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Anacrusis

Anacrusis/Ommatidia is done! I started it in July of 2003, wrote 2003 stories, and now it is my 30th birthday and my present to myself is, I don’t have to do it anymore. (Landing on this date is only sort of a coincidence: I calculated the timing versus post count last summer, and you have probably noticed some bonus stories appearing on weekends since.)

The website won’t go away, but the every-weekday part of the project is over. You will probably see the occasional story pop up in future, if you keep the feed in your reader, and I’ll try to do a bit of curation and shuffling. I may end up keeping Anacrusis as the chronological record and Ommatidia as more of a categorized library. Or: not.

Now follows a list of things I got out of this deal.

  • About 266 subscribers on Google Reader, which is to say, by my estimate, 133 total readers
  • Some useful characters
  • A lot more confidence about my word choice
  • Very little confidence about my plotting
  • A great deal of evidence that I thought stupid things were clever at 1:30 in the morning
  • A name-drop in a doctoral dissertation that I’m not allowed to read
  • A gig writing for one of my favorite comic artists
  • Some really nice letters from cool people
  • Approximately 2003 fewer hours of free time

If you read and enjoyed this thing, thanks, and I’m glad. I owe a debt to Holly Gramazio, Sumana Harihareswara, Leonard Richardson, Andrew Cole, John Dixon, Stephen Heintz, William O’Neil, Kevan Davis, Ben Wray, Riana Pfefferkorn, Joe McDaldno, Tim Coe, Dave Michalak, Ben Carson, the indefatigable Geoffrey Pieper, Christin Clatterbuck, Kris Straub, Penny Arcade, and all the regulars from the LJ/FB feeds for putting the occasional gleam on my raw monument to doggedness. Many of these people have done me the additional kindness of writing guest stories! I’ll be posting them over the next couple of weeks.

I look forward to having my evenings back so I can devote more time to writing code and also homoerotic fanfiction about Inception characters. You think that’s a joke but it’s not.

It’s a threat.

Bruce

These days I carry around most of the information in the world in my pocket. Ten years ago I was still thrilled to have my dorm-room connection and a Dell desktop. But a few years before that, I didn’t have anything you could really call the Internet. Instead I had Bruce.

Bruce was my eldest cousin, fifteen years my senior, and I revered him. I was interested in sci-fi and fantasy books; Bruce knew about them. I liked board games; Bruce won them all. He had the sharpest wit I have ever encountered, but he was also unfailingly kind, and I never heard him use it to be cruel to anyone.

That included me, even at my most juvenile and annoying, when he spent a while living in our basement and attending classes at EKU. Remembering those days now, I would have been unable to stand me. Bruce listened, and laughed at my jokes, and gave me things.

That was another thing about him: he was never attached to material possessions, and generous with them almost to the point of carelessness. At one point he gave me what must have been nearly his entire collection of gaming books, obviously something in which he’d invested years and hundreds of dollars. He was offhand about it, as if he’d found an odd thing I might like in his pocket.

I treasured those books. For years I could reliably be found in a corner paging through a banged-up hardback with monsters on the cover, spending far more time reading them than actually playing, and blissful to be doing so. I’m sure I didn’t thank him enough, but I hope he saw how much they meant to me.

But if Bruce helped doom me to geekdom, he also rescued me. I was undersized for a long time, and at one point I lagged so far behind the curve that Mom was consulting growth-specialist doctors. When he heard about that, Bruce took a long look at me, then told me to finish my dinner every night instead of leaving most of it on the plate. I listened, and that was when my growth spurt finally hit.

It shames me to say that Bruce and I drifted apart. He waited most of his life for a kidney transplant, and got one, only to have his body reject it a few years later; his health was never the same after that, and his illness frightened me (I had another male role model who got very sick, you see). We had political differences, and the geographical distance between us grew as well. But his patience, kindness and generosity never changed.

I didn’t find the time to see Bruce on my most recent trip back to Kentucky, a few weeks ago, and I will spend the rest of my life regretting that.

When somebody you love dies you’re supposed to put together all the good words you can about him, and assemble an image for your memory that omits their shortcomings and sharp edges. But I can’t do that, because I see now that I was always the one coming up short. All my memories of my cousin are of a man who was better to me than I ever deserved.

I’m sorry, Bruce. I miss you.

I am a lot better at Javascript than I was a few months ago

I am, under normal circumstances, a very reliable exhibit of the human behavior pattern that goes “my stupid system sort of works so I will never change it.” But there are times–rare ones–when my desperation to avoid writing fiction actually overcomes my desperation to avoid writing code. Tonight, after three years of counting words for Anacrusis with a hacky PHP script I wrote in 2007, I finally reached one such point.

This is the word counter I’m going to use from here on out. Unlike the old script, which I was reluctant to publicize because it involved processing user-submitted text on the server side, this is all Javascript and it updates in real time. You can also click the little tab at the bottom if you want to see what the hell it thinks it’s doing.

I am posting this entry from my iPhone.

That is all.

And boy are my wings tired

I did the hundred

I did a hundred pushups! In a row! I had done lots more in a session, just not in a single set. Also some of those reps at the end would have been pretty hilariously sloppy to anyone watching. But it still counts!

I’ve been following this workout plan since, uh, the beginning of March. It’s a six-week plan, and you will note that it has taken me three months to complete! In retrospect, that progression gets a bit suspicious at the end; even on the best-case track, you’re supposed to go from around 60 to 100 in a single week. I had to repeat week six several times, and then repeat week six/day one for a couple more weeks, adding five to ten more reps each time.

