, and despite my being jaded by personality assessments as the spouse of a clinical psychologist inevitably is.
The quote, however, was actually from one of my fellow participants. There were about 200 of us, from all corners of Daimler and Mercedes in North America, and it was an impressively high-functioning crew.
As an avid consumer of stylized violence in my entertainment, I have a diverse and detailed understanding of how fighting can be shown. The purpose of the myriad of styles is to convey feelings rooted in some primal corners of the human brain. Such fantasies have a lot of ways to be interesting.
My rather limited understanding of actual violence is pretty radically different. It's probably abrupt, and efficiency is likely key.
As an avid driver of performance vehicles, I've experience many sorts of vehicular thrills. There is definitely a trend in the newer performance vehicles I've sampled, they do tend to have generally more peak capability. And that additional capability has been engineered in the manner of a movie fight scene. The throat-clearing downshifts lead into the exaggerated wind-ups of the building forced induction follow through to the augmented raucous exhaust note battle yells.
Now, I am partial to a certain amount of theatre with my hooning, because I'm a child. But the sharply artificial rattle-barking of an over-fueled AMG 43 merely rolling through a parking lot is kind of stupid. And, if I'm totally honest about it, even my beloved Porsche 911 had a certain Bruce-Lee tension to it as you could feel the increasingly available power as the engine RPMs climbed.
And if you can get it right, there's a satisfaction in that too. Because it takes talent to drive fast well. Not just driving fast, because that's stupid outside of a racetrack, but driving fast well. You've got to be attentive to your settings and circumstances and all the vehicular variables and so on with the foolish hooning black arts.
But then you get used to driving a decent electric car, like GHOST. And it's not even a little bit about theatre. It's all about just getting it done efficiently. It's actually really fucking easy to drive fast well, because it's less variable and with less distracting show. It's all so accessible, and I do dearly love control of that kind.
In the movies, the fighters are mostly these body-builder types with showy muscles. But you have to know that, in real life, the deadliest special forces badasses are lanky efficient monsters who quietly end fights before others even know there is a fight.
Driving around in the Porsche, every asshole would try to race me and every police officer would mentally consider if they had an excuse to pull me over. But now that I skulk around in GHOST, I just succeed at speeding without anyone having much notice.
Ummmmmm. It's hard to even start with how cool this thing is.
The Nordic Bike Gods over at Pole made this model called the Machine. Instead of using carbon fiber, they decided to use 7075 aluminum - which can't be welded without losing its temper. So instead they press billets of it into approximate shape and CNC the final surfaces. Hence one facet of the name "machine" is from it being machined. It's geometry, which is on the "hold my beer" end of aggressive also qualifies it for being quite a machine.
Glorious. If I had unlimited funds, some of it would be spent on this.
Honestly, there wasn't much time for exploring the show this year. Because #w*rk. So there really was only opportunity to peek at a couple highlights before fleeing back to meetings.
A brief shout-out to Subaru of Portland for gifting me two free tickets. It is appreciated, and their customer service is one of the reasons we've had so many Subarus.
Our first mission was to team-investigate various candidate next-steeds for Gnarthaller. Which is amusing because they're all various flavours of Toyota utility vehicles. Meanwhile, the only actual photos he posted from the show were of a moldy-green muscle car. Typical.
Several of us were curious about this long-coming cargo-capable stretched wrangler. It was exactly as we imagined it would be. As you might be able to discern from the picture, Gnarthaller didn't like it.
But why? Because it's a half-assed idea executed half-assed-ly, and would simply not meet the goals of utility and reliability he probably wants. It's probably going to sell great. #MERIKA.
Something something longtail, and I can't remember which what how other one. What doesn't translate well is how small and jewel-like these vehicles are. The previous generation of MP4C and even P1 variants were impressive and other-wordly, but in person had an aura of plastic posering on top of a racecar in order to pretend to be Ferrari-ish. Not any more; now they out-Ferrari Ferrari at the sense of concentrated special-ness. Very nice.
There was a berlinetta, which is historically my default lust-magnet. And there was the most-modest variant (Portofino?) which almost allows someone such as myself to whimsically consider. I didn't even bother taking pictures of them.
Instead, I felt the need to capture the brawniest Grand Tourer ever - mostly because it felt odd to have a Ferrari seem hulking compared to the nearby McLarens - and the fabulous shooting brake. That almost-wagon version of Ferrari is very intriguing for me, much to the scorn of my peers. I think it's because I have a better grasp of what it would be like to live with a high-performance car. The single mission of LOOK AT ME gets dull; I am more curious about something that would rock a road trip too.
