log: coming soon

Don’t let the pictures at the beach fool you. These last few weeks have actually been incredibly stressful. I can’t talk about what all that is about on here (not yet) but, maybe, in September I’ll be able to discuss the situation. Don’t worry, though. We’re going to come out of it fine. But still, it’s been a three week nightmare here. Tide seems to be turning. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, sacrifice a chicken, and all of that. Right now, seems okay-ish.

Has been some good stuff in the middle of all that. Finished an interesting writing project. It was intense but also a lot of fun. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk about that soon. In the fall, I think? This blog is turning into a list of things I can’t talk about yet.

Sorry about that.

I was also accepted into the JEDI Space section of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative. It’s another research apprenticeship – this one involving space. I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to continue in the medical inequalities apprenticeship. Scheduling issues. We might be able to work around some of those but, even if we do, I’ll have to reduce my involvement.

The Interplanetary Initiative sounds interesting though, and I’m looking forward to it. Here’s the mission summary of the section that I’m in, JEDI Space:

Many organizations are creating a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive (DEI) workplace environment. However, there is little focus on creating DEI access to space. It is still an exclusive club. Even more critical, there is little emphasis on the “Just” aspect of access to space and the space community. This project will seek to answer the question of what a JEDI space means and how to open space access to more of humanity through surveys, conversations and events. An important goal of this project is to inspire action to create a space community that invites people to stay, going beyond metrics to understand the root cause of the metrics.

I’m excited about it. The team includes astronauts, professors, and my fellow students. Though I have limited expectations about what is possible here, I hope we can make some small contribution to preventing space from becoming the playground of billionaires and war machines. For my part, I think we need very different ways of thinking about space.

Yet another thing that I’ll hopefully get into at a later date.

This log entry is like a season preview for the fall.

COMING SOON: Learn about the exciting drama, the new project, and get fresh and healthy news about space delivered to your door. STAY TUNED. FILM WILL EMERGE AT 11!

I’m really enjoying running and swimming. For about a week or two, before all this stress, instability, and madness, I had something very close to a perfect life. Studying and school in the morning, running and swimming and beach reading in the afternoon, chores and time with my wife in the evening, and, after midnight, paid work on a writing project, and then pass out to some B-Movie. I mean, that was great. I could do that forever. Who couldn’t?

The structure remains the same but, boy, a THING can really fuck with the mood. It now seems a bit less like happiness and more like sanity retention. I’m grateful to have it though.

I mean, look yesterday’s water. The visibility was incredible.

I even got myself a little pair of water booties, which makes navigating the rocks much easier, and lets me use different points of entry into the ocean, while taking in the tide pools.

The odd thing is, I usually hate the beach. I don’t like . . . I don’t know what I’d call it? Mass recreation? Forced relaxation? Fun? But I really like this little beach. There’s some recreation there, some people just hanging out, but it’s also, primarily, a working beach. People fish, catch octopus, spearfish, forage seaweed and shellfish, cook, and, just generally, pull a living from the sea. Some, like me, just enjoy it, snorkeling or diving for shells or, in my case, trash, but it’s not just people laying around, partying, and enjoying themselves – though there’s enough to that to keep from being some joyless drudge.

Sweat.

Quitting the gym was a good idea. I was concerned that I’d get out of shape without it but I’m in better shape than I was with it. My weight has dropped from 83kg to 78.3kg without a loss in strength. If anything, I’m stronger. Less bulky but more defined and stronger.

Getting ready to run to the beach.

This is a good thing. I know bodies are a sensitive subject so, let me assure you, I have no feelings about yours. But for me? I have too much invested in trousers to ever want to put on much fat or muscle. Given the choice between the two, I’d take the muscle because, well, it’s useful and seems to have an upper limit. But overall? I prefer being lean to being big.

I’d like to maybe drop another kilo or so but I’m not pressed about it either.

log: day derailed

벌레 일지 WORMDATE: PHASE 1 LEVEL 4

90,443 -1,552,851: 313(-1): 39-7,202(0.46%): 86.2 %–58 %

Few mundane malfunctions can fuck up your day as quick as a plumbing problem. Lights go out, you can always turn on a lamp. Device breaks. Probably some shitty workaround. But plumbing? You can’t really fuck around with water and it’s hard to do without it. There’s a lot of issues you should deal with quickly but plumbing feels like you have to deal with it quickly.

