Last Day

This is the last day of my October residency. My study plan has been approved, and at this point I really just need to go to my last two meetings.. I’ll be gone by tonight, not back until April 9.

It’s been a long few weeks (three, to be exact). While it has been a fun, enriching time on this visit (between seeing my friends again, UberCon, and the school residency), at this point, I’m ready to sleep in my own bed, snuggled up with my wife (whom I miss very, VERY much). I’ve had quite a few sympathies sent my way the past few days, once people found out it had been so long since I’d seen my so recently-married wife. (Most start really missing their own SO’s after only a week, so they’re generally pretty impressed that I haven’t gone starkers yet. Little do they know that I’m just better at hiding it!)

I’m really looking forward to this study. For those too lazy to read back a few posts, I’m studying mysticism in the Baha’i Faith, with brief comparisons of other forms of mysticism, such as the Kaballah, Gnosticism, and Sufism. I think this will be a really enriching, interesting study to do, both on a personal and on an intellectual level. Of course, I’ve also added an additional component that is not directly linked (but in my opinion in some ways is): creativity and spirituality, in an attempt to revitalize my own creative energies, something that I feel has been lacking lately. This loss of creative impulses is exemplified by a regression I’ve had lately of overanalyzing EVERYTHING, giving reason and rationale even to emotions and sentiments. I worked really damn hard to get that under control, so it’s kind of disappointing that I’ve regressed into it so much.

Time for lunch. I promise to try and post tomorrow as well, but I’m thinking Sunday will probably be a dead day, since I’ll be in transit for a good chunk of it.

Sundry Esoterica

This is really only a semi-post. It’s just random stuff that I thought was cool or interesting, and probably won’t be for anyone else.

– I finished my study plan a full day early, and have already gotten it okayed… we’re going to photocopy it tomorrow and submit it, at which point I’ll be done and on my way. I’m pretty damn pleased about that.

– The pictures I took at UberCon have been put up in the UberCon web gallery. In the week since they were posted, one of the pictures I took has become one of the most viewed images in the gallery (viewed ~1400 times when I last checked). Not unsurprisingly, it was a picture of a cute girl in a costume.
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More Music

Residency is at a slow-point right now, while the faculty decides who is going to work with whom (results of said discussion get posted at noon). So what better time to write a blog entry?

First: Uri has managed to post every day for the past week. Go read it. Also, both Adam and Chris have posted congratulations on me hitting 100 posts. I’m definitely grateful to have readers who seem to appreciate the effort. I’m also intruiged to see what happens in the NEXT hundred posts. I still say that this site is heuristic in nature, and as such will continue to evolve in content and form. I’m already feeling the desire to write more than just what’s happening in my life, and start incorporating more diverse writing.
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100th Post!

This is my 100th post (on this part of my site… there are another 80 images in the visual gallery and half a dozen articles in the written gallery as well). Woo! I actually feel like I’m starting to have a real quantity of content (well, I didn’t say it was thought provoking, witty, or even interesting content).

I have about 5 gigabytes of music on my laptop. 99% of it is rips of my CDs, and the other 1% is freebies downloaded off sites like et cetera. (Take that, RIAA! Gestapo Fuckers.) It being autumn, a time I find particularly useful as a period of careful introspection and personal assessment, I’ve been going through my music collection. I’m up to “K.” K as in King Crimson, one of my all time favorite bands. My entire King Crimson collection is on my computer, which means that this particular section is going to take quite some time to complete… not that I mind, not in the least.

The listing starts with Cirkus, a delightful collection of live performances of some of their best songs. It’s broken up into new (neon heat disease) and old (fractured), and is just freakin’ cool. For those who haven’t listened to King Crimson (you poor souls), let me give you a brief summary: King Crimson started back in 1968, and released their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King in 1969. While they have certainly grown and evolved musically since then, in many ways In the Court of the Crimson King is still one of their best works. It is certainly indicative of that era of the band (they have gone through several incarnations). After releasing several more albums, and touring extensively, becoming well known as a masterful experimental group (well, well-known to musicians, anyway), they broke up. They re-formed later, in a different configuration, and continued to create excellent music that pushed boundaries as to what people were doing with music. Their style (if you could call it just one) is uniquely their own, exhibiting a diverse range of influences and originality, combined into a kind of music that by its very nature evolves every time you listen to it.
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I’m currently listening to the official Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack, which is a delightful panoply of stylistic excellent music, music that evokes mood and mentality in a fashion that many other modern works simply and utterly fail to do. This is not a posting about music, mind you (though I could easily make it so), but I wanted to mention it as a segue that represents a certain mode of thought. “Mood music” if you will.

School residency started yesterday. I felt a strange mixture of dread and elation at coming back, feeling unprepared but at the same time eager to pick up a new study. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments and congratulatory comments on my recent marriage and move across the country (something that surprised a good deal of people, and has proven to be a conversation starter since). My hair still has highlights from when it was dyed this past July, which has been the source of most of the compliments (“wow, your hair looks great” and such). I dig the positive attention, but what really does it for me is the relative familiarity I’ve achieved with the other students, a familiarity that largely remains unchanged after not seeing or hearing from any of them for a full six months. At this point, I am an “old hand” at the residency, someone that new students can come to if they want to know how things work.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing this coming semester, which is a change: past semesters have had me coming in with a pretty firm understanding of exactly what I was going to do. This time, I come with a concept and that’s about it. I want to study mysticism, the mystical counterparts to several of the mainstream religions, with a focus on mysticism in the Baha’i Faith, since I have more of a direct interest in that one in particular (I’m a Baha’i, something that I’ve mentioned at least three times before on this site… do a search for “baha’i” to see where). Of course, there is another component to this study: I find myself feeling tapped creatively, and would like to find a way to reenergize and get motivated on really USING my creative resources again. So the other component, if it were to be summed up (and I’m going to have to for the study proposal) is studying the relation between spirtuality and creativity.

