November Minutiae

  • Anyone who tells you that Cat’s Cradle is science-fiction is fucking with you.  Or else they don’t know what science-fiction is.  Yes, it contains a bit of science-fiction as a plot element.  Yes, the science is reasonably sound.  It also contains a made-up religion, but no one categorizes it as a religious text.  It is very much the kind of fiction I would expect from Kurt Vonnegut, and it is definitely out there, but it is not science-fiction.
  • Reading If He Hollers Let Him Go was quite an experience.  From start to finish, it is about racism.  Unlike other books I have read, it is not simply a story in which race figures as a factor.  The whole story is about racism, driven almost completely by racism, and is dripping with the emotional impact of racism.  I found myself wondering (as a white guy born in the 70’s) whether racism in the 40’s was as intense and blatant as it was depicted here, or whether the situation was intensified for the sake of making the point.  Certainly the character is not realistic: a man with the potential of becoming a lawyer but who acts immediately on every momentary stimulus and emotion he encounters.  Regardless, it does a good job of showing how it feels to live in such a world.  This is the second Chester Himes novel I’ve read, and I plan to continue reading others.
  • The car I just bought has already developed a serious problem.  A broken engine valve.  I am attempting to do the repair myself.  It is by far the most involved car repair I have ever done.  It took me days to remove the head from the engine, because of all the other parts that must be removed first.  There was no other damage aside from the valve, so I was able to replace it myself without any machining.  Now I’m trying to put it all back together again, and already I have screws that I don’t know where they belong.  This whole thing has given me a great deal of anxiety, because if I fail, it is going to cost me a lot of money.  And that has caused me to be depressed about it and to procrastinate.  Meanwhile, I will have gone three weeks or so without transportation of my own, and it’s getting really old borrowing other people’s cars, not to mention a certain amount of cabin fever.
  • I went deer hunting with my brother for two and a half days.  Then my brother came to the realization that he doesn’t like hunting and that he is not an outdoors sort of person.  Between that and the un-neighborly hunters around us, we decided to come home early.  I used the rest of my vacation time working on my car.  From now on, it seems I will plan my hunting trips without him.  I’m still coming to grips with all of the changes that effects; even one of the guns I own was purchased with the intent to have him hunt with it.  I guess I should get out my bow and practice with it.  There are still almost two months left in the bow season.
  • Cold-weather camping was a success.  It only got down to 32° at night, which isn’t very cold.  However, I had comfort to spare.  Having gained some experience at different temperatures, I will be more confident about trying to camp at lower temperatures.  However, there is probably no good time to do it again until about March.
  • The Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II worked out quite well this week.  I didn’t have a lot of opportunity for artistic photos, but I am happy with the quality of the photos I did get.  I need to get more practice controlling the focus, but I am quite satisfied with this purchase.
  • To process RAW image files from the new camera, I was forced into finally upgrading to Adobe CC.  This means Premiere and everything else is upgraded, as well.  I’m having some trouble with choppy playback.  Also, some of the effects I use are no longer available (evidently replaced with very similar effects with new names).  Somewhat more alarming is that Adobe seems to have dropped support for Encore, believing somehow that no one authors discs anymore.  Well, I do, and now I have to figure out how.  Brief research into the topic suggests that it involves installing Encore CS6 and using a different workflow, since Dynamic Link no longer works.
  • I am current reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge for the book club.  I really don’t like it, and that’s making it a chore to read.  The author’s style is good, the dialog is good, the protagonist’s voice is good.  However, I’m finding that I just cannot properly suspend my disbelief because the whole premise is just so ridiculous: properly mixed cocktails imbue magical powers, there are evil creatures preying on all of us, and the world’s bartenders are all working diligently to protect us from these dangers and to keep it all a big secret.  Even if I was a connoisseur of spirits, I don’t think I could enjoy it.  Perhaps worse, the deepest thing going on in the story is that the protagonist has a crush on a guy.  The important characters are all very vanilla and nearly two-dimensional.  I would skip this book and this book club meeting, except that I am looking forward to the return of a specific member.