Archive for January, 2003

jobs, more jobs and lack of jobs

I have good news and bad news. They’re the same news. In a nutshell: Laura got laid off yesterday. She worked at a photo lab (a “professional” photo lab), and now that their busy season is over, they had to let some people go. She’d been there for over a year, but she was still on the lower end in terms of seniority. (I guess the year before they actually took out a loan in order to keep all their employees. An observation made questionable by the fact that they also spent lots of money last year on new equipment.) She did some (half) of their digital work, although she’d been hired originally just as a front desk position.

Frankly, I always felt she was way overqualified for the job, as she has a BA in Fine Arts (emphasis on Photography), and had worked previously full time doing portrait photography.

<obligatory plug> Anyway, if anybody reading this knows of anyone in the Twin Cities area looking for photographers, (or digital artists), let us know. <end plug, on with semi-interesting content>

So… I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but by some strange coincidence, yesterday was also Nate’s last day where he worked. Nate is one of the luckiest sons of bitches in my esteem right now. They closed his store (he was an assistant retail manager), and offered him a $6000 severance package. Then, (after the severance offer, I think) they offered him a position at another store. Needless to say, he wanted the $6K, so he turned it down. This all happened about a month ago. Two days later, he had another job lined up — that bastard.

This weekend, Laura and I will be unicycling in the torchlight parade in St. Paul. Look for the bald guy juggling torches. (Actually, I’ll probably be wearing a hat.)

Dear Blog,

I have been an absolutely awful correspondent lately. My cousin who is eight years old (or maybe nine or ten) sent me a letter in October, and I haven’t yet responded. This morning, I sent a letter to my sister that was in response to something she sent me while she was on vacation over a year and a half ago. I had started to respond while I was on vacation, a few weeks later, but I only got a few pages into it before the vacation became overwhelming. I forgot about the letter in my laptop bag for over a year.

Yet, I try to turn around emails in less than a day. What does that say?

Snailmail has turned into a form of communication relegated to bills and advertisements, credit card offers and political fliers. Yet there is still some small part of me that looks forward to getting the mail every day. Maybe it’s because last summer I spent far too much money on ebay. Or maybe it’s the magazines I still receive (despite occasionally reading the more interesting articles online before they reach my house). Whatever the reasons, it seems that almost every writer has over-romanticized the physical and tangible letter. There is a mystery and solidity to the sport of tree-killing I suppose, but for me it’s nowhere near the thrill and rush of a good email.

Well, I’m here to romanticize digital letter writing. Email is beautiful! Fixed width fonts and headers and subject lines� these are some of my favorite things.

epistolarily yours,
-marty

state of being small — or, happiness in minisculity

When I get depressed, I find that I merely have to force myself to “step back”, and generally look at a bigger piece of the picture, and the feeling dissipates. Basically, I find that, my depression is usually from focusing in too hard on one (generally bad or sad) part of my life all at once.

For example, Laura noticed recently that I get frustrated or angry after I pay bills. It’s not that I don’t have enough money, or that I’m feeling particularly screwed by the man or anything like that. It’s usually just that I’m so focused on an aspect of life that i find thoroughly unenjoyable — money — that it affects my entire emotional outlook.

I have always found that thinking about space and the universe, especially the smallness of our tiny corner of it, to be particularly relaxing and satisfying. It wasn’t until high school that I stumbled upon, or realized, the power of those cosmic thoughts to calm my then often-intruding depression. I was learning to meditate (probably the only time in my life when I did so regularly). One of my favorite techniques as taught to me by my favorite writing teacher was to imagine myself as a galaxy or spinning ball of bright lights or stars. The point was to picture the state of these lights reflecting the state of my emotions, and then to calm the spinning of the lights until they were still, or at least calm.

Another meditation or calming technique I have also used for a long time involves thinking of an image of myself, then my immediate surroundings, then backing away until I saw the planet earth dwindle to a tiny speck. I like to try and imagine the other planets in relation to earth, and how large they are, and then the sun. All the while still backing away from the infinitely small image that is myself. As the sun shrinks away, I imagine exiting the solar system and then our galaxy, and so on and so on… This is particularly useful when I can’t sleep at night. (As an aside, I’ve always loved the last 20 seconds or so of the first Men In Black movie because it does something similar to this.)

Perhaps it is partly due to this stellar affinity that I have become (in one viewing) completely enamored with Carl Sagan’s first episode of Cosmos. Nate purchased the DVD box set, and I’m excited to see them all.

I’m probably not saying any of this very well, but I made an update to one of my blog posts that prompted this entry. (BTW, props to xomina for thinking of the word minisculity. I had already titled my entry by the time he came up with it, but I like it so much that I tacked it on anyway. *grin*)

metaphor with sharks

I was reminded today (over IM) that people are different. They react differently to different things. Generally speaking, I tend to assume that people are not different. I’m not sure why that is, but I want to fit everyone into my mold, and figure out their motivations from there.

What does it mean that I find it more difficult to go back to a non-romantic relationship after one has been initiated than someone else does? This was one of the interesting conclusions I came to toward the end of my IM conversation. Which way is more common? Is this difficulty quantifiable, and is it black and white, or grey?

