The Inagural Two Page Tuesday


May it not be the last! It’s going to be a reading! Except it’s mostly a social thing,[1] by which I mean that it’s going to be a very short reading. And then, if my very nefarious plan works out, people will stick around, talk to each other, maybe meet some new people, maybe have a nice time. I don’t even really give a fuck if anybody talks about writing or books or anything (I mean: I give a fuck that they appreciate the readers, of course. You’ve always got to give props to the readers).

I’ve been sort of haphazardly "piloting" a writer/lit folks meet up or social thing since January, and this is a step towards creating some kind of formalization around it.[2] I like the idea of keeping the non-reading weeks/months (timeline, schedule, cadence, etc., horrifically TBD) casual, smaller, whatever, but I also want to throw a good, big-tent kind of party. I struggle with this generally, the opposing impulses of bringing people together intentionally (viz who it is that I’m bringing together) and the bringing together of everyone I can find, harangue, meet by accident. This is going to be an attempt at a kind of balance.

We’re doing it at the Banshee[3] because a long time ago I used to work for/run an organization called Write on the DOT[4] and they’d let us do open mics there for free.[5] The Banshee also used to be our "program bar" in grad school, where we would go after workshop.[6] It’s a good place! Not cheap, exactly, but if you know what to drink (Narragansett) you’ll be OK, and the food is pretty good. It’s also partly a thank-you to all the DOT folks who’ve been generous enough to come to my side of the river to hang out these last few months.

We’ve got some great readers — six of them. The deal, also, is that they have to (I mean "get to") read up to two pages (double spaced) of new work. So it’ll be fresh shit. It’ll also be a pretty short reading, because long readings are long and I want it to primarily be about community — you share a little bit, but mostly you ask about how work is going and what TV you’ve been watching.

Anyway, I hope people show up. I’ve emailed some of the local grad programs and the local literary event aggregator and I’m posting this here, and on what little social media I have left, so. But hell: even if it’s just me and the six readers, we’ll have a good time.

(But also: please come. It’ll be fun, I can basically promise.)

1. Which means, for now, it’s at a bar, became I am not creative enough to think of a third place that’s open late that’s not a bar that would let us do a reading for free.
2. I’m sorry if you’re in the area and I haven’t told you about these; I’m doing my best, and also I’m sorry.
3. I say "we" like there is someone other than me to share responsibility for this if it sucks, or if it is good.
4. Which appears to still be going on alright!
5. Fun fact: the photo I "edited" for the "poster" is from one of these open mics. I think this is the one I made Drew do a Gertrude Stein-based exercise with me for, except I don’t think he ended up actually using the prompt I’d come up with. As usual, his shit was excellent in any case. I think mine probably went on a little too long.
6. And definitely not where I would drink whiskey and pout about what that one professor said. Definitely not. Never.

Filters in Taper #12

Taper #12 is out today, I’ve got a piece in there called "Filters".

I’ve got to run to a meeting, so I’ll just copy-paste what I put in the "view source readme":

This began as more of a “Hey! You can do this in JavaScript now?!” project.

That said, the idea came while looking at my friend’s collection of vintage black and white concert posters, and thinking about my blog site’s new “analog” styling, requiring all the images to be filtered in grayscale.

Also, image editing software is usually horrifically expensive, and I thought it might be fun to see what could be done in less than 2kb in a modern browser. There’s no “save” or anything (I suppose you could take a screenshot), so this is by definition “exploratory.” A one-off. A playground. I like that aspect of it.

The text is more or less after a quote by David Hockney: “Photoshop came out of painting, and now it’s going back to painting.” The development cycle for this little app was very “try one thing, try again” and so I was thinking about cycles as such, how things begin as one thing, become something else, then perhaps later return to their source(s).

Anyway — something I made and would like to share about.

Folding Keyboards Are E-Waste and I Am Sad About It

I am hard on things. I am clumsy. I expect things to last much longer than they are really designed to. I know this. Alia likes to remind me of this. And yet —

In a perfect world, nothing of my personal anything would ever be done or appear — however momentarily, however hidden inside a folder I know that the company does not automatically back up — on my work computer. Beyond that, there are non-zero times when I am out and about and would like to scribble a little.[1] And because the "phone" in my pocket has a much better processor than my first n computers, it has a git client, however rudimentary, it has a shell, also rudimentary, that runs vim with enough of plugins and things, it makes sense that I’d want a small keyboard that could travel with me, so I am not mistyping constantly on my phone.[2]

But I have been through three in the last year and a half or so, three different models, and they’re all just fucking shit, e-waste, and I am sad and mad about it.

First it was the hinges. Then it was a pinched wire inside of those hinges. Then a battery inexplicitly died, or — perhaps — the hinges failed again, but in a different way, as this last keyboard was of an entirely different design. And sure, my backpack is not necessarily a friendly place for things with fragile hinges and wires: I ride a bike in Boston, I over pack, the fuck do you expect? But at least some pretense of durability, you would think —

And I had been happy enough with them, each of them. Sure, I had to remap the Caps Lock key to Control every time. Sure, some of them didn’t have an Esc key (requisite for "basic" vim use) and I had to get used to Ctrl-[ instead (which is arguably as ergonomic, anyway). Sure, my phone screen is very small and not the best for scanning and editing large chunks of text, but writing forward? But wide enough, in landscape mode, to accommodate 80 characters at a reasonable font size? I had made it work, and work well, I think.

