Friday, 8 August 1997:

Weekend Unwinding

Grump, again; the comics still haven't arrived. Maybe this UPS strike isn't such a good thing, after all. Well, actually, it sounds like a big part of a problem is the comics distributor. Comics distribution is a near-monopoly these days, and as you'd expect, the service is less-than-wonderful. The 'free' market really sucks sometimes (it's 'free' only if you have the money to pay for it). Maybe this weekend.

Work has been sort of calm-and-frantic at the same time lately. This week started off in frantic mode: I flew out at 6 am Monday morning on a business trip, and returned at 11 pm the same day. We spent three times as much time travelling as we did working that day. Amazing. It went well, and I got some reading done on the plane, but business travel is not generally for me, especially not when it entails 20-hour days.

Basically, what I like to do at work is to program. I'm a builder, and I like to have some latitude to build stuff the way I think is best - which is sometimes how it works out, and sometimes not. Fortunately, I'm in a position at work that most of what I do is programming, which keeps me basically happy. This has been a difficult year so far, due to some tighter-than-usual deadlines, but I'm hoping the payoff will be in a good basic system that we can improve over time, and without the rough schedules.

Right now we're in a relative lull - the programmers, that is - because we're mostly fixing bugs that the QAers find in the latest round of enhancements. So sometimes we have hours to fill with other projects, other times we're frantically trying to keep up with the QAers. Pretty reasonable, but still work, and tiring after 5 days of it.

After work today I came home and puttered around on the computer for a while, and then went into my usual weekend night routine. This typically involves going somewhere to find dinner (there's a good gyro place that I often go to), and then going to read at a nearby coffee shop.

This is a habit I think I picked up in college; the bohemian coffee houses in New Orleans are dark but homey, and very accommodating as far as reading goes. Most of them also had games - chess, Scrabble, and the like - and I'd play them with friends or with the odd stranger. I wasn't really an "artsy" student (I never wear black, for one thing!), but I find I get along with such a crowd pretty well. The place I preferred opened at 7 pm and closed at 3 am!

Madison has yuppie-style coffee shops, along the line of the endless Seattle chains: Wooden floors, minimalist tables, well-lit, and so forth. It's okay, I guess, but not quite the same. Summer is a good time to sit in the shops, because all the students are gone and there's plenty of seating space. I get a little antsy with too many people around. I'm not much of a bar person (I don't really drink beer, and they always seem to be too loud). I occasionally get into some interesting conversations, but mostly I read.

Tonight I worked on the two collections of the comic book Thieves and Kings I bought. It's about a young (14?) thief named Rubel who returns to his home city and finds that everything he remembered has changed, and begins to have adventures involving the Prince's guardsmen, and some mysterious and mystical beings. The art is a little too Manga-style for my tastes, but overall it's a whimsical and charming adventure comic. I think I'll start buying the regular series.

Oh, yeah: I generally order a caffe mocha to drink, and a bagel if they have any.

Diane Patterson wrote an interesting piece in her journal today about how there are so many journalists and most of them can't-or-won't write well, and few are worth reading. She also suggests that some of them want to become well-known or even famous through their journals, and give up writing them when this doesn't happen. I have no basis from which to contradict her statements, but it did make me think a bit about why I started this journal.

I'm certainly not after fame-n-fortune; I've been APAhacking for a decade and sure haven't become famous that way. What I'm doing both in APAs and here is writing partly for me, and partly for a particular audience. I would be ecstatic if I eventually had 10 regular readers. I don't know a whole lot about the audience for on-line journals (though I suspect it's in no small part made up of other journalists), so I don't even know what sort of audience I might get. It's weird; even on USENET I typically know what sort of audience I'm playing to, but this is totally mysterious to me.

I'm not sure how I feel about people I know in person reading this journal. I know some people are happy to have their friends read their journals, and others pointedly ask such people not to read them. I don't feel like huffily asking anyone to go away, but for now I'm not really going to advertise it, either; there's not even a link to this thing from my home page. I'll see how that flies for a few weeks or months, I think.

I think I'm going to do the grunt work to get on Open Pages this weekend. Once again, I think it's put-up-or-shut-up time.

And then I think I'll declare a personal moratorium on musing about why I'm doing this.

At least until I can't stand it anymore.

(Does anyone else feel this way about starting an on-line journal? Hmm.)

(Whoops, I just noticed that the OP info asks that at least 7 entries be up before requesting admission to the ring. So I'll have to wait a little while. Ah, impatience, thy name is Rawdon!)

One last word on the movie Contact before I stop: If you enjoyed the film, you might enjoy the novel Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt, which is similar in many ways.
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Michael Rawdon (Contact)