In Which Finland Is The Geek

29 May 2003

It worked! It worked it worked. Not the "getting a book contract" thing; not yet. But giving myself room to ramble in my journal before I got mentally/physically tired, that worked. Exceedingly well, in fact: I now have a great feel for the rest of this section, and I'm excited about just sitting down and writing it. That was in one page of ramble. Then I nattered a bit about Karina's and my collab, and that hasn't quite coalesced yet, but I have more ramble space this afternoon, so we'll just have to see what I come up with that doesn't involve waterfalls. I'm happy with what I did come up with, it's just that it's not the entirety of my part of the story. Which is probably good: it's best not to face a collab telling one's partner "This is what I'm going to write, you work around it." So. Lots of good writing stuff ahead of me today.

With braided hair, though, because it is rather warmish here, and the biggest disadvantage of all this hair is having it on my neck on warm days. I'm waffling: should I turn on the AC or not? The newspaper is claiming a high of 72 in Hayward, which is definitely not AC weather. But yesterday, it was way too warm in here, and by the time I realized I should turn on the AC, it was kind of too late. I don't want to do that again, but I also don't want to overuse the AC. Hmmmmmmm. This is one of those mornings when I'm really enjoying my cold, wet hair after the shower.

I got Mark's birthday present from my folks from the Cranky PO yesterday. I see now why they aren't in the phone book: the clerks there want to actively avoid helping customers. They were the snittiest people I've ever seen. I'd write the postmaster a letter, but I don't think it'd do any good out here. One woman fed money into a stamp vending machine and wasn't getting her change, and the clerk sneered, "Well, I guess you screwed up, didn't you?" Without any joking to it: he was just saying, tough luck, you moron, how dare you expect our machines to work. The woman in front of me paid with a twenty, and the clerk rolled his eyes and sighed, "Is that the smallest bill you've got?" (Legal tender, dude. She can keep her ones for bus fare if she wants to.) But when I paid with exact change, he rolled his eyes at that, too. And when I handed him the package slip, he gave me a you-idiot look and said, "Did you pick anything up when you first got this notice?" I took a deep breath and was about to light into him; he looked at the notice again and said, "Oh, they only delivered this yesterday, okay" and scurried off to get the package. Which is marked with the supposed dates of attempted delivery, one of which is before the postmark and one of which is nearly illegible, but most likely is a Sunday. They also took black marker and scribbled over the bit where it indicated that my mom had paid extra to have this delivered by last week. Oh, they are so sneaky! I am fooled!


In the course of writing an e-mail to Evan that started out being about "Matrix Reloaded," I have realized that my fictional 1950s Finland in the Not The Moose Book is the nerd on the playground. I'm used to writing about geeks, but an entire geek country is new to me. Here's the thing: the Finns of the Not The Moose Book have their magic-users behind the scenes, the louhis. Witches, essentially. The magic they use has to go into an object, so they can't just point and zzzot, unless they've got a zzzot thing already figured out. So they have nifty-cool magic powers, but not unlimitedly cool magic powers. Not instant wish-fulfillment powers.

And their way of thinking is always informed by the old not-a-joke: "A Finn is worth ten Russians!" "Yes, but what happens when the eleventh Russian comes along?" They have only so much magic, and there is a lot of Soviet Russia on their border. And if they start aggressively and overtly using magic on the Soviets, they lose the "poor, plucky little Finland" image (and accompanying support) in the eyes of the rest of the world -- and they lose their comparative strategic/tactical insignificance to both sides.

So...they can do stuff that other people can't do, they know things other people don't even know they should care about, but they're surrounded and quite physically overmatched, and if they want to survive, they need to not call a lot of attention to themselves, even when it would be tempting to use their knowledge/abilities to get revenge for wrongs done them. They've even got the "at the end of high school I'm outta here" thing, in a sense: the Cold War will end eventually.

Weird. I don't think it's going to be all that useful a metaphor in the writing process, but it's amusing to me to have that figured out. I can't decide if Finnish is more like math or Klingon in this analogy.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, though; I've always had a fondness for geeks, and Finland is kind of geeky even without the Secret Magic Powers. That whole cell phone/Linux/refusal to speak thing. And my love of it is even geekier, I know. It's okay. I accept that wholeheartedly.

And I should get back to it, or at least to something quasi-productive. One last thing: anybody have song suggestions for the travel compilations? Homesick songs, homecoming songs, on-the-road songs. What are your classics? Let me know. I feel like I'm being a d.j. here and should give a phone number, but I don't want calls, just e-mails, and the address is below.

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