Summertime, and the kitties are lazy

The heat has finally broken, and life can once again flourish in Illinois.  To make the most of this opportunity, Ape and I have been on the motorcycle as often as we can lately.  After the first couple of weeks, I’m still convinced that my new motorcycle is perfect. We also managed a trip to Six Flags with a few good friends, the result of which was my realization that I’m to old to tolerate the neck-snapping rides.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much exactly like I remember- Thunder River is still the best ride, followed closely by the Mine Train.

Tomorrow marks my 1-year anniversary working at the Lewis & Clark Library System.  I’m pretty happy with my accomplishments there so far, but how has my life otherwise changed?  It’s been a hell of a ride, this last year- the highs, the lows, the creamy middles.  Mostly, I feel like I don’t have enough time to realize my potential- something I imagine is common to lots of people.  When I think about it, I can’t quite put my finger on where all the time goes.  I know that my new job (not so new now) meant an additional 5 hours a week spent at work (plus the many hours of after-hours tinkering), but I think the real trick is that I’m whipped when I get home from work, which leads to me wasting time watching TV or just wandering around the yard (not a waste of time, but not particularly useful either). In any case, after being at work for 9 hours, the creative currents of my mind are just dusty gulches.

I’m learning that intellectual work can be as exhausting as physical labor, and like all office jockeys, I relish the occasional opportunity to work with my hands.  Normally I’ve got some ill-conceived home-improvement project to fill the hours, but there haven’t been any of those lately, either.

Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying my new bike so much- it gets me out of my bubble, and affords me time to think.  Against the backdrop of the rolling Illinois countryside, embraced by brisk wind and sunshine, thoughts take shape on their own.  It’s a refreshing change from me walking around the yard, trying vainly to figure out what to do with myself.

A Sultry Solstice

Hurray for the longest day of 2009!  It was a steamy Midwestern day- the kind where the tar bubbles on the country roads.  Nevertheless, we got up to Springfield and went for a nice motorcycle ride with my folks. Lunch was had at a new, untested restaurant in Lincoln, followed by a couple of hours in the pool.  The food was ok, the water was first-class.

After a 100 Years of Solitude season of rainy weather, it’s nice to finally have a chance to enjoy some outdoors time, even if it means sweating while sitting still.

The State of Quebecker

What a state it is!  I’ve been busy relaxing and enjoying the moments of nice weather that puncuate the weeks of rain we’ve had in Illinois.  The days  might be warmer, but the nights are clear and cool, which makes for first-rate viewing of the moon and stars.

Even work has been much more relaxing lately- I finished the big move from a homegrown cms-ish site that was lacking in several areas over to WordPress, my most favoritest blog platform/CMS.  With that behind, I get to work on a dozen other projects that have been hamstrung while I wiled away hours moving static and dynamic posts from one database to another.

What’s even more  exciting than that is my new motorcycle, the Honda 919.  She’s a worthy successor to my CRF230, although it’s like I’m learning how to ride all over again- the two machines couldln’t be more different from each other (unless one of them had 3 wheels, and I’m not old enough for that).  Anyway, it’s pretty sweet.

I’ll put up some pictures next time….Until then, look for me on a red Honda with rain gear from head to toe.

A month of Margaret Atwood

I finished two Margaret Atwood books in May- the first being Oryx & Crake, and the second being the more famous Handmaid’s Tale.

I’ll start by saying that I enjoyed the former more than the latter- I’m a sucker for plausible sci-fi.  Oryx and Crake is a story about the future of genetic alteration, which I feel is an inevitable outcome of the current pursuit of the human genome.  Of course, what makes it an interesting topic is the horrible, dystopian society that comes from genetic manipulation gone too far.  Too far is an interesting concept, in that it is only apparent after the event, which makes me wonder what will be the real ‘too far’.  Will it be designer humans, who’s lack of physical flaw makes them shallow and uninteresting?  Or, will it be a more sinister development, like a disease that infects people with certain genetic traits?

In any case, genetic tampering is destined to have an amibiguous impact on our species, sort of like atomic fission.  The technology has the potential to ensure our survival for centuries, but in practicality brings us even closer to annihilation.

The other book, The Handmaid’s Tale, is less science-fictiony.  It’s the story of a society that has slipped into a strict male hegemony, where fertile women are forced to copulate, so that they might reverse the negative birthrate that is crippling society.

What struck me about the style of both books is that they stay focused on the human emotions, and how they are affected by the events of the story.  Stories that just focus on some grim, dystopian future can get pretty boring without emotional depth.  I think that’s what I used to like about The Simpsons- the first couple of seasons had plausible events, real emotional texture, and rough production values.  Now, the picture is sharp, and every episode involves a robot or a trip to the mountains/ocean/moon.

What happened?