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Who is this Ben person, and what is he doing with this LJ thing? - Just Ben [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Just Ben

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Who is this Ben person, and what is he doing with this LJ thing? [Feb. 27th, 2011|12:11 pm]
Just Ben
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Standard apology for updating so infrequently.

When last we heard from our intrepid hero, I’d just accepted a job at Emory Libraries. Well, in fact I’d been there for several months when I posted, but my post only included up to about May-ish. Of 2009.

I’ll try to keep the last year and a half relatively short. Not because not much has happened. Far from it: Like 2009 it’s been crazy. I’ll try to keep them relatively short because otherwise I’d be here typing for the next week, and I suspect several people wouldn’t appreciate that too much.

In broad strokes, Emory’s been really wonderful for me. My first real project out of the gate was collecting documents from Sir Salman effing Rushdie’s mid-90s Macintosh, repositing them for long-term data management, and writing software to expose them for researchers to access at the Library. It was great publicity for Emory. We got international attention. My face is on youtube talking about it. And it was fun: I got to rip into obscure binary formats that nobody’s looked at for over a decade (mid-90s OS7 Eudora mailboxes. MacWrite II.) to pull out interesting data and make it accessible. And searchable.

Interesting projects aside, the job has really got me digging deep into Python and Django. It’s got real user-facing websites, but also long-term storage and access considerations. Information organization. XML, RDF, raw HTTP. It’s good stuff.

But if the technical good sides are good, then nontechnical ones are amazing. My coworkers use words like “multifurcate” and “synecdoche.” They geek about things like 20th century Russian film and metadata models. They apply interpersonal communication lessons that they learned in Divinity degrees to things like technical project management. Random people speak French and German and Old English and Persian for no real reason whatsoever except that they happen to have picked some up at some point and isn’t that handy since hey, we’ve got this book that maybe you could help us catalog. In a fundamental way unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else, people really want to understand things deeply, and to contribute to the human condition by sharing that understanding. It’s profound in a way that I don’t quite know how to describe. Sure I have some complaints and concerns (and some of them sorta major), but more than anywhere else I’ve worked, I really feel at home.

And of course, since folks at a university sorta value an education, I’ve started back to school. That was one benefit I was particularly looking forward to, and so far I’m finding it incredibly rewarding. Over the summer I took courses on Asian Religious Traditions (really Chinese and Japanese) and the History of Religions in America (mostly pre-1960). Right now I’m in my second semester of ancient Greek. Next fall I’m going to have a tough decision between some academic theories and models of religion, studies in gender and sexuality, or reading Plato in the original Greek. I love it, again, in a way that I just don’t quite know how to describe.

One thing it hasn’t left a ton of time for, unfortunately, has been… well… anything else. Despite the fact that I’m now basically town (technically just outside the Perimeter, but in walking distance of it), I haven’t really had time to go to shows or see many people. Well, time or money, because while school has been eating my time, my house in Cumming has been a major financial drain, leaving us pretty strapped for cash. Though our location has helped some on both time and money: I spend a lot less time on the road now, and food from the Dekalb Farmers Market is cheaper, yummier, and more interesting than at any I’ve had in suburbia.

When I have had spare scraps of time, I’ve been spending it largely on relationships. radiantbaby and I have been strained under tight money and other stresses, but none of those concerns have really been fundamental to our relationship, and I feel like that’s come out stronger as we take on the stresses together.

I mentioned last post that in early 2009 I started a relationship with A. That’s been developing slowly thanks to tight time for both of us, but I’ve found it wonderful. I won’t say much here since she’s pretty private online, but I’ll at least say that despite time crunches and slow going, it’s been incredibly rewarding for me to have her in my life.

I hinted in my last post that a relationship ended. That one deserves a post of its own: It might even get one someday, but I’ve given up on making blog post promises. In short, C and I broke up after several years together. It was amicable but not mutual: She needed to make some changes in her life, and our relationship had to end to make that happen. I understand why it had to happen, but honestly it still makes me sad. I still miss her when I think about her.

