Without authority

Mica has about 25 random friends over tonight. Also, I failed to take into account how Viktoria Prokhorova’s request for me to call her between 8:00pm and 11:00pm was based on the Toronto timezone.

Suffice it to say, things are more than a bit shambolic tonight. With my mother away again, I would expect no less.

NASCA v.1-0 submitted to the group: rejoice!

Based on my preliminary read, this week’s Economist, which I read at Blenz while awaiting Sarah P, is excellent. Two articles relate directly to the report that it was today’s purpose to complete the first semi-public draft of. Other articles are also very thought provoking. Those interested but without access to the premium content to The Economist should send me an email, so that we can work out some means of sharing the information.

Spending last night with Sarah, drinking beer and talking, was enjoyable, informative, and helpful. I am still often slightly stunned by the incredibly direct and matter-of-fact way she tends to declare her positions. It’s an approach that I find difficult to respond to and am often genuinely flabbergasted by. Still, her ideas about relationships and societal reproductive norms from what might be termed a political/economic game theory perspective have a lot to them. Before I left in the morning, she lent me a copy of the highly interesting history of four critical American thinkers in the years surrounding the civil war: Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club. Along with The Great Fire, it now makes up my fiction reading list for the period until my departure on the 21st. Once again, let me take the chance to remind people about my continental departure party on the evening of Saturday, September 17th.

Today’s task, partly completed at the Capilano Library, was the revision of the conclusion of NASCA v.0-95 and the relatively modest editing of the remainder. As pf this afternoon, a semi-definitive version 1.0 has finally be distributed to the rest of the team for input.

In one piece of excellent news, I learned this afternoon that my father’s medical insurance from work will continue to cover me at Oxford for as long as I am a full-time student. I was quite fearful that I would need to spend thousands of dollars on private insurance. Learning that your finances are in better shape than you feared is always welcome, especially when you are taking on more than $10,000 in debt.

[Entry modified, 23 December 2005]

The return of Vancouver rain

At work today, I spoke with a young woman who was the very embodiment of classical beauty. With her defined chin, well-proportioned forehead, and noble expression, she would definitely have been stolen by the British if she had been carved in marble. While the extent to which her appearance matched that form was incredible, it was impossible to tell if she was fourteen or twenty five. Her voice, tinged with a British accent, didn’t help. I saw her for less than two minutes, directing her towards the hanging file folders.

Tonight, I am trekking across a rainy Vancouver to Commercial Drive, in order to meet Sarah P. Alongside whatever else we discuss, I hope some of the more theoretical aspects of the NASCA report will come up. She is one of a handful of friends that I would really like to get a conceptual edit from, though asking for one from anyone is excessive, given the 9100 word length of the present document. While based on observation, analysis, and conjecture rather than extensive research, it is nonetheless almost 33% of the length of my eventual thesis at Oxford.

Speaking of Oxford, the Tutorial Office Administrator at Wadham College emailed me today. To quote: “I felt I should point out that Wadham needs documentary evidence that you will be able to cover both fees and living expenses for the full duration of your course – ie BOTH years of the MPhil. .. We are, I’m afraid, not able to confirm our offer of a place unless you are able to give us these guarantees.” Suddenly, “I really need money, please give me some” has to become: “It’s all cool, I have one hundred large just sitting in an account waiting to transfer over to you.” Hopefully my vague promises of loans and, hopefully, scholarships to come will be enough to keep them from pulling the red carpet out from under my feet.

Suddenly, our summer weather seems to have been replaced by the pervasive grayness of Vancouver in fall and winter. The change of seasons is marked by the move away from quad iced espressos, as documented on my financial spreadsheet, towards caffeine-laden drinks that are actually hot. More importantly, the shift has a psychological counterpart. In my case, it’s mostly a double reminder of how soon I will be departing and just how well-understood a place I am leaving. While Vancouver is beautiful, temperate, and well-stocked with friends it is not a mystery to me. Racing towards a place that is endowed with that most intractable of qualities is both thrilling and slightly intimidating.

While walking home up Capilano Canyon today, in the mist and rain, I thought about Karen. It doesn’t happen to me overly often, but I suppose it was just the kind of circumstance where I would formerly have given her a call. From the beginning, the whole tragic matter has been incomprehensible; it is not becoming less so with time, though the poignancy is diminishing and changing into a more wistful kind of sadness.


Underground five-pins and merriment

Tonight, rather than work on the NASCA report, I headed downtown after work to give Tristan a proper friend’s send-off before he leaves for Toronto. Around 9:30, I met Alison at the Starbucks at Georgia and Granville, where we were joined shortly thereafter by Tristan. From there, it was off to Granville Island beer at Cafe Crepe on Granville, where Meaghan Beattie joined our group. Perhaps the social context helped, but it definitely seemed to me that relations between her and I have softened a bit: slipping back towards some kind of friendly comfort. Also noteworthy was our group’s conversation with our server, Marcus, with whom an unexpected camaraderie developed. I’ve always found it rewarding to get to a level more fundamental and substantial that than at which a person’s job requires them to deal with you. It’s a refreshing demonstration of common humanity, and our ability to communicate.

