Tag Archives: LJ

Wedding Weekend Memories

A year of planning, and many thousands of dollars later, the wedding is over. I am thoroughly (and happily) married. With 4 days, 18 activities, 133 guests, about 20 speeches (most short), 11 vendors, there is an awful lot to remember. I am putting together a collection of photographs (and see Toh’s more extensive set), but I wanted to also record some memories for perhaps the biggest event of my life to date.

Friday Night:
Friday was set aside for “Bachelor activities” (read: “activities Johanna does not endorse”), which turned into a BBQ-sushi for the wedding party, karaoke, and midnight prophesies. Some of the karaoke highlights for me were Mary F.’s enthusiasm during “We are family”, Amir and my “A whole new world” (I got to be Aladdin this time), and all the Flight of the Conchords lovers getting into “Most beautiful girl in the room”.

Saturday:
The day started slow, but when a dozen people showed up for Flame’s aunt’s yoga class, I knew it was going to be good. Friends and relatives helped us put on a day of “ad hoc” activities, including a bike ride, a hike, a walk around Provincetown, and a dance class. I stayed at the wedding party house, instigating games: I taught people Rythmomachy and orchestrated a new game I call “The Ephemera Game”, for people go guess where I got maps and pamphlets.

The wedding rehearsal was were it finally became real. Some 40 people showed up to play their parts or offer moral support, and proceeded to mill around. I don’t know how these things are supposed to go, but someone needed to take charge, so I started directing people. The questions started rolling in: where should we put the chairs, the blessing givers, the grandmas. We had put together a 4-page step-by-step document for the ceremony, and yet there was still so much to decide.

The highlights of the day was definitely “Welcome Event”, organized by my parents. The puttanesca flowed like wine, and the wine gushed like our reconnections with so many people. My step-father began his speech apologizing for not writing one, and then spoke for 20 surprisingly riveting minutes on how Flame and I got together, our travel and take on life, and something about crashing through waves. Then 9 more people came up, with tributes, roasts, and one number for us (the golden ratio, since J^2 = J + 1).

Sunday:
As Sunday began, Flame and I split up for our separate preparations. I drove the groomsmen to the top men’s barbershop in the area for a straight-razor shave: what better way to start my wedding day then a knife at my throat. Flame and I reunited around the bend of a Doane Rock trail, for a clichéd “first look”. Nonetheless, Flame was absolutely beautiful in her wedding gown, and we alternated lovey and silly until I think the photographers had all they could handle.

Our first scare came while doing relatives photos back at the ceremony location. We realized that the ceremony programs, which we had spent hours printing and folding, were nowhere to be found. I was about to derail the photos and send people racing back to the parents’ house, when one of my groomsmen, Amir, said he would take care of it, and then did so.

The other scare for me came as I was waiting at the front of the ceremony and Flame was walking down the aisle. I suddenly remembered Heidi’s admonition that, whatever else happens, I remember to bring my vows; and I remembered that my vows were in my backpack, far out of reach. Then I remembered that Flame had told me to give a copy of my vows to my best man, Toh, the day before, and I wondered if he happened to remember them. I turned and asked him, and he said not to worry, he would hand them to us at the proper time.

The only other ceremony event I only heard about two weeks later. As my sister’s children did their blessing, a commotion of squawks arose in the tree behind us. A hawk had alighted, and dozens of crows and other birds had began mobbing around it. After a couple minutes of this, the hawk picked itself up and flew directly over the assembled people. This must have been some kind of omen (the word auspices actual means to look at birds), with the hawk being a Native American symbol of a guardian, my late father being a zoologist, and my diverse community being all about mobbing. But the interpretation is still unclear to me.

After that came the reception, the hora, the dinner, the speeches, the tosses, the first dance, the dessert, the dancing, and the afterparty. During dinner, we had our special wedding puzzle at everyone’s place (individual pieces and solution), and though no one solved it, two groups made some great progress. Flame threw a bouquet to the tune of Put a Ring on It, and I did a thesis toss to Weird Science. For our first dance, I had taken the choreography from the Ed Sheeran video Thinking Out Loud and adapted it to Flame’s song of choice, Crazy Love by Van Morrison. I had swapped the man and woman parts, and we got plenty of appreciation and laughing. Dessert consisted of the best pies in town and an organic chocolatier, Chequesette Chocolates, which crafted a sea-scape of sugar sand with chocolate turtles and oysters. Even the afterparty was a blast, with 30ish people coming out to hear some live music (we had bribed the band to stay an extra hour) and snacks (including grilled cheeses).