The Porsches were automatically more memorable than either the McLarens or the Ferrari's because you could sit in them. The 718 (ex-Cayman) telegraphs hysterical joy through its taut steering wheel; none of us could repress brilliant smiles from just being in it. The Panamera Grand Tourismo took the do-everything roadtrip vibe and dialed it up to 11. Fantastic.
Nothing else was worth spending time to photograph. Even so, skipped a lot of manufacturers.
No M3? Fuck you.
The M2 felt OK. M5 was locked - fuck you.
Seriously pleased with the look and feel of the V90. I could see myself getting one of those for the family - if I couldn't swing a Mercedes E-class wagon.
Didn't even bother sitting in any of them after determining that the R8 was locked. The cowardly thing sat huddled and unappreciated looking out through double-doors at a Porsche Turbo tackling a line of ardent fans rotating through its cockpit.
Didn't even walk through the section. Like I need to look at the vehicles I don't want to lease.
I don't care what Gnarthaller thinks, your muscle cars misunderstand what driving is about.
The Fiesta ST is obviously a hoot. Now try making a Mustang that spends less effort posing and more matching its siblings intent to entertain.
Stinger. Dudes, well-played.
As part of S's adoration of Hamilton, she got tickets to see Leslie Odom Jr. at the Schnitz. His performance was pretty magical. The renditions of his heartbreakingly poignant songs from Hamilton were amazing, as one would expect, but his other songs were special in other ways. Classic jazz covers laid down the deep connections and talent. Songs from his album were contemporary and brilliant. Particularly entertaining to me was a cover of Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway.
Today I became a great-uncle. My little sister's youngest child just had a child. Man I feel old.
Welcome to the world, little guy.
I've been mulling the need to participate in the democratic process here in the United States. This has been simultaneously urged and thwarted by Cheeto Hitler. On one hand, his election demonstrates the need for people to clearly express their representation and the pitfalls of leaving decisions to the lowest common denominator. On the other hand, it is hard to want to intentionally join a country that elected a sexist racist moron.
But then there's Tulsi announcing her intention to run.
That's pretty exciting.
It seems like an awkward revelation: that a great way to do a comic book movie is with... animation. Because, DUH.
Yet, it really isn't that obvious. Partially because of the thundering dominance of live-action comic book movies (mostly Marvel), and the entrenched third-tier-ness of other animated comic book movies (mostly DC). Indeed, most people reflexively under-estimated SM:ItSV precisely because of its animated nature. Anecdotally, this prejudice is part of what drove the creative team to ensure that they made are really great movie.
And it is a really great movie. I'm easily amused by most imaginative-action movies, but it also blew Simon's socks off. OK, maybe that's not super hard to do either. But we are clearly the core of the target demographic, and they succeeded brilliantly. There really isn't a moment of the movie that doesn't suck you in, thanks to a rich tapestry of clever detail both visual and audible. Plus the story is sublime, with masterfully considered characters. All this, stuffed into an animated framework that actually helps tell the impossibly visual story in a way that simply couldn't be pulled off as well with live-action.
Back when I was considering art school, I stumbled on the conundrum of being pushed towards sculpture but being drawn towards 2-dimensional work. How could 2-dimensional depict something better than the 3-dimensional? When what you were depicting wasn't possible, even though you could see it.
While Fredmas is a logical time to be thinking about my dad, I have also found myself thinking about him quite often recently. I suppose that it is impossible to know who he was to himself - the person he thought himself to be. It wasn't the sort of thing that he communicated. Most of my impressions are about how he affected me, and the many things he thought aloud.
From the perspective of my young self, he was an unknowable force of raw purpose - working and playing. Even his frequent rests, to consume books and beer and televised hockey games, were all done with relished deliberateness. It gave me a depressed sense of never being able to live up to his example, but it also gave me a clear direction to try to grow. As I grew into adulthood, I could see more about how he was always working with what he had. His lack of expressed regrets and regard for what to work towards is something I've adopted wholesale, as much as I can.
Now, as a middle-aged father myself, it is clear to me that he was totally making it up as he went along. There is an innate urge to try to mimic his parenting style, his approach to life even. But there is this odd aspect by which having lost him so soon before becoming a father has allowed me to be open to honest reflections about what was good. And there was a lot of good. But perhaps thanks to our tender wind-down as father and son, I can also see how I can do better.
