Archive for February 13th, 2006

2/12/06: Things to do, done

Word count: 6194 | Since last entry: 522

I had a pretty massive list of things to do for the weekend, and accomplished about half of them, plus a few things not on the list. Unfortunately, some of the most important things didn’t get done. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Things that did get done include:

  • Installed the DVD writer I bought a few weeks ago, and sent in the rebate forms. I hate mail-in rebates — they really are nothing more than an attempt to keep people from getting the price they thought they were paying. The whole point of offering a mail-in rebate, rather than just lowering the price, is the hope that the consumer will either forget to mail it in or mess something up so that the rebate will not actually be delivered. Scum scum scum. But I put the forms in the mail before the deadline, and the drive itself seems to work well (backed up my whole My Documents directory, except for the music files, to one disc in just 20 minutes). Unfortunately, the resulting DVD can’t be read by the PC’s existing DVD reader (though it can be read by the DVD writer itself and by my Mac). I’m not sure if it’s the drive, the disc, or the way I burned it. But this is not a killer problem.

  • Did some tax research. Mutual funds, rah.

  • Wrote over 500 words — less than I’d hoped, more than the minimum. A snippet: “Fine. It wasn’t my fault, and it wasn’t really their fault either. I would just have to make the best of it — to try to fit in as best I could. Maybe if I could make some significant scientific progress they’d take me more seriously.”

  • Attended a fine party given for Jay Lake by his friend Tami to celebrate his recent novel sale. Local writers Mary Hobson and Karin Berry and several of Jay’s relatives were also in attendance, along with Jay’s “The Child” and “The Niece”. The food was quite memorable, including delectable crab cakes and two festive gateaux. The Niece (two years old) had trouble with the idea of eating cake when it wasn’t someone’s birthday, so we all sang “Happy Book Deal To You”. A tradition I hope to continue myself, some day soon.

  • Saw two Portland International Film Festival movies: Giant Buddhas and Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.

    Giant Buddhas had some very striking imagery, including amazing footage of the Bamiyan buddhas being blown up (the Taliban wasn’t very good at it and it took a long time), and also featured some interesting side trips to other colossal Buddhas elsewhere in Asia and thoughts on the possible reconstruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. But as a documentary, it was muddled and confused — often it was uncertain when certain footage had been shot, and although the narrator was apparently in continuous correspondence with an Afghani(?) woman, the relationship between them and her role were never made clear.

    Sophie Scholl was a much more effective film. The story of a young German woman who was arrested, tried, convicted, and executed by the Nazis — in a span of just four days — for the crime of distributing leaflets criticizing the government, this movie had the unprecedented effect of shutting me up. I was stunned into silence for nearly an hour by the spectacle of a government staffed almost entirely by thoughtful, patriotic people (the judge was one of the few Nazis portrayed in an entirely unsympathetic light) performing horrible atrocities for the sake of national security and solidarity. Although this is a German film, I couldn’t help but think of it as a commentary on the direction the United States is going. I fear for the future of my country.