Quintessential Simon birthday: bike ride on a well-equipped mountain bike, plus a couple big LEGO sets. Topped off with ice cream cake, and a pending D&D party with his crew.
[link to a Google drive full of images]
This year was a father-son bonding odyssey, and gave us grand adventuring spectacle as a background for having lots of time and space to contemplate existence. Laughing and joking for hours and miles really does help build souls, even while the cold and smoke and pests and injuries build character. Simon had an OK time too.
Nobody managed to quite capture decent images of the horses we came across running free through the woods of Ochoco Forest, but they felt very emblematic. Were they wild? Were they just pretending to be wild for a little while? Something like that.
More Amygdala talk? Maybe sort of. Except cryptic in a different way.
- Gasping Joy - From the soul nourishing magic carpet rides down Johnny Royale.
- Warm Completeness - From the Father's Day time spent with family at the Pride Parade.
- Tickling Exhilaration - From pending adventures and planned work project attempts.
- Shivering Inadequacy - From facing the family changes that cannot be undone.
Violet has demonstrated a precocious ability for representational artwork, drawing things realistically. But even her symbolic artwork shows a clarity that can be striking. This recent one really is great.
I hear you Violet. By the way, I stole this, and I'm keeping it forever.
Being a human is often surprisingly difficult for no other reason than we experience the world largely through a filter of emotional response.
Senses do their level best to report what's going on. Similarly, our rational minds make the best of what they can manage to lift with their few dedicated neurons. But it's all really a bit much, so evolution made the pragmatic venture into applied heuristics by not needing us to have either a clear sensing of things nor a complete understanding of anything for us to get some sort of directional suggestion. These suggested interpretations of reality, let's call them "feelings", are legitimate members of reality themselves by virtue of a Descartesian flourish - I think I feel, therefore I'm sad.
One of the lessons I've learned reasonably well is to not to try to deny feelings. That just makes them angry, and cruelly manipulative. But even as we acknowledge our feelings, that doesn't mean that we need to let them control us. Having a thought or a feeling is not what we're responsible for, those are just things that happen. What we are responsible for is our actions, so what we do with those thoughts and feelings is what really matters.
Today my feelings conspired to make it a multiply-difficult day for me. Vaguely negative feelings about my career started early on, which set the stage for my vulnerable and hurt feelings about the confusion that is my marriage-like relationship with S. Finally this was capped off with feelings summoned by a sad song on my commute home that reminded me that I still miss my dad.
Sometimes the only thing we can do with our sad feelings is to have a good cry.
Started watching the TV version of this Pratchett/Gaiman favourite of mine. It exposes the depth of brilliance of both of the writers in a way that my delighted readings did not. I maintain that reading the book is essentially funnier, because you can fit a lot more hilarity into a story that way. Still, the interpretive act of seeing how else it can be seen casts insight into perspectives that would not have occurred to me before.
Simon finally emerges after sleeping in.
Me: "Hey there, Simon. Sorry buddy, I already ate your breakfast."
Simon, with a straight face: "No you didn't." No, I didn't.
Simon disappears into the dining room. "But there is an ant crawling on my breakfast; maybe it ate some."
Me: "Did you make it spit it out? [Simon impersonation]'Give it back, you little bastard!'[/impersonation]"
Simon: "I think it knows who its mother is."
Close enough. Touché, little buddy.
Things to state:
- The future is electric - even in trucking.
- Electric trucks are easier and more fun to drive than current diesel trucks.
- Engineers are very easily amused.
Daimler generously allows its salaried employees to spend a couple work days a year volunteering in the community. Yesterday burned a volunteer day working on bike trails up at Sandy Ridge with the NWTA. We dug in a culvert for drainage on the soon-to-be-opened Johnny Royale, breaking a mattock in the process due to the burly mix of rocks in clay. It was good honest work.
And I'm a soft weak lump of a mouse wrangler. I was sore and tired and honestly surprised at how ineffective I managed to be (seriously, fuck those rocks). I could barely drag myself up the mountain for a bike ride afterwards.
Even Drogon ended up being just a giant fiery Sadness Bat™.
My main excuse for not knowing anything about Hannah Gadsby until the Netflix release of "Nanette" is that she simply wasn't much of a thing in North America before that. But, obviously, Nanette is bloody genius. So it was a genuine delight when Susannah produced tickets to see her live as a Valentine present.
That delight was elevated not only by finding that we got to go with our cool friends/neighbors Lori and Chrystal, but that they had managed to get seats that were 5th row center. It was very Portland, as Hannah received a standing ovation just for walking on stage. You might think that oddly presumptuous, but it turned out not to be entirely appropriate.
Not only was this show ("Douglas") brilliant in the same manner as Nanette, while being entirely different, but it highlighted aspects about myself that allowed me to hold them in a much more compassionate way. It also meant that Hannah did not linger to absorb as much praise afterwards as she deserved.
I expect that Douglas will eventually appear on Netflix too. I heartily recommend watching it.
A conversation in the middle of the night with me and S, then again the next day with me and Simon.
Now with actual interesting bits.
The Portland Castles just spent a week in Kaua'i, and it was pretty fantastic.
Now with actual details!
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.