Friday, April 28, 2017

HliAT #21: "Swing by" the House on the Way Somewhere Else

How Long It Actually Takes To...

Swing by my house when I'm already driving past it on the way to the library for an afternoon's work from a workout; the salient components of this "swing by" are (1) the amount out of my way I have to drive; (2) throwing some workout clothes on outdoor furniture to air-dry; (3) pouring coffee, sugar, milk, almond milk, and ice cubes in a thermos for iced coffee @ the library; (4) grabbing a few delicious bars for snacks at the library: 13:58.45

Oooh ooh ooh fam fam fam: this is a good one. Because all the things are true!

"All the things" meaning, in this case, two conflicting things. The first is: look, it doesn't take that long just do it if you need to.

But the second is: yeah, I mean, that's fifteen minutes. You knew it didn't take "like five minutes", unless we're destroying the meaning of "like" here (which I guess we pretty much have, but let's leave that for another day). If you've got a four-hour work session...that's 1/16th! That's time!

For the record, the 0.6 miles (cumulative, that's coming + going) of extra driving equates, per Google Maps, to an additional 2 minutes. So ~86% of this time is the faffing around at my house. But how is that possible!? These things, each of them takes less than a minute! RIGHT? Each takes no time! AND YET...

HliAT, fam. Hli-fucking-A-T.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

HliAT #20: Reading The Economist Espresso

How Long It Actually Takes To...

read The Economist Espresso6:55.18

So the point of this HliAT is to explode something I do, which maybe you do, too. It won't succeed in "exploding" it, but it's a push.

I often set up my workday in units of time (common freelancer thing, I imagine). And, depending on how much I value a given unit--how much I want to protect every minute of it (Erra's Throne)--I may tell myself that I don't have time to do certain things that cut into that work session.

In some cases this makes sense: there are days where the quiet early morning hours are valuable for real writing, so even if it would be nice to spend 30 minutes making and eating some pancakes (I don't need to HliAT this: there's a clock in the kitchen -- I'm always amazed by how long pancakes always take), it makes more sense to grab a delicious bar out of the fridge, make some coffee, get going.

Buuuuuut there are things that I deny myself sometimes in those moments that I know aren't that time-consuming. And this--reading the six or whatever little blurbs that comprise The Economist Espresso every day--is the canon example. Especially because I think it takes "too long"; the reason I think it takes "too long" is that it is in some small way balancing, distracting, transporting -- it's an extremely well put together little applet that is like a teaser for the day, and provides a few small hooks into the world. Now, there may be a valid argument sometimes to not "hook into the world"; there are in particular times when I don't want to be pulled out of non-real worlds. But usually not: usually it's nice to sit and center a little, and then "slip into it", which is the kind of language I use about going into real writing.

So ALL OF THIS IS TO SAY: the little balancing things often don't take so long. I should probably do them. Verified; quantified -- data 4 bettr living. xo ;)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

AlphaSmart 3000 Entries #1, #2, and #3: getting 2 no u

#1: ??? (sometime 2015)
hello i'm testing my funny new device
the keyboard sure is... mechanical.

#2: ??? (Fall 2015? Summer 2016? rly idk)
okay this is no longer a test. i have a to-do that i've had for eight months. to "journal" my holiday trip home from 2014. And, I had a bad day today because i didn't write well.

Jesus, the keyboard on this thing isn't so great. Given that it IS a keyboard, that's not good.

"this thing" is the alphasmart 3000, and my hands are going to get either strong or RSI if i decide to use it much.

here's the todoist note that i put on this to-do:

well, no wait. it won't let me look at the comment on my phone or tablet because i no longer have (lulz) todoist premium.

turns out i'm too tired to write much right now. i'm going to read or watch something, and go to bed.

#3: Last Night
okay experiment we'll see how this goes

i bought this thing awhile ago
that link is the only link these entries will have

it might suprirse you to learn that this keyboard is crappy

given that the whole POINT of this thing is keyboard, that is weird right?

it's mechanichal in a bad way, although i do woner if it won't get less sticky with use i mean i have let this thing sit on the shelf for awhile. a year, almost? i can mark it: i had recently started HEY YOU KNOW WHAT?

okay this thing is brilliant. it's doing exactly what i hoped it would do.

first of all YES it has a shift key and all that; t's a pretty ordinary keyboard. so this whole less-punctuation uncapitalized 'i's thing is  a total indulgence and affectation on my part and you should cal lme on it.

