Sunday, December 14 2014
I regard most digital devices intended to display graphics on a screen as blank slates, pristine monoliths that take on the form of whatever programs they happen to be running. A perfect interactive computer device would be as fluid as the T-1000 terminator in Terminator 2, able to immediately assume new forms and interact in new ways under the influence of its software. Lacking that, the iPhone is about as good as we can get with existing consumer technology. It aspires to be nothing other than the software it runs. As an object, it's just a flat well-polished piece of black stone. It's for this reason that I don't have much interest in the look of a computer case. The case is completely beside the point and might easily be hidden in the wall. All that matters with a case is that it is easy to open and contains space necessary to do what it needs to do (without being too big). That said, there's something vaguely depressing about the commodity beige box of a modern non-Macintosh PC (which, truth be told, isn't that much different in appearance form a modern Apple Macintosh tower). In cases where a generic PC is to be used as part of a small installation, a case could be made for making it look more cheerful or perhaps for making it disappear beneath a layer of dazzle camouflage. Today I more or less combined these two ideas and used the hybrid as a design for the Core 2 Duo-based PC I'd assembled yesterday. My design was a series of alternating stripes in yellow and purple, each decorated with a series of dots in a lighter or darker version of the strip color. This is similar to the decorative technique I often use in backgrounds or vegetative patches in my paintings. The result was rectangular monolith that, from a distance, seemed to shimmer and glow as if it contained some sort of internal magic. In a way, it was a more authentic and revealing skin than the usual beige (or whatever color they use these days when making PC boxen). Here is the result, at least for now:
This evening, I met Gretchen at the bookstore in Woodstock at around closing time, and once she'd closed the store, we walked a few blocks to her co-worker Quentin's house (he doesn't have a car but can easily walk to work). Quentin and his live-in fianc´ Natasha were hosting a holiday party, and we'd been invited. The two haven't lived for too long in the Woodstock area and so don't have all that many friends yet, so it was a rather small affair. In addition to the four of us, there were two other couples. It was a kind of a WASPy spread, centered around cheese & crackers and cider that could be made alcoholic. Gretchen had brought two wheels of vegan Miyoko cheese, so that was mostly what I ate. I saw the Jim Beam and decided that I wanted my apple cider spiked with that, but there was a bit of a miscommunication and Natasha poured me a half coffee cup of straight bourbon, which was fine with me. Later, when she refilled it, she gave me even more than she had the first time, so I was pretty rocked by the time we left. We had a good time, or at least I did. The conversation was good, and it was nice to have a conversation that was almost entirely devoid of vegan talk. Gretchen and I have surrounded ourselves in an insular bubble consisting almost entirely of vegan atheists in their 40s and early 50s who have not had children but have instead adopted rescue dogs. Tonight's group was a little different; Natasha and Quentin are in their 30s, and nobody there was vegan. One couple had brought their dog, which appeared to be a purebred Corgi. It's fun with groups like this to talk about the things that make me a weirdo but which are impossible to evangelize, such as my use of an outhouse that I refer to as a brownhouse.
We hadn't eaten a real dinner, so when we left I was eager to go to a restaurant. But the one that Gretchen wanted to go to had already closed. So we called it a night and drove home. I ended up having a bowl of udon noodles from a box to which I added way too much fiery hot Thai ornamental pepper.
Happily, I observed my drinking rules and abstained from the moment we left the holiday party (though I probably shouldn't have driven home). Once at the house, I transitioned to chamomile tea, which I hoped would help me fall asleep. But as I lay there in bed at something like 2am, I heard Ramona barking insistently at something in the nearby forest. Knowing I would never get to sleep with her barking like that, I went out with a leash and a flashlight. Ramona was only about 100 feet down the Stick Trail, looking way up into a tree. I shined my light up there and saw two beady orange eyes. The face was bearlike, but too small to be a bear. I wanted it to be a Bobcat, but instead I think it was a Fisher. It might be annoying that Ramona causes such disturbances when I'm trying to go to sleep, but it's a probably a good thing that she chases Fishers away. That thing could have made quick work of Celeste and perhaps even Clarence. Interestingly, the moment she'd directed my attention the Fisher, Ramona lost interest in it and happily led me back home. The leash was unnecessary. Evidently she just wanted me to know what sorts of creatures are prowling around nearby late at night.
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