The Chinese Century

Random reminder that while the US is so dysfunctional it can’t even keep its government functioning, China is on the Moon.

“The first spacecraft of the program, the Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter, was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on 24 October 2007, having been delayed from the initial planned date of 17–19 April 2007. A second orbiter, Chang’e 2, was launched on 1 October 2010. Chang’e 3, which includes a lander and rover, was launched on 1 December 2013 and successfully soft-landed on the Moon on 14 December 2013. Chang’e 4, which includes a lander and rover, was launched on 7 December 2018. A sample return mission, Chang’e 5, is scheduled for December 2019.”

China is also immersed in a long-term program to improve trade. The Belt and Road Initiative invests money in infrastructure projects (roads, schools, airports, etc.) in locales desperate for economic growth in exchange for long-term trade agreements.

They’re spending money on improving trade, advancing science and technology, and building relationships with the nations around them.

While the US, on the other hand, are tightly bound to a war economy, and are arguing about border walls.

No real point. Just daydreaming of a different world.

Choosing Between Love and Fear

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this.

“Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

Winter Break

Between work-sanctioned holidays and vacation time I managed to cobble together a two-week winter break which ends today.

Yay for break! It took me almost the whole two weeks to de-tox from work and to get my head into a happier, healthier space. Alas, tomorrow it’s back to the grind.

One of my key goals over the break is to de-clutter my desk and the space around my desk at home. I’ve been doing this for the last few years and it makes for a positive way to begin the new year.

The way I de-clutter is that I remove everything from my desk and only return the items I remember using over the last year. If I don’t use it regularly it needs to be put away somewhere else. Then, I do the same for the book shelf beside me and the one behind me.

Despite working in libraries for nearly 20 years I am still somewhat of a compulsive book-buyer. I love buying books, but I’ve been trying to curb the habit. I’ve also been culling my collection. This year I removed hundreds of volumes, as I did last year. I donate them to the library. It’s a challenge, because I have a strong sentimental attachment to the idea of books, but seriously, even if I live to a very ripe old age I have more great books in my house than I can ever read.

So, that was my winter break. Hanging out with friends, eating a lot of junk food (pizza! burgers! chips!), drinking beer, whisky, wine, and champagne, working on the novel, cleaning my desk, de-cluttering my bookshelves, culling my newsfeeds, cleaning house, and generally preparing for the lunacy of the 2017.

So long winter break! It’s been awesome. See you again in about 360 days.

Information Feed

At the end of 2016 I culled and weeded, reduced and cut my garden of information feeds. At the beginning of 2017 I’m looking for new sources of information.

What should I add to my information diet? What blogs, webpages, RSS feeds, twitter feeds, news sources, websites, television programs, podcasts, etc. should I consider?

Of Blogs Past Part Six: Balderdash and the Moon

I love New Year’s resolutions.

For most of my life I was indifferent to them. I knew that if I were going to lose that weight or get more exercise or whatever I could start any time, and simply starting at the beginning of the year wouldn’t be sufficient to make it happen.

Then I had a breakthrough. One year I resolved to eat more pie.

None of this self-improvement crap. I was going to explore a side of myself I’d never experienced. I’m not much of a sweets person, and haven’t really had many slices of pie in my life. This was a revelatory moment in my life.

Since then I try to resolve to do things that might actually be interesting and engaging to me.

At the beginning of 2017 I resolved to be more in tune with the moon. I would pay attention to when the moon was full, and when it waxed and waned. I read a few popular books about the moon and looked for it every day.

That year I also resolved to post a story a month, on the day of the full moon.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. I took down the stories at the end of the year, but I enjoyed writing and posting the stories so much I took it up again in 2019.

NEXT: Bustling Folly

Making Space

It’s the end of 2016 and for me that means it is time to de-clutter. There’s a lot of work to be done in 2017, so I’m spending the end of 2016 removing all the stuff that’s obsolete.

I’m cleaning my desk, clearing bookshelves, deleting bookmarks, weeding twitter feeds and RSS feeds. I’m paying attention to what I actually use every day vs. what I think I might use someday maybe.

If I don’t use is, or haven’t used it for all of 2016, it’s time for it to go away.

If I use it every day, I’ll consider upgrading. Or, maybe I need more than one (or need it in more than one room).

For information consumption I’m dialing back the amount of politics I consume, and increasing the amount of art I surround myself with. I don’t need more news I need more poetry.

