She started by polishing my fingernail. Just the one: the left middle finger (which I'm sure was part of the script, but is another strange choice, semantically speaking). So, she went over the fingernail with three sides of this special fingernail-polishing tool, keeping a patter going the entire time, and when she revealed the results, even before she got to the drop of cuticle solution or the Dead Sea lotion, I was thinking, damnit, one of my fingernails is freakishly shiny, now what?
She offered me a special deal compared to the price this stuff supposedly sells for on the Internet, and an even better one if I was a student. But I'm not a student, I told her. She acted shocked. (People have been acting shocked at my age a lot, lately. I might have to start taking it personally.) Anyway, she and I reached an understanding whereby she'd give me the student deal if I agreed to keep it hush hush (whatever), and when I said "she tried" back at the beginning I was kind of lying, because to be entirely truthful, she succeeded.
I walked away with my nail care kit feeling kind of out-of-sorts, with one fingernail that just felt wrong to the touch, and after wandering aimlessly for a while, decided that what I needed was a bookstore.
Unfortunately, the nearest bookstore, a B&N superstore across the way from the mall, wasn't the store I wanted. I've recently come to the realization that many of the assumptions I had about books when I first entered the publishing industry, while they were pretty reasonable at the time, seem more or less ridiculous now, in 2010. And I also realized that brick-and-mortar bookstores piss me off now, at least the large chain ones. Really, I think it comes down to the whole physical-display-space thing -- that's a little whackadoo, isn't it?
It reminds me of the time when one of the developers I work with came in one day during the holiday shopping season talking about how he'd gone to this store over the weekend and been sort of floored by the implications of the store taking up physical space, to wit: that it requires you, the shopper, to move your body around in order to browse the various wares for sale, and that as the shopper, you're subject to the layout that is imposed on you by the shopkeeper, rather than dictating your own wishes with a few clicks or keystrokes. Now, I'm not averse to self-locomotion in order to inspect the merchandise available to me (it is of course worse when you have to deal with collisions between yourself and other meatbags attempting to occupy the same space), but what bugs me is when the people whose responsibility is to "curate" the space don't happen to choose what I think they should. For example, I was distressed to discover that they did not carry a single title by Hugo award-winning author Peter Watts.
If you ask me, I say it's time to replace these megabookstores with places that will print what you want on the spot, or else just have warehouses full of robots that deliver what you want to you. That is, if you absolutely insist on acquiring molecules instead of bits. But it feels like we've done a silly thing where we've deprecated the past while the future isn't yet ready for general availability. Anyway, it's sad when the most useful thing a bookstore can do for me is to sell me a Raspberry Java Chip Frappucino.
And on top of it all, my fingernail still feels strange, and there's a very distracting reflection from the laptop screen as I type.
THINGS AT WORK have been interesting, in the proverbial curse sense of the word. I'm continuing to play fake-it-till-I-make-it, and apparently I talk a good game. We'll see how long that lasts.
My colleague Geoff is working on project Geoff 2.0, the main feature of which, as I understand it, is that the new Geoff will be totally laid back. When we have one of our typically cynical conversations and he says something like, "Oh, why'd you have to go ahead and say that, now I'm going to be depressed about it all day." I say "No! Geoff 2.0!" and he goes, "Oh yeah!" and immediately cheers up.
I'm trying to take inspiration from this and roll out Kellnerin 2.0. I think this will be sort of an infrastructure release, rather than one with a bunch of flashy new features. To be honest, the current Kellnerin implementation suffers somewhat from feature-bloat and the attendant performance hits that come with a broad range of capabilities. The next iteration may need to sacrifice some previously available functionality in order to focus on the core value proposition, whatever that is. I think I need a product manager.
MEANWHILE, I'VE BEEN SLACKING on a few creative fronts. For example, I haven't responded to clock's gentle query from a while back because I wanted to have a better answer than, "Um." I didn't intend to drop that project, but I've basically found myself in a state where I kinda hate where it is (though there are parts of it I do like) and I haven't figured out how to reboot it, jumpstart it, or whatever the proper verb is. Perils of posting stuff raw and in real time, I guess.
I've been rummaging around in old pieces of mental luggage where I've been storing bits and fragments of story ideas, but I haven't found anything that I really want to travel with for any length of time. But I want a project, so I'll keep looking. Suggestions are welcome, for frameworks, strategies, or whatnot. I'll throw them in the box, shake them up, and see if the resulting tangle looks like it would be fun to unravel. I need something to do with my hands.
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