Yesterday, finished my shower and turned off the faucet. That was the plan anyway. The faucet had other ideas. Water shot up through the faucet. Now, in a Korean bathroom, that’s not such a big deal. The bathrooms here are basically one big shower with a toilet and sink. But it’s still pretty annoying. Water out of place is worrying. It doesn’t even need to be much. Watching a single stream of misplaced water flowing down a wrong wall? Well . . .

I tried holding the faucet down, that sort of thing, finally turned the water off, and wondered if I could get away with just living like that and, if so, for how long. I was into a nice pair of pants before, sighing, saying fuck it, giving up on my day’s appointment, and changing into my dickies. Just had to deal with the fucking thing. Meant buying and installing a new faucet.

When you speak the dominant language as badly as I do, every single task, no matter how banal is a bit of an adventure. I assumed he size of faucets would probably be standardized but I don’t really like to run around on chores like this with a bunch of assumptions. So I took measurements and pictures, and headed out the door to my local hardware shop.

No luck there. After leaving, I think I understood what happened. The old lady working the counter, I think, was saying that she had bad eyes and couldn’t see my picture. At the time, what I understood was that she needed to see the thing and couldn’t help me. Or that they didn’t have faucets. Either way, it was a problem I couldn’t quite figure out.

In the textbooks, things are so simple. A person has a question and someone answers the question. In real life, you ask about a sink faucet and you’re suddenly discussing eyes.

Now, me thinking she needed to see the faucet? That’s a weird conclusion. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would she need to see the faucet? But, when I’m trying to speak Korean, I’m not only much less articulate and much more uncomprehending, but also a lot dumber. Any mental energy I might have for anything else –like questioning a ridiculous conclusion– is spent on trying to to communicate. It feels like trying to do two math problems at the same time — sometimes, when it comes to getting change or whatever, it can feel exactly like that.

Back on the street, I needed to get my bearings. Headed to the barber shop and asked her, where to buy a faucet. She told me at the hardware store. I told them they didn’t have them and she recommended e-mart. I thanked her and was on my way.

E-mart is a bit of a walk. Also, it’s a packed multistory store, and well, at the best of pandemic times, feels dodgy. With some mad feral variant on the loose? I’d just as soon give it a pass. But, back at home, water was where water was not supposed to be. So no choice.

But I tried another little hardware story on the way there –one I’ve used a couple of times before (right next door to my tailor)– and they had what I was looking for. No muss, no fuss.

Already had the monkey wrench and the WD-40. I love both things.

At home, after rolling around and moaning on the bathroom floor for a while, I managed to get the old faucet out. Although this was already my most productive episodes of rolling around and moaning on a bathroom floor, it still went pretty badly. One of the tubes connecting the faucet to the water supply was completely — what’s the term for it? It’s not stripped? Rusted on? The metal grown together? Not amendable to unscrewing?

At any rate, I required a new tube. So, not wanting to go back down and up the mountain, I went back to the first store. Old fellow there now. And I brought the tube with me. He put it in a vice, had a go at it with a monkey wrench. No luck. Like, that bolt was STUCK.

And I was trying to tell him not to worry about it. I’m trying to say this how I would say it in English – like direct translating. And what I would say in English is “That’s fine. I don’t need that.” But, I think, when I say that in Korean, saying “that’s fine” means “that’s fine.” So I should probably just say “don’t do that” and I even know how but I’m not sure it’s polite.

I did eventually get understood, get the new tube, and fixed the whole thing up. It worked fine, though I after putting it all together, I decided to replace the other tube too –because, like, just seemed right– and then had to clean the bathroom. It’s odd how much mess a simple project can produce. And, when you do it in your boots, how muddy and wet you can get. But I just can’t bring myself to work barefoot or in sandals. So, yeah. Cleaning.

So that was a day derailed. But, seems like just about everything I try to do right now get derailed. Big, small, whatever. It just doesn’t work out. I’m jinxy. In a bit of a slump.