The realization that I am best when considering what utility I can have to the people and ideas I care about, I think I finally understand the source of his purposefulness. Thanks dad. Happy birthday.
It has occurred to me that there are some striking perceptual similarities between mountain biking and having children.
Attempts to explain this have not gone well in person, but maybe a somewhat more deliberate construction here might work better. It goes something like this:
From an objective point of reference, it is entirely reasonable to evaluate idea-X as being characterized primarily by risk and unpleasantness. Further, there is a somewhat disconcerting difficulty for a non-X-inclined person in comprehending the ascribed benefits and joys attributed to idea-X by X-committed individuals. Even worse than that, the testimonials of the X-inclined people seem to revel in the objectively worst parts of idea-X.
You take that paragraph, and you can plug in both "mountain biking" and "having children" with equal ease. For people who are not one or the other - parents or mountain bikers - this might not be obvious. But as a person who regularly tries to describe the painful joys of parenting to non-breeders, and the treacherous thrills of mountain biking to sane people, they share some very similar variability of interpretations.
When I comment on being exhausted from being woken up in the middle of the night by my spawn, non-breeders interpret that as a cautionary tale about the horrors of sexually-transmitted parasitic primates. Whereas other parents smile and nod wearily, knowing the sensation of worthy sacrifice for these beings we adore.
When I share tales of facing down a steep treacherous track while traveling at a speed guaranteed to hurt if I make contact with the plentiful trees and chundery rocks, non-mountain bikers wince and think me very foolish to have gotten myself in such a predicament. However mountain bikers look for the opportunity apply a high-five in appreciation of the base-of-the-brain adrenalin from using skill to overcome fear.
When I reflect on the price of, well, everything to do with having children, not-parentally-inclined folks laugh and imagine all the things they don't want to give up. Instead, other people who have kids laugh about the realization that it's all wasted anyway.
When I kvetch about the misery of slogging uphill through the rain, mountain-bike-averse persons hear a tale of misery. The alternate assumption of a veteran chunder-seeker is that this was an investment that would certainly prove worthwhile for the gnar-filled joy to be reaped from the vert.
And so on.
It makes me contemplate some possible similarities of questionable evolutionary biology theory to explain how these altered states of perception might make sense. For the case of parenting, it makes evolutionary sense for humans to have altered neurobiology regarding the having of offspring - because fondly care-taking our young despite the bottomless demands they require helps the fundamental success of the species. Likewise with mountain biking, it is the same foolish wellspring of enjoying overcoming fear with talent that allowed our species to (occasionally) successfully transition from being cave bear chow to wearing cave bear pelts.
Another cold wintery bike ride today. Still fun, but not a great display of skill or bravery. When things are going well, I have a sense of flowing or flying, and there were indeed moments of that. A far greater proportion was spent feeling like I was just clunking along, trying not to crash in the slippery bits of frost built up on the previously-moist parts of the trails.
It was good to ride with Danny again, not least of all because he was able to give me a ride up the mountain while I'm bike-rack-less. The rest of the squad is young and fast and skilled and invincible and I didn't see much of them other than when they waited for us to bunch back up.
The sketchy bits of ice on the upper trails were preferable to slushy mud lower down. The large knobby tires felt like they were shredding the trail on the bottom half, and a terrifying heaping of chunky mud bits were liberally distributed over me. The mud churn was also disappointing in how it made cornering nervous and bled all momentum from the flowing lines of Lower Hide & Seek. But, as alluded above, even the worst mountain bike riding is still pretty good fun.
As is our annual family tradition, we headed out to murder a tree to decorate our living room with. While we were driving out to the tree farm, there was a noticeable vibration in the car.
S [driving]: "There's a weird shaking in the car."
Clayton [trying not to be a terrible passenger]: "Yeah, I can feel the vibration too."
S: "Is this going to be OK for me to drive to Hood River today?"
Clayton: "Well, I'll have to take a look to be sure." Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself about how I'll make room in the garage to use my sweet sweet hydraulic floor jack and find some minor imbalance-causing thing and be a total hero. Or possibly find something that I cannot fix myself, but at least ensuring the safe operation of the Moobaru.
A short time later, while still driving, S slaps me in the arm. "Oh! I remember - there was a thing that I ran over yesterday. I thought it was, like, just a plastic bag. But then it was all bang thump under the car."
