wax banks

second-best since Cantor

Category: freewrite


Two nights in a row now of bad trouble sleeping — capped w/an early morning courtesy of our son. Up & at them. The kind of sleep deficit you think might kill you. Homeostatic sleep pressure is real, I think; should I nap? Must I sleep in order to want to sleep? To want properly — I really really wanna sleep of course, just can’t translate that desire into action, if ‘action’ is the right word.

My wife bought him a cactus, which for various reasons has taken up residence on the kitchen counter. She bought it at IKEA. As one does. The whole store is a giant greenhouse, if you’ve never been. All the carefully packed KILBY bookshelves are badly water damaged. MAZE OF THE BLACK SVØLBØRG.

At lunch yesterday over veggie sushi (warm sweet potato sushi yes yes) I read Maze of the Blue Medusa awhile.

Now it’s too early. I’m on the couch. Head lolling back, eyes closed, typing fingertipwise only while hoping not to sleep exactly but to drift off. Mind halfconnected. In Strunk & White they say to avoid using hyphens when compound words are available, which finewithme. Humorous anecdote about two newspapers merging & foolishly taking a hyphen into their bed to become the News-Free Press. Oh strunkwhite, you scamp.

Apparently ‘Phish Twitter’ is up in arms about something. But I don’t seem to be connected to the right people anymore, because I didn’t see any of it — only people giving thanks for one another and for the good times they had at the show. Plus maybe a little (gentle) sarcasm about recent Trey butchery of the writtens. Do I need angrier acquaintances?

I’m not alone in my preoccupations, which paradoxically makes me less inclined to write about them. I needed that feeling of isolation to have something to push against.

Or but then maybe not.

I’m now aware of dozens of people (or anyway usernames) who share my reading interests and who indeed read more widely in the ‘eliptonic’ and the Weird than I do. Suggesting there are of course thousands of them. I mean ‘us.’ What I could do is join the world and talk to them. That seems like so much work, though.


freewrite to start my reign as lord of all catan. cutthroat game last night at rugs’s house. the game’s only fully compelling when everyone lets their guard down for the first 1/3 or so and actively trades. i’m usually too tight-fisted early on, refusing to give anyone else even a marginal advantage, which has the twofold effect of (1) slowing my development and (2) doing the same to everyone else. actively trading with everyone at the beginning accelerates the opening and midgame but leaves plenty of room for screw-tightening in the endgame.

i won after a couple of huge two-city resource pulls — i had two cities on a 3-wood space, which paid off something unlikely like twice during the game overall, one of those coming at the last possible moment for me to steal Longest Road from krevice, who was within a couple of turns of winning, i think. those four woods lemme build four roads at a stroke. suddenly we’re in the endgame! one turn later i shored up my Longest Road title and it was just a matter of turning out a city and a settlement to close it out. which took an improbably long time but wasn’t, at that point, really in doubt.

i don’t normally think of Settlers in terms of ‘building an engine,’ the way i/you think of Dominion, but last night it really clicked for me. i normally play a development card-heavy strategy in one or two small board regions, which gives me the mild thrill of bluffing and sneaking up on everyone to get Largest Army (no one else in our crew is as crazy about cards as i am), but this time i played a diversified Longest Road strategy that let me build my ‘engine’ steadily without it getting too taxing or boring. this pushed Krevice into a late-game card-buying binge, which nearly won it all for him — he had two VP in hand and was a turn away from Largest Army. Rugs was never really in the running after being throttled early by bad dice luck and awkward opening placement.

now that there are so many great German-style board games at every rules weight, it’s easy to forget that the reason Catan is so popular is that it’s an absolutely gorgeous design — for most groups, a near-perfect ‘starter’ game.

(freebate dewrite)

Freewrite to start the day. Eyes closed. It’s cold outside but I literally walked out to the car (to collect hat, glasses) singing ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning,’ just to give you a sense of how grand a man can be.

My voice has returned to normal. For a couple of weeks after we returned from Disneyworld it was ragged — an octave lower than normal when I was quiet. All the ladies loved it. All the Skywalkers instinctively perked up their ears when I spoke. But that’s all over now, I think. When I speak in a low voice now I hear what I used to: the auditory remnants of undiagnosed childhood asthma. The lungs aren’t regenerative. I’ll never be a true tenor again but probably only cancer will turn me into a baritone.

And then only for a short time.

Well this got morbid dinnit. Eyes closed again. Word count. It becomes important to a man to maintain ‘word count.’ I haven’t worried about sperm count in a few years but so it’s nice to have a quantifiable measure of some sort.

My son is up. This doesn’t concern me. ‘Daddy! Come!’ he yells downstairs, but I say I’m writing and he decides to pester my wife for a while instead. One of my resolutions for the new year: play with my son undistractedly more often. I was doing superbly at first but the last few days have been, for reasons I can no longer recall, trying. Pendulum swings.

Been listening to NewToMe old music. Camel case, see? That’s how you know I once studied computer science, though a man — a real man — would have lowercased that first letter. And verbed the word ‘lowercase.’ Thank god this text editor has the dignity and taste to mark the word ‘verbed’ as a typo.

I couldn’t watch the debate last night. I often find it hard to watch those things. I don’t derive pleasure from seeing stupid people behave stupidly, nor do I particularly enjoy watching sociopaths insult each other, nor am I able to keep a cool head while wealthy predators lie outright about their victims. The Dem debates are harder than the GOP clownshow. I still haven’t decided which candidate I’ll back (I’m a registered independent and likely won’t vote in the primary), but while Sanders is the only candidate driven by principle — not counting Trump’s devotion to Likes and Faves, which I don’t think are technically principles — his answers to foreign policy questions have been oddly weak, and in a perverse way he’s too ideologically focused for me to be confident about his ability to balance governing priorities.

