10 November 2002

Ants. Yarrrrrrg.

I hate ants. I really, really, really hate ants. They offend me. I don't mind them outside, where they can build their own home. See? They build their home there, I rent my home here. All is well. I don't kick their nests in, and in exchange I would be happy if they did not swarm all over the sink in Timprov's bathroom.

Ants evidently don't understand social contracts very well.

One of the (many) things that gets me about these ants is that they have invaded Timprov's bathroom. Now, there's no particular reason for this to be exclusively T's bathroom, and I do use it in the mornings, when Mark is asleep, because the other bathroom, the one with my toothbrush and shower stuff and all, is inside the bedroom where Mark is sleeping. And occasionally guests will use it, or if we come back from a car trip and two of us really need the bathroom immediately. But otherwise, the hall bathroom is effectively Timprov's. And he hasn't been in it for two and a half weeks now. So: very little human debris. No funny crusts around a tube of toothpaste. No lotion. No reason, in short, for ants to want to invade it at all. But they were swarming -- it's really the swarming that gets me, I think -- around the idiot hole in the sink. (You know, the one that's there so that if your four-year-old leaves the water running and plugs up the drain, the water will run back into the system rather than overflowing onto the counter and floor? That one.) In short, there was no reason for them to be there but pure cussedness. There wasn't food residue in the bathroom sink. Why? Why were they there?

I know that this is California. I know that ants will show up regardless of whether you keep a clean house. I know that sometimes it just happens, and at least in this apartment, it's infrequent. I don't have a can of Raid handy at all times. I have some expectation that I can put Uncle Phil's suckies in a candy dish and have them be safe. This was not the case in the Concord apartment. (I'm sure in the Concord apartment, the novel of my life would have had them symbolizing my helplessness and confusion in the face of blah blah blah. Whatever.) In the Concord apartment, we had to try everything. We had bits of sticky-tack stuck into various corners of our closets to block the holes where the ants got in, for heaven's sake.

Ah well. I was going to clean the house in the next few days. Now I am going to Clean Dah House. Best Ahhhnold accent there. This place is going to be clean. And then if the ants come back -- well, I'll be upset, as I always am when they return en masse. But at least I'll have a clean house to be upset in. I'll feel morally upstanding and all.

Stupid ants.

Too add insult to injury this morning, the Merc delivered our paper without a comic section. It's not like I would have found most of the comics in it funny. But it's the principle of the thing: it's Sunday morning, and my warm-up reading, before I sink my teeth into yowling about politics, is supposed to be the funnies. And is there an option to press on their little hotline thing? Well, I guess I'm going to find out. I paid for comics. I want comics.

The Wild are at the top of their division again. What is this. It's like they think they're a real hockey team or something. (I'm not watching the games yet. The Minnesota hasn't worn off from last week enough.)

Last night, Mark and I watched "Monsters, Inc." The video store didn't have anything on our list. Nothing. We have a really long list, and it's got new stuff, old stuff, in-between stuff, comedies, action movies, dramas, SF flicks, whatever. And they had none of it. Or if they did, it was cleverly shelved under Q for "quit coming here, we don't want your business." (Or under H for toy, I suppose, but Mark probably looked there.) He found the L section smack in the middle of the B's. I think that was really the final straw. It's a nice walk from our house and we already have an account there, but so what? Doesn't really matter if we can't get movies we want to see there. There are two thumper churches within nice walks of our house, too, and that doesn't mean we go to them. We could walk to the Muslim Community Center, for heaven's sake. Or to Burger King. And we don't. Anyway, "Monsters, Inc." was a very cute movie, and I love John Goodman, even when he appears to be furry and blue.

When I went to the post office yesterday, I was the only white person there, and I was reading Asian American Dreams. I found that obscurely amusing, as I wrote in an e-mail afterwards. I don't really recommend Asian American Dreams -- it had a few things that might be useful for my Chinese immigration book, but it was not about dreams at all. It was all about injustice and oppression, with very little of any idea that anybody could triumph over them or rise above them or do anything cool anyway. I don't think that injustice and oppression should be swept under the carpet, but I don't think that minimizing actual achievements helps anybody, either.

I also read Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, which has been on my library list for three hundred million years. It was pretty good. It actually provided motivations for the Cinderella story -- I had always wondered why Cinderella didn't just say to the Prince, when he said he loved her, "Oh, good, I love you, too! My family is a big pain in the butt, though." And in this book, there was a decent reason, although it required jumps through several magical hoops to get there. And I started reading Walter Mosley's Devil in a Blue Dress, which has also been on my library list for three hundred million years, long enough that I have no record of who recommended the series to me. Anyway, so far it's worth finishing but not worth seeking out another volume. It's not badly done, it's just not resonating with me in any particular way.

Also I worked on my book. Which was good.

I lied yesterday, though. I said Mark wasn't going to work, it being Saturday and all. Wrong-o. To work he went, and to work he will go again today. This time I'm going in with him and getting myself a cuppa and sitting at a café table to write for awhile, and then we're going out to dinner in Palo Alto. Supposedly he should be working from home tomorrow. We'll hope so. I looked at this weekend and thought, yep, welcome to the next ten months. I'm afraid this is more or less how it'll be.

We just watched a RealPlayer live-action movie called "Väinämöinen Vs. Godzilla." It was very silly and involved Väinämöinen whacking Ilmarinen and Godzilla with a lefse roller or something of the sort. Maybe a lefse roller. Maybe a cricket bat. Who knows? It was wacky. Very zany.

Columbine wonders why I don't run into more problems with processor thrash when I'm feeding my brain more to do and more different stuff to do. I think the reason is that I'm less like a computer than like a household full of appliances. I have to take time to throw the laundry in, start the dishwasher, put bread in the oven, put a CD in the stereo, set the VCR to tape something, etc. But that time is fairly minimal, and if I don't take that time, the stereo doesn't immediately start helping to wash the clothes more efficiently. The bread doesn't become tastier if I have refrained from playing a CD. If I don't put a CD in, the stereo just sits there.

In terms of household power usage, I try not to have everything going all at once, and maybe I should take that as a message not to overdo things. (Some among us would claim that I should take everything as a message not to overdo things. Ah well.) But if I don't do any math for awhile, the part of my brain that does math doesn't pitch in and write fiction instead. It just sits there.

I don't like the feeling of it just sitting there.

And I do have certain amounts of processor thrash time. It's just that often my brain presents me with conclusions while I've been paying conscious attention to different things. Sometimes switching over is almost instantaneous because it's not deliberate. I'll be mulling over meals for the week to come, how to optimize the grocery store trips and cooking times while still allowing for mood flexibility, and all of a sudden my brain will pop up and say, "put the fir tree in this scene. Oh, and remember to indicate that Sohvi isn't pretty much earlier on." Er, yah, okay, brain. This is why I have a "to do" list always open with everything from "magazine subscriptions" to notes on the NTMB in it: because I never know what the brain will present me with that I will want to keep. Same reason for the presence of the paper journal everywhere I go.

I would really, really hate to live in a universe where my brain was supposed to be doing just one thing at a time. I multitask because I need to, but also because I'm comfortable that way, and I'm much more humanly tolerable that way. Some people find my "total single focus mode" charming, but it's usually people who otherwise love me as well, and I don't imagine they could deal with it nearly so well if it was the only way I ever was.

But I know for sure that I couldn't, so it's really a fairly settled question.

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