Adult milestone

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That’s right, for the first time in my life, I had clothes dry-cleaned. This is partly attributable to the fact that I work hard to buy clothes I can wash at home and partly attributable to the fact that, until two years ago, I held jobs that had dress codes of business casual or lower. Teaching bike classes required a very odd, specific wardrobe, none of which necessitated dry-cleaning.

But that’s all over, because when my work office moved in February, the dress code went to straight business attire. I’m not 100% sure why, if clients aren’t visiting… Maybe dressing that way makes people act more professional. Anyway, after almost a decade of evading it, I now dress professionally at work.

But nobody can keep me from wearing pajamas when I work from home. So there!

Even Superman must get wet sometimes.

Leaving work to bike commute home the other day, I felt a little bit awesome going from this…

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To this…

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…in a few short minutes.

I didn’t feel quite so awesome when I arrived home drenched and filthy with road gunk after riding the entire 10 miles in windy rain.

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I appreciated the fireplace extra, though, because everything dried out way faster than in times past. Also, I got to feel warm and cozy, a lovely and unusual experience immediately following a wet ride. And within an hour of getting home, the rain changed from steady to torrential, so I actually felt pretty good about my commute.

Digital Awakening

At first, coming back online felt so much like waking up that I thought I still operated on wetware. I rose up into consciousness slowly, a drop of oil in a deep pond. I pried open sleep-heavy, crusted eyelids reluctantly, lethargy clinging tenaciously to my limbs still heavy after a deep, deep sleep. I felt the satiny sheets cradling my body heat in a cocoon I was loth to break. I even felt my breaths, inhaling and exhaling with the steady rhythm achieved only in the deepest level of sleep, although I also knew some practitioners of meditation who could slow their bodies in the same way.

I didn’t want to wake up. Restful sleep visited me so rarely, it seemed a veritable sacrilege to rush into wakefulness, like eating the Communion bread from hunger. Nights had become my silent companion, a time I spent at quiet, simple tasks while others rested. No sense fighting to sleep. I embraced the reality of my sleeplessness and lived in it wholeheartedly. Thus it was that waking up felt like a benediction, a blessing only rarely received.

When I finally accepted that I was awake, I opened my eyes and the bubble of illusion popped. No wet technology could produce those distinctive iridescent cubes floating motionlessly over that unnaturally glassy viridian sea, stretching off into the horizon like an exercise in perspective. Their multitude exceeded the mind’s ability to grasp, a number so vast as to be incomprehensible. Each one housed a mind, the unique workings of an individual entity, that which made it separate from its neighbors. Intellectually, I knew that I – that which made me me – existed in one of those cubes, just as did everyone I knew (which, at this point, was everyone). I didn’t know which was mine; only the Mind was large enough to grasp the kind of numbers required to locate a point in that vast space. It didn’t really matter, because the concept of where no longer obsessed us the way it did in the past.

But the wet brain’s thinking patterns subside slowly, so I thought I lay naked in the body-temperature sand beneath all those cubes, toes just dabbling in the water, arms comfortably nestled at my sides, hair spreading in a fan beneath my shoulders, a silky contrast to the slight sandy roughness. One advantage of being a digital construct, though, is sand stays exactly where you want it, and never where you don’t.

One disadvantage, however, is that you can never truly be alone. Sure, you can put up firewalls, but someone will always spend the processing time to break them, usually with no better reason than it was there. I didn’t even have any firewalls, waking up as I had, so when another figure approached, I couldn’t repel it.

For an appreciable time – it must have been whole hundredths of a sec – the figure remained indiscriminate, like a person obscured by sea mist walking toward me. But this sea has no mist, and anyway, as I already said, location is meaningless. Then the figure seemed to solidify, and I felt my (nonexistent) heart skip a beat.

…..

Let me go back a bit, if there is such a thing as back. I never took seriously the possibility of digital shanghai. Oh, I knew it was theoretically possible, had seen and confirmed the code myself – elegant yet brutal, like the nuclear weapons of an earlier age. But though I could come up with an extensive list of others who might want to take me or of the picture for some unknown duration, the Mind made it nearly impossible.