Milt Jackson playing, beautiful. Discovered yesterday an amazing jazz/funk fusion project called Cortex — a French band. Never heard of them. Later today, some John Klemmer, Paul Bley, and another try at Skip Spence’s Oar, which comes highly recommended but which I haven’t made it through yet.

In the new year I’ve listened to entire albums by Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie for the first time. Of course you’ve heard all the music before. Everyone has. But listening hard over a day I finally started to hear what everyone else did. I still find Bowie convincing only part of the time, but that part’s divine, anyway.

Time to get up for realsies.

Apple blogtivism.

(This began as a morning freewrite a month or more ago. I haven’t edited or indeed thought deeply about it.)

I use Apple tech products almost exclusively. They’re well made and the price is generally reasonable. We use Mac laptops, so integrating with Apple handhelds and phones is easy — and worth something to us. I still get good use out of my first-generation iPad, actually, though it’s been ‘superseded’ in every way by later models. Other than my wife’s pedometer and a Nintendo 3DS I was given a few years ago, that’s about it for non-Apple electronic gadgets. It’s a combination of preference and habit.

Maybe this is what ‘brand loyalty’ means. I wouldn’t switch to an Android tablet, say, because it’d damage our ecosystem of instantly synchronized services and devices, with little compensating gain in freedom and much additional hassle (organizationally and culturally, Android is a clusterfuck). I wouldn’t switch to a Windows laptop because my current Mac workflow is solid.

But I find the public’s interest in Apple-the-company embarrassing, and (worse, from my perspective) predictable. Mostly people are interested in Apple’s fortunes for the same reasons they’re interested in, of all things, box office receipts for expensive Hollywood movies: people with no money like to look at money, and to ascribe it magical powers. Relative to Apple, we all have no money.

The subtype of tech/gadget punditry (already one of the least interesting ‘journalistic’ fields there is) known as Apple punditry, derisively but not inaccurately known as ‘the Apple fanboy blogs,’ retains a weird fascination for me after all these years for a couple of reasons:

  • fake technical sophistication
  • style fetishism that boils down to ‘if it’s Apple-like, it’s “elegant” design’
  • the related idea that proximity to Apple’s style imparts it to the blogger
  • wonkish dilettantism and narrowness
  • naked advocacy, well and subtly compensated with free gadgets and microfame, in the guise of ‘journalism’
  • regular anti-Google/anti-Amazon childishness
  • their incredible ability to cheer for Apple as if it were (still) the scrappy underdog rather than one of the largest corporations in human history
  • (oh, and their bizarre need to cheer for Apple)

The common reason given by Apple bloggers for that last bullet point is disingenuous, not to mention nonsensical: ‘They make the best products.’ This inevitably comes off as an analogue of ‘This is the best bottle of wine’ rather than ‘This car handles best on wet roads.’ Challenge that claim on any grounds, not least the psychological, and you’ll hear that Apple (like Disney) actually ‘cares’ about ‘experiences,’ not products, and Apple’s products provide the best experience. Play another couple rounds of that game and it’s into the ad hominems about Larry Page and Jeff Bezos, or rants about the ‘correct’ proportions of system icons, or how everyone steals Apple’s designs, etc., etc., etc.

The Apple fanboy blogs (and online ‘columns’ that’re just blogs) do share one saving grace: they don’t play the asinine minutely-comparing-tech-specs game that stands in for analysis in the wider gadget-writing sector. This isn’t noble, mind you; Apple’s just conditioned its fans over the last decade not to care about tech specs. The outcome is, I think, better than the alternative, though the psychology isn’t.

If I have a wider point (I don’t), it’s this: Apple’s little volunteer blogger army isn’t visible at all to the average human being, but in subtle ways, they shape the discourse around Apple Inc. and computers in general. They help write the Silicon Valley (hero-)narrative. So it’s useful to defocus a little, to look at the longer contour being revealed — because you see the same phenomenon all over the mediasphere, as participation in what one blogger (jokingly?) calls the ‘Cult of Mac’ (or Marvel, or Hillary, or Brooklyn) is deemed sufficient reward for hours of otherwise uncompensated labour on behalf of what is, for all its organizational virtues, a great engine of capitalism.

Also it’s useful to air my resentment of hackish dilettantes making plenty of money by providing free advertising to a tech-lifestyle company. Indeed: that seems essential.

daystart freewake upwrite

having awoken at 4am, fought my way back down into a shallow sleeptrough until just after 6, and then bounced back up to deal with this ongoing GI bug and what we around here call ‘racing thoughts,’ and having discovered that there is a world of interesting comics-art blogs, and having found out that the addams family set was originally garish pink and gold (all the better for shooting in black and white, i assume?), and having wondered not aloud whether i should go ahead and write that long thing about Can’s Future Days i’d been thinking about — the one where i talk about ‘ambient’ music not as a genre but as an attitude toward the aesthetic value of information density, then head deep into a comparison of Can and (other) ‘jam bands,’ do a thing about prog rock and the loss of faith in the squeal of the electric guitar as a signifier of liberation, and wind up talking about boredom and the sublime — and but plus also my wife having just come downstairs already shaking her head at all there is to do today, and then but what with me having read the first 60+ pages of david simon’s Homicide last night before bed (it’s very good, but as i said to my wife at bedtime, simon is at his best or at least most-preferable-to-me in mixed company, so to speak, when dialing down his street-talkin’ tough guy routine), let’s get on with the show