3.318 managing, haircut, lunch, writing

Wednesday 10/26/2022

Went for the walk. Then I needed to hang around my apartment because I’d told my crew of bold AV people I would be available to consult (more like, sympathize) until noon, if they wanted to try out the auditorium zoom stuff.

Nobody called on me, but I got some very satisfying writing done. I saw a post on the writer sub-Reddit suggesting, to get your story going, just have your characters talk to you and write down what they say. Let them tell about themselves, say what they want, even ask them what they think should happen next. What you write isn’t going in the book, except maybe snippets of it, but it fills out the back-story and lets your imagination run.

So I tried that with “Emma and Ethan meet the aliens” (WHICH IS NOT THE TITLE), just started writing what Ethan said as if he were being interviewed. And later, Emma, too. To help things along I found pictures of them. Stuff just poured out. Well it is all based in internet searching I’ve done over the past two days, but still. I’m going to append those “interviews”.

At noon I picked up my neighbor Edie and we went out for lunch to the Sand Hill Cafe, a place I’d heard was very nice. I had suggested a group lunch to the sixth floor, but Edie was the only one to respond to the idea, so. Actually I’m glad of that because, in the end, the food wasn’t that great after all.

At 3:30 I went down to the Green Room with my recovered key (see yesterday) and picked up the powered speaker and met with Susan on the 4th floor for the group meeting to read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. She had a phone app with various people reading the poem, she went with Viggo Mortenson (aka Aragorn from LOTR?). It worked, the group of 8 people plus me enjoyed the reading. I got some reading done. Well, everybody had their laptops open presumably following along in the poem. So mine was open, too. Just I wasn’t reading the poem

I knew a lot of this, like Ethan was the son of state dept. employee and his mother was brazilian and he was good with languages, but all of the details, names of parents, anecdotes, childhood memories, where they lived? just came popping out of my imagination while I wrote. It’s kind of eerie, actually.

Chatting with Ethan

Yeah, Thomas Jefferson HS is my sixth school. No, seventh. Second high school, although in France they don’t call them high schools, whatever. Anyway my dad, Carl Brickton, is a diplomat; well, was a diplomat until he got this latest job, which is secretary to Ms. Coleman, she’s the Science Advisor to the President. Dad calls her She Who Must Be Obeyed, which I gather is a reference to an old TV series. Sorry, he was secretary to the Advisor. Now, after the whole Reethlin thing, I guess he has a new job, Official Liaison to the Alien Ambassadors. That’s me and Emma.

Me and mom and dad have been moving to follow his assignments as long as I’ve been around. He met my mom, Olivia, when he was serving in the US Embassy in Brasilia. She’s Brazilian, daughter of a diplomat that dad’s boss was negotiating with. They like to joke about how dad got notice of being transferred to Gambia by email the morning of their wedding, and couldn’t tell her until afterward, because the groom and bride aren’t supposed to talk on the wedding day. And she always says, “And serve you right for checking email on such a day.”

Anyway. So my 10th year of school was last year, in Paris, at the Lycée International. I had all American teachers, which was good because I could sand off the last bits of accent from my English so now I sound just like any US-born dude. But on the street my French was good enough that shopkeepers never took me for a tourist. I kind of have a knack for languages. French and English are my best, but mom and I sometimes talk the port-oo-gase just for fun. Although my vocabulary isn’t great, I mainly learned it from her lullabies and shit when I was like, a toddler. From the two years in Moscow when I was ten and eleven, I got an OK Russian accent. Again, not a huge vocabulary, but I could talk to people on the street and read a Russian newspaper.

For my dad’s new job we relocated from Paris to the D.C. area, specifically Alexandria, VA. They picked a pretty nice three-bedroom unit at The Curve, a big condo complex. It’s pretty convenient for TJHS, like 15 minutes by bike. Same down to the Van Doorn Street Metro station, if mom or I want to go to downtown DC. Dad doesn’t have to mess around with the metro, being a high-level bureaucrat type. A White House driver — not a real Secret Service agent, just a nice lady named Caroline in a snappy jacket — picks him up every day in a shiny black SUV. Caroline has a strong South Carolina accent, I call her “South Caroline”, and she has taught me some Gullah, which is just a mush-mouth Creole, but it’s fun to speak.

I am no way a computer expert. I’ve been using them since forever, of course, but for entertainment, and the sosh-meeds, and school research. I took a programming course two years ago and got a B. Along with a B+ in Art Appreciation, those are the low points on my transcript. So the stuff Emma does just boggles me, and what she tells me about bot-nets and ransom-ware and all, just sounds like bad science fiction, but she showed me it’s all real.

Chatting with Emma

I do actually need glasses for distance, so I have to wear them if I was driving, which I’m not because I haven’t got a license yet. This year! I am definitely taking driver’s ed. I wear the glasses because I think they go with my look, well, such as it is. I don’t strictly need them for close work. Often you’ll see me with my laptop and my glasses are up on top of my head. Then I lose track of them and I’m looking all over for my glasses. It’s very amusing for my friends, ha ha Emma, you’re such a dork. You’re welcome, so glad I could entertain you.

I have always been fascinated with how things work. I was taking stuff apart as a kid. My mom has a load of embarrassing stories about cute little Emma taking the batteries out of the TV remote or whatever. And phones! I was just riveted by the phones. No phone was safe in the house once I was a toddler. My folks kept their phones, or my mom would put her purse with the phone, on the mantel or a high shelf. But sooner or later they would forget and leave a phone on the table or something. My dad says if I spotted it I would be like I was drawn by a magnet.

One of my earliest memories is of a toy iPhone that I got for Christmas when I was like, I don’t know, four? I think? I remember how excited I was when I opened the box and then how disappointed I was when I figured out it was a scam, just a toy with a screen that lit up when you pressed a button. I took it completely apart and played like I was fixing it. Yeah, they finally acknowledged the reality and gave me my own when I was nine. I remember I was the go-to phone maven of my class, any kid who couldn’t figure out how to download an app would come to me.

My dad teaches astronomy at George Mason U. in Fairfax, VA., and also runs the science program at the Rock Creek Park Planetarium, North of the Capitol. He doesn’t bring his work home, though. He’s actually a bit of a gamer in his spare time. He jokes about nearly flunking out of Notre Dame because he was so deep in WOW back in the day. When I was 12 and 13 I played some Fortnight, I could do an hour after I’d proved I’d finished homework, and sometimes dad would log in from his PC and we’d raid together. I didn’t play any of the space games like Eve Online because he dissed what he called their ridiculous physics and astronomy.

I mean to talk Ethan into playing Fortnight but that boy just doesn’t like to kill people, even virtually. I tried to show him Minecraft but he just didn’t see a point to it.

Anyway I hadn’t picked up much astronomy until we started figuring out the whole Reethlin thing. Then I had to really dig in to learn about the Solar System and how orbits work. But I gotta say, you can study orbits and satellite mechanics as much as you want, but nothing will prepare you for the feeling of a space launch. That is intense. Or zero G, either, but a rocket launch, oh, man.

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