Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Prodigy

Listening to Their Law, the Prodigy singles...man, they rock.

Working from home today; the weather in the mountains is very beautiful.

Love to all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Blog Skids and the Second Life

I have enjoyed blog, and I'm not quitting for good, but I have taken an unexpected, and extended, break. Why? Partly, I was out of town for a couple weeks; I was getting my grades in; now I'm back at work. School, church, family...all these take time...the most prolific bloggers, in general, don't have both family and career. But I've managed to be fairly regular up here nonetheless, whether the post was crafted or not. I still consider it a valuable place to share. Why am I hesitant to continue working on it at the moment?

Hesitant may not be the right word. The answer is really two words: Second Life.

I'm surprised how many people, how many students, haven't heard of SL. It's a three-dimensional interactive avatar-based world. It is Neal Stephenson's metaverse from Snowcrash. I bipped in before I left town because I have a friend whose college is buying an 'island' there. I had no idea what that meant. And I admit I got a bit hypnotized. When I returned, still on vacation and with lots of extra time, I played some more.

How will this feel long-term? I don't know. Am I giving up on my blog friends, on Chris and Romy and Scott and the Funkiller? No. They have golden hearts all. But for the moment, I'm spending time in the grid. It's a strange and marvelous place. Equal portions of both.

And I've been working my butt off as an NT amateur, digging into the professional scholarship, struggling with fundamental questions of existence. For me, the NT stuff was never just about sorting the details, it was about the Big Picture itself. I was (and am, still) on the track of Something significant. You know, that work was hard, a rigorous hobby even for someone perhaps born for difficult challenges. I still hold those questions in my mind, but it's nice to spend time doing something completely meaningless, silly, fun.

Is there a dark side to my SL adventures? Perhaps. I can be, uh, obesessive. I am easily drawn in and hypnotized by the environment. I've found myself, once or twice, playing well past when I'd normally eat lunch, for example. I'm using my brain in a way that doesn't directly profit me. But I've only been doing it for three weeks or so (not counting vacation) and I may well tire of it.

In the meantime, school is on with force. My job at the church is not quite over (though I'm looking forward to the break) and I continue to make my family my first priority...at least I believe I'm doing that.

I was always part geek, part 'white and nerdy.' SL is chock full of people like that. Well, the people behind the avatars. It's living sci-fi.

I know the key is balance, to most everything that is the key. My back injury has not let me work out and SL has filled some of that time void. Again, it's a strange thing that's happened to me. Probably a temporary one. In the meantime, I encourage exploration by those of you with time. It's vast and growing daily. It's what the Web will look like, perhaps, in a dozen or so years. IBM is there. And since it's all built by the inhabitants so is much creativity.

Well, that's all I have time for. I haven't played all weekend; I sailed yesterday, actually, and then spent today with S working around the yard (what in this life is as much fun as chain sawing trees) and watching TV. I'm okay. I think. But time will tell better.

I will still blog here, but perhaps not as often. Sad, really. I haven't made any decision, it's just been happening...

Peace to all.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Well, I'm back," he said.

Or something close to that.

I am back. I graded every paper before Christmas for the first time in 12 years of college teaching. S and I left town early the next day and returned late last night. I've been off-blog for longer than ever before I think and don't even know where to begin.

The long car drive was hard on my back injury and sitting now isn't great. This will likely be short until I can get back into my physical therapy. Something about that electrostim...really numbs the pain.

I will say this: we spent the last two days in San Francisco and I must recommend the Hotel Carlton. The neighborhood is non-remarkable, north of Tenderloin (where I don't want to stay) south of Nob Hill (where I can't afford to stay) and somewhat northwest of Union Square (where I like to stay when I can afford it). The Hotel was renovated two years ago and what we got for the price was unequalled in my experience. Smallish room, yes, but nicely decorated and above all, superb staff-service. Think Nordstrom service, Mervyn's price. With valet parking (highly recommended) it was 105 bucks a day plus tax. Not cheap, true, but there are hotels which charge 44 bucks a day just for a car.

We also had drinks, a crab cake and oysters at Holy Grail, a restaurant just down the street from the Hotel. Very nice. And dinner at Cafe Jacqueline where all the entrees and deserts are souffles. Oui. Made in an open kitchen by a French owner-chef in a restaurant with maybe a dozen tables. Thumbs up, though skip the caviar appetizer (not much actual caviar and the egg and creme drown out the Beluga...it was the only time in my life I've had Beluga, though); instead, save your appetite for a desert souffle. Best of all, Hotel Carlton has a restaurant called Sasha on its first floor; the food is...Moroccan, Turkish, Yemeni? Not sure, but it was absolutely remarkable and also well priced with a Prixe Fixe menu of 35 bucks a person.

I love San Fran. Eat, drink, walk, eat and drink some more.

We also saw the new de Young museum and after my Coit Tower adventure two years ago I had no trouble looking out of the ninth floor observation glass. The art in those buildings is mind-draining good. We also saw the new Asian Art Musuem; I was very moved by their large selection of 1st to 3rd century Buddhas and Buddha-art, as well as by the work of the Fillipino-American painter Zobel. His Icaro is remarkable in person.

We did a lot in two days.

A lot of other things happened on this trip. We New Yeared with our wine buyer friends and drank more champagne in a night than I'll drink in a year. The star was the Billiot, as last year. Much more strange, I saw my father and my entire step family. Most of them I hadn't seen in 15 or more years and that evening deserves an entire post in itself. The executive summary is that I survived (granted, the Patron shooters helped) and it was one kind of pleasant to look at what I have accomplished against enormous odds. You see, I felt compared to my stepbrothers all the time as a teenager, and not favorably. They are both disturbed middle-aged men now, making it in their own way but scraping. And after just a few hours with my stepfamily I can see why my anxiety spiked when they entered my life when I was 16. My stepbrothers pain provdes echoes of my own twenties, except I was in therapy for years seeking any tool, any door, any window in heaven to move forward. And I moved. I don't know if they are moving or not.

I also look younger better than any of them! Small comforts. Time will change that as well.

The highlight of the entire trip, though, was the days we spent with my brother, his wife, and my wonderful niece and nephew. If you had been there, you would know how luck I am, how lucky my brother has been to have the family he has, the one he shares with me now. There was more sanity in that family than in my entire step family (and it's a large one now). My.

A late Merry Christmas to all. I hope to begin blog-reading again, but as I said sitting is hard and I have work to do on my own blog. I've already seen Sandalstraps is going off at full-tilt brilliance as usual. Romy will be my next stop.

Love to all.