Monday:
After a perfect weather weekend, Monday finally succumbed to the rain, and Linda and Ron’s house became filled with people, love, and brunch. We were saying goodbye until it was time for the hackathon. The Hackathon turned into a brainstorming session, worth its own post.

Finally, here are the acknowledgements for a weekend that was really a labor of love:
Acknowledgements

As Amir said, the whole event went really smoothly: it went off with just one hitch!

The end of history

They say that history repeats itself. The strictest form of the claim is like the world view of the aboriginal Yir Yoront, for whom every generation is a repetition of the one before. Even if our Western world view cannot admit such stasis, many people would say that the rise and fall of civilizations is a story that has repeated itself many times, and many future civilizations will walk on the ashes of this one.

However, when it comes to the history of human civilizations, history will never repeat itself again. Our species is on a one-way road, and if our global society collapses, no future Homo sapiens will enjoy the benefits of industrialized society.

Empires may rise and fall, but the modern world is intrinsically interconnected, and as a civilization we rise and fall as a globe. We are interdependent: were it not for international trade, most regions could not feed themselves, much less build and support their own industries. The stories of future history are confined to a single narrative.

So what happens if the global economy collapses and trade ceases, and each region is left to pick up the pieces on its own? These enclaves would not have the benefits of readily available resources that our ancestors enjoyed when they started our journey in industrialization. We have exhausted readily-available high energy sources: new sources of energy, like shale gas and tar sands oil, require immense technology to access. They would be trapped in perpetual pre-industrialization.

Add to this the harsher climate, destabilizated ecosystems, and exhausted ores that we are bequeathing to them, and their lives will be mean indeed. The planet will recover, given 50 million years or so, but far too late for our species.

What if we colonize other stars, with virgin resources and the room to collapse at our leisure? Those planets will have their own stories, and maybe there we can avoid becoming to big to fail, but colonization is a one-way process. Without a way to travel or communicate faster than light, our futures will be disconnected.

By the way, this also limits our use of any Prime Directive on Earth. Non-industrialized cultures cannot achieve development on their own– not that any culture ever did. We are in this story together, taking it forward because there is no way back.

So, let’s celebrate our dependence. Our lives and the lives of all our descendents depend upon it.

A USexit next?

The Brexit is happening. I’m starting to wonder which US state will be the first to leave the union. Oklahoma, maybe when Clinton becomes president, as mounting budget deficits and poor populations make printing money look really good? Or a richer state like New Hampshire, a closer analog to England, citing the decay of the US?

We are in a time of changes. Old institutions will fall. But it all might be happening too late for a further Fourth Turning-style crisis. The Baby Boomers are starting to die, Millennials are insatiably hopeful, and Gen Xers won’t give a fuck so they’ll broker a peace just to be left alone.

Balkan Ballad

I’ve dropped off the net with looming deadlines at the end of this month. But, before the deadlines were scheduled, Flame and I planned a trip to the Balkans, where we are now! Well, we didn’t exactly “plan” it. But we bought tickets, and are figuring it out as we go.

You can follow our journeys as she blogs them at http://ift.tt/1SUn3ZT! There is also a steady stream of Instagram photos (featuring food, scenery, and art, in that order).

Travel plans

It’s going to be a busy six months for travel! I returned to Berkeley after a week in NYC, and in just a month I will be there again. And again in March and May. Between now and June, I will also touch New Orleans, DC, Boston, multiple Balkan countries, and Iceland! (Both of the last have had great sales recently– you might still be able to get $99 tickets to Iceland if you don’t mind being encased in ice.)

In the spirit of Mystery Hunt (except that I’ll give you the month names, so you don’t have to infer them from the month pictures of my shiny new Worlds of Fiction wall calendar), I give you my travels:

Travels planned for 2016

Homemaking

Flame is in Berkeley for the week, celebrating the new year with me and helping me make this house a home! After a whirlwind of IKEA, World Market, and the Alameda Antique Faire, she has transformed the space completely.

Before:

After:

A few items to note in particular:

    • The wall art is from the Antique Faire, a beautiful canvas for $60.  We had to strap it to the car with an ATM sign.
    • The bookcase is a really hip wood and metal mix, and I definitely need more books to fill it up.
    • The Willow lunchbox is from my families most recent White Elephant, labeled “Jim Rising”, so it must have been my dad’s…
    • The cabinet next to it is built into the apartment, one of many beautiful original fixtures.
    • Hanging on the knob of the cabinet is a MIT-Columbia-SusDev pendant which my mom made (Johanna has a Wes-Columbia-SusDev one to match).

A life history in phases

I’ve been struggling to recover my childhood over the past few years. See, my memory contains a profound gap. I recall almost nothing of my life before I was about 12. Since then, my memory and sense of self seems like a continuous thread; before it, I know what others have told me, but it never resonates the same way.

