Saturday, 23 August 1997:


Epic had its annual company picnic today. It's the fourth one I've been to (seeing as I've been at Epic since mid-1994), and each year it's held at Devil's Lake State Park. Devil's Lake is a decent-sized lake enclosed by huge bluffs, formed by retreating glaciers, I believe, and the area was an Indian ground for a long time. It's quite pretty, as are many of Wisconsin's state parks.

A few years ago, some other Epicurians conned me into climbing the bluffs. The first third of the climb - over the huge, individual rocks that make up the bluffs - is pretty reasonable. Then it gets steep, and you realize the sun is burning down on you and you finished your soda 100 feet below. Then the top third is not-quite-vertical, and a lot of it involves dirt and plants, which are hard to grab hold of. And you need to find a way around the sheer cliffs. Finally, we got to the top and one of my compatriots said that we could take the stairway down.

Uh... there's a stairway?

Epic's internal population consists largely of twenty- and thirty-somethings who are either recently married, or recent parents. So there are a lot of couples discussions, and a lot of activities centered around 1-to-6-year-old kids. The food is good but not great (I stuck to hamburgers this year; it's hard to screw up a hamburger). It's not really an event which is geared towards independent single folks like myself. It's not exactly a venue to "meet people", either, since the merits of dating someone from work are dubious, I think (besides which, I'm a rather strange person and therefore hard to be compatible with).

All that being what it was, I had a good time, but decided to leave after about 3 hours. Hanging around with the collective body of Epic isn't really my scene, socially speaking.

On the way home I stopped at 20th Century Books, Madison's SF & comics specialty store, because I wanted to find a copy of Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves, which is often considered his best novel. My Dad read it recently and wants to discuss it with me. Asimov's main virtue - which is a not inconsiderable one - is that he can make scientific notions comprehensible to laymen. His writing style, however, is unsophisticated to the point of seeming naive. I enjoy his stuff, but it doesn't make me especially warm.

By the way, if you're interested in what books do make me warm, see my list of favorite SF books.

It's sort of been drizzling all day, and threatens to rain in earnest tonight. Hopefully I can still go biking tomorrow, but if it does rain tomorrow, I hope it pours and makes a big racket. I don't want to have my ride cancelled due to an otherwise wimpy storm.

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