JAYSUS these keys are sticky. like: my hands are gonna get stronger if i keep this up.

i think i will.

the whole POINT  of a device such as this is its purity --- there is nothing but you and the text. and not even the WHOLE text: the little display is four lines tall so i _could_ go back and revise but c'mn. also: minimal formatting.

so here's what we'll do. a few times a week i'll pick htis thing up before bed, as i have just now. it's 1:42am Saturday morning; I've just fotten bac kfrom La MErida where I saw an old friend play officer Krupke in a rather good productin of _West Side Story_. I'm sorry i'm not going back for these spelling errors but these KEYS. anyway:

i will pick this thing up and write wht i feel like unti i'm too tired. not my fingers, i guses i mean: my brain. but wow heyese kesy.s but that that's what i'll do; this is the first enetry.

i'd say tings are off to an auspciiosu start.

o there's  button called "spell check." and a button "applets" (?). and a button "clear file"; hope that las tone at lteast gives a yes/no warning.

i'm gonna google "sticky keybard" and stuff like that .

oky i'm done i am fallng asleep.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


This happened to me;
it happened
just like this.

I promise.

First I need to tell you about divination.

In grammar, a protasis is the "subordinate clause of a conditional sentence"; i.e. it's the "if" in an if-then statement.

In divination--whichever method you practice!--the 'protasis' is the omen you observe or elicit (depending, again, on your method). So say we have an omen like this:

If an ewe gives birth to a lion but with the mouth of a bull,1 
that's the protasis; "if you see this crazy thing..."

So now you can guess what an apodosis is:
...[then] famine will ensue.2


So: unlike this guy, who knows lots about divination and is responsible for getting me interested in it, I'm not expert in this stuff.

But I've been reading about it for the last couple of years. Specifically, the divinatory forms of the Ancient Near East and how I might scavenge from that rich and--to me--bizarre tradition to embellish and, in some cases, drive action in Erra's Throne.

I'll spare the writing thoughts for elsewhere; angst, hope, words, dogfood.

The point is: with that context: here's the actual thing, happened to me.

Well actually, couple more fast divs things first.

There are lots of omens, whole categories, about the behavior of birds. Especially birds of prey. Lots of stuff like this:
[If the king...] gathered his army and went to undertake a campaign in the land of his enemy (and) a hawk went hunting and crossed from the right of the king to the left of the king — the king will achieve victory wherever he goes.
(Moren, Sally M. The Omen Series "Summa Alu": A Preliminary Investigation. University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. 1978.)
The way it notes the direction of movement (from the right to the left): that's standard. In these ANE forms, and also in Homeric bird divination, per our good man Duane Smith, "bird flight patterns, particularly birds flying to the right or the left of observers, and 2) birds carrying or dropping animals" is a frequent motif. [In this particular quote, Smith is making this claim re: Homeric bird divination. I am asserting that this motif extends to--or rather, given how the timing works out, possibly derives from or is at least found antecedently in--the ominous forms of the Ancient Near East. (Smith thinks so, too). If you have beef with that assertion: come at me, bro.]


I'm running up Sullivan Canyon towards Sullivan Ridge.

This is a great run; it's about 3.5 miles along the basin of a lush, verdant canyon -- trees, vines, roots everywhere; you can jag off the fire road onto the single track, to hop-skip amongst them.

Then it starts to tilt up, until there's about six-tenths of a mile at the end that's like FUQ,
then you're on the ridge.
If you turn around there it's a bit shy of 9 miles, round trip.
I'm down in the canyon; it's super-great, it looks like this.
I'm about three miles into the run, in the trees, canyon steeping up either side of me.

Let me also please remind you--I think remind is correct, given that if you're reading this you almost certainly know me--that I don't verbalize it much, but pretty much the fact of my cosseted life for the last ~2 years has been an obsession with Erra's Throne; it's the work that a day well-made hinges on, it's the grist and the mill and the apparatus of how my time and thought are structured, blah blah blah yeah you get it. It is the thing and will be till it's done.