At least, that is how things stood a few years ago. Since my summer quest to better understand my father, I have been chipping away at that wall (or, to keep my metaphors consistent, chipping away at the ledge to give me a stairway across the gap). I have been grabbing onto fleeting images, cataloging together floating pieces, and generally disbelieving that these memories are not mine to share.

Here is the product of my most recent tact. I thought to dissect who I am today as the extension of ribbons that have evolved over my life. Every couple of years, these ribbons take on a new turn– an every 7 they twist into a new core (something I’m due again for soon). The roadmap I have figured out is incomplete, but it goes something like this:

Years Self Community Inspiration Practice
2013-5 World modeler Collaborations complexity coupled models
2010-2 Dev. at large SusDev worldchanging susdev. classes
2008-9 Traveling Dev. Flame social justice TN startup
2006-7 Contract Dev. Rocky traveling signal processing
2004-5 Olin superninja Olin College big ideas education
2002-3 Growing Jimmy SCA human models dance
2000-1 MIT student ESG & Random philo. & learning study groups
1998-9 STEM geek Computer lab college webpages
1996-7 Smart aleck Lowell home self-directed edu. math
1994-5 Slowpoke Lunch gang self-discipline programming
1992-3 Basementeer Moving schools collecting BBSes
1990-1 Sleep-less Redwood Valley Elem. fantasy taking apart
1988-9 James Friends Capella Elem. invention reading
1986-7 Mama’s boy Lutheran school sister problems no naps

There are connections between all of these, which I can’t represent in the table: features that disappear and reappear for reasons complex and unknown. But for all it’s abstruseness, that is my life.

Axial Age: Sessions 0.5 – 1.5

Session 0.5:

Zaidu (Paul), a Mesopotamian army cleric, recently arrived in town looking for an escape from army life.
Vishnaya (Cat), a wandering Persian bard, was doing some entertainment by the new Zoroaster temple.

They both got knocked out and captured near a bottle merchant, accused of abducting a local prince (and generally making trouble in many places), and eventually released to be accompanied by a thug named Zoloft.

After getting plastered at a Haoma bar, they’re on their way to a job interview with the Babylonian deputy secretary for finance.

Session 1.5:

The session started with Vishnaya and Zaidu visiting the Minister of Coffer’s Deputy for Security (Parusiyati) at the palace. He asked them to travel to Cunaxa to figure out why tax requests had gone unanswered, and to take with them an overly curious traveler named Wu Tian. They were told they must leave the city now, and report to the guard when they return. They got a tablet to identify themselves in Cunaxa and another for the guard upon return.

On the way out of the palace, they were accosted by an certain Contrax, offering help and asking them to take a tablet to a noble in Cunaxa.

The group decided to take the overland route to Cunaxa, camping near a forest edge. During first watch, wolves attacked and began running off with bags. The group pursued until a rag-covered man arrived to help the wolves, leaving his last target, a trade wagon. The trade wagon had two passengers, one nearly dead and one injured and hiding. The injured one heard the commotion and went to help, promptly getting killed by the wolf-man. The group killed the rest of the wolves, but did not pursue the wolf-man.

After the battle, they found Karam, an African woman, covered in blood, completely looted, but conscious by the wagon.

Milan Expo 2015

I am now back in Berkeley, enjoying the sun as New York State slowly covers in snow. So to remember my brief time in Italy, I give you some photos.

Coffee Forum finale Milan Expo 2015
Coffee Forum finale Milan Expo 2015

Above is the last event of the World Coffee Forum, with a ceremony of countries around the world symbolically pouring coffee beans into a mixed bag (which we all got a small sachet of). After the event, we were left free to wander the Milan Expo, 12 million square feet of exhibits designed to make a person hungry.

Malaysian Expo site Another Expo pavilion
Malaysian Expo site Another Expo pavilion

Every country had a “pavilion”– or part of one, or multiple ones– consisting of a building constructed solely for the Expo. The pavilions seemed to reflect the aspirations of each country, whether mosque-like Qatar, souring Russia, Poland-the-hashtag, or Korea’s building of robots.

Train in the Milan Science and Tech museum Park Sempione
Milan Science museum Park Sempione

Having seen the Expo on the last day of the Forum, I wandered the city before heading to Nice, visiting the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci”, with its building of trains, and Park Sempione near the Castello Sforzesco (deserted, because of a little drizzle).

I went to Nice, France, before coming back, but I have no pictures of it because the rain followed me and drenched my phone. It took the phone a week to recover, but it did.