If sick days count, then last week. *cough* *cough* aaaaaah-choo!
I’ve been off sick. I finally relented a took a couple sick days and stayed home to nurse myself back to health.
Drum roll… the results of which, after lots of sitting around doing nothing much more than watch television and play video games, drinking hot tea and having long afternoon naps with my Kindle hanging limply from my hands, I am feeling significantly better. Maybe not cured, but better.
Even though I was still a bit tired, I was also going stir crazy. And the snow had started to fall, just lightly though, but with the dude on the radio promising a long bitterly cold weekend full of more snow and more ugly weather, and as he put it “a great weekend to stay indoors and watch a movie.”
So, I tempted fate and went for a short jaunt around the local neighborhood, just enough to get the blood flowing but not enough to crash me on the couch for another two days… at least not because of my health.
I’ve been sick for a few days. Not bedridden sick, but sick enough to feel it is a good enough excuse to sit around in my pajamas, avoid going outside (in the epic cold, by the way) and play Minecraft on my laptop all weekend. A temporary year-long hiatus from the game has left me rediscovering it over the last weekend. And it’s not just my need to rediscover long-forgotten crafting recipes, either. There have been a number of iterative-yet-big changes to the game since I last played seriously. New critters. New materials. New objectives. But –and I admit I was a little worried as I watched the update notices trickle in over the last year– none of it feels tacked on or crammed between the player and the core gameplay. It’s just as if there are a few new things out there that I’d never noticed before when I played… and I can still burn half a day, sick on the couch, building pointless structures and roads to nowhere.
Claire, home sick from school yesterday, learned the value of soda crackers on a sore tummy. Sometimes it’s the little things…
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth… or in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
I nursed a minor cold on Monday and Tuesday, making excuses as to why I “wasn’t really sick” and just “a bit under the weather” until by Wednesday and that I could barely open my eyes for headache and congestion, took two days off work to recover. By Friday I was feeling operationally mobile enough that I clambered back into work and played a day’s worth of catch-up. I hate getting behind like that. I mean, everyone is understanding, but being sick is like this big old self-inflicted guilt-trip on productivity that must have roots in our primitive brains or something, chipping away at us for taking a step back from society for a day or two to recover.
As a result of being so ill, my running took a hit this past week. The general rule is: above the neck, run… below the neck, stay home.” … and I seem to be getting a lot of head and chest colds lately. So I stayed home. Of course this meant that I missed out on about thirty klicks worth of training, which is disappointing because I’m getting so close — sooooooo close — to the one-thousand klick mark for twenty-twelve and probably would have been writing a very different post today had I run those klicks. I did get a couple short runs in on the weekend — a six on Saturday and an eleven on Sunday — but with just over a month until Vegas, it’s not where I need to be training right now. *sigh*
Though, no sooner did I get over my skull-crushing, brain-bracing sinus infection of last week, then did Claire emerged in our bedroom, rubbing her eyes and complaining of a “tummy ache” and, you guessed it, with a wee little stomach bug. Sunday morning, usually a get-prepped for a run morning, turned not only into me contemplating bowing out for a week due to those oh-so-stubborn lingering morning symptoms but also a spray of morning vomit on behalf of one suddenly ill five year old. The fun persisted for most of the day. You know a kid is sick — really, truly, painfully sick — when they put themselves to bed for a mid-afternoon nap.
And was it ever cold. It was, I think, the coldest run I’ve done since last winter… easily. Minus two Celsius, but there must have been a minus fifteen wind-chill because… holy brrrrrr, batman! I mentioned the eleven klick run of Sunday morning and, yeah, it was a good jaunt around the neighbourhood at a solid pace. But I was wrapped tight in multiple layers, a winter-ized jacket, and even the new thick toque I bought last week for just such an occasion, mentioning to Karin it was really intended for those deepest, darkest days of winter running. Somehow I was still cold. I think it might be the forty-pound built-in-fat jacket I misplaced over the summer. Ah, the downsides of weight-loss: I’ll need to buy shares in flannel and fleece or else risk getting sicker and colder and sicker again.
A windy mid-October day, and I sitting at home nursing a head-splitting sinus-cold instead of being at work where I should be. What better way to get some well-needed on a sick-day home rest than to park myself on the couch and indulge in some movies I haven’t watched in a few years?