A few minutes later, when we stop at the christmas tree farm. Clayton: "UUUUH. That's a big, obvious dent in the wheel. How is the tire even staying inflated?" I also had a stray thought wondering about some sort of karmic connection between our cars, because I also managed to get some curb rash on Ghost yesterday (something that I basically never do).
After murdering the tree the furthest from the parking lot, we coordinated with a local Subaru dealership to find a replacement wheel. As a bonus surprise, when we got to the tire store we noticed that whatever had smashed the front wheel also managed to take a bite out of the rear wheel. Fun.
Luckily, the tire store had some used steel wheels and had an open lift. So we used the time to introduce the kids to a magical land called Olive Garden, which basically blew Simon's little pasta-loving mind.
While still maintaining a regular AIF night with Dave, I've also started playing some Dungeons & Dragons lately. The more important game is running an adventure for Simon and a couple of his buddies, who are all brand new in the realm of role playing games and discovering all the exciting aspects thereof. In addition to all of that, I've also managed to join a semi-regular D&D game with some of the 'dads' and other adults. It is particularly amusing to see these assorted personalities come to terms with my roleplaying.
They're all adept at roleplaying, and a couple of them are good at optimizing the rules for their character effectiveness. But when it comes to combat, none of them quite hold a candle to my enthusiasm. This is where Dave would just grin in an unsettling way and nod knowingly.
My wood elf ranger has earned the title "Murder Elf" among the crew. I think they meant it to jokingly shame me, and were then quietly alarmed by how much I liked it.
It feels hard to believe that we have had 100 years of resolving to avoid the horrors of modern war.
There are many things that human society is very poor at learning. Remembrance of the wastefulness of violence is merely one of those things.
LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!
The derivative of position with respect to time is velocity.
The derivative of velocity with respect to time is acceleration.
The derivative of acceleration with respect to time is... jerk.
No, really. It's a physics term.
This was relevant to me as I was delighting myself driving GHOST to work this morning. Because, while it is true that GHOST's acceleration is awfully nice - and what gets measured by all the numbers-obsessed - it's the broad prowess to adjust that acceleration that really is a driving delight. Because that's what engaged driving is really about for me: control.
I'm not too bothered by the double entendre, either.
Went and saw the Henry Rollins Slideshow Tour today with my favourite architect neighbor, Lori. While not the most thorough Rollins fan myself, I haven't witnessed anything he's done that I haven't at least respected. Lori had never heard of him. His songs take a certain mindset to enjoy, which I'm rarely in these days, but his spoken word is always entertaining to me - that is what we got to have for this show. Listening to his radio shows and podcasts do tend to be a bit wearying if you try to binge them; he has a lot of energy, and a sanctimoniousness that is low grade but cumulative. This show was just about the perfect dose of Rollins, however.
He warned us, right up front, that he was going to keep changing directions to keep us engaged. And that he did. It landed a few solid gut punches while also managing to share intimate facets that were simply lovely, all the while being delivered with delightfully self-deprecating humour. He showed us the world, his thoughts and hopes about that world, and how it reflected on him in such a way that let us reflect on ourselves.
This is really a tale about how I'm glad I have a cushy desk job instead of being a "skilled" labourer. But before I get into that, let's go back about a year. That's when the kitchen sink started leaking quite badly. A quick inspection suggested that it would be a pain in the ass, and I didn't have time to address it right away. So, in order to buy a couple days until the weekend, I tried wrapping the pipe in some cool hydrophobic tape I've got. It worked. A little too well. I had hoped that it would reduce the pour to a containable leak (a shallow bucket was appropriately situated). It completely contained the leak instead. Which meant that when the weekend came, and I got a better idea of how much of a pain in the ass it would be, I felt able to procrastinate. As more time went by, the more I felt complacent about the patch job.
Alas, even the coolest hydrophobic clingy tape can't hold a badly corroded pipe together forever. And this past Friday the leaking resumed. So Saturday was my day to finally address the fix properly. At which time, it becomes appropriate for a hypothetical flashback to the last time this was fixed - before we bought the house. Due to the extremely awkward location of the pipe, it is rather difficult to get leverage on a modest-sized pipe wrench that can fit in the space. Gazing at the deep gouge marks on the fitting, it's easy to imagine how ardently the previous plumber tried to dislodge it. Worse, looking at how the now-leaking pipe was crudely soldered onto the remains of the compression fitting, it becomes obvious that they gave up trying to get it out, and instead hacked off the old pipe and welded the replacement directly on. I also like to imagine that the previous plumber felt some quiet shame, for the mess that the next plumber would have to face when the thin-walled pipe they installed invariably rusted through.
