Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
It's brainwane-o Bandito, the Bandit brainwane
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
What else is there to do in Stockton, California, but write diary entries and emails, delay learning more Russian, get scared at travel advisories, read the work of dead white guys, and complain about the heat?
Orwell, Lem, Wodehouse, Chekhov; Bless you.
I've finished The Orwell Reader, I'm rereading some P.G. Wodehouse (Very Good, Jeeves! and the like), I'm about halfway through Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad, and I'm sampling Chekhov stories from
The Image of Chekhov
Forty Stories by Anton Chekhov
In the Order in Which They Were Written
Translated, With an Introduction by Robert Payne
"The Lady With the Pet Dog" is so relevant, and as clear and cold as a block of ice.
Chekhov can be really depressing. At least when George Orwell depresses me he also provides some tiny but explicit glimmer of hope. The Orwell excerpt about his schooldays from Such, Such Were the Joys reminds us, quite rightly, that modern-day teens have no monopoly on horrid school experiences and angst arising from them. Take that, Jon Katz!
I'm not sure whether Stanislaw Lem can be the Thomas Pynchon of fantasy in the same way that Neal Stephenson is the Thomas Pynchon of sci-fi, because maybe Thomas Pynchon is already the Thomas Pynchon of fantasy.
Star Trek: The Next (de)Generation. I'm watching old episodes from the beginning of second season, I think. Riker has a beard, but they still have the old uniforms, which I would call "stupid" only because they signify a lack of quality. How uneven in quality! Even within the same episode! "The Measure of a Man" was pretty good except that the JAG was a character written before TNG writers could reliably handle strong females (compare K'Eylahr, or however you spell the name of Worf's mate). "The Dauphin" was horrible except for some inspired banter between Riker and Guinan. "A Matter of Honor" seemed like an ad for exchange programs; I feel as though there should have been a ten-second ad for Interplanetary Study Abroad at the end, with Riker, the Benzite, the Klingon, and Wesley all giving a Mentos thumbs-up to the camera. Come to think of it, the quality of an episode from this period may have an inversely proportional relationship to the amount of screen time Wesley gets. Hmmm. This calls for the building of a wildly inaccurate metric!
Funny-names-department. I have an uncle Ramanujan who is a math professor. Or, as he would possibly say, a maths professor. That's great. Imagine if I had more relatives with appropriate trade names! Uncle Sophocles, the playwright. Aunt Marie, the physicist. Cousin Thomas, who doesn't believe anything you tell him.
Immunizations. I'm going to Russia in a bit, and the CDC and suchlike are very concerned to see that I don't die of, say, diphtheria, polio, or typhoid. These travel warnings (regarding diseases that the USA, for all intents and purposes, eradicated a generation back) really drive home the fact that Russia is a developing country. Nothing like "causes paralysis and death" to brighten up the packing of the suitcase and the bon-voyage party. Good thing I'm not intending to visit Vladivostok or any of the other far eastern cities, or else I'd really be worried about the currency of my Japanese encephalitis immunization.
Somehow I feel that "I am immunized and super-sized" should have the same tone as "Disco Stu does not advertise."
Heat. Expletive, it's hot. I'm in the agricultural breadbasket of California, and heat exhaustion may soon crop up on this brainwane's frame.
How hot is it? It's so hot, you'd think it's summer!
Hydration, importance of. Wherever you are, make sure you're drinking enough water. Whether it's summer or winter, you need a certain amount of the old H2 (O, that is!) to lubricate all those little biochemical ball bearings. When I remember to drink more water, my mood improves, I sleep better, and my food even kinda tastes better! Drink cool, refreshing water. Now with pretty much the same ppm level of arsenic!