For starters, this isn’t a critical evaluation of The Matrix in any sense of the word. When your head is congested with oozing snot there isn’t really much room left for philosophical extrapolation of any topic, let alone a multi-layered head-scratcher like I always remember this movie to be. Upon booting into the DVD and watching the opening bits, that green-tinted Warner Brothers logo and the oh-so-familiar green code-fall trickle down the screen, I settled in: the date on the log-file was 2-19-98. Really? Fourteen years ago, already?
Geeze, I’m getting old. I guess I did originally see this back while in University.
“I know what you’re trying to do…”
There are so many layers of theme and complexity in this plot that it’s tough not to imagine why it became such a cultural touch-point along the way. The movie was not only an action movie, or a science fiction movie, or a martial arts movie, or a special effects extravaganza, or a brain-busting thinker… it was all of these mashed together. It was like the motif that fell out through the use of televisions: layers of unreality that zoom into a television screen to reveal another reality, or fade back into a static-filled picture tube to encapsulate some other theme. Think about it.
From a design and style perspective, the use of colours, light, patterns, gradients, and reflections strikes that designer cord in me. I must have learned something from this movie — gathered up some kind of art-sensibility at some point — because part of me not only associates this look with a classic turn-of-the-millennial digital ambiance, but with a personal taste that draws me in: the falling rain, the mix of abstract technology with other tech that at the time was modern but is now (in the age of smart-phones) oh-so-dated.
“He doesn’t know.” … “Know what?”
…and speaking of phones… well, I don’t remember really noticing how prominent phones are in this story. The entirety of the narrative seems to flow around handful of notions, but one key notion is the availability, transfer, and control of information — and often through voice phones. After all, the matrix is nothing more than a massive computer system, but as representative human avatars in the matrix, the characters seem much more adept at moving information around with their voices. See, both control and escape happen through phones. When in that scene where the agent unplugs his ear-piece and starts busting down Morpheus, that’s a moment of weakness that lets our protagonists sneak through: he had cut himself out of an information feed and lost control. Phones let them in and out of systems. Phones let them track each other and be tracked in the system. Phones can be tapped and phones can be destroyed by cutting lines or shooting a mouthpiece with a gun, leading to a change of control like slamming shut a door and welding it shut.
… a backwash of dreams, reality, and a grand, never-ending city-scape…
It blends into a backwash of dreams, reality, and a grand, never-ending city-scape that seems a metaphor for information, control, and…
… well, couple that whole notion of information control with an underlying philosophical theme of fate versus determinism and you’ve got a spinning and twisting plot that messes with your brain, especially if it’s already clogged up with viral mucous.
“What’s really going to bake your noodle later on…”
The reality of the matrix is gradually unfolded as the plot builds…. which is an awesome way to do it. But I have the disadvantage that, even a dozen-plus years later, I can still recite some lines of the movie verbatim and in sync as I’m watching. The grand reveal of “Do you want to know what? It? Is?” does not quite hit me with the same impact as having seen it in the theatre all those years ago. That said, I do this thing — almost without thinking — where I put myself into my now-five-year-old daughter’s head and imagine all these things as if I’m her watching it… which she won’t be for a few years, by the way. Part of this is trying to gauge appropriateness as a parent (wink, wink) but part is also me eagerly anticipating showing all this great popular culture to her for the first time some time in the future and wondering how she’ll react. So, in a way I can appreciate the gradual unfolding and reveal of the mystery of the matrix through the first hour-or-so of the movie.
I would choose the red pill too…
It builds, grows, casts a mystery so that when we finally get the chance to plunge down the “rabbit hole” presented to us by the film… well, I would choose the red pill too after a build up like that.
“Neo, this is loco…”
Of course, the climax of the movie is a special effect-driven, coming-of-age, glavering-of-enlightenment for Neo as he kung fu’s his way through a chase and fight scene ultimately leading to his (spoiler?) death and resurrection. It is the definitive moment where the arching themes of man versus machine, mind versus machine, and mind versus reality culminate in a one-two kick-punch total knock out, and we cheer as the fake reality dissolves in the green gibberish text of the matrix itself as seen through the eyes of our protagonist. The soundtrack builds to an epic blend of orchestral and death metal, The One brings the fight to the antagonist-bully and now-cowering agents, and we’re left hanging for a couple later-to-be-released sequels.
