Chris Vandemore <lj-user="chrisvandemore"> suggested this week that I lost weight mainly to <i>appear</i> to be using less of the Earth's resources. Now, that's partially accurate, but I feel a wee bit misrepresented here. One of the recurring themes in my so-called "spiritual" life is a desire to consume less; this is possibly rooted in my Presbyterian upbringing, which seemed to emphasize thrift and compassion over greed and recklessness. As a result, from time to time I've seriously wondered if I'm taking too much away from the rest of the world. I know, that sounds wonderfully pretentious, but at some level it's a valid concern. For example, I know that eating less meat means using less of the finite resources we have as a planet; it takes a lot more energy to provide me 100 kJ of meat than it does to provide me 100 kJ worth of tofu. As a result, I tend to eat vegetarian more often than I suppose is normal, even for a Californian. But over the past couple of years, I started to sense a kind of interconnect between foreigners' views of the USA as a country that vastly overuses resources and the fact that something like 68% of the American population is overweight or obese [second only to Australia, I believe!]. I mean, wouldn't you? US takes too much away from everyone else; US citizens are fat. So I decided to at least personally make an effort to be more responsible with my food consumption. Sure, mostly because at 33 I could sense it was going to become a bigger health problem [last week, for example, the BBC reported on a Dutch study that indicated an obese man would likely live at least 7 years fewer than one of healthy weight - and in 2001, I was definitely medically obese], but also because I felt a kind of moral responsibility to not use too much more than my fair share of our common, finite resources. Yeah, I still drive to work instead of cycle, and I probably could heat the house a little bit less in winter, but I like to think I'm trying.
Work: week 3 is down and it's still good. I seem to be hammering away as fast as I can. It's strange but after the long break I don't think I missed too much after all in terms of technology. This is partly certainly due to the fact that I'm working on a product that in some ways has remained unchanged since the late 1990s, but also due to the fact that I haven't really started to bang away on XML/XSLT features, and also partly due to the fact that I haven't gained access to the source code yet [I'd like to look at the stuff that uses OmniORB and whatnot but the cvs admin isn't reachable right now]. It's wonderful having a paycheck again, at any rate.
Wine: another week, another collection of empties. This week we had a 2000 Bonny Doon Uva di Troia from Puglia, which was delightfully lovely, with an air of violet pastilles and a fabulously delicate mouthfeel. There was also a Corbiéres that sucked, a cheap Beaulieu cabernet [coastal?] appropriated from a Netscape office party which was promptly poured down the drain, a $8 Prosecco that was pretty cool, even if it wasn't the kind of thing I imagine myself drinking too very often in the future, and that was it. The cellar is still progressing to a state in which it's all good stuff; we're down to about two cases of probable plonk, mostly Chilean reds at this point. I hope to do some wine shopping this weekend - I've been bummed recently that I don't really have any white wine, save for a few cases of riesling that I'm trying not to drink until it's old and petrol-y. I stopped by The Wine Club in Santa Clara on my way home from work yesterday and picked up a few things - a Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, some Bonny Doon white wine, and some Roederer Estate sparkling wine - but they didn't have very much in stock, which was frustrating. No Malvasia, no pink wine of any kind, no inexpensive whites [just a fucking acre of Chardonnay, mostly expensive Californian ones, and some random stuff]. They did have a bottle of the Fairview Goat Rotie which was tempting, but I really only came to buy white, so it had to stay.
So, today I'll go hiking in Oakland and run by a few of the wine shops up there: Oddlots in Albany, K&L and The Wine Club in The City, maybe Kermit Lynch [I've never been and suspect I can't afford anything there].