Simple Answers to Stupid Questions

I think I might start a regular series. I hope this will save everyone a lot of time.

Q: If Donald Trump Is So Upset About Iraq WMD Lies, Why Would He Want to Hire John Bolton? (asked at The Intercept)

A: Trump lied about being upset about Iraq WMD lies.

That’s today’s installment of Simple Answers to Stupid Questions.

The Flu…

… or is it a cold? (Update: it’s a flu.)

It started in a relatively benign manner. Tuesday morning I awoke with a slightly sore throat and a minor headache. I suspected I was infected by the same bug that struck JB on Sunday. But, as far as bugs went, this one didn’t seem so bad.

I went to work and shortly after lunch was telling a co-worker that I wasn’t feeling so hot. “Go home,” she suggested. “There’s not a lot going on here. You do look a little wan.”

I realized she was right. My work is very cyclical and we’re entering the slow part of the year. I’m rarely ill and so have sufficient sick leave. I shouldn’t be hanging around taking the chance of infecting my colleagues. I should go.

And so I left. That afternoon was pretty sweet. A free afternoon off work, and, while my throat was sore and the mild headache persisted, I wasn’t so sick I couldn’t have stayed at work. And, if I had had classes or meetings, or a pressing deadline I probably would have.

“I guess it’s not affecting me as badly as JB,” I thought. By Tuesday she was deep in the bowels of flu hell.

Wednesday the soreness in my throat was sharper, the headache a little stronger. Still, I could read, and I worked a little on my story. I napped. Low energy, didn’t feel great, but not bad. I felt confident that the next day I would be on the mend.

And then Thursday struck. What had been a minor sore throat turned into blistering pain. No amount of ibuprofen would kill the splitting headache. What had been a minor fever that would sneak up and then flee, came on strong and persisted. I ping-ponged between hot and sweaty and chilled and shivering. That night I couldn’t sleep. Someone was extinguishing their cigar on the back of my throat. Each cough felt like a serrated knife dragged across the blistering sore. I tried to breathe shallowly to reduce the chance of coughing. My body, however, wanted to belch, which triggered coughing. Sometimes the tears were just one of the symptoms of the flu, other times they were a response to the unrelenting pain.

Did I mention the farting. Early on in this process I noted my level of gas skyrocketed. Really amazing, tremendous farts that went on forever. And then another within moments. Where does all that gas come from? I don’t know, but I imagine it is the waste product of the invading army. My defense mechanisms were waging an all-out war to save my life, and the corpses of the enemy were vaporized into great clouds that had to be expelled. The enemy was mighty and multitudinous.

Friday I lost the ability to speak above a whisper, but I didn’t want to speak anyway because it might trigger a cough. The headache was intense and persistent. No amount of ibuprofen dulled it. There was no more reading. Even watching TV was too much to bear. I did my best to nap, but mostly I lay on the couch and suffered.

Now it is Saturday. The dark night of flu misery has passed. The throat is still sore, but nothing like it was. The head still hurts, but now ibuprofen seems to have some effect. The coughing is productive, no longer dry and painful. There is no more farting, but my left nostril will not stop dripping. In fact, dripping is too picayune for what it is doing. It is constantly streaming without stop, like a faucet turned on. I must hydrate myself or at this rate I will be a dried out husk by midnight.

I am optimistic that the worst is behind me. My weekend will be given to rest, relaxation, and re-hydration. And by early next week I will return to my preferred life of not having the flu all the fucking time.

UPDATE: Sunday turned out to be a profound day of snot. It made me feel like King Duncan, except with snot instead of blood.

“Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much snot in him.”

Monday off to work, because Good Lord! how much work can I seriously miss? Quite a bit, it turns out. After a couple of hours I’m off to the clinic to get a z-pak and some prednisone. Monday is also the end of one week with the flu.

Week two of flu life begins on Tuesday and I manage to make myself human enough to do a half day at work.

Wednesday, I should be improving, right? That’s the way the trajectory is supposed to move. Incremental improvement everyday until back to my rip-roaring best. Except this morning I awake at 5am feeling like some renegade MMA fighter has slipped into my bedroom and kicked me in the right side of my head. My ear and sinus feel walloped. Nonetheless, I persist. It takes me about 75 minutes to assemble myself into something vaguely human and I trundle to work. Only to trundle home after about an hour, because my coughing is loud and persistent and disturbing all those trying to study.

Ah, well. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. At least the blinding headaches have stopped and I can now read while I recuperate.