I also hinted in my last post that two relationships started. In addition to my relationship with A, late in 2009 I also fell head over heels for belenen. That’s another one that deserves a post of its own. Within the short space that I’m allowing myself for this post, I think I can fit a little bit. I was crazy about zir. Still am, honestly, but closeness strained the relationship, and distance and busy-ness made it untenable, at least for the present. More on the former in some later reflections; for the latter, ze ended up living somewhere between Canton and Cumming in the summer of 2010. With me way down here in Clarkston, and with both of us going to school and leading incredibly busy lives suddenly, we just couldn’t see enough of each other to make it work. Ze’s moving a little closer now (as I type this, actually), but it’s still the other side of town, and lives aren’t slowing down, so I doubt we’ll grow close again very soon. I do hold out hope that it might happen again one day, though.

The strain of closeness on my relationship with belenen deserves a post of its own. That can’t happen right now, though, but it’s worth mentioning that ze lived here with me and radiantbaby for about a month and a half. By “lived” I mostly mean “stored zir stuff and sometimes slept,” since we didn’t actually see a ton of zir. It was the beginning of people staying in our guest room, though.

Not that there have been many of those, but it’s been a significant part of my life since my last post. Several months after belenen moved out, though, another friend needed a place to stay for a bit. motiondemon arrived in our guest room in the last couple months of 2010. He’s still living here, though he’s got a more permanent place lined up as soon as it becomes available, which should be in the next month or so. I really appreciate being able to help out friends in need. I think after this one, though, radiantbaby and I are going to take a long break from putting people up. We’re learning that she really wilts without her regular alone time. It’s been a bit of a stress for us both times so far.

In other news, minor points but interesting, radiantbaby and I both have new hobbies. I’ve found myself baking lately. Mostly cookies, to be honest. I haven’t quite figured out how to get along with yeast yet. But I’ve found that I really enjoy taking ingredients and transforming them into yummy food, and doubly so when sugar, flour, and heat are critical components of that transformation. radiantbaby, for her part, has set her sights on the Atlanta Roller Derby league and preparing to join the team. It’s a ways off: She’s got some gear to buy and a good bit of shape to get into. It’s a good goal, though, and the people seem genuinely wonderful from what I’ve seen so far. I’m happy to support her in this goal, and we’ve been going skating at All American in Stone Mountain almost every Friday night for the last month or so. Folks should come out and join us: It’s cheap and lots of fun!

That’s all I can think of right now. Anyone want to start a pool on when I make my next update? :-)

(LJ Spellchecker Genius of the Day: synecdoche -> snogged)

[User Picture]From: akiko_kalla
2011-02-27 08:08 pm (UTC)
*shock* You updated! :P (Not that I'm much better at times--all I do is write, teach, and play WoW.)

I'm glad it sounds like things are going well for the most part. It helps when you really enjoy your work and I think for you keeping the education thing going is probably equally important. Money suck no matter how you look at it. I hate money.

Your relationships sound about as complicated as my non-existent ones. I've come to the conclusion that it just doesn't matter what others think or what labels they want you to use--what matters is that you are happy.

Baking, the edible alchemy. ^_^ I sadly don't have much time for it, but I used to and loved it. With yeast you just have to let it sit. Maybe start with a simple loaf of bread rather than trying to do a full out dessert with it? I always had people ask why I did things from scratch or why I don't just go buy the pie crust and such so I can make it now--they don't get it and that's fine.

"For those who understand no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation will suffice." That was on the wall at the tattoo parlor where I had mine done. So very true.
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[User Picture]From: zydee
2011-02-28 08:54 am (UTC)
It's nice to hear what you're up to lately. Sounds busy, but that's not a big change, is it? I'm happy to hear you got back to school--and taking languages; what's better than that? Nothing's more beautiful than ancient Greek, not even Sindarin.

Hope the coming year treats you and yours well.

PS: A Cook's Illustrated site membership is about $30 annually, and a budding baker can't possibly do better than their foolproof recipes. King Arthur Flour has a good website too, though it assumes a bit more expertise on the part of the baker.
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