Wednesday, October 9 2013
A woman finally came to pick up Nolan the enormous white dog this morning, meaning we no longer had to worry about him running off on us. Truth be told, though, by this point he was nothing but sweet (both to us and the cats) and could be trusted to come and go as he desired. He seemed to be happy with us, so it was actually a little sad that he had to go.
Though my Lightroom plugin wasn't quite as far along as I would have preferred, I'd broken through most of the vexing road blocks, so this morning additional development happened at a brisk pace and I was content with it by the time the client showed up to have a look at it. It was still a fragile thing and difficult to transport to other computers, so we looked at it on Woodchuck, the computer in my laboratory that is attached to five (that's right, five) monitors. The meeting actually went better than I expected, though I really feel like I need to get the plugin polished before our next meeting in two week's time. Meanwhile Gretchen was down in the greenhouse upstairs reading. The day was cool and autumnal but the sun was shining and it was the only place on our property that was comfortably warm.
Later this afternoon I went down to the greenhouse to smoke some pot and drink a beer and noodle around on my iPad, but I found the internet wasn't working. Mantid, the WiFi router in the greenhouse pod was down. And I couldn't get it to come back to life by any of the normal means. Some diagnostics quickly determined that the power brick had failed. It was a cheap Chinese device that put out five and twelve volts at two amps each via a standard four-pin Molex connector. Evidently it hadn't been designed to run for more than about 14 days without failing. [Later I would pop it open and see that what had failed were two electrolytic capacitors that are easily replaced, though it's possible other things were damaged as well.] I replaced the power brick with another similar one, though at this point I was wondering if perhaps I should be looking for a replacement a little less generic (if no less Chinese).
I should mention that I handled the entire procedure of diagnosing and fixing the greenhouse WiFi pod problem while stoned on marijuana. It's not easy for me to execute procedures that require short term memory when in this state (for example, writing computer code is impossible, though composing English sentences is surprisingly entertaining and satisfying). But this particular job was very straightforward. I took the WiFi router out of the pod, hooked it up to another power supply, and it worked. That told me all I needed to know. More fraught was the fact that I had to climb out on the tiny awning over the greenhouse downstairs' door and then grab the under-rafter girder and do a one-arm pullup to reach into the pod. (I could have set up a ladder, but it was too much trouble.)
I don't like what marijuana does to my productivity, so I try to smoke it no more than twice a week. But I do like what it does to my mental processes. Everything is fresh and new it's easy for me to see unexpected new things about familiar scenarios, creatures, people, and objects. Something about marijuana makes it so my well-developed neural pathways aren't automatically assigned to process these things, and so I see them anew. This is particularly true of animals. When I smoke pot, I feel like I can read their minds. I'm willing to take the time to understand what their faces and behaviors are trying to tell me. This isn't only true of the domesticated animals of the household; it extends to wild animals as well.
Today, for example, while standing on the greenhouse deck, I saw a chipmunk scurrying around on a fallen tree trunk. I made little sounds at him with my lips, something I normally wouldn't do. Just taking that time to offer an interaction seemed to raise his interest. He looked at me, scurried off, and then doubled back. I could see he was just a small version of the generic mammal: gristle, hair, whiskers, bones, wet nose, hands, claws, feet, and tail, but with a birdlike suddenness to his movements. Why wouldn't he be curious about me as well? That's also characteristic of the generic mammal. But think of the bravery involved! Aside from bats, chipmunks might be the smallest mammals that are willing to show themselves in public as they go about their business. Mice, shrews, and voles can occasionally be glimpsed, but that's only when you catch them darting from one hiding place to another. Like birds, they know they can get away, but it's not like they can fly. Looking at the little guy, I was also struck by his markings. The stripe running down his side looked fierce and tribal, like something you'd see on an Apache warrior. I was reminded of the markings James Cameron had given to the fanciful hexapods on his Planet Pandora.
One thing that felt a little more enjoyable than it should have on marijuana was rubbing the stubble growing on top of my head. Despite having showered this morning, there was enough grease in that stubble to soften and slicken the skin of my hand while also changing its fragrance. It felt naughty to my head aggressively and then smell my hand. I might as well have been masturbating.
This evening, the dogs were acting bored and energetic, so Gretchen decided to take them on a rare sundowner stroll. Not having talked enough with Gretchen since her book tour, I came along and led us mostly off-trail in the large block of forest between the Farm and Reichel Roads. Eventually we got to the abandoned go-cart track and came home via the Farm Road. Understandably, these days we're a little nervous about the dogs when they run off into the bushes in pursuit of something, but dogs are going to be dogs and all we really need to do is pay closer attention to the mischief they get into.
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