With a benevolent, all-powerful entity actually keeping an eye on everyone and everything – literally – it’s impractical to get up to anything nefarious. Not actually impossible, unfortunately, because the Mind chooses to respect the sanctity of an entity’s thoughts. That means that one individual can think up and attempt to execute harm to another, but that many entities would be hard-pressed to collaborate in such activity. We’d seen younger entities execute mischief, perhaps swapping bits of their elders in sometimes amusing ways, but the Mind always had a backup to restore the maligned ones to their proper configurations.

Digital shanghai was a different level of malignancy from harmless bit swapping. To be shanghaied meant to be taken offline without your consent, to vanish from the community for some unknown time, to have your input nullified, to be erased from the conversation and decision-making structure. A millisecond shanghai executed at the right time could shift the entire course of the decision tree’s branching.

Don’t get the idea that I’m some kind of egomaniac, thinking other entities would go to all that trouble just for me. The fact is that, although we don’t have leaders or government or any of the trappings of wet society, to varying degrees we still think with wet patterns. This means some want to lead and others want to follow; many still seek and find comfort in organization. My pattern is such that entities often follow me, or structure according to my suggestions. And that motivates others to want my removal, because they disagree with me or want another organizational structure. At least, I assume that would motivate one to risk the Mind’s displeasure.

Recipe for a fun morning

Go for a sunny walk before breakfast on the local greenbelt.

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Find some puddles to stomp, but realize you wore the wrong shoes and weep and wail that you can’t summon the boots to magically appear.

While grumping about your bootlessness, realize you are hungry and rush home for a well-earned and much-appreciated breakfast. Play a bit and delightedly discover this was the day for Grammy and Papa Gary to come over! Play with grandparents, but strenuously resist going to the park to stomp in puddles…

… But then have a stupendous time stomping in puddles when you do finally get to the park.

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After falling into a puddle, continue on to discover an excellent field of big rocks and dirt, perfect for adhering to your sticky-muddy bottom. Also, incidentally, perfect for hiding worms, beetles, centipedes, and other creepy-crawlies.

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Finally decide to go home, quite comprehensively messy, but get briefly distracted by rolling pebbles down slopes and peeking in empty trailers.

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Come home, shedding all clothes in the garage, eat a big lunch, and take a nap. What a fun morning.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 10

Here we are, at the two-month anniversary of the start of our fireplace project, three days into spring, and we are basically done with our little project. Pat has spent a couple days finishing up details, and one set of bookshelf doors had to go back to be refinished, but it’s essentially complete!

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Thanks to Rachel for the drift wood and the lovely decorative bowl.

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Sunday morning, reading the comics.

I won’t mention the fact that we have to have Mr. Personality the Bothell building inspector come examine our final product.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 8

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day! We had a happy day – the tile got finished on our fireplace! Also finished are the final repairs to the wall, adding texture and paint.

Here’s where we were on Monday:

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And here’s where Pat left it last night:

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Finished tile!

It’s hard to capture the colors accurately, but you can see the pattern. Those shelves off to the left will go next to the fireplace on either side, and the two boards (you can see them better in the first picture) will become the mantle. So close! But I suspect we’ll still hit a two-month anniversary for the project on March 23.

Oh, gosh, I should mention the mantle. All along we’ve been ambivalent about what to do – never wanted anything elaborate, but what would be right? Finally, last Wednesday, Pat and I went to a place called Crosscut Hardwoods and looked at wood. A lot of wood.

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After looking at every piece of wood in the place, we found a couple boards of walnut that would be perfect. They have an organic light and dark grain that echoes the light and dark tile pattern. I can’t really describe what we’re going to do – it’s a kind of naturally split skirt with a thick beam on top – but when we came up with that idea, it felt just exactly right.

Then, when we finally got home (through absurdly slow traffic, taking perhaps not the must efficient route), who should be there but the delivery guys from Bothell Furniture, dropping off our bookshelves.
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They are really nice, and will look great when installed.

In unrelated news, last week Colleen and Jordan came to visit for a few days and Benji had a very fun time getting to know his aunt and uncle a little bit.

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Dulcius Ex Asperis