Have to go by Amoeba as well to get a few CDs; Dan's got a few to sell. I need to get a few copies of the new Max Tundra as well as that Wilco CD I still haven't heard, plus maybe have a quick look around to see if I can find that Turin Brakes single with the Max Tundra remix and hopefully some of the old '$' 7"s on tigerbeat6. Don't want to spend too much money though. Oh, and I'm probably going to wind up doing a thorough purge of all of the wma files cluttering up my PC. Bleah. That's going to take ages. I really should put up a picture of my CD collection - it's become absolutely unmanageable. Still, nothing compared to <lj user="explosivo">, but hey. And there's still the matter of all the vinyl in the basement, and I don't even have a turntable. One of these days I'll get right on it and start making WMAs out of that stuff, but I wonder if that's going to be in 2004 or later.
Books: I also have about half a metric tonne of books to get rid of. Stuff like a complete Oxford edition of the works of Mark Twain [which really, really sucks: it's just facsimiles of the first editions coupled with annoyingly modern introductions by marginally famous contemporary authors] and a bunch of random cruft that's been cluttering up my bookshelves since the 90s. Beyond that, at some point I'd like to alphabetize and catalog the rest of my stuff; I still have a nearly complete set of the works of Gilbert Adair, Alasdair Gray, Adam Mars-Jones, Ralf König, Max Goldt, Georges Perec, Harry Mathews, and Rudy Rucker, but I'd like to more anal-retentively <i>present</i> it. Speaking of which, my package from Amazon.de still isn't here yet, which is pissing me off. I'm about two years behind on my Goldt/König reading, and this is keeping me from it. The bastards, er, schweinehunde.
I also seem to need a new coffeemaker all of a sudden. My trusty Braun from the Tanforan mall Sears [bought in 1993 when I was working next door at CompUSA] is starting to act up. $30, ten years, not a bad buy. But which coffee machine to replace it with? Yeah, it's probably going to be some stylish German thing. I'm so predictable.
Brian lent me a strange sf book last week called The Iron Dragon's Daughter. I... didn't like it. It seems like the author has a background in German literature, seeing as how the book is littered with quasi-jokey references to stuff like the Erlkönig, but it just didn't integrate well. Most the book found me flipping pages and wondering why there didn't seem to be any kind of overarching style or even plot to speak of; hm.
Discovered that the San José library pretty well sucks this week. Kitty had to go to the vet, so I took the light rail back from work [it takes me twenty minutes to drive home from FileMaker, but taking the light rail took fifty minutes just to get downtown, and that's still a twenty minute walk from home!] and got off at the convention center stop, home of the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Main Library. Once inside, I learned a few things about what our public library really is about:
- Books don't seem to be particularly fashionable these days. Judging by the clientele, the library really exists only to provide free 'Net surfing and chat, VCDs of Cantonese soap operas, popular music CDs [you know, like The Beatles, yawn], Vietnamese romance novels, and the occasional extremely useful books like "Rhapsody: Apple's New Cross Platform Development System".
- Although everything is self-service now, they still have to hire full time assistants to help the clue-fucked clientele deal with the system. "No, sir, you need to lay the book down flat, like in that picture." LAME
- In terms of finding actual books I could use, most of them were either just plain not part of the collection, many of them were stolen or missing, and a few of them were theoretically available. EF Codd's book on relational database theory, for example, well... there is one copy available in the entire city, and the waiting list stretches out forever. And there were no books on Transact-SQL in the collection, but plenty of DVDs of "Madeleine".
- So, in the public library system of the tenth largest American city, you're pretty well fucked if you're out to do actual research intead of merely wanting to be entertained.
I did get a copy of The Orchid Thief, though, and a copy of a so far pretty fucking cool book called Everyone In Silico, by some Canadian antiglobalization kinda dude, ex-editor of Adbusters. I still don't understand the obsession with fretting over brand names, but the writing is fine and the book is enjoyable. It was published by Four Walls Eight Windows, who have just published The Hacker and the Ants version 2.0 by Rudy Rucker, which is also on my eventually-buy list [I think it's just a new cover, but it's a wonderful book at any rate, easily the definitive novel of Silicon Valley, first published in 1994 or so].
OK, that's all for now. I believe I'd intended to write something about... but I forgot what it was. Damn.