Bright side is, these derailments are kind of cancelling each other out. Like, my day was derailed by plumbing but one of my research groups is cancelled for the week because, well, everyone is down with COVID, and the other project is also temporarily derailed. If things were actually going right, losing a day would have hurt more than it did and would have made for some catching up. But, as is, it didn’t even matter. Actually just kept me busy.

Like, don’t get me wrong, in the past week I’ve had electrics blow out, meetings get cancelled, an assortment of other things not work, go wrong, or end up twisted, and, yeah it’s been annoying. But, for whatever reason, this seems to be happening to everyone right now and that has, strangely, made it the best time for this shit to happen to me. I suppose movement and resistance is relative to one’s environment. Even fuck-ups can have flow.

Sometimes, when you’re up Shit Creek, it’s best to go with the current.

log: revert

Heatwave is continuing to cause genetic reversion. Another month of this humidity and I’ll start sprouting patches, studs, little buttons, and, quite possibly, a denim vest. My hair may start standing up or be shaved off. Possibly both. Things could get very bad. If you see me wearing a tie over a t-shirt, place me into stasis until the daily high drops to 25℃.

치욕을 주다

이번 주에 전 아파지만 어제 의사 갔어요. 의사는 낫게핬아요. 전 바보서 살 힘들지만 한국인 정말 친잔하고 다정한. 근데 그 미국인 문제는 망신시입니다. 전 슬픈하고 성난하고 망신시해요. For fuck’s sake 하지마.

log: might just be happy

WORMDATE: L2-2.5: 1,241-54,770: 17-773

달은 보러 밤에서 동안 산책하가요.

With New Year’s coming up, a lot of our neighborhood is shutting down. A popular tradition here is to watch the sun rise on New Year’s Day. We happen to be on one of the more eastern parts of the peninsula and there’s generally a massive influx of people. Like, last year:

This year is looking more like:

That’s the spot where I like to gawk at the moon. Shut down until the tide passes.

That’s a little annoying, I suppose. I’m not really bothered. It’s more like I feel some weird obligation to express annoyance. Like, seeing a sign like that, one feels a bit more satisfaction saying “aw, that sucks” instead of “well, that’s totally expected and I was mainly curious about how the sign would look.”

But I’ve been on some pretty decent walks lately. Wife has a week off so I’ve even had some company. And we stumbled into a thing. It’s fucking awesome.

But I’m not going to give the name of it. Not because I’m trying to keep some sort of secret. It’s not a secret. I just don’t want google deciding that I’m some sort of fucking tourguide.

Anyway . . .

Wife and I were surprised to find this walking path along an old rail track.

Last time I was down here, we’d basically just arrived. I’d gone out to get lost. I went to the beach and followed the coast past the fishing huts to the end of paved roads, then took a path until it led to an abandoned rail track, which I followed, as one does, until I found some tough old ladies who were hopping fences. They pointed me up a staircase and to a  wooded hill, which led me into a bird park, and eventually back to my neighborhood, where I was still lost and spent the next couple hours circling my home in ever shrinking spirals until I saw something I recognized. There was no sign of this even being built.

It opened on Oct. 20 and even has a working (and beautiful) blue train. Closed for now because, well, you know.

Wife and I walked about 3km down this path last night. It being very late on Christmas night, it was quiet. Pretty much had the spot to ourselves. Just beautiful.

And not to get political on this but it’s almost impossible to walk a thing like this, alone, past midnight and not contrast the experience with what it would be in America. And it’s not just that America seems incapable of building public areas like this, with not a cop or security guard or billboard or fast-food joint to be seen, but that it can’t even imagine these spaces. It just doesn’t have the underlying society that makes something like this possible. This is impossible.

Americans don’t understand, they just don’t even know, can’t know, what has been stolen from them. How could they? The scale and the scope of the theft is incomprehensible. The loss is beyond words. It can’t even be explained. Not really.

That whole thing saddens me. A bone sadness.

But putting that aside, I also can’t describe how much I love it here and how at home I feel. It’s the first time I’ve felt at home anywhere. So maybe the feeling is normal. It might just be what people feel at home. I don’t know. It’s new to me.

