moon

Him: This is not as good as Space Odyssey
Me: You cannot compare every film to Space Odyssey!!!

Whereas Space Odyssey could be a grand display of Nietzsche’s ideas on recurrence, Moon is perhaps a quiet meditation from a more human perspective

Clone II learning wood carving from Clone I brings to mind this particular passage from Nietzsche: What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Just as the starchild in the last scene of Space Odyssey could be a reference to Bodhisattva (菩萨), Clone II puts on his yellow sleeping suit and starts a new journey at the end of Moon. Let the adventure begin.

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ain’t she sweet (COUNT=1328)

1. When I fly to St Louis on a Sunday afternoon, he takes me to the UP station and each time, we say: Wouldn’t it be nice to grab a drink at the UPstairs Lounge? So that’s where we kicked off the weekend at 6:30 on Friday (with jazz and blinking departure lights)

2. Followed by unplanned dinner at Bravi. I was here a while ago for a corporate event. On a surprisingly quiet night, it’s rather romantic with salty olives and lush calamari

3. And somehow we find ourselves singing ain’t she sweet (and now I ask you very confidentially)

4. Saturday coffee day revisiting Sumach Espresso

5. Followed by unplanned walk through Acadia (and I picked up some Chekhov short stories)

6. For dinner, I made two vegetable dishes with a little extra apple cider vinegar while he prepared rice and meatballs (as 50/50 as 50/50 can be)

la la la (COUNT=1322)


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Well it’s half way through November

Time to start thinking about new year’s resolutions and I’m thinking 2017 can be the year to travel without traveling. For example, I can finally upload all my pictures of La Paz while humming La La La.

Of course, I will continue to travel to St Louis for work and we will continue to visit his family in Collingwood. But other than that, I can simply sit on my couch and read about an artist who wanders the streets of Oslo. Or watch movies of different places from different times.

My dad gave us a subset of his DVD collection and we started with Los Angeles: Altman’s Short Cuts. Because Carver’s writing is somewhat minimalist, I never imagined his characters to live in LA but somehow the setting really works. Instead of trying to describe the movie (the little stubbornness, the big cruelty and so on), I think a section of wikipedia captures the feel.

The following excerpt from Scott Driscoll’s review of Maryann Burk Carver’s 2006 memoir describes the decline of Maryann and Raymond’s marriage.

The fall began with Ray’s trip to Missoula, Mont., in ’72 to fish with friend and literary helpmate Bill Kittredge. That summer Ray fell in love with Diane Cecily, an editor at the University of Montana, whom he met at Kittredge’s birthday party. “That’s when the serious drinking began. It broke my heart and hurt the children. It changed everything.”

“By fall of ’74”, writes Carver, “he was more dead than alive. I had to drop out of the Ph.D. program so I could get him cleaned up and drive him to his classes”. Over the next several years, Maryann’s husband physically abused her. Friends urged her to leave Raymond.

“But I couldn’t. I really wanted to hang in there for the long haul. I thought I could outlast the drinking. I’d do anything it took. I loved Ray, first, last and always.”

Carver describes, without a trace of rancor, what finally put her over the edge. In the fall of ’78, with a new teaching position at the University of Texas at El Paso, Ray started seeing Tess Gallagher, a writer from Port Angeles, who would become his muse and wife near the end of his life. “It was like a contretemps. He tried to call me to talk about where we were. I missed the calls. He knew he was about to invite Tess to Thanksgiving.” So he wrote a letter instead.

“I thought, I’ve gone through all those years fighting to keep it all balanced. Here it was, coming at me again, the same thing. I had to get on with my own life. But I never fell out of love with him.”

Next Part of the Traveling without Traveling Itinerary
London: LeRoy’s Waterloo Bridge
Paris: Truffaut’s Last Metro

hurricane theory

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When I travel, I usually travel through book stores. In New Orleans, I picked up The Moviegoer by Walker Percy at the Garden District Book Shop. Just finished it. For a book about despair, it is refreshingly optimistic

Another quote from another Percy book: Though science taught that good environments were better than bad environments, it appeared to him that the opposite was the case. Take hurricanes, for example, certainly a bad environment if ever there was one. It was his impression that not just he but other people too felt better in hurricanes

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pluto used to be a planet


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Before being demoted to a mere exoplanet by Mike “Pluto Killer” Brown, Pluto was riding high as Planet Nine. Before being demoted to a mere exoplanet by Mike “I Hate Pluto” Brown, Pluto was riding high as Planet Nine. But you know what, no one can tell Pluto what it is and is not, and no one can tell you that either. Pluto can still be a planet if it wants, and you can still be an artist if you want, so do your thing.

Yesterday, the cashier at Metro had to restart the machine twice. Standing there watching the windows logo crawl across the monitor, I thought of DFW again (e.g. within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars) and proceeded to compare and contrast the various ways the people ahead of me in line expressed their frustrations.

In this age of social media, people talk about personal branding all the time. PwC has an entire deck on how to impress others “with the unique and authentic you”. My problem is more fundamental. How to impress myself with the unique and authentic me?

Maybe what makes my life “not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars” is my ability to find joy in the analysis of any situation. Fighting!

off to the rat race


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When Trevor did my performance review a few years ago, he threw in this Oscar Wilde quote: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

David Foster Wallace provides a good description of my stars: If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars

Basically, I have this belief that, if I keep trying, I will find that every person at work is on the same wavelength as me and every work situation is “not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars”.

DFW: That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing

I think part of growing up is realizing that there is no real freedom. To make peace with “the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing”, we need to accept that “we are all in the gutter” and running the rat race.

This is not an easy thing for me to accept because I’ve tried so hard to be somewhat different. Maybe it’s not about running a different race but running the race differently.

15 days till colombia


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La Zona Cafetera, here I come!

I feel a little bit silly writing about coffee regions because, honestly, I don’t really care as long as it’s French roast.

Wikipedia: 240 °C (464 °F) French Roast Dark brown, shiny with oil, burnt undertones, acidity diminished. At the end of second crack. Roast character is dominant, none of the inherent aroma or flavors of the coffee remain.

dailymail: A recent study by Oxford University found the colour of the mug that you drink your coffee from can have an effect on the flavour. The researchers discovered that when coffee was drunk from a white mug, the intensity of the flavour increased, in comparison to drinking the same coffee from a transparent mug. // It is thought that the white mug may have influenced the perceived brownness of the coffee and this, in turn, may have influenced the perceived intensity.

nytimes: When it gets hot in Macondo, it gets so hot that men and beasts go mad and birds attack houses. A long spell of rain is remember to have lasted, not weeks, but four years, eleven months and two days. When a plague hits the region, it is no ordinary killer but an “insomnia plague,” which gradually causes people to forget everything including the names and uses of the most commonplace objects. In order to combat the memory loss, the villagers label chairs and clocks and even hang a sign on the cow: “This is the cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.”