I’m going to go watch those now… but don’t expect any more commentary here. From what I recall, the nuanced complexity sort of fell apart after the original.
Note: The images and quotes above are probably copyright. Please don’t distribute without the original owner’s permission.
This is another post from my “Daddy Daze” series, an anecdotal exploration of my odd little adventures in parenting in bite-sized chunks (for your reading enjoyment) and because the last thing this world needs is yet another doting parent blog.
Today she compensated for her lack of entertainment as any kid should: by using her little brain. And she followed me around for the morning sketching little pictures of what we were doing together.
Our morning started off with a bit of sleep-in. The whole idea of time (and telling time) still confuses Claire a little bit. So, needless to say, the concept of Daylight Savings Time makes no sense. Why I was changing all the clocks after I woke up this morning had her asking lots of questions.
She had it all sussed, however, and sketched me here at the table doing something to a clock — or reverse engineering the universe with my epic time-bending skills; Either way, my explanation of DST may have been a little lacking so early in the morning — and particularly with (still) no coffee to assist me. (The tea, no matter how caffeinated, just doesn’t cut it…)
As the morning wore on and — my daughter insisting I should really have something to eat — I scrounged in our (as yet) grocery challenged fridge for something to make for breakfast. I settled on grilling up some slightly stale bread with some eggs. The butter and the grill kinda kill the staleness part, and the eggs just make it yummy.
Claire, of course, thought this was spectacularly great. She’s a bit of an egg fiend, and promptly sketched out a breakfast fit for a king in the pages of her little book. A half-dozen eggs are matched up with a couple slices of toast and some very crinkly bacon. Can you picture it. Too bad I didn’t have any real bacon. Alas, the imagination outstrips the pantry.
I don’t know where the tie always comes in. I rarely wear one, but somehow I’m often wearing one in her pictures.
I’ve alluded in some recently past posts about being ill. I’m fairly certain it has been a bit of a moderately frustrating touch of the flu. As such, we’ve been laying low for much of the weekend, hanging out close to home and out of any sort of high-energy activity.
So what, you ask?
Ah, well… the frustration of our self-induced confinement was compounded because we were punishing Claire (for talking back and not eating her dinner) by restricting her television privileges for the whole weekend.
Instead of TV, we escaped to the basement to play.
This might take a bit of explanation. A couple years ago when we were renovating our basement we bought a really nifty roll of wallpaper from some guy in the UK. It has all sorts of little repeating shapes and doodles. If you’ve been to our house you might have seen that we’ve hung it up on the wall of our downstairs office.
Every once in a while I go down there and colour the walls.
We recently cashed in some gift cards and bought ourselves some new markers for this purpose. The old ones were drying up — like they do after a while — and the new ones are pretty awesome.
Doing her own art, I thought this picture was pretty cool: It’s me sitting on the floor of the office colouring the wall. How’s that for drawing what you see?
Claire loves Minecraft. I’ve mentioned before that we play together — as much as that is possible with her sitting on my lap directing the construction of elaborate structures.
We played for a while this morning, all the while she sat there sketching pictures of creepers and zombies. But I particularly liked this drawing: she was designing the treehouse I was supposed to be building for her.
You’ll notice it has multiple levels, beds for both of us to rest in, and a flower.
Of course, I tried my best to apply my construction skills to oblige her request.
I’m home sick again today. This cold is really kicking my ass. It seems to be one of those really crazy illnesses that creeps up on you out of nowhere every couple of years — or less frequently, if you’re lucky — and sends you into spirals of frustration and guilt for needing to — literally — sit out on life for a couple weeks. Oddly enough, I recovered long enough to enjoy Disneyland for a few days. But the old body is making me pay for it now.
Thanks, body. You’re a real pal.
It has given me ample time to sit around and not only catch up on some television (can you ever really catch up?) but also to think and read and try and come up with some good content for this blog. All sorts of ideas wisp through my congested head and try to find some kind of footing there. For example, I could write about trying to process nearly two hours worth of vacation video clips into something watchable. Or I could write about a new idea for a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for near-on two weeks now, and which is starting to gel into something interesting. I could also entertain you with some thoughts I’ve had on trying to get my mind around this whole blogging thing itself, an effort I dabbled in with a previous post, but didn’t nearly flesh out as deeply as it deserves.
