Category Archives: journal

The catch-all

Philadelphia Story: Regular Insights

Ever since I first saw Philadelphia Story–I don’t know when, at about 12–I regularly return to the dialog, either on screen or in my memory. Almost every time I do, and anyway with surprisingly long-lived regularity, I find a new meaning layered into those lines.

The frequency of these little revelations has dwindled, naturally, so that now whenever I do find something new, it’s accordingly more special. Today while doing dishes I was recalling this bit of banter, and surprised myself with a new angle. I decided to start recording this process, since it seems like it will never end. I’ll have to retroactively mark down some of my past discoveries.

Under what name do you publish?

My own: Macauley Connor

<stifles laughter> What’s the “Macauley” for?

<an incredulous glance to Liz> My father taught English history. I-I’m Mike to my friends–

–Of whom you have many, I’m sure.

I’ve always loved that volley:

  • She’s making fun of his name, as if he’s putting on airs with “Macauley”.
  • Her last line here is bulletproof: she’s paying a complement, but actually opening the question of whether or not he has any friends, which he never said anything about.

And the bit that came to me tonight over dirty dishes: 

  • He’s trying to shed the arrogance she’s assigning to him, by offering his nickname; but she won’t let him.

Until next time.

Visiting China

I just landed in Shanghai last night, met my brother at the airport, and we’re getting this adventure underway.

China Ho! Shot through my polarized sunglasses.

View southwest from our window at the hostel in Shanghai.

View southeast from our window at the hostel in Shanghai.

From my ear to Beethoven’s brain

Here is little thought trail I hiked to warm up my brain for a day of coding.

From my ear to Beethoven’s brain, with some assumptions and generalizations:

  1. I hear music!
  2. I perceive time in my brain
  3. impulses from my ear are perceived as sound over time
  4. speaker drivers pressurize and depressurize air near my ear
  5. electrical impulses are sent from my iPod to the speakers
  6. the iPod decodes a compressed binary file into degrees of pressure over time
  7. computer copies encoded file to ipod
  8. computer encodes compressed file from uncompressed CD data
  9. CD is pressed with record audio data
  10. record is digitized at a resolution that will fit on a CD
  11. record is edited and filtered to remove noise and balance volume
  12. electrical impulses are recorded over time
  13. microphone translates air pressure over time to electrical impulses
  14. instruments alter the pressure of the air over time
  15. orchestra plays instruments!
  16. orchestra reads and interprets notes on the page
  17. orchestra practices playing music…many, many times
  18. music notes are duplicated on paper
  19. Beethoven writes notes on paper
  20. Beethoven codifies this music into notes
  21. Beethoven imagines music!

Every one of those actions has infinite tangents within it. How does electricity travel along a wire? What ink did Beethoven use? How did the quality of light reflecting off the page affect Beethoven’s thought of the music. And the same for the orchestra, and for everyone else.

I suppose a thought is never finished, but left alone for the moment. Now, back into time and work.

recent times, and times to come

I haven’t spent any time in my personal cyber space lately. Pretty much since I’ve been employed full-time again. I haven’t minded especially.

However, I’ve just finished cleaning out piles of code placed on my server by some jerk (polite enough, in some cases, to put is infernal garbage in wide margins, labeled with his alias).

Cleaning out all that junk has put me face to face with some aborted or stalled projects, such as this one. And as with any spring cleaning, on or off season, the result is a little fatigue and a bunch of hope.

So here’s a list for the near future of

  1. add support for videos on the main site
  2. improve my little CMS so that I begin posting things regularly. Currently it can only set the title, description, date, and tags. Content and links need to be done manually on the server. What a drag!
  3. post work! I have some projects that can go up right away, but I’ve been holding back for some of these other things to be more usable.

Here we go! As a little bonus, and to set the mood, here’s a recent sketch inspired by a song from the Ghiblies “series”:

Longest day

Yesterday—the word stretches to hold three days’ time—I awoke in my padded cube, which evoked scenes from Deathnote or some Japanese drama with secretive internet use. Having won my struggle to type in English, I wandered through the corridors of cubes until I found a bank of free hot drinks. ありがとう神様!I generally don’t drink coffee, but I was glad to fill a cup with espresso and cocoa…and drink it.

After gathering ourselves and paying our bill, David, Yuki, and I patronized a café and a konbini. We made our way to Yuki’s home by train and taxi. In Tokyo and Yokohama, the air was full of voices and engines, and at Yuki’s place, outside Yokohama, I heard only rain and semi. Yuki’s entryway is prepared for heroic measures, with a pickaxe, crowbar, rain boots, and gas can. After showering and packing our overnight bags—in preparation for Yakushima, yay!—, we were off to lunch with Rob and Junko.

While we were on the train—in the Green Car, a luxury car, as a treat—David realized that if I were to join them for lunch, it would be difficult for me to get to the Ghibli Museum before 4:00, when admission ends. After a brief conference, David and Yuki decided that we could split at Shinjuku, me on my way to Mitaka, and they to Tokyo. I was glad to be off on my own adventure, and appropriately concerned by the prospect of finding David in Shinjuku station, the busiest junction in the world.

We have to leave soon to catch our flight to Kagoshima. I packed my little bag for the trip yesterday, but I’d forgotten to bring my hiking shoes. I’ll be making a memory of hiking all day to an ancient tree in my chucks. I’ll write about the Ghibli Museum and Mitaka, and share my photos, later.

Manga kisa

I’m typing this on a little PC in a tiny cubicle in a manga kisa, or “manga cafe,” one of several decent options available if you miss the last train. I had a good nap on the padded floor, and we’ll be heading out soon to catch the first train out of Yokohama to our friend’s house.

The N’EX (Narita Express) train to Yokohama yesterday had an almost constantly beautiful view out the window. Japan is so lush in the summer. And perhaps because of all the buildings and bridges at odd angles, as well as the foliage, it seems like the shadows are deeper here, giving a higher contrast vista than I’m used to.

The weather is hot and humid, as expected. No thunder yet. But it’s not too hot, by my standard. I was sweating a bit last night, when we were out of the strong breeze blowing in from Yokohama Bay.

I’ve taken several photos and videos, and doodled some. I’ll share those when I have some downtime on my own computer.

On the road

We’re in the car on our way to the airport. The sky is misty in L.A., and the air is cool. I think it’ll be hot and humid when we land at 3:00 in the afternoon.

When I visited Japan two years ago, LAX and Narita felt much the same, except for the humidity at Narita. I’d left Narita on a bus to meet my brother at Omiya. Getting off the bus in Omiya, the weather was the same, but instead of the concrete and sooty scent of (I would guess) every airport, the air smelled of bread and flowers.

This time we’ll be going to Yokohama from Narita, to meet an old mutual friend. David says Tokyo had thunderstorms yesterday or the day before. I hope we have hints of that, or a bit more, to make for interesting skies. But only a bit more, please.