After a couple of shared pitchers and crepes, my three companions decided that five-pin bowling underneath Granville Street was a good plan. Now, I have been visiting Granville Street ever since my parents began discouraging it in grade four, but I have never seen, much less bowled in, the set of subterranean lanes that exist beneath. While our bowling skills would have impressed nobody, it was a grand time (only mildly and indirectly reminiscent of one part of an Ondaatje novel).

At the alley, we were joined by Aoife. As far as I can recall, I hadn’t seen her since the Brother’s Creek hike of about a year before. For the rest of the night, especially after a fairly emotional parting of ways with Tristan, I definitely felt like an awkward appendage to her and Alison’s indistinct coupledom. I certainly don’t object to any aspect of their conduct; it was merely a reminder of the extent to which I am presently alone.

The prospect of not seeing Tristan for two years, or even one, is astonishing. I have no doubt that my relationship with him will prove to be the among the most comprehensive and long-lasting of those which evolved while I was at UBC. As has been the case with Alison, the confidence that such a statement is justified provides considerable comfort, in the context of coming separation. Things founded on something more enduring than a temporary confluence of interests can survive long separation – especially when there are crutches like our respective blogs to keep us hobbling forward.

With work tomorrow – and a real need to make up for my report dalliance tonight – the idea of going to sleep earlier than normal seems like a good one. Tomorrow night, I am meant to meet Sarah P.: a plan conceived on the basis that tonight would bring with it the completion of version 1.0 of the NASCA report, the version meant to be submitted to the group for scrutiny. As much as tonight may have tossed a small spanner into that plan, no synapse, axon, or dendrite in my brain thinks it was unjustified.

Work, friends, and NASCA

During my half-hour lunch at Staples today, the general manager of the store told me about how he trained as an electrical engineer and how the choice to go into retail was a terrible one. He meant to do so only temporarily, but after five years found that he couldn’t get out of it. Learning this put a new spin on the mildly tragic story of the Staples managers, for whom those fluorescent aisles represent a big chunk of the future, rather than a nasty short-term hurdle.

Tonight, I am meeting Tristan for what will almost surely be the last time before his departure. I hope that he enjoys being a grad student at York. I am sure we will remain in contact, by various electronic means – just as I expect to remain part of the electronic diaspora of friends I have been developing. Along with Tristan, it looks as though I will be meeting Alison and possibly Meaghan Beattie as well.

Both during the time from now until I catch my bus and during the time after I hang out with friends, I will be working to finish the first real version of the NASCA report. Fernando and I put in a good five and a half hours of reviewing last night: over rounds of coffee at Tim Horton’s. Bits of the paper have been greatly expanded while others have been melded into more appropriate language. Overall, the project is becoming more exciting as the report takes on a form closer and closer to that which it will finally possess.

PS. To clarify briefly for those who want to know precisely what is going on with the blog at the moment: the nine hundred or so entries from the past few years are gone for the indefinite future. The present form of the blog might be an intermediary one between the demise of the old blog and the creation of a distinctive Oxford era blog, or I might just choose to carry on with this URL and layout once I get there.

Staples era ending

To be reconnected with a lost partner in valuable conversations is an excellent thing. It’s even more excellent when it happens by means of a blog whose value you’ve been questioning and becomes further sweetened when you learn, quite unexpectedly, that you share the same favourite novel.

At work today, in the space of one hour, I earned Staples almost two weeks worth of my wages in profits. It was a realization tinged with bitterness. Not many more than a dozen shifts can be awaiting me, before I will abandon my red-dyed synthetic shirt forever and move on to better things. Meeting with Fernando tonight to produce our combined draft version of the NASCA report should be a hint of that; for most of our purposes, it works well to have his diplomat’s sense of tact counterpoint my desire to be provocative. In the end, we should all have a document we will be proud to show people.

In the past few days, I have been frustrated by my inability to devote any tranquil time to reading Hazzard’s The Great Fire. Such has been my appreciation so far, and my dedication to unlearn my undergraduate’s speed-reading, that I have been reading each chapter twice over. It is a tribute to the prose that the practice has been more than worthwhile.

Renaming the blog – starting it over – creates the uncanny sensation of initiating a new era. An era whose beginning, while certainly prompted by events outside my control, does not have its roots in the many and dramatic orbits I have occupied around the women who have defined my adult life. Perhaps that feeling of empowerment can become a defining characteristic.

Birth of a sibilant intake of breath

There will always be times in life when circumstances force us to start anew. Such is the case today, with regards to my most candid form of online presence. While the hundreds of pages that constitute Night’s Sindark Nave are not lost to the universe, they are to be effectively lost from the internet for at least the immediate future – in increasingly thorough fashion as various caches are cleared. This is a circumstance that seems to me regrettable but not avoidable.

The forum that succeeds it shall necessarily be a more circumscribed and restricted place than its forbear: again, a circumstance that I lament on many levels but feel bound to accept. It was always an experiment that combined boldness with folly to be so forthright in so open a medium. The possibility remains that, when I have the time to actually pick my way back through that lengthy archive, some portion of it will be returned to a form that is properly publicly accessible. For now, I ask that any bits you happen to possess or find be retained in a private capacity and not advertised or distributed.

Between work, the report, and preparing for my departure, I really don’t have the time to either create anything new and extensive or go back and render safe that which has already been written. For the moment, just feel confident that my urge to write is not a weak or passing one. I shall find a way.