But then all the keyboards broke. And now I’m reduced to typing with my thumbs again, to using iA Writer again,[3] to lugging around a laptop if I actually want to get any writing done while out in the world.

And yes, these are first world problems, of course they are. And yes, I’m sure that somewhere there is a better option. But I’ve been burned three times, three fairly different models, and so I’m loathe, really, to try again. I don’t like consuming things. I want to buy only things that last.

But as my Zaydie said often, "It is what it is," and I am at least blessed with opposable thumbs.

1. Metaphorically speaking, of course — I would link to my thoughts "Against Handwriting First Drafts" but I haven’t written that essay yet.
2. For: whoever designed the dictionaries that the iPhone uses to predict what letters might come next (and thereby make those letter targets invisibly larger so you can actually hit them with a thumb) did not have me and my idiosyncratic syntax in mind.
3. Which is a great piece of software, don’t get me wrong: I’m just addicted to (n)vim and fancy cursor motions now.

Concurrency (Many Books)

I recently changed more things on this old web log and one of those changes was a silencing (via its losing place on the header) and trimming (via accepting that I will never be able to remember to keep the "currently reading" up to date) of the reading page. The thing is that I am always reading a lot of books concurrently,[1] I am not necessarily good at accepting when I’m just not going to get around to finishing a book (here’s looking at you, Hypermedia Systems), and since I have no analytics on this site anymore, I have no idea if it’s interesting to anyone besides myself anyway.[2]

Anyway, one of the books I’m reading is Umberto Eco, How to Travels with a Salmon and Other Essays, and it’s a fucking delight. He’s so funny! I mean, I’m very much enjoying The Name of the Rose as a bedtime book, but this shit —

But as I went down to the 16th floor of the WeWork carrying both the Eco and Conversation of the Three Wayfarers (Peter Weiss) to eat my lunch (because Thursdays are the busiest days here and I could not get a comfortable seat on my own floor’s common area), I realized that not only had I brought the Weiss from home and that I keep the Eco (the essays, anyway) on my desk at work, but I have yet another book by my night stand (the other Eco), two in-flight books next to the chair in my home office (A Shock by Keith Ridgeway, The Berlin Wall by David Rice that I’m reading ahead of another interview with him; three if you count the very on-pause Electronic Literature, which I am still determined to finish one of these days), not to mention the audiobooks I’ve got on the Libby app and the O’Reilly app.[3] It’s a lot of books at once! Yet, I might observe:

  • I still typically have only one book per "column" going at a time, i.e., one for-my-"work" fiction book (the Weiss, technically the same column as A Shock but it was due to the library yesterday), one "fun" fiction book (The Name of the Rose), one programming book, one nonfiction audiobook…​

  • They live in fairly separate physical zones, which (maybe) helps me keep them straight? Let’s say this is true.

  • Typically all but the for-my-"work" fiction books tend to be books that are easy enough to pick up and put down without too much worry of remembering.

  • …​and in any case, I am never without something to read.

This is all to say that I have still not found any comp titles for my novel manuscript, and yet despite this, my reading is still so much more for pleasure. Now:[4] to Command-Line Rust!

1. And I have been thinking a lot about "concurrency" of late, but for programming reasons not for literature reasons.
2. If you are interested for whatever reason, I’m trying StoryGraph, though also not necessarily keeping that up to date.
3. Though this I may not finish, but the title was good: Literary Theory for Robots.
4. As I am still technically on the clock.

Goodbye, Dreamhost (Almost)

After (checks billing history) nine years ("Joined on: 2015-02-03") I am finally giving up on Dreamhost hosting. I’m going to keep my domains there because I have a bunch of free credits from things and they make it easy enough to do them "DNS Only" and manage the CNAME and ALIAS records and so on, but as soon as this DNS move over finishes (which will be before this post has gone up, I expect), I will have cancelled my shared hosting. Previously I was on the "Unlimited" tier, and now I’m on the "Shared Stater" plan, but soon I will be on no plan, and it will be beautiful. As this is a static site, there are so many free places to host it, that I really shouldn’t be paying to do so. It made more sense when I was also hosting a "professional" personal site, my wife’s bakery site, school projects, etc., but now? Not really.

The other motivator to move things over is that Dreamhost recently (quietly) removed Passenger, which is what I previously had used to facilitate hosting the Flask-baked bakery site, and as I consider adding some "additional functionality" to this site via our dear friend HTMX, it’s too much trouble to manage the environment, deployment, etc., myself. So I’m giving Render a try. Maybe I’ll hate it. Maybe it’ll end up costing me money.[1] Maybe they’re secretly super unethical (I did google this first). Still: deployment is easy and I can (finally) ditch CircleCi, which also will be good.[2]

It’s a little annoying to configure all the DNS stuff but once that’s done it’ll be done, you know?

And though I do intend to make a newsletter thing and use this as a launching pad for the spiritual successor to Response,[3] in the meantime, while I build out all the other infrastructure, I won’t be paying for hosting I don’t really have to pay for, and this is a very wonderful thing.[4]

1. It will if/when I decide I need a database, but then: that’s still cheaper than Dreamhost.
2. Because I lost my login information and can’t seem to get them to reset my password? Maybe this was a temporary hiccup on their end, but still: fewer services/apps to manage is a good thing.
3. Details TK
4. This also coincides with other planned changes, e.g., potentially moving to Hugo from Jekyll, since though I really do love Jekyll, I have been running this blog long enough that it’s taking a while to build the site and also I am writing much more Go than Ruby these days, and it would be nice to feel aligned.