I sometimes have this strange and recurring feeling, experienced again and with some intensity last night when looking at the waves hitting the rocks, that I’ve dreamed this place before, back when I was a child. It’s similar to that feeling one sometimes has in dreams. That sense that they’re in a place they’ve dreamed before but can only remember while they’re dreaming it. A strange feeling. A feeling that goes straight to the heart. It feels like undiscovered parts of you fitting and locking together. There’s a satisfying click. I get it a lot here.

And to be clear, I’m not interested in supernatural, psychological, or psychiatric explanations of this feeling. I have no urge to explain or examine this feeling. It’s just a strange and nice feeling.

For all I know, it might just be happiness.

log: final finals for now today

WORMDATE: L2-2.5: 718-43,484: 7-587

South Korea had over 1000 daily cases for the first time yesterday. This week we’ll be looking at whether or not we’re going to Level 3. It seems likely. The authorities are hesitant about raising the levels and are emphasizing that if more people co-operate with Level 2 and 2.5, it may not be necessary. That’s probably wishful thinking.

Overall, the government seems to be holding to its metrics regarding changing the levels. I have some mixed feelings about this strategy. It has been long argued that the government should show more flexibility and react stronger, faster. On the other hand, one hopes that these numbers weren’t just pulled out of a hat. So, while I would like to see some flexibility, I also think that if you do have a decent plan based on the best available understanding, you sometimes just have to stick to the plan. It’s frustrating, yeah. It’s not great. What is?

Suddenly changing the rules might show adaptability but it might also create a situation where everyone starts running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s important to avoid becoming too reactive. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re constantly reacting to the last thing that happened. A degree of stability is also important. And if the rules start getting bent one way, they often quickly start getting bent in others.

It’s just all a little stressful and high stakes. Giving a plan a chance to succeed means giving it a chance to fail. And failure kills.

At this point, I’m just like — the authorities and public here have done an excellent job. I might have my disagreements with this or that aspect of the thing and questions about others, but I do trust the Korean health authorities. They haven’t steered me wrong yet. Taking their advice seems to work out. It’s just a matter of taking it.

Pretty quiet weekend here, as you can likely imagine. I did have to make a trip out to grab nicotine. I really wanted to go to market but, although it’s pretty much outside and therefore well ventilated, it’s a still a big place with a lot of foot traffic. I just didn’t want to get one of those alerts that if you were there, now go here and get a test. Right now, I have enough tests in my life.

I also did my oral 한국어 final. Safe to say, it went pretty terribly. It was supposed to be a fifteen sentence memorized introduction. I doubt I ever have 15 sentences to say about myself in any language. Roman emperors had shorter introductions. It’s also just weird talking to a video image of yourself. I don’t like it. I don’t like it very much. I had about the first paragraph memorized but the deeper I got . . . It ended with me reading.

The written tests start at 5PM today. I have three. That’s the written final. After that, done.

Overall, I don’t know about this class. Being unable to go use what I’ve learned, I can’t really gauge how much I’ve learned. Or even, really, what I’ve learned. I assume that I’ve learned something but it’s just hard to tell. It’s a weird state. It feels like I have this strange mush in my head but no idea what it’s made of, how it works, or what I can use. It’s in there though.

Though I generally hope this blog is read with such a warning in mind at all time, I want to preface the rest of this with a strong What the Fuck Do I Know? warning.

But I wasn’t wild on how the class was conducted over ZOOM. Our lectures were, well, lectures. We were shown slides and given rules. That’s fine when it comes to taking a test but there was very little practice in speaking. I really think that more time should have been spent trying to say things to each other and trying to understand them. It just seems like the few times we did do that, I got so much more out of the class. Things stuck.

The rest of the time, I just dreaded those lectures. Felt like my time could be better spent doing almost anything else. They felt like going backwards. Constantly leaving more confused than I started. I think, probably, a good purpose of a language learning classroom is to create a safe space to experiment and make errors. I’m not sure that was done. In this case, just the idea of grades seems opposed to what a person needs so that they can learn.

