not day 7 yet

I am ruminating on Con’s entry yesterday and not sure I quite have the words yet. A familiar space has gone and I’m not sure if it’s me or the space. I commented on an absence of conversational engagement but that’s not quite right and I want to say some sort of silo-ing but I am unclear where the silos are, or even if they’re generational of sorts.

10 years ago, 15 years ago, perhaps more, there was the fun of the new and a large bunch of folk all trying out new things together. It started out slow: 1 then a few, then a few more, then at some point or other it hit critical mass. It seemed to be cross generational and by generational perhaps I mean to say cohorts or tribes rather than age specific as groups picked up and came on board.

Newgrad stuff took off too. None of those original bunches are newgrad anymore: some are mid career, some top career, some retired, some moved on entirely. Twitter is sort of a bunch of familiar faces with occasional new folk but nothing revolutionary.

Perhaps the wave of social media excitement has crested and folk are tired. Then again, #blogjune seemed to start initially as a means to revitalisation. Recognition then, that we were falling off. The number of friends I have on facebook doesn’t change a lot whereas twitter is more public with chopping and changing. I keep trying instagram but it lacks traction for me. I initiate stuff on facebook but mostly respond on twitter. 2-3 forums seems to be about my limit.

Other folk do other things. Perhaps we now are the “old folk”, “old guard”, the folk we railed against and our approaches are less relevant. Perhaps we didn’t rail at all and that was a convenient ploy. An aspect of me and who I am is the struggle to easily establish new friends; friending people takes years. Perhaps that limits my ability to engage these days.

We are more careful these days, watching what we say, what we do. Comments in jest can be misconstrued, quoted out of context later. Everybody is in our spaces now, everything recorded. It’s tricky to find the right size space; a space sufficiently large for conversations by multiple players but not too large that conversations get drowned out and forgotten. Large enough to have a flow of people without being a quickly flowing river.

The fun has gone, but habits of community and communication remain. I have been here before. I had a decade or so swept up in the glories of usenet for online discussion across the late 80s and 90s. Then there was a pause for a while and then social media and public access took off. Different people for different times.

Perhaps pauses are natural as we stroll.

the future of old

What even does that look like? Saw a post from a friend pondering retirement, future and planning and it’s a space I occasionally wonder about and whether I could indeed afford to retire. If I did retire what would I do, what is life like without the job I have.

Privilege blah blah blah plays a part in this conversation of course. I’m almost 53 and I have a good job and own a flat with mortgage paid off. My super is ok but not fab, previous jobs paid much lower and a decade as a professional student barely paid at all. I cannot envisage retiring; I like my work and remain passionate for it and the industry I work in. If I stop working I’d probably have to stop buying pretty books – on the other hand, I have plenty to read.

Post 65 is a tricky space as my dad died at 65 while working fulltime and doing a PhD part time. Mum did retire but her final years were physically painful with athritis and osteo. My oldest grandparent (great-gran actually) died at 93 and I suspect they had some form of dementia. I sort of figure my life expectancy probably maxes out at around 80.

I joke about wanting gaming consoles in the nursing home but wonder if I’ll be coordinated enough to play them.

I’m happy enough now though thinking about the future a little. I find comparing myself to others an exercise in anxiety and ultimately different people have different needs and different lives. There isn’t a one size fits all in this conversation. I don’t want a lot of things but I don’t want to end up homeless either.

Still at 52, I am happily surprised to find myself in a satisfying job doing things I love and associating with interesting people.

sunday

Slept in. Cocooned in the doona. Odd dreams about living and working from home in the outer burbs yet somehow some combo of Barcelona/Rome/New York was a 10 minute walk away with a grand central style train station. A large place with a spooky cellar. An itinerant chap was living in the cellar. Was spooky initially but we chatted and I was fine with him living there. A big backyard and I had no idea how to mow it. It seemed to be a temporary place; all my stuff was in the other house with my partner and we’d spend weekends together. There was some sort of techerie that needed addressing somewhere. The house was empty yet there was a wheelchair in a spare room.