I’ve talked before about my complete lack of upper-body strength and how ashamed of it I’ve always been. I know how to maintain cardiovascular shape and build leg muscle–go running–and I have done so, because running is the only exercise that doesn’t bore and frustrate me. It’s also got a pretty low barrier to entry, whereas I perceived upper-body workouts to be fraught with torn tendons and requiring of huge weight sets. And if I want to actually build muscle in any serious way I probably will have to get some kind of free weights someday. I should probably learn to do the Ab Ripper first.

But meanwhile I’m just going to keep doing a hundred pushups every night and see how far I can take it! I hear there’s this fancy kind you can do with one arm.

Today begins the thirtieth year of Brendan. At last, my age and the amount of white hair on my head are starting to seem compatible.

That’s no battle station

A few weeks ago, Kara and I went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant for her stepdad’s birthday, and I got to meet several members of her extended family for the first time. It was a really nice dinner and we all enjoyed ourselves. Then we walked out to the car, got in, started the engine, glanced backwards and realized that someone had smashed in the rear passenger window and stolen my bag, containing books and my laptop, and a couple hundred dollars’ worth of new clothes Kara had just had delivered by UPS. Have I mentioned that it was raining?

The waitstaff at the restaurant informed us that this was the fourth such smash-and-grab from their parking lot in three weeks. There is no camera or floodlight there. I still need to call up the building owners for a polite discussion about that.

The whole situation sucked a lot, but we got the window replaced and Kara got some of the clothes replaced by a kind friend for her birthday. My car insurance covered the window but not the contents; Kara’s home insurance would have covered them, but in neither instance did the damage meet the deductible. (I had to buy a new windshield after a rock chip incident last summer, too, so I have now replaced about 40% of the glass on my car out of pocket.) The fact is that we are very fortunate to have afforded such luxuries to begin with, and remain both fortunate and luxurious.

I replaced the laptop with a much newer, shinier, more expensive version, but then my boss took the opportunity to buy a nice new Mac Mini for my desk at work (I had been using the aforementioned four-year-old Macbook) and I returned it. The laptopless life is one plagued with tiny inconveniences, so I’ll probably buy it again in a few months when they update the hardware.

The point of this post is to eulogize my old dingy white Macbook, which, for a refurbished computer at the very low end of Apple’s lineup, did me proud for three and a half years. I used it as my only work machine for much of that time; it accompanied me to London, Innsbruck, Winston-Salem, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, London again, Paris, and Taastrup, where I dumped a glass of water into it and actually managed to grow mold on its hard drive. And then I replaced said drive and used it at the new job for another six months! No one could have asked more.

Thanks, Macbook. You were a good computer. I hope whoever got you dies in a meth lab fire.

Geek Note: For reasons I can’t remember now, I named the laptop DEATHSTAR on our home network when I first bought it; after the hard drive resurrection (and, for the first time, the switch out of Boot Camp to native OS X), I rechristened it Fully Operational. Apparently every Death Star gets destroyed, though, so I have moved on to a new naming convention. Kara’s and my iMac is now the Batcave, the Mac Mini is the Batpod, and whenever I get the laptop again, it will be the Tumbler.

Update 2255 hrs: Kara has informed me that the iMac is named Hodge, after John Hodgman, and always will be, and HOW COULD I THINK THAT, and WHAT AM I GOING TO DO TO OUR CHILDREN, RENAME THEM EVERY TIME I READ A BOOK. (I say he’s only Hodge as long as Windows is running. He is a PC.)

I went on a shopping spree for this occasion because it turns out I was down to one pair of pants

I start a new job today! A real job in an office, where I have to commute, in pants! Well, actually I’m still contracting until the end of the year, but if all goes well I’ll be an employee after that. I understand the pants part stays the same.

I’ll be working in a little development shop with four guys, two blocks from Kara, making web sites work on your cell phone. (Not on my cell phone! My cell phone barely gets texts.) I have ranklements about the necessity of the change that I will not air here, in the interest of respect for metaphorical bridges, but it will be good to stop sitting around clicking the Twitbook and stuffing handfuls of trail mix into my mouth all day.

It’s going to be fun! I’m excited. Remind me that I said this in a month.

Puddlejump

Kara and I are going to Europe! Like, now! We’ll land in London tomorrow morning to visit Kevan and Holly et al, then fly to Denmark on the 9th to see her high-school exchange sister Britta get married, then hop down to France on the 16th for a Romantic Weekend in Paris.

I got to see very little of the continent while I lived over there, so this is very exciting. We are going to be broke kids with backpacks! I can’t wait to get peed on by a French hobo.

See you on the 21st, Internet!

My posts aren’t showing up on LJ. I don’t know why.

Which means that a bunch of you haven’t seen the last Proserpina story, or at least the last within the context of Anacrusis. (And indeed won’t see this, since the NFD feed isn’t working either.) At 65 entries over 29 months, it’s the longest continuous series I’ve written, and at 6565 words, one of my longer stories.

It needs to be longer yet–I haven’t come close to answering several of the questions posed in the very first one, much less figured out what happens to Radiane and Elijah. Also the next part is basically Proserpina Down Under, which will be difficult to write until I manage to get to Australia. But none of these things will be going in 101-word boxes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far, and that you’ll find its next incarnation an improvement.

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