Friday, December 31, 2010

Everything Can Change On A New Year's Day


One of the charming things about being human is the ability to keep finding hope, to keep finding ways to think that life will get better. I'm a pretty strict rationalist, but I'm still believing that while there's no discernible difference between today and tomorrow, the advent of 2011 will create a new start, a clean slate, a chance to begin anew.

My 2010 would be familiar to anyone who watches the Denver Broncos regularly: an early touchdown followed by a descent into ineptitude, one solid quarter followed by missed blocks, fumbles, blown coverage. I haven't addressed it on here and won't beyond this paragraph, but the engagement is no longer on (and hasn't been for some months). There's no anger -- just a lot of sorrow, and a lot of willful self-destructive drinking.

So as 2011 dawns, I'm more or less back where I was at the start of 2010 -- just with a little less hope, and a little more wisdom. (and 25 fewer pounds. Let's hear it for one resolution kept.) Rather than continue the pattern of moping-drinking-moping-drinking, I'll choose to look back on the good of 2010. Some cool new friends (yo to MMW and Reeby), reconnections with old friends (word up to Therese), wonderful people who have been there all along, new places to spend all my time and money at (Diesel), and new hope in the form of glorious human Josh Goddamn Freeman (and yeah, Timmy Tebow too, but he wasn't the frequent monster J-Free was).

And I'll choose to look ahead to the exciting of 2011 -- more writing, an exciting trip (details to come, once I sort it all out), and hopefully some long-overdue changes. I've got plenty of resolutions, but for once I won't stick my neck out and make a big deal out of them. A trusted confidante knows them and will presumably give me shit if I blow them.

So happy new year. Best to all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heartbreak Alley

The corridor behind my apartment is no stranger to late-night drama, but last night's was pretty classic, even if it woke me up. First, a severely inebriated girl about 2 a.m., hollering into what must have been a bad cell phone connection:

"Horrible! Horrible! Not adorable -- you're goddamn fucking horrible!"

Shortly after, a couple noisily broke up in the same alley. Note to the dude -- you sound like a duck when you get agitated.

* * *

Not that I'm sounding much better, I'm afraid. I'm coping with a head cold of magnificent proportions. It seems like I've been sick for about the last two months of 2010, and it seems like I've been sick for more than half of the last few New Year's Eves. We'll see if I wake up hale and hearty tomorrow, but today was bad enough that I was ordered home from work, and even Bowl Noodle Soup isn't stopping the phlegm parade.

So one last book for 2010 -- with my head the way it is, I can't imagine I'll finish anything tomorrow:

#60 -- "The Code Book" by Simon Singh

I've wanted this for a long while now -- long enough, perhaps, that I suspect the material on modern-day cryptography is far out of date. No real matter to me as getting into all the tech of that made my mucus-filled head spin. The fun stuff with me was all the old-style codebreaking, the see-saw of tougher codes versus tougher cracks. The translations of dead languages were pretty thrilling. I wish I'd read this alongside Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" -- if I didn't have so many other unread books, I might do that next. Ah well.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Karma Stew

(everyone's allowed one Circle Jerks-song post title per year)

I tend to expect the worst. So it's a bit of a surprise that when they started canceling Christmas Day flights out of Atlanta (because of the POSSIBILITY of snow), I shrugged and assumed mine wouldn't be one.

I was mistaken, natch. I logged on Friday just to make sure, saw the dreaded red letters telling me my flight had been affected, and found out that my three-hour Christmas morning jaunt had turned into a nine-hour descent into hell, beginning before dawn and concluding well into the Colorado afternoon.

Thankfully, Delta had a list of alternatives -- and one of them was a direct flight, leaving in just three hours. I took it, called my parents, threw a bunch of crap into a bag and rushed to the airport, and made the flight.

And -- found out that I'd been put in first class gratis. Which was every bit as sumptuous as I recall. Spacious seats! Free drinks! An interesting seatmate!

This sort of thing never happens to me (said in best Penthouse Forum style) -- I associate flying with screaming kids and getting my seat double-booked. I don't usually fall upwards.

So now I'm wondering -- has my karma improved? Or is the world just setting me up for an even bigger kick in the ass?

I have to fly back tomorrow (to be at work Monday), which will probably answer that question.

Anyway: Merry Christmas! The goat still stands!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Coming Up For Air

I'm writing this with spikes of pain shooting up from my jaw, through my brain, out the top of my head, presumably dissipating somewhere in the stratosphere. Thanks in part to a rather hands-off approach to oral maintenance (my last dentist died nearly two years ago, and I only found out this month) an old root canal has gone bad and now I'm facing the prospect of rather more invasive surgery. Hooray. It's the perfect cap to this year, which started with such promise but then went badly awry. I usually like my metaphors less painful than this, though.

I haven't been updating this because really, there's one post that's just repeating over and over in my head: I don't like what I'm doing, I need to do something different, I'm afraid to make the jump. That little circle. I know (more or less) what I need to do -- now I just need to find the strength. Stupid, obvious patterns: as a kid, I was afraid to go off the diving board or do the abseiling exercises in gym class - until, finally, my hand was forced. And then I had fun.

Really plain lessons, you'd think, but apparently they haven't taken.

Anyway: Merry Christmas!

Books:

#57: "Freakonomics" by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt

#58: "Men of Tomorrow" by Gerard Jones

#59: "A Nervous Splendor" by Frederic Norton

"Freakonomics" -- I've been wanting to develop some basic economic knowledge beyond an Econ 101 class nearly two decades ago, and two people I respect told me to check this out. (thanks to my usual abhorrence of bestsellers, of course, I NEEDED to be told to check it out.) It's great fun -- we'll see if I picked anything up from it if/when I continue my ad-libbed economic education.

"Men of Tomorrow" -- Jones is great as a comics historian, and after a slow start, this chronicle of the early days of the comic book industry is fantastic. It's also very, very even-handed -- the treatment of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster is sort of the centerpiece of the book, and Jones is fair and calm in assessing it. Nice work.

"A Nervous Splendor" -- Vienna over the course of the winter of 1888-1889, when modernization was showing signs of leaving Austria-Hungary behind, and the one man who perhaps could have helped it along first was marginalized and then committed suicide. Marvelously written, made me really glad that I didn't live in late 19th century Vienna.