Of course, what you get instead is a rambling non-post like this one — so that shows you just how truly productive I am when I’m ill.
Having down time is a kind of skill, I figure. Being sick takes effort. It is a force of will to shut yourself off from the duties of life and attend to just plain-and-simple recovery from whatever the ailment happens to be.
I went to work yesterday morning. I struggled through a few hours of answering emails, chatting with co-workers, attending meetings — and all while chugging back so much tea and cough drops that I probably reeked of chamomile and menthol by the time I tucked my tail between my legs and went home for a three hour nap. And I’m sure my co-workers were just being polite by not adamantly insisting I go home earlier and quit infecting our shared recirculated air. Yes, it was a little stubborn and silly — I admit — but there it is: being sick is a skill. It takes work. And I’m not good at down time.
That said, despite my inability to attend properly to my sniffles and scratches, my body has taken over the job quite nicely and I seem to be on the mend. Seem to be. Seem. The volume of various liquids I’ve been putting into my body today has now exceeded the volume escaping from my sinuses, and I can actually complete a full sentence this morning without breaking into hacking coughs. These are all good signs, right?
Yet, here I am, yearning for a day off — a day to do exactly what I want to do — but hating every moment of a sick day. Why is that? Because down time is an art. Down time takes practice, that’s why. And I — thankfully — haven’t had much of that.
Despite a lazy long weekend, I woke up this morning with a raging head cold so bad that I didn’t even question the possibility of attending work: I called in sick. My sinuses, plugged beyond frustration and with that scratchy-slash-gooey feeling deep in my throat, this state has me slugging back hot tea like it was going out of style. In an effort to spend my sick-day-at-home being even lazier than normal — as lazy (and presumably restful as possible) I dug into my media collection and started up the first episodes of Battlestar Galactica (that modern version) a program that has been off the air for a couple years but which has been on my ‘need-to-find-the-time’ radar for a (now long overdue) re-watch.
Woot: Marathon BSG!
And seeing as how I’m sick and have not much better to do besides sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself, I thought I would drag my readers along on this little television reprise in the form of a series of bloggy episode reviews. (It also ensures I stop for at least fifteen minutes between episodes to use my brain for something besides staring at the TV.)
Thus, a new series of articles for you: Re-watching Battlestar
(And just to be clear: since I’ve watched THAT half a dozen times in my previous — undocumented — efforts to kickstart my own mini-BSG marathons, I won’t be re-watching the pilot-slash-miniseries this time through. Deal.)
Episode 1: “33” (Originally aired January 2005)
I remember why I got into this series back five or six years ago, though it wasn’t specifically anything to do with this episode. I was something of a latecomer-watcher to the show, joining in the fun mid-season two and only catching up via a gush of (initially) downloading ripped episodes before eventually just buying the collection. I had seen the pilot, and then jumped into whatever was airing on SPACE at the time. That was a bit of a mistake, I’d realized, before back-peddling and re-indoctrinating myself with the correct order of things. But I’d probably say that it was episodes like this that got me hooked. Baltar is at his purest, the sniffling betrayer of humanity grappling with his own self-delusions of importance and self-serving ways. This frames what we think might be a sub-plot to the far-more-interesting space-battles: but then the two meet in the middle when the apparently-tracked ‘Olympic Carrier’ passenger ship needs to be destroyed and this is inexorably linked back to Baltar’s ego. Yet, we still know so little about these characters. Their plots and personalities are just being seeded here. The Helo/Sharon plot-line materializes in a rain-drenched forest. On ship, characters are still struggling with mere rumours of human-looking Cylons. The mysterious Cylons — because they are stil quite mysterious — are perfectly timed machines, inexplicably arriving to the second at thirty-three minute intervals to launch yet another attack on the ragtag fleet. And we know something big is on horizon for these poor folks.
