five advancements

1. For many months, I've been using my Blackberry as a music player for the purpose of listening to podcasts while I walk/drive. I've recently switched to using an iPod Touch (first gen; obtained as part of a promotion) that I've been syncing (for podcasts) to my work computer (which is a mac). As nice as "convergence was," and as much as this little iPod is "overkill" for what I'm doing with it, I think this is a step in the right direction. So, dedicated media players here I come.

2. In college I'd drink tea pretty much all day--even into the evening--and it didn't really affect my ability to fall asleep when tired. Since graduating I'd pretty much scaled back on the caff, to the point where I'd avoid drinking tea after about 6pm. In the last couple of weeks, I've started streaching this downward, and making a big pot of tea in the evening and drinking it pretty much till it runs out, even if that means have a pipping hot cup of caff at 10pm. (mmmm.) The effect seems to be the same no matter what: I fall asleep at 11:30 or midnight-ish; but until then I'm a little more productive if I'm working on a cup of tea. Often without tea, I have the ability to read about a page in a book before falling asleep; with tea, I can read something of consequence before passing out. Again, I'm not actually staying up later, I'm just more productive/alert with the time I have. Also, I tend to have my first cup of tea at the office, and I don't really feel like I need to to wake up as much as I need it to stay alert. So, there you go.

3. I've had technology angst for a while. I miss having a single, portable machine that I can use for 98% of all my computing tasks. I have this awesome little laptop, but the screen's resolution is 1024x786 and at my (old-normal) font size that was simply too small to really do anything except work in full screen mode. Divide up the screen at all and suddenly you have to scroll horizontally for everything. It's a shame, because I love the portability of this computer, and it's built like a rock, and except for this trivial little thing, it works. After much dithering about on the subject (and spec-ing out the ideal laptop, which I do hope to own some day,) I had the brilliant thought (mid-post draft,) of setting to font size in emacs (my editor) to... I think the technical term is "insanely fucking small," and we'll see how that works. It's a bit too small for comfortable/close reading, but it's fine for moment to moment work, so I've set up some key-bindings in emacs (if you must know: "C-c f s" and "C-c f b") to switch between font sizes, along with some conditional statements in my init file to load big fonts on big screens and small fonts on small screens, and we'll see how it goes. I'll post the code soon. The sad thing is aside from the screen issue and the fact that my desk doesn't work well for laptops, I've basically already made the switch.

4. I've started to read Jonathan Straham's "The New Space Opera: 2" Anthology, and I have to say that it's already better than the first one. I liked the first one, a lot, enough to buy the second, but it was reflexive and subtle and understated in a way that this one is big and exciting and energetic. If these are even acceptable terms for the description of a collection of short stories. Books like this have left me convinced of the fact that there's a future in short fiction, and that the magazine isn't really the ideal format for the consumption of short fiction. Where I think there are some logistical problems with the publication of web-zines, in the "fiction periodical" model, doing one or two-off anthologies in the Internet-age has potential I think. Another project for Critical Futures, I suspect. (Also, space opera rocks.)

5. (Messages from the past:) I'm going to New York City (first time since I was a kid!) this weekend with some friends to do an all-day-shape-note singing. This is going to rock. I like small regular singings a lot, don't get me wrong, but I often feel like it takes me a few hours to get to the point where I can really feel the harmonies and chords, and most local signings are almost over by that point. This should be fun. (Summary: It was awesome, and I'll do it justice later, but I think getting into this singing thing counts as an advancement without question.)

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