Burn

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Sammy

We, we don’t have to worry ’bout nothing
‘Cause we got the fire, and we’re burning one hell of a something


Just Enough Dark to See

Posted on July 9th, 2014 by Sammy

All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.

Nick Cave


The Navigator

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Sammy

I’m on my back staring up at her and an uncharacteristic tear falls past the left side of my face. Her expression is one of relief, “You’re back.” My eyes say more than I can with words; I tighten my grip on her hand. The sun is coming through in bunches past her hair, glancing and ricocheting in right angles. She’s aglow and I’m so relieved.

I feel as if my soul has finally returned to its body.

Earlier in the week she had arranged with love the most delicious breakfast: savory biscuits made from scratch, dark red cherries in a bowl, two tall glasses of tart orange juice (my favorite), coffee. I was running eight minutes late though we try not to rush: it’s one of those pacts we’ve made. The audible part of the pact goes something like “Don’t rush when you’re with me,” but the other part is “I love you.”

A lot of our unsaid pacts are the same.

I’ll never forget that Wednesday morning as we sat next to each other and waves of silence between us became still lines of quiet. Up until that moment I’m not sure we’ve ever had real quiet between us. Our channels were so filled before but suddenly, unexpectedly, they were dry and our sensitive ears were full of that deafening nothing.

On Thursday morning I took the length of string she had once used to secure her banana heart and brought it to lunch.

There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string…Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.
Nicole Krauss

At its end I attached a heart of my own — red, blown glass, a souvenir from my loneliest trip outside the country. It was one defined by longing fireworks on the beach.

The Beach: I headed the wrong way for too long; my navigator felt then so far from me and only farther as we found ourselves thick in southbound traffic with one hour of driving ahead. For the longest time she sat grasping her legs and my right arm folded helplessly behind the driver-side headrest. What was meant to be an hour in heaven, “Lost in the Dream,” became just track 03, the song entitled “Suffering.” I do actually like the song but in that moment his anguish felt nothing like release.

After thirty minutes the traffic receded and we snaked more rapidly through the deciduous forests of CA-17. In those paces her heart wafted more strongly and I filled my lungs with her uniquely coniferous emanations. Every scent that afternoon floated in uneven patches buffeted by sea drafts; the smells in Charlie’s Hong Kong were so home and sitting close to you I didn’t ever want us to leave.

Fireworks: on Saturday we went to celebrate the 4th with her family. Morning contained measured uncertainty but we were brave in the way lovers need to be, and she intuited the way: to Trader Joe’s, to her grandmother’s house in Foster City, to our heartstrings.

If you’re out there in the cold,
I’ll cover you in moonlight
If you’re a stranger to your soul
I’ll bring you to your birthright
I want the storm inside you awoken now
I want your warm bright eyes

Garrett dropped us off near the waterfront. Shannon then weaved us through the living collage: young adults blasting music from a coachella-branded amp, older folks sitting on picnic blankets, young children and dogs running restless circles.

Legs dangling at the edgewater; a boat that is our namesake; some happy family smiling at us as we pop them a wave. Bright moonlight pulled the tide that night and when the evening was over she knew the way home.

I haven’t written here in a long time and though you tell me I don’t have to, it’s important for the reason we love words: I must not let you do all the navigating. Here is the shore, the solid land, and here am I with you. (145:1:1) (146:14:4) (146:26:4)


Risky Business

Posted on June 19th, 2014 by Sammy

We examine the cost for an attacker to pay users to execute arbitrary code—potentially malware. We asked users at home to download and run an executable we wrote without being told what it did and without any way of knowing it was harmless. Each week, we increased the payment amount. Our goal was to examine whether users would ignore common security advice—not to run untrusted executables—if there was a direct incentive, and how much this incentive would need to be. We observed that for payments as low as $0.01, 22% of the people who viewed the task ultimately ran our executable. Once increased to $1.00, this proportion increased to 43%. We show that as the price increased, more and more users who understood the risks ultimately ran the code. We conclude that users are generally unopposed to running programs of unknown provenance, so long as their incentives exceed their inconvenience.

(from this paper via Marginal Revolution)


Grounding

Posted on June 19th, 2014 by Sammy

It’s too easy to fall into the first-world trope of “all the poor need is a little sprinkling of silicon and then everything will be fine.” It’s never that simple. Technology is, at best, the tip of the iceberg. A very tiny component of the work that needs to be done in the greater whole of reforming or impacting or increasing accessibility to education, first-world and third-world alike. Technology deployed without infrastructure, without understanding, without administrative or community support, without proper curriculum is nearly worthless. Worse than worthless, even — for it can be destructive, the time and budget spent on the technology eating into more fundamental, more meaningful points of badly needed reform.

(via Ebooks for All)


Pastures

Posted on June 17th, 2014 by Sammy

Blessed sea air that seems to follow us; a sweet sprig of lavender on my kitchen counter; poetic musings describing highest beauty as we sit side-by-side in a taqueria; iciest kisses; soft shaking evening warmths between my arms.

I haven’t written at length in two weeks now and it isn’t for want of things to describe. There have been too many moments and I’ve been having trouble balancing mindshare. Work has been demanding heavy mental concentration: as a result these past few weeks (coinciding with the end of Q2, go figure) I’ve not had enough alone time. Time after work has mostly been spent running errands, fulfilling social obligations, and enjoying those most important moments (the ones I always want to record in writing).

Got a little reading done–where the time came from is probably a miracle but a short while ago I managed to finish this young adult novel, “Eleanor and Park.” It was a gift from Shannon and I adored all of it.