I don’t want to be too hard on the whole thing. I feel like an important part of learning a language is learning it in the abstract. But so much of it really just isn’t. A lot of it is just having the confidence of trying to speak it, which is inevitably humiliating, the ability to dust yourself off and try again, and developing some capacity to think on your feet, and make yourself understood as quickly as possible. These things come from use.

Further I go in school, the more it seems like a machine to teach people how to do school. That’s probably not news to anyone. Now, I’m sure I learned something other than how to pass a test. It would just be nice to know what. I’m probably just a little frustrated.

I want to take my incompetence out for a spin!

I just have this feeling like, right now, more than anything, I need some sort of win. Like when I was able to formulate a question about coffee. Just something like that. Where I say or understand something I was not previously able to say or understand and have it said and understood. It doesn’t have to be big. But these tests ain’t doing it. On my short trip out, I was able to read and understand a new sign that wasn’t in Konglish, and standing in line at the nicotine shop, was able to get a good grip on how to buy the stuff. So that’s progress.

But what the fuck do I know?

So that Patreon thing is up and running and I even have a few subscribers. So that’s a nice surprise. And thanks. It’s not much, of course, but it will pay the service fees that the bank charges me and/or buy a big bag of 김치 a month. So that’s nice.

But the emails that site sends me . . .

It feels like working for Amway or some shit. Invite your friends, get them to spread the word. Talk about it on the twitter. So much of the Internet is just a pyramid scheme cult.

Insofar as I need to justify participating in such a gross racket, it’s basically like this . . .

Last week some time, I got form rejection note for another novel. Now, keep in mind, these novels aren’t even getting rejected from big houses. They’re getting rejected from places that might pay me, tops, $500 for an entire novel. I’m not someone who commands an advance in the thousands, let alone the tens of thousands. As it is, I can’t even get into the hundreds. I doubt that I could not get paid $20 for a novel. And it’s been like that for a long time. I mean, I keep writing the fucking things so it’s obviously not about the money.

I’m just never going to sell another novel. That’s just not a thing that will ever happen. Not because these novels don’t exist. Some of them are even okay, I think. But no one will ever buy them. It’s just not going to happen. There’s nothing I can do about it.

And if it’s like that for my novels, it’s pretty grim for my fucking bulletins.

Thing with these fucking things . . . There is nowhere to sell them. There just isn’t even a market for them. I don’t even know where to send them to get rejected. I don’t even how to describe them. I don’t even know how they’ll turn out a lot of the time. They’re strange little assemblies. I just like making them. And I like reading them.

But I don’t even know where to post them. Like, they just aren’t right for here. They need their own space. And I can’t imagine putting them on FB or whatever. The first run on them appeared on ELLO (remember that?) and it was just a thing that felt natural there. I’m not going to bother with ELLO though. I’m just not. Tumblr? Maybe. But I just don’t like the idea of them being totally public or rebloggable or anything like that. Doesn’t sit right. I don’t like that context-collapse stuff at the best of times. These things kind of need to build their own context. That’s part of how they work. That’s part of what they do. They breed best in shadow and quarantine. I don’t want them wandering around in daylight.

I was thinking email newsletter. That seemed to fit them. I like the idea of them going to mailboxes. But setting all that up is some work and why even bother? Like, I believe in serving the work but that can start to feel like doing a favor. Like, at some point, me doing shit for free is me doing a favor. Like why even bother setting up another thing?

I’m going to write these things whether or not I put them anywhere. To put them somewhere? I’m sorry but I just need to see some money. At least, the potential for some money. And not even much money. I don’t need to make a living off it. But I don’t enjoy being read. Being read is not a thing I find pleasant. Doing things I don’t enjoy is work. One gets paid for work, generally. Being read is work. Maybe paying will dissuade people.

So Patreon . . . I don’t know. It seems like it allows the things to be delivered about how I want them to be delivered. Gives them the right sort of environment. If no one paid or read them, I think they might work in a place like that too. Like, that would be perfect. Ghosts haunting an abandoned house. That suits them just fine. And if someone wants to read them, I get a bit of money for my trouble. So I get to be some sort of carnival barker. A sort of micro horror-show host offering tickets to see the malformed baby in the dirty bathtub. I’m comfortable with that role. It’s the sort of work I would like to have.