It reads a little like the start of a horror story, yet felt relaxed and comfy.

Had a late brekky and there’s something about a 1pm brekky on a sunlit afternoon with shadows stretching away. I hit a mental moment of relaxation…happy thinking on things and ideas and directions. The travel section of the paper had a nice suggestion for a place to stay in Stanley, Tas. We may visit Stanley and that may work…or perhaps we’ll stay in Burnie – a few days in Burnie and a few in Launceston. Perhaps a distillery visit. Quiet towns and walking. Dunno. A nice dinner in Launceston would be good and there’s interesting options.

Bought more Zooom today. So so good.

Blogging without blogging about work is a little tricky. Work is such a large part of me and what I do and often what I like to do. But blogging about work requires caution – I don’t mean that in a sinister way. Work is an institution and things are known and unknown. I don’t do a lot in public spaces, my work is more back room, supporting those in the patron facing spaces.

Most of my work conversations are with staff or with suppliers, there’s not a lot of reason for me to talk to non library people. What I do is a mix of spreadsheets and budgets and stats and tech and negotiations and planning and preparing and exploring and evaluating. Talking about my work needs to steer a path away from selling my work I think.

saturday

Quiet. Uneventful. Of no fixed mood. Minimal creativity.

I am however sipping a rather nice beer, Zoooom choc-pecan mudcake stout from Sauce. First released last year early on in lockdown and I wasn’t able to grab any. Walked into the local bottle shop a couple of weeks ago and they had some. Wow! Way tasty, a hint of nuts and a silky smooth texture. This might be a new favourite. Strong at 9% or 2.7 standard drinks per can.

I went to a brewery twice last year, once to meet a couple of friends as things opened up a little, later for a friend’s 50th. I’m still not going out much; I s’pose while covid continues to be ever present and the risk of another outbreak in Sydney remains, I continue to be cautious.

Weekends usually involve the newspaper in a cafe and time with family. Definitely not keen to go to bars and people-y places much. We have cautiously booked flights for a week in Tassie in August, fingers crossed we’re still good then.

Had my first shot of the AstroZeneca vaccine on Monday, with no side effects. Second injection is scheduled for a few days after I get back from Tassie. Fingers crossed.

I miss travel. A lot.

I’ve even investigated train trips across the country…actually it’d be nice to visit Perth again too, perhaps head north to Broome. My partner mentioned a trip to the Kimberley and that’d be fab, always wanted to go there. I am fortunate in that I have managed to visit every state and capital city at least twice and driven across great swathes of the country. Yet there is still so much to see.

I’d love to return to Uluru though I wouldn’t climb it even if it were allowed. I will confess I did so as a teenager in the 80s. It’s an odd parallel as in the 70s dad used to take me on land rights’ rallies for first australians yet in the 80s I still wanted to climb the rock. My past sins. We also did a tour round the base and my sister and mum flew over it in a small aircraft which did not agree with my sister.

#blogjune…i’m running out of snappy titles

I am unsure if #blogjune will be a thing this year, to be honest, I think I’m rather past it and the care factor. I suspect I’ve said variations of that since the beginning. Oh I forgot, my first post of #blogjune usually begins with:

Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!

or similar, perhaps less h and more r.

So 2021 here we are. Perhaps this I will try recycling ideas from the start of this instance of this blog ie the stuff that is still easily accessible. I have talked too much of older versions so I figure this might be the year to recycle the current version, but with new bits [narrator: unlikely] and new images [narrator: likely but they’ll just be more books].

There were murmurings last week of doing stuff for #blogjune. Someone even threatened I take up a variation of a suggestion of a Lem idea and write reviews of movies that don’t exist.

Though I drink whisky regularly [narrator: nightly] I think I’ve moved on from my obsession in that direction. These days I’ve moved back to books and collecting books [narrator: I warned you about the books] so I could chat about collecting I s’pose and post pictures of the pretty books I have [narrator: I warned you about posting images of books].

Mostly I don’t care. Some years I start with a plan. I still have lists of things to blog about from years gone by. Blogging every day is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes I just don’t care.