She feeds me abundantly: I’ve yet to begin a whole stack of borrowed books. They sit piled atop my shelf (which is now really more of a nightstand) and just the sight of their spines makes me feel all sorts of things, glad things that help me make it till our next adventure. I’ve been inching my way through “Love is a Mixtape” and opening a few of the others for short sniffs but again time has been scarce.

There are also a few albums I’ve been meaning to give full-attention treatment but the world refuses to pause. There’s no rush though, “I’ve been happy lately” like the Cat Stevens song.

Maybe I’ll stop referring to these days as “happy,” not because I haven’t been happy but because happy is a temperament and these joys can’t be justly described as temperamental. Also the time between Sunday evening and Wednesday morning is most cruel; my temperament in these intervening periods is notably dimmer.

Today I went for a run around the lake and up the favorite hill I was reminded of the eyes I love and how I long for their presence. I trotted along pale scatterings of fading sunlight against wind-shorn waters and stopped for a family of geese on the far side of the lake, mostly adolescents accompanied by two adults. As I loitered close to the fluffy ducklings one of the fully-growns surprised me with a scowling charge. I backed away but didn’t leave, I liked watching them on their family walk through sun-burnt stalks, nibbling, tugging, grazing at ease from plentiful pastures.


Safe ways to look into the sun

Posted on June 14th, 2014 by Sammy

1. Filters
2. Timed exposure + photosensitive paper
3. Full moon

Filters reduce the light to the point of lost beauty, and photos are single-dimensional reflections. But the moon is an unassuming way to stare into sunlight: it carries unfiltered rays, full reflections of a greater beauty in perfect measures for human eyes.


memo

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Sammy

Joy in the first week of June (sun-thursday)

- Trade winds and shipwrecks
- Candy and candles
- Arboreal antics
- Lawn-sprinkler avoidance
- Half pours at Good Karma
- Bonal Thugs & Harmony (and their namesake)
- Age-posturing
- Crosswalk kisses
- Elevators Part I – The Grumpster
- Sacred spaces strung with lights
- Steam Creative’s “Alternative 5-minute Yoga”
- Wednesday night smallgroup
- NBA Finals Game 1 at KP’s place
- Elevators Part II
- Stochastic Gradient Descent
- Bunches of lavender
- A team craft
- mountaintops


Excerpt from “Sixty Men From Ur”

Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by Sammy

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., one the United States’ great historians, is less than two lifetimes removed from a world where the United States did not exist. Through Mr. Schlesinger, you’re no more than three away yourself. That’s how short the history of our nation really is.

Not impressed? It’s only two more life spans to William Shakespeare. Two more beyond that, and the only Europeans to see America are those who sailed from Greenland. You’re ten lifetimes from the occupation of Damietta during the fifth crusade. Twenty from the founding of Great Zimbabwe and the Visigoth sack of Rome. Make it forty, and Theseus, king of Athens, is held captive on Crete by King Minos, the Olmecs are building the first cities in Mexico, and the New Kingdom collapses in Egypt.

Sixty life times ago, a man named Abram left Ur of the Chaldees and took his family into Canaan. Abram is claimed as the founder of three great religions. A few lifetimes before that, and you’ve come out the bottom of that dime. You’re that close to it.

The next time you see an obituary in the paper, go ahead and wonder at all the things that person saw in his or her lifetime, but remember that every lifetimes is filled with events just as momentous. More importantly, the next time you see people struggling with events that took place decades or centuries ago, recall that the dime is very thin.

(via Mark Sumner)


Memorial Day Weekend and Week

Posted on May 31st, 2014 by Sammy

Memorial day weekend was uneventful. I spent that Thursday, Friday, and most of the weekend continuing my slow move. Which by the way is still going! Ridiculous. I’ve determined that my actual possessions aren’t too excessive but furniture and kitchen-wise I need to calm down — there’s no reason for any apartment-dwelling dude like me to own twelve folding chairs or four tables. Or a food processor. That I moved these things to my third-floor elevator-less apartment is probably most impressive.

Monday and Tuesday were blissful. Monday night Shannon came over for dinner and we started a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle (she is amazing at puzzles, or I suck, or a little bit of both). Tuesday we went to my favorite hill, and Wednesday through Friday I was in Cabo for a work retreat.

Cabo was pretty relaxing despite being a short trip. I think my favorite was swimming with dolphins! The dolphin trainer seemed to have a real rapport with these creatures and they seemed well-treated so I wasn’t too uncomfortable about the fun interactions. That said I’m still a bigger fan of true wilds.

This was the warmest shore I’ve been on: swimming was like taking a dip in salty bath water. I was so enchanted by this southern coast — I’m already a sucker for the ocean but Cabo San Lucas was particularly welcoming. Unsurprising that Thursday morning I spent the bulk of my time between waves.

Thursday night we had a team dinner which was really nice. There was a mariachi band and ethnic dancing afterwards, and they closed out the evening with fireworks over the beach. Somewhere between the eating and entertainment I retreated down the shore for some alone time. Watched the sunset and cast a bottle into the tides.

Last night after getting home I went straight to moving again — the lease on our Boranda place is up as of today. Just need to break down some boxes and make a few trash runs now.

Kinda sad to have moved away from that place, it’s full of nice memories. That said my new place is already full of happy memories and it hasn’t even been a full month! :)

I wonder if Nathan is concerned over my dietary habits a.k.a inhaling frozen pizzas, vanquishing loaves of bread & peanut butter, “slowly savoring” (read: gobbling) bed banana bread, etc.


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