I have extremely low expectations. I mean, for the money I’m asking, I’m pretty sure you can get full news subscriptions and shit. You can get you’re Democracy Dies Behind a Paywall and unlimited articles from an assorted ZOOM flashers and some pretty good sites too. I’m pretty sure you can get nudies at these prices. I don’t know. I do know that I can’t compete with all that so I’m not really interested in trying. But I don’t really expect anyone to subscribe at all –it’s fucking annoying to have to keep subscribing to things– and I’m pretty amazed that anyone has even bothered to subscribe. But it makes me feel dread more than gratitude. Now, I have to try to be worth the price of admission.

Happy to have a spot for these things though.

log: stick to the plan

WORMDATE: L1: 146-27,799: 2-487

어제, 제 재단사 만났어요. 셔츠를 사게요. 셔츠를 싸지만 좋어요. 좋어애요!  오늘, 시장 갔어요. 전 떡복이 먹있어요. 맛있어요

하지만 . . .

코로나 is still out there. We had a few alerts about cases in the neighborhood today. And, today, the nation clocked in at 146 new cases, which is a three week high.

The government has recently switched to a new five level alert system. It’s supposed to be a bit more nuanced and locally targeted than the previous three level system, which rapidly went to a nationwide alert status. We’re still at level one here but that can change. It can always change.

There also seems to be some good news on the vaccine front. I try not to think too much about that front. My attitude is that it’s just too far above my paygrade. All I need to do is follow the rules. If and when there’s a vaccine, I assume someone will let me know where to get one. Until then, I’m just not going to stress that part of it. That’s someone else’s job. Mine, yours, ours is hard enough. Stick to the plan!

As for now, the attitude of our public health authorities is cautious optimism. They note that this news is very good news but also that a phase three interim result is still early going. They also note that, in many countries, there is an understandable eagerness to believe in this vaccine but one still needs to be cautious. All in all, they seem to think the second half of next year is a realistic target. So, for now, good news but it doesn’t change anything. Stick to the plan!

Had some real trouble sleeping the past few days. Election stress? I don’t know. Whatever it is, before I close my eyes, that weird half conscious state between waking and dreams, is abso-fucking-lutely insisting on taking me on a tour of ancient fucking Rome. I just cannot get Pompey out of my head. Not Pompeo but Pompey Magnus. Pompey the Great.

The thing about Pompey Magnus was, not only did he have, at almost every point, vastly superior forces, he did everything by the book. He did everything right. It was all correct. Legally, he was correct. Traditionally, he was correct. Strategically? Totally perfectly correct. He really only made one mistake: He did not understand that the rules had changed.

That mistake cost Rome the republic and it cost him his life.

Playing by dead rules is not a good mistake to make. It’s a huge mistake. It’s also a mistake that you can make again and again. God knows, Pompey kept making it. He just kept making that mistake. Part of it is, every time you make that mistake, it almost forces you to make it again. It hedges you in. It hedges you in and it fucks you up.

But that was all a very long time ago. 2016 was not.

I guess, all I’m saying is, the rules have changed. Take this shit that Trump is doing seriously. A thing can both be ludicrous and dangerous. It can both be totally absurd and outnumbered, and without a leg to stand on, and it can still be a real threat — a threat that can’t be joked away. That can’t be proper procedured away. A threat that can win. It might and it might not but IT CAN. It has to be treated like it can.

We’ve learned that much, right? Please tell me that we’ve learned at least that fucking much.

But, if you take the threat seriously, take the motherfucker at his word, and treat it with seriousness, it can be stopped. If you don’t do that, you’re depending on . . . What? That he self-destructs? That some moral conscience is awoken in his supporters? It won’t happen.

So yeah, that stresses me out. Has me jerking awake asking questions like — Who are the generals loyal to? We know who the cops are loyal too but who or what are the generals loyal to? What happens if he starts making fucking arrests of opponents? That can happen.

Indeed, that tends to be WHAT happens.