Some years I fudge day by day.

This year, Sydney filmfest has been moved from June to August depriving me of much content, and content about content. I might have to work a little harder this year to churn out daily posts. To be fair, even with filmfest, some years I struggle. If I am in the mood, there will be posts. If I am not in the mood, there may not be posts. Perhaps.

Anyway, #blogjune is off again.

space

Fitting in. I rarely find spaces that fit me. Or I them. At times I am too shallow, at others something else. I dabble. I play. I toy. I suspect I mostly toy. Tools. Conversations not so much unless you count those spaces where I talk to myself…at length.

This blog, this space has always been my space. A space to talk about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes professional, often not. These days a little obsessive. Book stuff but not a glam perspective, not libraries: alt.nerdy.collector.owning.acquiring.appreciating.

That’s my now. Perhaps there’s a different now further down the track.

I am pondering removing myself from glam lists as it seems like folk using those lists are seeking stuff other. Perhaps there’s stuff later that may be relevant but for a long while it doesn’t seem relevant.

How many people still read blogs via rss?

Dunno. It used to matter. I don’t much. What I used to read many years ago mattered then, less now. Aside: googling about RSS I came across twobithistory and I sorta like it.

Perhaps if I ever scan in all my books [that are scannable] which will provide a file of the “books of snail” and that may be a fun file to play with. I suspect my collecting is at a point where I need to track the value of my books for insurance. Yet I sorta feel if they burn, they’re gone, I start again. Viking stuff is big at the moment and I like the idea of a bonfire on my death of all my books and belongings…all my friends and family would each choose one thing to keep to hold their memory of me. I desire not to be remembered but respect that memory is important to those that continue on.

bits of online history

I discovered today that tucows is retiring/disappearing/perhaps mostly gone. Admittedly I don’t think I’ve used it since my windows XP days. Was a fab source for shareware/freeware utilities to enhance XP. There used to be another site, now long gone, called DownloadSquad that would have regular reviews/announcements of new software and I’d usually try out something new every other week. Over time, some of those things have been incorporated into operating systems.

I remember there used to be a tool so that I’d hit the space and start typing to launch documents and software. These days, that’s built into windows via the windows key and windows indexing has improved lots. There are still things I like to install on new systems like cygwin and text adventure interpreters but a lot less than I used to.

Meanwhile I came across a timeline of web browsers dating back to the early 90s and of course my old favourite text only browser, lynx, is still kicking about – I usually have it installed as part of my cygwin setup. The downside of using a text viewer to browse webpages is that you usually have to scroll through a bunch of pages to get to the content as per below:

Sydney Morning Herald via lynx

There’s been a European case around geoblocking game purchases ie forcing folk to buy games in their country rather than from whatever country they can get it from cheaper. It’s an interesting result as gaming isn’t the only area that’s done this sort of thing, books being another good case. I remember when I started buying via amazon how much cheaper the same edition of a book was that way than locally. These days, I don’t buy much from Amazon tending to either buy from local distributors like Booktopia or direct from publishers.

In other news, the Alta-Vista URL still works but redirects to Yahoo…which still works.

the value of possessions

For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends. We carry them from place to place, often at considerable expense and inconvenience; we dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly in their vicinity – all the while, allowing memories to invest them with greater and greater importance. 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles [reviews: NYT, SMH, Canberra Times]

I came across this book last year and once started, consumed it eagerly. It had a light, deft touch playing with ideas, feeling at times a sort of philosophy-lite though that sells it short. It’s not for everyone but it resonated with me not so much for context but the interplay of ideas. It’s been but a year and I feel like I need to revisit it already.

On the next re-read, I want to keep track of more quotes. I liked the one above in that sense of the emotional value that can be rooted in objects. Though all who know me would agree that concepts of dusting and polishing don’t exist in my world.