Episode 2: “Water” (Originally aired January 2005)
It’s not really my intention here to re-hash plot details. If you want that, there are plenty of sites where you can read about the episode itself. Instead, I merely want to give you a sense of my own re-watching. So, I might talk about — say — the theme of an episode such as the one I just now finished watching: Water. Which is a funny sort of thing to think about, because the little literature-critic in me wants to draw connections between the plot — the need to find water after the ship was sabotaged — with the character development that occurred in the show, evoking ideas of ‘new life’ or ‘germination’ in their roles. For example, while this little mini drought is taking place thanks to still-secret-Cylon agent Boomer booming the heck out of the water storage tanks, the other characters are — ahem — germinating into their new roles. Lee is questioning his newfound war-time morality from the perspective of a peace-time pilot. Rosalin is reaching through the metaphorical soil to emerge as a real president. Relationships across the crew are in this kind of quasi-seedling state where they are awkward and probing and just as likely to wither in the sun as they are to flourish. And then there literally is this finding of water and a salvation of the ship, all wrapped up in this Sharon-as-hidden-predator storyline. It’s going to be interesting to see how much of what I remember — what has stuck in my mind these years later — matches with what I am inclined to remember by the hints from re-watching.
Episode 3: “Bastille Day” (Originally aired January 2005)
Aptly fulfilling the title of the episode, politics herein pokes it’s head from the aforementioned metaphorical soil. The quasi-villain Tom Zarek muddies the waters of black-versus-white good-versus-bad as a group of prisoners take prisoners and demand a kind of faux democratic process. The plot thickens as our heroes, already clearly attacked from the outside are suddenly faced with an internal rot as chaos blossoms in the form of internal rebellion spurred by a looming threat of popular uprising. I think what we see here is a merging of something that told us that this show was meant to be more than previous science fiction ever was: in Star Trek, after all, there were abundant wisps of political intrigue but nothing that truly threatened the continuity of the characters beyond a kind of ever-more-complex good-guy versus bad-guy. Now we get see a character like Zarek who’s intentions are not entirely clear at this early stage, but who is pegged out as divisive even as he is introduced as a “prisoner of conscious” — immediately setting two other characters to arguing the nuances of his politics and imprisonment. Three episodes in and we already see that our heroes are about to face just as much strife from the survivors as they have been facing from the agressors. All that, and Cally takes a bullet: she was always my favorite minor character so I was a little sad recalling that her role as a plot-line punching-bag begins this early.
Now… I’m breaking for lunch. Perhaps a couple more episodes this afternoon. Or a nap. A nap would be good, too.
Episode 4: “Act of Contrition” (Originally aired January 2005)
I get the feeling that there were certain things established in the mini-series that the writers of this show wanted to leave behind as the series went forward. This episode is one of those things. Initially the show blossomed this wealth of family tension between a few of the main characters, such as how Starbuck was secretly responsible (through negligence) for the death of her fiancee (who also happens to be son of the Captain and brother of the now-ranking pilot Apollo) by passing him on some long-past flight exam and putting him in harm’s way. I imagine this created a great bit of plot for the miniseries but as the show went forward the writers quickly realized they needed to kick that bit of pre-war history into space. So, we get this episode (and because I cheated and looked ahead) the second-half in the next episode where the kinks of this relationship are laid bare and tucked neatly away. I mean, it makes for a great bit of character exposition and all — and kudos on the writers this early thinking about potential loose ends — but ultimately we end up with a dog-fighting turns sad episode with lots of eye candy.
Episode 5: “You Can’t Go Home Again” (Originally aired February 2005)
The theme of this (second half) episode seems very much to be a story of irrational risk versus personal redemption. The to-be-continued story continues as the Adama boys seem to be putting much more than they should on the table, risking the fleet and the safety of everyone (including themselves) to save a single main character: consequently that whole falling out they had before she went missing plays pretty deeply into the story. At some point the believability of this flip-flop isn’t quite up to the par. A few episodes back we see these same folks blow up an entire starship full of civilians (thirteen hundred or so) on a hunch to protect the fleet. Now, plot-days (and just a few episodes later) we see a wash of irrationality trump the characters actions — I assume to make them more “human” — but these same calculating folks don’t seem to make these same choices when other folks are involved. I guess it pays to be in the captain’s inner circle, huh? I’m just having trouble thinking both these characters would suddenly act like this, even over a friend. Neither did the president, apparently.