Friday, May 5, 2017

Black Swan week


It is early morning as I write. I couldn't stay in bed any longer, my brain was whirring restlessly. Some folks can quiet that monkey mind at 5am, I cannot. Coffee and homemade sourdough toast and quince jam were calling.

Now that the coffee is drunk and the toast and jam eaten, I can open the laptop without fear of dumping coffee and crumbs into the keyboard. I have two readings on the go, an umpteen-volume fantasy story and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan".

The fantasy story is slow-moving and I have read it before so sometimes I get bored with it, I wish it were faster-paced. But that makes it excellent middle-of-the-night reading, at a certain point sleeplessness looks less boring than the book. It's also good first thing in the morning when I'm not up to more mentally challenging entertainment.

Can't say the same of The Black Swan, this book is a bit of a feast. Taleb is a philosopher expounding on a novel idea, every other sentence is a zinger. Sometimes I have to put it down just to appreciate the last sentence I read. I have just read the Prologue and Chapter One and already he has changed my thinking about nationalism, the (so-called) Middle East and the financial world. And those aren't even his main topics, just prefatory remarks about his own background. I just read something he said about personal libraries. I have always felt a little guilty about how many books I have around that I have never read, as if I shouldn't have those books if I am not going to read them. Taleb says that the more unread books in one's personal library the better; they remind us of how much we don't know and the more we know about how much we don't know the better. I guess I'm doing pretty good on that score.

My writing group meets in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon I was working on having something to read at the meeting, so I feel like my homework is done and I can write whatever now. I have badly organized my week thus far, what started out looking like a busy week became less and less so as various events got sidelined. I was going to work in the garden but decided to postpone until after the expected deluge this weekend as there is no point planting stuff that is just going to drown. I had two events scheduled yesterday and decided to cancel one; the other cancelled itself and I regretted cancelling the first. I had a doctor's appointment that the doctor's office postponed. Went shopping for an item that was supposed to be on sale, the store had not received the item in the latest shipment so I went home empty-handed feeling like it was a waste of gas (the store is in the next town over). It went on like that.

I walked Hapi to her friend Eva's place yesterday morning and had coffee with Eva's owners. Friendship among dogs is a funny thing, Hapi is always eager to see Eva but after a few minutes of greeting Eva and checking out her yard for hidden food Hapi is ready to move on. If we happen to meet on a walk then the two will greet each other and then seem not to be interested anymore. They are both old ladies who have known each other for half their lives, I guess they've said all there is to be said to each other. Eva's owners are old friends of mine as well (40 years and counting), we nevertheless seem to find endless topics of conversation. Hapi just stares at me like: are you done yet? Can we go home now?

Tonight I am ushering, my one and only volunteer job. I have gotten fed up with volunteering, too often I end up frustrated and pissy; I say something I shouldn't and that bridge is burnt. But ushering is basically getting to listen to a concert or watch a theatrical production for free. I don't even have to speak to anyone, although I usually do. One chats with other ushers and exchanges a few words with the folks being ushered. Tonight I am ushering at a concert of a musician I have never heard of. He apparently has a string of sold-out concerts behind him on his current national tour, but there has been no local advertising. I did check him out on Youtube but I fail to understand the phenomenon. I'll find out tonight I guess. Unless it gets cancelled.

And tomorrow the deluge.

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