Orrery. The Cosmic Dance Continues

One of my neighbor’s car alarms has been going off intermittently for the last half hour. It doesn’t last that long, perhaps fifteen seconds or less each time. But it’s so damned insistent – a false sense of urgency that keeps coming back, like that itch in the middle of your back that you can’t quite reach.

I have things that need to be brought up to date. Nothing important, except to moi, of course. But they’ve become like that damned car alarm, which just went off again. The urge to write goes away, but then comes back stronger, with more urgency. About time I did something other than sign my name to forms that nobody will ever look at for the next three years until they can be legally destroyed

First. Foremost. Best. It’s been over ten years, but the Professor is now officially Dr. Professor Socialist. He sat his dissertation (if that’s even how you said it) on September 20th, and walked away with a freshly minted PhD. He’s worked full time during nearly the entire process, which is no mean feat in my eyes. His dissertation presentation was mere days before our tenth wedding anniversary. (It’s hard to believe we’ve been together nearly twenty years … but I digress.) Since tenth wedding anniversary AND PhD are two very big events, I wanted to get him something special to commemorate.

The photo insert is an experiment; the loss of Hamipiks has left me floundering for a new photo storage area that is linkable. If the photo doesn’t display properly (or at all) bear with me while I play around with alternatives.

The orrery is hand made, with semi-precious stones as the planets and sun. It is hand-cranked, and the relative orbital speed of the planets is approximately accurate. The distances between the planets are obviously compacted, or the orrery wouldn’t fit on our property. It is mostly an art piece, and one which I hope the cats have the good graciousness to overlook. God knows, they’ve got enough of their own toys to play with without drafting ours.

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Since this past spring I’ve fallen into a reading frenzy again, something I haven’t done for years. I’m reading new books, but my biggest joy has been revisiting old favorites, especially old favorite series. A new compendium of the Earthsea books was released this year, which was more of an art book than a sit down and read book, but the lure of having ALL the stories in one binding has pulled me back into it’s world. I’ve re-read Cherryh’s Foreigner series (all 19 of them), then entire Dresden File series (books and shorts alike), de Lint’s Newford-based stories (I’m a big fan of Jilly’s), and am currently working my way through the Pride of Chanur series again. Recent releases I’ve worked (or am working) my way through include Octavia Butler’s Seed to Harvest collection The Nobody People, Atwood’s Testaments and Straczinski’s Becoming Superman. I’ve also read The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, Recursion, Ted Chang’s new short story collection Exhalation, and have started A Boy And His Dog at the End of the World. Station Eleven is sitting in my e-queue, patiently waiting its turn.

That is not a complete list. The most unexpectedly beautiful book I’ve read this year is The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. It is deceptively simplistically written (or translated, don’t know how it reads in the original Japanese) and emotionally draining, but it has the rare honor of being a book I have purchased in both hard cover and electronic editions. I will not review here; I have been known to ruin books by trying to review them and there are too many good reviews on this book already for me to have any illusions about adding to the genre.

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I’ve managed to pare down my 60-hour weeks down to a little over fifty hours (for the most part). It’s taken me decades to learn what most of my companions seemed to have known since high school; The Real World is Unreasonable and Nonsensical, and the Less Time You Devote to Trying to Appease It, the More Reasonable Your Life Will Become.

The paradox of We’re Giving You More Work and Expect You to Put In Less Hours to Accomplish It has only two possible resolutions.

1) Sneak in before and/or after hours to complete tasks, thereby completing assignments while creating the illusion (perhaps that word should read “delusion”) that the workload is reasonable. Been there, done that.

2) Do what you can, and leave the rest rot. That new pin in the map is where I reside.

Since I have been outright told I may no longer work “excessive” overtime, I have elected to create a compost pile on my desk for the above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty stuff. Like all good compost, the core temperature will continue to rise until it spontaneously bursts into flames, but I don’t really see that as my problem anymore. I just keep in in a metal in-bin so the flames won’t leave a scorch mark on my desk.

As a side observation, I have discovered that it is nearly impossible to fire anyone in my job. My circuit has any number of gross incompetents that continue to survive, thrive and in some cases get promoted. The Peter Principal, while correct to a point, needs a corollary: If The Powers That Be promote you to your level of incompetence and you cause too much trouble at that level, they’ll promote you again just to get you out of their hair and into someone else’s. I have finally come to understand that Terry Gilliam’s Brazil isn’t quite the satire I’d always believed. At least, I don’t think it can be called satire when so much is so thoroughly factual. As for 1984 and Big Brother … I work with a piece of tape over the lens of my lap top, as do every single other one of my compatriots.

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