My Forward Operating Base is near a university. The university is near a low-income neighborhood, with many homeless and/or jobless people. So seeing unkempt people shuffling around is not uncommon.
On the way home today, I saw an unkempt man in his 30s slumped against a tree by the sidewalk. His head drooped on his chest in a way which seemed to indicate that he was dead. I could see no visible wounds, but drugs are rampant in this area, so presumably he had overdosed on something.
Several policemen and paramedics stood in a loose semi-circle around him, talking with each other, waiting for something, presumably an ambulance to take the corpse away. No one attended the man, or paid him any attention. They had arrived too late to save him from his fate.
I wondered for a moment if I would see anything in the news about him. Probably not. People in this area die every day, unmentioned, unknown, and unmourned by anyone except the few people who knew them.
I wonder what his last thoughts were.
My current mission is somewhat frustrating. On the one tentacle, it is very chaotic, and the ever-changing priorities and tasks are confusing and irritating. On the other tentacle, we are all learning together, and feeling our way through an unfamiliar software package, trying to implement it. And the nice thing is, although the uninvolved powers-that-be expect a lot of the project, they expect not very much of individual people. So it’s actually fairly relaxed, in a confusing way.
I am learning a lot about working in a dysfunctional organization. I’ve worked in many such organizations, but I have never been so deeply embedded in one, with an unspecified end date. I could stay on this mission as long as I wanted to, I think. And that makes me shudder, because I don’t want to stay on this mission longer than I have to.
I must stay fixated on my goals:
- Learn new skills while improving my old ones
- Earn enough local currency to sustain us, since the Martian embassy expects us to embed ourselves in this primitive society and to participate in it.
- Fulfill this mission for at least one sidereal year.
Everything else is secondary. Other comrades are unhappy, and may abandon the mission to seek less-dysfunctional places and tasks. Some are extra-dedicated to the mission, because they have different goals for themselves.
I am just along for the ride, as long as the ride continues to satisfy my three goals. After one sidereal year, I will re-evaluate. Meanwhile, I take it one day at a time.
This is one of the songs featured in the video game “Portal 2” as you explore an abandoned underground testing facility after you wake up from 27,000+ years of cryosleep. You hear the decaying computers and machinery in the facility, covered with plant growth: the sawtooth-wave arpeggios of the damaged and malfunctioning machines, counterbalanced by the organic bass flute sound of the giant potatoes and other leafy plants growing upward through the ceiling through multiple floors, reaching for the sunlight far above. Think of it as a tone poem.
In the game, a prerecorded announcement tells you:
“If you are a non-employee who has discovered this facility amid the ruins of civilization, welcome! And remember: testing is the future, and the future starts with you. Good work getting this far, future-starter! That said, if you are simple-minded, old, or irradiated in such a way that the future should not start with you, please return to your primitive tribe and send back someone better-qualified for testing.”
The best days of owning a boat, the saying goes, is the day you buy it, and the day you sell it. Friends of ours found that out the hard way recently.
He had bought a large offshore boat last year, the make, model and size of which I am unaware, since I have never seen it. He spent a lot of money on it to get it shipshape, and finally he took it out last week, with his wife and several friends.
The weather changed, it began to rain, the seas grew rough, and the motor died. They were 25 km offshore, well out of sight of land. The radio did not work, the GPS did not work, they were out of cellphone range, and they did not have an EPIRB beacon. And they began taking on water in the rough seas as the waves began slopping over the stern.
Some of the passengers began bailing while his wife began to pray. Then his brother pulled out an ancient flip-phone, which had enough punch to make contact with a cellphone tower on land. He called for help, and Sea Tow came to rescue them. They had no idea where to tell Sea Tow to find them, however, until they scrounged up an old handheld GPS unit to provide coordinates.
His wife was furious with him for endangering their lives by being so poorly prepared. She is still furious. To his credit, however, he admitted his mistakes, and he put the boat up for sale today.
The day they sell it will be the best day of boat ownership, for both of them.
I was walking the neighbor’s dog so that we both could get some exercise. As we approached a drainage pond, I saw a juvenile alligator, about 1.75m long, sunning itself on the bank. I was a meter above it, on the roadway. As I approached, the dog spooked the alligator, which abruptly thrashed its way into the culvert underneath me. I waited for it to come out again, but it did not.
I wished I had had the notion to take a picture.
This is a funky tune from Blancmange’s most recent album, “Semi Detached”.
I did not realize the song was a cover of a 1976 tune by the German avant-garde rock band Can.
I am in the process of establishing a new Forward Operating Base to serve my mission in a distant city. I don’t like the idea of having to maintain a main base and an FOB at the same time, because my needs are small; but since I spend so much time at work, it’s necessary to have a base that’s local to work. Hence my new FOB.
It will be interesting to have my own space again, after decades of marriage and sharing the main bunker with darling wife. She’s not thrilled about the idea either, except that it is for a short term, of several months or a couple of years. So eventually I will demolish this FOB and evacuate back to the main base. That gives her comfort.
I will be accruing materiel and supplies for my new FOB in the coming weeks. I don’t need much, but now that it’s certain to be built, darling wife wants to help make the FOB homey. Unfortunately I prefer things spartan and blank. Most of my FOB will be empty space, which is the way I like it. There is no point in filling it with stuff that will simply be jettisoned when my mission is over.
It will take some effort to prevent darling wife from making the FOB too homey.