Monthly Archives: May 2013

Trending Tomorrow

People are talking about this spoof Twitter bug report, which describes a problem with a bot using Twitter’s API:

Let’s just say that I’m convinced that, somehow, @timebot is pulling not only tweets from the past, but tweets from the future.

It’s a very cool idea, using the bug report mechanism, and the implications are fascinating, with the suggestion that there are no more tweets AT ALL after a certain date…

It reminds me of a short story I read in a tatty yellowed pulp collection by Lin Carter (who went on to write new Conan stories) called Uncollected Works, about an inventor in old Paris who develops a mechanical machine that simulates the old “million monkeys and a million typewriters writing Hamlet” idea. The machine starts out printing gibberish, but then the inventor starts to recognize patterns. He takes the printouts to a linguist, who realizes the machine is printing the earliest known Sumerian writing. The machine is working its way up to Hamlet by way of everything that came before it! It then works its way up through Greek, Roman, and so on, up to the present day.

But then it doesn’t stop, and the inventor is able to read the written works of the future. The story describes him listing the great novels of the future, and ends with the narrator lamenting that he didn’t find out where this eccentric man lived or worked.

I recently used Twitter’s archive download feature, (click ‘Request your archive’ at the bottom of this page) which allows you to generate and download a ZIP file containing a database dump CSV file containing all of your own tweets. I opened it up, and read through a bunch of stuff dating back to August 2007, when I went back to living alone. It feels weird to read these old messages, like it was a different life. I wonder if messages from the future would be as weird? Mentioning names, objects and concepts that don’t exist or mean anything yet is one thing, but the future doesn’t have any emotional overlay on it yet. Hindsight gives you that depth. Foresight is flat.

I Will Call Them Shades

I don’t know whether this was just paranoia, but wearing shades in the UK always made me feel like I was stepping over a line. “Whatchoo need them for?”. Like wearing a scarf in winter. This makes no sense, I agree. I’m not even sure it’s true. I live in California now, and while the Bay Area isn’t exactly Venice Beach, it is sunny a lot. Shades are a reasonable thing to wear.

I wear glasses anyway, so shades for me have to be prescription. I won’t wear those light-sensitive things because I’d end up looking like a cross between a late 80’s estate agent and my father. This means there is a certain amount of swapping, which is a small pain, but no agony. I have a couple of pairs of cheapo-from-Hong-Kong things, which have served me OK. I’m considering getting some clear-framed ones like this. Thoughts? It would be $100.

I will call sunglasses shades with no shame, for these two reasons. Firstly, in honor of David Rappaport, actor and performance artist, who played Randall in the excellent Time Bandits, was part of the Ken Campbell Road Show (he can be seen drinking bleach on stage in The Secret Policemen’s Ball), and who shot himself in a California park in 1990 because of depression. He appeared on mid-to-late-70’s-early-80’s “anarchic” British Saturday morning show TISWAS, with the nickname ‘Shades’, due to his habit of always wearing wacky-shaped plastic sunglasses. Secondly, the Hawkwind song(/spoken word piece) Ten Seconds Of Forever contains the lyric

In the second second of forever I thought of the pair of broken shades lying on the tarmac

That’s the good thing about cheap shades – it doesn’t matter too much if they get run over.

Into The Valley

One advantage of living up in the Oakland Hills is that you have no excuse not to go walking in them. When you have a dog, it’s even more tempting. In the last few weeks I’ve been to Robert Sibley Volcanic Preserve (and no that’s not a brand of hot chili jam), and to Redwood Regional Park.

The first time I went with Friend Jason, who is a lot more outdoorsy than me, and has good shoes. In fact, halfway around the trail in Sibley we sat and rested, adjusted laces and so on, and I discovered that the trainers I was wearing, and have been wearing for dog-walking every day for the past few years, had worn through the sole, and were basically now only yardwork-worthy. On Jason’s recommendation I bought a pair of Keens, and now I’m super hikey man (almost).

On that first walk, we encountered some black cows, lounging in the bushes out of the sun. Gordon was a little perturbed at first (“WHAT ARE THOSE OMG”), but overall mellow about this:

There’s cows, but I’m not so bothered.

The second trek was into Redwood Regional Park, which is like the little sibling of Redwood National Park, which has all the amazing huge trees. The regional one was not quite as amazing, but beautiful nonetheless. I took the trail that led down along the creek, among all the sequoias, and it was a lovely quiet spot. I used my phone to take a fancy 360 panorama.

Yesterday I took Gordon back up the Sibley trail, and at the top of one of the hills, I took another 360 panoramaFrom that location I could actually see the whole of San Francisco, from the Sutro Tower, to the Bay Bridge, then the Golden Gate Bridge with Alcatraz in the foreground. You can’t really make that out from the image though. It was a lot sunnier than it appears in the photo too – limitations of a phone camera.

I’ll be checking out more of the parks through the year. I only ended up at Redwood because I took a wrong turn on Skyline Boulevard. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up buying some of those trousers that zip off into shorts?