Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Preemptive Retraction


Oh, I get a kick out of my post titles sometimes. I wrote a post recently titled Insult to Injury. It was an appropriate title since the post dealt with the Department of Transportation's lack of concern for the motoring public, strangling traffic with closed lanes yet no work being done for weeks at a time. When I reviewed it before publishing I realized that I was merely complaining. I was reminded of the rule that I had back in the day, when I used to write all the time: I could complain, but only if the gripe was presented as somehow interesting or amusing. This was just a bitch fest.

So how is the I 69 construction shaping up? A year later and they're still not finished. INDOT swears they'll be finished soon. They said that the joke around the office is that it'll be done by August 32nd. I'm sorry, but at two years behind schedule I don't find that amusing.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gorgeous Days


We haven't had any. Well, about three nice days in the spring. Winter held on tenaciously then gave way immediately to summer with the warmest May on record. June was like July usually is and the heat shows no sign of relenting. One can only wonder what August will be like.

The good news is that we've had rain. The trees and fields are lush and green. Despite the heat it remains the glorious height of the year.

Keep it groovy.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Late Spring


It's the middle of April and winter just won't let go. We've had a few nice days but mostly it's been cold. Usually by this time the redbuds have bloomed and the trees are beginning to bud but all of the vegetative world is united in holding onto its winter sleep.

The snow was flying today, horizontal in a brutal wind. And yet, as bad as it was there was a change, a sign of hope. On the way back north in early afternoon I saw my first redbud tree, and after that I noticed a tree that was beginning to bud, and then another and another. I would have noticed if they had been budding on the way down. The awakening has begun! The plants know.



Thursday, August 31, 2017



Here it is the last day of August. The DOT said that all lanes of I 69 through Bloomington would be open by August. At the end of July it was obvious that wasn't going to happen, but I thought I'd be generous and see if they could pull off a miracle by the end of the month. Hey, two years behind schedule already, what's one more missed deadline?

But it has been a beautiful summer. We really couldn't have asked for a better one. On at least two occasions I found myself immersed in that state of bliss that I'd experienced earlier, my peak experience. So I did carry it with me. I haven't had it lately, but then lately I've been thinking about it, looking for it. I think it just has to sneak up on you. I look forward to when it happens again, and I look forward to a beautiful Autumn.

Well, that's it. Just wanted you to know I've been thinking about you.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Refined Savages


When I posted that link to the YouTube video of somebody else fighting Darkeater Madir I started to wonder how I could make a video of my own game play. After some trial and error I have figured it out and so offer you this clip of me (us, including my cheering section Cate) battling the Twin Princes.

Unless you actually play the game, Dark Souls III, you'll never really know its depth and complexity. I hope the clip at least gives you some idea of the mythic quality, the grandeur of the environment and subtlety of play that it offers. Enjoy.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rare Moments


Peak experience? I'm not sure if it qualifies for that; certainly not a “religious experience.” It may have been related to Zen “satori,” it was certainly all about being in the moment, but in the end was simple, nothing grand.

I was in my big truck on a small two lane highway winding through the hills of Southern Indiana. It was a beautiful day as only high spring days can be; the temperature in the low 70's, low humidity and an intensely blue sky adorned with fluffy clouds. The vegetative world was burgeoning, the trees in full leaf and the pastures thick with grass and wildflowers. I was admiring the landscape when there was a sudden shift, a heightened experience. I was no longer just looking at the landscape, I was a part of it, almost as if I could see the whole scene from above. “Wow, this is it!” I thought, “The very best time of the year!” A thought tried to intrude to say that if this is the top then it's all down hill from here, but I let that trail away ineffectually and reveled in the euphoria of the moment. I can mark no point where the experience ended. It faded in the shifting of my gears, surely, but perhaps I still carry it to this day.

I was blessed to have another such moment not too long ago. It was a mediated experience, but none the less real or intense. I was playing the video game Dark Souls III, fighting a particularly tough boss monster: the dragon Darkeater Midir. During the battle he sometimes goes berserk, charging forward savagely and spewing fire in an ark before him. This can be devastating if you're in his path but if not then it's a fairly safe moment that can be taken to heal or buff. Darkeater was raging and I was running after him with my trusty Wolf Knight Greatsword on my shoulder. In the moment's respite before the dragon turned on me again I was suddenly uplifted in another of those sublime moments. “Wow,” I thought, “I'm fighting a dragon!” Once again what was already completely known was taken to another level, and in this case what was fiction was perceived to be actual fact. I was fighting a dragon and the superb programming of FromSoftware, inc. allowed me to experience it as real.

Please note that the video is not a capture of my gameplay, but is from YouTube.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Which Way Do I Go?


Crap, it's gone again. When I used to blog regularly I'd often carry you, the reader, with me throughout the day. I'd talk to you, describing what I was doing or thinking about. Most of it was discarded, but there was often something worth relating and when I came to write I'd already have a sort of rough draft. I found myself doing that again. I'm not sure why. The only trouble is that I never sat down to write, until now, and now I can't remember what it was that I was thinking.

I do remember one thing. I was driving through the construction on 37, I mean 69. It was raining. The lanes have shifted in various ways over the course of the project and the water made the old lines show up as prominent as the current lines, which have faded somewhat. It was really bad. I had to consult my knowledge of the roadway at times, which I could since I drive that stretch every day. I don't know how people unfamiliar with the area coped and I wondered how a self driving vehicle would deal with a situation like that. Would it just shut down and ask for manual input? What would happen if one car's software interpreted the lines correctly, but another car in the adjacent lane followed the wrong path? I think transportation departments are going to have to spend a lot more on maintaining their road markings when self driving vehicles become common.

I remembered an incident that happened to me a few years ago. I've told this story before, but that was way back in my original blog The Reluctant Trucker, so it won't hurt to tell it again. I was in a construction zone on I 95 in Connecticut. It wasn't raining but it was dark and the lane markings were faded. Traffic was moderately heavy and I was in the middle lane doing about 50 with cars on either side, but none in front of me, when we came to a lane shift. Earlier the lanes had shifted in an equal, opposite direction and those markings were still visible. With no familiarity with the roadway I didn't know which way to go.

It was a crisis moment. There was no chance to stop before the shift and if I made the wrong choice only a miracle could have prevented an accident, maybe even a pile up. The way that I tell the story I heard a voice in my head that said, “Use the Force Steve.” I actually remember it that way, but it's more likely that's something I commented to myself in the exhilaration after it was all over. After all I was busy using the Force.

I Zen'd it. I let go, my body did the driving. I assume that I picked up cues from the cars that were beside me, that I could only see as lights and shine in my convex mirrors because the result was a smooth 50 mph transition to the new traffic pattern, just as if I knew the road like the back of my hand.

Will artificial intelligence be able to use the force? Perhaps better than we flawed humans.

Will artificial intelligence have a soul? Do we?

Sorry, questions for the discussion group.