That’s what’s keeping me up. But it’s more the feeling that this is some sort of repeat of 2016, with the liberals making the exact same error. They think it’s absurd. They’re right. But its absurdity does not mean that it is a joke. It is a serious and unstable situation. They’re pointing at numbers and evidence and institutions and norms. You think they might have learned. Those just don’t have much currency at the moment.

Seeing the same mistakes made again. The same gloating smugness. That same, it can’t happen here attitude. That worries me. This requires vigilance, Mr. Worf!

This can be stopped if you fight it. But you have to fight it. It does not stop itself.

log: wander

wormdate: L1: 1-463: 114 – 26,385

Finished and submitted my 한국어 oral midterm yesterday. I think it went pretty well. We had to memorize and perform 3 dialogues with a partner. My partner was great and we worked pretty well together. School, the real midterm is the friends we make along the way.

I also finished my math chapter yesterday — a little ahead of schedule. So, I’m going to take the weekend off from math. I don’t usually do that, liking to work ahead, but right now I would prefer a bit of a break to a bit of breathing room. 숙제이지만, 개가 먹있어요.

I also had some fun last week.

One of my favorite things to do in any city is just try to find shortcuts and the like. I’ve been doing it for years. The whole practice has, of course, in our era of overthinking and overbranding, been described as, er, flaneur, was that it? Flaneuring. The drift? Drifting. Depends what Frenchman you’re reading, I suppose. And I’m sure Americans have some military or fitness based version of these terms. Like EXTREME URBAN EXPLORATION or URBAN ULTRA WALK and matching kevlar outfits. But whatever you call wandering around, there’s a whole bunch of thinking about this stuff and I don’t recommend reading any of it. Like, jesus, does every part of life need to be named, analyzed, and intellectually colonized? Can’t a motherfucker just wander around?

The long and the short of it is, I get curious about back alleys and the like. I see some weird little thing and I want to walk up it. Drives my wife crazy. She sees me pause and look and I feel that tug on my arm. I can’t blame her. I like to get lost. Not everyone enjoys that. Many people even like knowing where they are. But, for me, I can walk six kilometers out of my way and just be happy with what I saw when I did. As long as I can find my way back, I’m fine. And I never really worry about finding my way back.

Drinking has left me with a remarkable confidence regarding my homing instinct. I don’t know how many blackouts I’ve emerged from at home. (Not all of them.) But if I can find my way home while drunk and not knowing where I have been most of the time, I feel reasonably sure that I can find my way home sober pretty much all the time. Sober, I can even manage to get home with money still in my pocket, without getting covered in bodily fluids, with my clothes intact. So far, at least. Who knows what the future will bring?

I just really like to know how to cut through, take the alleys, and all that sort of thing. Aside from never really knowing when you’re going to need to lose a tail, I never really feel like I know anything about a place from its main drags. And I sort of judge a city by how much of this shit I can do. It’s related to how much I like a city — how lost can I get and how quickly?

Toronto has its moments and the whole strange and alienating, never spoken about but always just there, fact of The Path. LA was kind of shit for wandering pedestrians. But it’s unfair to think of LA as a city. It’s not really a city. More of an unfolding apocalypse. LA is just different. And Sacramento? Sac is horrorcore. A nightmare. Every hood basically spits you back out where you came in. They’re not even connected. You will also see some shit. Might be garbage bags full of dead animals. (I found ducks.) Might be a sewer cat. (It found me.) Sac is horrorcore. Like, get ready for some surreal and traumatic shit is my advice.



And I wouldn’t really recommend walking, let along wandering, in California. Americans are both obsessed with trespassing and well-armed. There’s a lot of sweaty men peeking through curtains and just waiting to be heroes. A lot of interested cops. The place stinks of them. That’s a bad situation to, you know, just wander around in. Americans do like road-trips though. I’m pretty sure you can wander the country in your car, or drive to a place then wander, then get back in your car, but it’s not really a walking-wander way of life there.

부산 is pretty damn good to wander in. You never know what you’re going to bump into. But it’s probably going to be pretty fucking awesome.

So, my walk from the other day. Not one of my more EXTREME ULTRA DRIFTS, more just trying to find another way to 시장. I was alone so I was pretty willing to have it all go terribly wrong. Sadly, it didn’t. I just found another route. Less efficient, more scenic.