I commented recently on things that reminded me of my parents and I sometimes find it odd the things I have and the recollections they evoke. Moving stuff gets harder each time, particularly the books. They have weight and arrangement yet are a visible part of who I am, my past, my history. Titles from different parts of my life: SF, history, childhood, philosophy, travel.

less hair, yeah yeah

Prior to lockdown, we purchased a head shaving kit just in case. I don’t have a lot of hair these days with a combo of bald spot (or expanse) and receding hairline. It’s how I look today. I miss having a full head of hair though I think miss having enough hair to colour. I miss purple hair and black hair and blue and orange. Someone commented that they remembered when I had green hair and I don’t even remember that one.

Before
Before

These days I have little hair and that’s not a problem; I am comfortable with how I look and the skin I inhabit. Due to the lack of hair I tend to get a head shave every 6-8 weeks, usually a No 4 though I did try a No 3, and only once – that was a bit too short. I discovered this week that the numbers refer to parts of an inch eg No 4 is 4/8 of an inch, No 3 is 3/8 of an inch. Which means I usually get a shave down to half an inch, or around 12-13mm.

This matters because yesterday I had a haircut. My first haircut since the start of lockdown and probably around 4 months since the last. I think this is the longest my hair has been in many years. It was getting a little challenging in odd ways and was affecting my hearing aids. I would brush hair off my ears and accidentally hit the volume control on my hearing aids – not fun. My family who really only know me with short hair were finding the new me increasingly “interesting”. Hair started to stick out sideways. The advantage of short hair is that you don’t need to comb it. My hair was needing more and more attention.

After
After

Yesterday, Ms19 offered to cut my hair. She read the manual and we discussed what the sizes meant and how to work out the correct blade. She watched a few youtube videos on cutting hair. At lunch we got down to business. We set up a chair in the kitchen and I wrapped a towel around my shoulders and off she went. I think we were both nervous initially but I certainly relaxed quite quickly.

Voila, in rather good time, I was back to my old self. Ms19 did a fab job. Admittedly I did stage the before shot but I am staggered at how different the two views are. I’d forgotten how nice it is to have a haircut. My head feels better oddly.

beyond the stream

…or at least the mainstream. I read yet another article today about the decline of newspapers and particularly regional newspapers. Many regional newspapers are owned by larger groups and when the owner strikes problems and advertising revenue dries up, particularly at the moment, then papers get cut. This seems to lead to an increasing domination of the city papers which in turn results in a reduction in awareness of local issues and local connection ie the local newspaper is one part of the glue that connects folk together and gives them a shared space of sorts.

Libraries are another part of that glue, providing a welcoming space for all, free from commercial demands. It’s a place that’s not trying to move you on to make space for a paying customer, or sell stuff to you. Libraries are a mix of spaces: some quiet some noisy, places to meet, to relax, to read, to chat, to hang, even to snooze. They provide a community hub and remain one of the few free indoor spaces that people can gather and chat.

There are online hubs too, though predicated on the basis that the community has access to online material, the digital divide remains ever prevalent with some communities having better access than others. Once again, libraries may well be the only place that folk are able to use a computer, or access content online.

Over the years, there has been a rise in “pay it forward” groups on facebook for example in communities across Oz eg Port Macquarie, Inner West of Sydney, or Perth. These groups provide on one hand an opportunity for folk to clear out stuff, and on the other, an opportunity for folk to get things they need. A sharing space for advice and tips, increasing reuse and recycling.

I recall years ago, when a colleague and I ran a minecraft session as part of International Games Day, we didn’t get great numbers. A parent who turned up, commented that we should have promoted to some of the parenting groups on facebook. They’d only heard about the games day accidentally but were in a facebook group of several thousand parents in western Sydney. Sure enough, nationwide, there are millions of parents participating in such groups and finding folk to hang with.

In some respects, facebook groups remind me a little of usenet of old with a mix of general and specific. Some groups have strict rules for engagement and keeping on topic while others ebb and flow depending on where the commonality lies. The challenge with such groups is that facebook is a bit of a closed shop, you’ve got to be on it, with an account to see many of the groups, and participate. At the same time, it’s not quite like the AOL of old with that being the only platform, facebook groups tend toward a gated feel rather than closed though the latter exist too. They can be inclusive and exclusive.