I find that for me, romantic relationships are like swimming pools… or perhaps oceans–bodies of water anyway. They’re cool and refreshing, and whenever I see one, I immediately want to jump into it–sometimes dive into it! Usually without any sense of restraint or self preservation. (No floatation device.) When I emerge from them, pruned and wrinkled as I may be, I’m still wet. And toweling one’s self dry is not as effective as just waiting for the relationship to evaporate.

skirts and pants

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole “lazy web” concept. I had a sort of lazyweb experience happen the other day when I posted on irish-girl’s blog that I wanted a site to pay my bills for me. (a few people pointed me to various services that do just that.)

This is of course especially appealing because I’m quite lazy, and I have lots of useless ideas.

I have a couple of useless links. dead baby jokes, and homestarrunner’s system is down message

Non-sequitur for the day: What’s up with women wearing skirts over pants? When did this become fashionable, and how?

Your life: splattered in pixels.

Why is it that I can’t seem to get to bed before 3AM? This last week has been night after night of 6 hour sleep cycles. I’m the least productive I’ve been in months. (I blame GTA3:Vice City.) What’s worse is that I haven’t touched the “novel” I’m trying to write in just about as long. Maybe this weekend will be less crazy, and I’ll get some writing done.

Kicking off said weekend, tonight is this big paintball extravaganza that’s been in planning for the last couple of weeks. I convinced a few people to go, and just about everyone else did too. We grew from a group hoping to get 10 people (the minimum reservation to rent an arena) to having between 20 and 25. It’ll be my first time playing in an indoor arena, so I’m excited. (Note, link is to one of the worst websites I’ve ever seen. There are some pictures of the arena at http://www.mnpig.com/.) I wonder how many first person shooter level-design parallels I’ll make in the course of the evening.

Last night I went to the brand-spanking-new restaurant that Jason posted about after he went. When the manager on duty asked us how we’d heard about the place (there were like 2 people in the restaurant when we showed up) I just said “from a friend”. I didn’t want to go into the whole blog thing. But it occurs to me that that’s what I should have said. More and more I’ll bet this kind of thing is happening. How many times have you read about something in a blog and then acted on that knowledge in “real” life? It happens to me all the time, I think.

Where the digital meets the real: Next, on Oprah!

PS, I’m planning a big post on juggling sometime soon! In it, I’ll tell you all about the class I taught at Circus Juventas last Wednesday, among other juicy high-flying facts!

UPDATE: Jason pointed out that I didn’t a) mention the name of the restaurant (AZIA), or b) include an opinion really at all. It was good food, a little pricy, but good. Go read jason’s post for more… *grin*

linking digital

Last night Laura and I received our first order from Simon Delivers, taking us one more step toward a completely digital lifestyle. If I can’t shun my humanity entirely and stop eating by becoming a computer, then I might as well have the computer bring my food to me.

This morning’s surfing reveals more human-computer parallels: Jason sent me this tidbit on how male ejaculation transfers data at breathtaking speeds. And Peter sent me a link that eventually led me to this poetry generator. (although I don’t think it does that great a job, it is definitely the style of poetry that I enjoy.) Finally, I was surfing around for human computer statistics, and found this article on brainpower vs computer processing power over at http://www.transhumanism.com/.

I feel like writing a sort of found poem using that digitalprose poem generator link, but I should really get back to work.

Martin — after Mars, god of war

This morning on my way to work a frantic looking elderly black woman ran up to my car while I was stopped at an intersection, waiting to turn left onto a busy street. She begged me to give her a ride down to Portland, (a mile or so out-of-my-way to the right). I thought about it for a second and then unlocked my door. Her car had broke down, and she felt fortunate that it’d happened on a day she didn’t have to work. (Today is Martin Luther King day–one of my namesakes.) Unfortunately, I did have to work today, and I was already late before giving this woman a ride. So I pulled into the lot where I work an hour late, but feeling smug in my moral superiority.

update: reading this later, I realize how stuck up this sounds. Smug is perhaps the wrong word, and that whole last sentence undermines the feeling that I was left with by this woman. What she said was not particularly enlightening, but her situation, her charisma, fearlessness were all somehow vibrantly illuminated for me that morning, and it made me feel somehow more alive in the same way that “stepping back” and thinking about the entire world all at once also makes me feel more alive. I did feel morally in-the-right, having placed this other person’s struggle above my own, if only for a few minutes. But superior was not necessarily the right word or feeling either.

in bed with polynomials, tangents abound

First of all, it’s irish-girl’s birthday today.

Second, I have no time to say stuff. I’m running out the door. Maybe I’ll post more later. I had been working up to writing another poem in the “math metaphor” category. Let it suffice to say that I was going for the multiplication puns. Sad, sad, bad and maybe funny.

strength in numbers

Speaking of word counts, the new Harry Potter novel (which it has been announced will be released June 21st, 2003) is rumored to be over 255,000 words. It took something like 3 years to write, but still! The link has some comparative word count statistics. It falls in between The King James version of the Bible, (at 181,000 words), and Dickens’ David Copperfield (at 357,000 words). You’d think, for the purposes of the article, CNN would have tried to find another book closer in length to compare it to as well.