It’s bit longer than my usual route and, somehow, both ways are uphill. It’s interesting though. Basically what happens is you end up weaving through a bunch of side-streets, then you come to a dead-end. But that dead end has a little alley. You go up that alley.

And then you’re in a big network of community gardens.

You weave through those paths and you’re in the woods. And the woods takes you down to the main drag. You may meet a cat.

The cat may ask you a riddle. Don’t bother answering. That cat talks a lot of shit.

necromantic tech

Carving out a little distance. Logged out Facebook. Doubt that I’ll ever log back in except for the odd check to make sure my account hasn’t been hijacked or whatever. Nothing as dramatic as deactivation. I can’t be bothered with all that. Seems a little over the top.

Not really a personal or political decision. Like, I’m not pissed off with anyone there and as far as the service itself goes . . .

I think we all pretty much know –at least in my little clump of people– that Facebook is a huge, evil pile of shit. Not a day went by when I don’t ask myself why I even stuck around. The answer is mainly that I liked the people. Then I’d feel guilty that I stuck around. Because, like, if any of these people like me, then I’m kind of helping Facebook keep them and, well, Facebook isn’t paying me.


But it’s never really been a friend thing. That service is largely acquaintances. I know that if I deactivated, none (or very few) of the people there would ever even drop me an occasional email. Those who would do so probably already do so. And that’s fine. You don’t want to take every stray from the bar home. Believe me, I get it.


I also managed to miss out on the worst of Facebook. I didn’t try to get a lot a friends. I had a door policy and that helped to avoid a lot of bullshit. (I don’t see why meeting a person once five years ago means I have to hear from them forever.) I hoped exclusion would keeps a context for me and keep me in context. One of the worst things about SNS is context collapse, imo. That shit is disastrous.


I like conversation but have no interest in going viral or likes or shares or whatever. I generally feel like, if I ever manage to stumble into saying something you agree with or think is a thing that’s somehow valuable, that you try to find some way to act on it rather than provide a “react” to it. But, you know, the internet doesn’t really do that very well. It generates reaction a lot better than action. One of the many things that often makes it worse than useless.

But the service provided a nice background hum of familiar voices. I value that. I’m also a bit sick of it. This election feels like it’s been going on for fifteen years. It’s a sort of madness.


As far as the privacy issues. . .

I’m two immigrations into life. I don’t have privacy. I am about as measured and documented as any person outside of a prison can be. And if something actually requires privacy, I keep the internet and these pocket-snitch phones as far away from it as possible. I don’t trust anything online –not even that allegedly secure cypher-punk shit– to be private. That cypher-punk stuff reminds me of camo clothes. It might have some practical uses but I doubt many of them can be found in a Starbucks on a Saturday afternoon.


But I did also kind of like that FB is, at this point, basically a haunted house on the edge of town. It’s just screaming noises in the night, shadows rocking back and forth and mumbling to themselves, the distant howling of people’s weird ghosted relatives, and occasionally an unspeakable horror emerges. The townspeople are gathering with torches. You can’t even blame them.

And, help me Satan, the second you log out of FB they start hitting you with emails. Each one makes you want to avoid the place. It’s like A LOT HAS HAPPENED SINCE YOU LEFT and I’m like ‘i fucking doubt it’ and then out of nowhere they’re trying to hook me up with some guy I haven’t seen or spoken to or even thought about in over 20 years. These are necromantic technologies. And that seems to be the appeal. Weird thing that the internet has stopped feeling like The Future and has instead become Total Nostalgia. Says something about The Future. Most of the future always was nostalgia.

Everything I want from that service, I get somewhere else. Like Instagram keeps me in lowgrade contact with the ghosts. If I feel like jotting something down, I can do it here. FB just isn’t required. It’s extraneous.

And as far as communication tools, Facebook and most of the Google suite are pretty much useless here. They’re just not the services in use and their information is bad, outdated, or wrong. They feel increasingly like Skype. Something to be used only when communicating with my geriatric parents. So, you know, I’m switching more to the local services. I like them pretty well.