While I could probably have managed to saw off the pipe in the same sort of way that the previous plumber did, I lack both the tools and the skills to braze, solder, or weld on a pipe in a leak-free manner. Plus, I'd much rather fix the pipe with some corrosion-free plastic. Thus I began my attempt to unfasten the fitting that the previous plumber had given up on.
It did not go well.
After five hours, I had managed to turn the damn thing just 15°. Admittedly, most of that time was spent with the fitting not moving at all. And 2 hours were spent nursing an array of self-inflicted wounds while watching the Matrix. The awkwardness of the location of the fitting prevented easy access to leverage. The confines and the elasticity of the plumbing meant that impacts had no effect in budging the pipe wrench. I nearly maimed my face several times trying to use a crow bar on the handle of the pipe wrench while jammed under the sink. Until finally I came upon a method of bracing bits of lumber as adjustable fulcrums to use a length of square bar to inch the pipe wrench along.
Once the fitting was out, it was a 10-minute trip to the local hardware store to buy $16 worth of parts, and a further 2 minutes to install.
Whatever pleasure I might have for accomplishing this trivial piece of plumbing, even though I overcame what the previous plumber seemingly left as a booby trap, is utterly drowned in the aching discomfort of it all. Craning and straining and slipping and smashing and accidentally banging in a confined space with unyielding surfaces sucks giant donkey balls. Yes, I used my cleverness to do something difficult. But I have the joy of getting to employ my cleverness every single day at work - at my comfy desk.
More detailed exploration of the performance envelope of GHOST has revealed further insights.
- The review mirrors are really quite puny. Makes for a nice low Cd, but I'd personally trade that for improved sensor capabilities over my shoulders.
- GHOST might be lighter and more nimble-feeling than a Model S, but she's still a hefty girl. Momentum must be considered.
- Further to that, stickier tires will be required. Mostly to improve turning and stopping; not that GHOST is a slouch at either, but rather to carve out more safety factor for my enthusiasm. Though it is rather entertaining feeling the whole chassis squirm under full thrust with the current shoes.
- The turn stalk has a marginal flaw: the left "tap" sensor is mis-calibrated such that a simple triple-blink lane change is hard to get instead of continuous blinking.
- Overall, this might be the exact right embodiment of my car-self. A bit heavier than ideal, but more powerful and smarter - and carrying more baggage. And still quite silly.
Five years and one day after selling Richthofen, my beloved Porsche 911 C4S, I picked up a new alter-ego-class car. It's a 2018 Tesla Model 3, long range battery, dual motor all-wheel-drive. White. And we named it "GHOST".
This was simply a family vote.
It might have been nice to continue the monster motif set by "Grendel" by using "Wendigo" from the spooky campfire stories my dad used to tell. TESSA was a lovely runner-up, losing only the all-important Violet vote - who simply insisted on "Ghost". Even though I thought for sure she might also vote for "Princess Sparkle Prancer", but no dice. Only Simon was suitably amused by "Tesly McTeslaFace". And ForAytToo might have had a chance, if we had learned the VIN soon enough give it momentum.
The thing that most people seem to question is the colour I chose. Perhaps because I have generally terrible taste in colours. Even so, I do have preferences. Seeing the car in person, in white, it makes a lot of sense. The bright trim fits better than with anything dark. Plus, only black and white are available without metallic flakes - a feature that has come to annoy me for no good reason.
Stupid Grin Driving Glee Factor
Tesla isn't totally transparent about some specifications for the car, but my (unofficial) understanding is that it's got two 191 kW (256 hp) motors, but that the actual power it can apply is limited by the current output of the non-Performance battery management system. It's supposed to be able to do 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds; it feels like less. It is significantly faster-feeling thrust-wise in all real world situations than Richthofen was, which feels important in my withered soul. So, while it officially lacks access to "Ludicrous" speed, it is certainly consistently hilarious. The delighted shrieks of terrified joy from the kids when we merely go in a straight line are simply dad-tastic.
It's quite an experience, and I have a lot more soaking in to do. Which will naturally translate into more writing. But for now, it is a fabulous introduction.