And a lot of work on it, lately and in general, has been about the divination stuff.

So I'm running and I JUMP BACK
because a big scary shadow
flickers over the ground;

I look up just in time
to see the hawk fly away --
there are raptors in these mountains; it's wonderful;
I see them all the time.

But I've never seen one scoop low into the canyon like this,
and its shadow flashing big over green brush
was thrilling and scary.
I watch its red-brown plumage flash to the sky then

I leap back again
(it happened just like this -- s2g)
as something that the raptor dropped out of its claws
rakes down through the brush
to land loudly
maybe five feet before me:

A rattlesnake.

This is a pretty big one. As long as my arm? I'm not sure -- there was a lot going on.

Definitely this hawk has just dropped a rattlesnake in my path as it flew overhead.

The hawk was passing right to left; I'm not sure, at the time, what this sign could mean. I'm still not sure because a lot of the ominous stuff is highly contextual and I'm not sure how to fit myself into the social and cultural contexts given in ANE ominous tablet collections.

To give you a sense of what I mean, let's use the same text quoted above -- Sally M. Moren's 1978 dissertation on Šumma ālu, one of the canonical collections of omens from the ANE.

digression: the Internet
I'm going to include some brief notes on the author of this dissertation, with links as I encountered them because it was confusing in a way I enjoyed. This happened well before a hawk/snake duo omenized me on a run.

I was researching and looking for this omen collection itself; not like a Wikipedia entry about it, the actual series (translated, of course).

First I found this, indicating that a "S.M. Freedman" in 1998 did a thing that might have the content I was looking for. But I couldn't get at it through that site: I just kept clicking links that took me nowhere.

If you click on one of the links at the bottom of that Wikipedia entry, though, you get this -- which starts to tell some of the story.

Searching around the Internet for the text, Amazon comes up with this; either in a somewhat-incredible typo, or by somewhat incredible coincidence, a "Sally M. Freddman" apparently wrote a thing on the series once. The thing that she wrote, if you buy it on Amazon, costs seventy dollars -- so I kept searching, Freedman or Freddman or no.

Finally--of course, after all this--I find this, which both has the actual text of the series itself (or some of it, anyway) AND a clear explication by the scholar in question of what has gone on here. In 1978 Ms. Sally M. Moren  completed her doctoral dissertation in "Oriental Studies" for the University of Pennsylvania; at some later point Ms. Moren became Mrs. Freedman in a change that, despite one infelicitous typo on Amazon, transferred digitally to the attribution of work she'd done under her previous name.

I hope that she's happy and thriving. I am grateful for the work that she did.
end digression

So here are some possible explanations of what my omen might mean, according to Moren's work.

If hawks walked in the road and [...] -- [...] a wolf will die [...]
Okay what the fuck. I can't even think of a metaphorical explication of this. Also the hawk didn't walk. Also...I mean...wolves?? Forget this one.

[If the king...] gathered his army and went to undertake a campaign in the land of his enemy (and) a hawk went hunting and crossed from the right of the king to the left of the king -- the king will achieve victory wherever he goes.
Okay! Right to left: check! But the "king" thing is a stretch, even in a highly figurative understanding of myself (I'm..."king" of my life? I'm "king" of this trail? At this second??). And I'm definitely not in the land of my enemy, there in Sullivan Canyon; at worst, I'm in neutral nature-territory, and honestly it feels more like "home" (even if, or perhaps because, no one else is there).


So, back to the moment itself: the big rattlesnake is just...laying there.

I wonder if it's dead. It doesn't look torn up, but it fell a long way, and who knows what hawks do to rattlesnakes high in the air.

I kind of warily edge around it, but don't move past...I want it to move. I wonder if it's playing dead, because of my presence.

After about twenty seconds of my movement it shifts into life, rearing up and marking me with its scary A/F snake-ness...and it slithers off into the brush.

I watch as it goes. It doesn't look wounded. I decide it will live, and wonder if that conclusion has any ominous significance.

I finish my run. I don't remember if I did an out-and-back, or went a ways on the spine once I got to the top, taking a different switchback trail back down. Either way, I do know, it was good.