And yes, I am in fact writing this blog entry partially to help codify what I’m thinking. I went to my first exploratory meeting today, and found myself rambling a bit, so I want to cut down on that. We’ve got a large group this time (largest its been in several semesters), so the exploratory meetings are a bit more full than usual, leaving time as a bit of a precious commodity.
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For those readers that are new: read the old posts to see my prior concerns about UberCon. For the rest of you: it went far better than I had feared, but not as well as I had hoped.

Let’s get the basics out of the way: UberCon was a hell of a lot of fun. Everyone seems to have had a really good time, including myself. More importantly, many of the vendors have already expressed interest in returning, so things are looking QUITE favorable for UberCon III, to be held sometime in late March-early April. Having had a sit-down with Kevin, we’ve worked out a lot of the issues that were bothering us, and things are going to be firmed up in a more final fashion sometime in the next few weeks.

I got to meet a lot of really cool, interesting people: I had made it explicitly clear prior to the convention that I was not volunteering for anything, and was coming as an attendee. This allowed me to roam as I wanted, and talk to who I wanted without having to worry about having to be somewhere. I even exchanged information with a few, so I’ll be able to keep in touch.

The only major letdown was the number of people: we had more than last time, but not by much. This could be for a variety of reasons, and really didn’t hinder anyone from having a good time. From a business standpoint, however, it was disappointing.
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New WebComic

I’d HIGHLY recommend going to check out Daryll’s Advocate, a syndicate-worthy comic strip done by a fellow forumer.

When I say “syndicate-worthy,” I’m not kidding. The art is top notch, and the writing and concept is reminiscient of Watterson. He’s doing it as a webcomic at the moment because: 1) it allows him to get the comic public and start getting support for it, and 2) it can act as an online portfolio for syndicate submission.

Go check it out. Oh, and be sure to check the portfolio page, too… some great stuff in there.

Geeking Out

Well, it only took a few days of being obtuse, but I’ve finally got a reasonably up to date mirror of my site, functioning with a MySQL backend (unlike my actual BerkeleyDB… something I plan to remedy soon), on my local machine. I just barely finished importing all the files necessary and making sure everything works, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll get an opportunity to actually start futzing with stuff a little.

I’m starting to feel drained from this trip. I haven’t been sleeping well, and have been constantly surrounded by people (even though they are my friends). This is quite the change from the hermit-like nature I’d been exhibiting in Seattle, and the change has been a bit more draining than I’d like. I also miss my wife (imagine that!), which is exacerbated because I feel like neither of us are communicating very well lately. Something to work on when I get back, I suppose — just keeping in touch when you’re 3000 miles and 3 time zones apart is tough enough, without trying to work through new stuff.

Anyway, I just wanted to make a quick post to announce that the “geek issue” that’s been absorbing my time and energy the past few days is finally done, so now I’m going to in theory try to post a bit more regularly. (No more excuse of getting absorbed into the localizing problem!)

Back in Vermont

I’m back in Vermont for the first time since the beginning of August, and likely for the last time until April. It’s interesting to be back… the elation I felt as we touched down certainly reaffirms my firm belief that regardless of where I live or for how long, Vermont will always be Home.

During the days prior to leaving, I spent time with Mickey when I could (she’s been working) and for the rest of the time, I’ve been working on getting a local mirror of this site working on my computer. This took far more effort than I’d expected (or was really necessary), as I decided that it would also be an opportune time to update my versions of Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl on my local machine. After all said and done, I reverted Apache to what it was, MySQL got downgraded from 4 to the latest version of 3, and PHP and Perl actually managed to be updated (though not without trials and tribulations)

I’ve almost got it working, I just need to figure out why my author database isn’t working on the local machine, and how exactly I can fix that. I’m sure given a few hours to root around in the MovableType forums, I’ll find a solution. Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to really start gutting the site and making the more significant changes that I want to do. Of course, my reference books (O’Reilly’s Definitive Guides to MySQL, XHTML, CSS, and PHP, plus the PHP Cookbook) are all at home, so it may have to wait until November. We’ll see. (Well, I’ll see, since all changes will be on localhost until I have it running smoothly, at which point they’ll all get migrated to the website.)

I digress. Mickey’s father showed up the day before I left, travelling the countryside on a photo safari that I’m quite envious of. We all did some wandering, and swung by the local camera store (where Mickey thinks I should work, since I seem to be so good at evangelizing various types of equipment), and in general had a good time. Finally, Mickey dropped me off at the airport for my redeye on JetBlue to Vermont.
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Things I Miss

I miss my family and my friends. Words cannot begin to describe how much or in what way.

I miss New England Autumn, wandering through a forest aflame with oranges and reds and yellows, on crisp, clear days.

I miss going to Squam every Columbus Day Weekend to see my extended family; to laugh and share and talk and eat good food (and laugh some more).

I miss Wednesdays, getting together with family and friends to eat lots of good chinese food at Panda House.

I miss evenings in Hanover, drinking coffee, meeting random people, having a good time with friends, writing, putting the day in order in that form of meditation that only happens in Third Spaces.
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