Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

A final list of things for 2017.  §

So that I don’t end the year on that last abortion of a post (told you it would get out of control, and likely not for the better), I’ll end with some things instead.

  • When you reach a certain age and level of uncertainty, everything around you in your everyday life begins to look like an oracle, even if you’ve never previously been superstitious. This is not limited to copies of the I Ching or Magic 8-Balls &c. I’m not talking about my life. I’m talking about life.

© Aron Hsiao / 2004
  • I can do academic discourse and rigorous writing, sure. I did it well enough to get a Ph.D. and have some stuff published and teach a bunch of classes. But at the end of the day, I never found it all that persuasive or interesting. The evidence—yes. The writing—no. I feel as though given the uncertain nature of the universe and the openness requirements of creativity, resonant writing and thinking requires a certain amount of speculation, flow, hyperbole, figurative language, and intuitive phrasing. Nothing truly insightful can come from the academic use of human language.
  • Note that the previous paragraph refers to human language because in fact non-human languages, which are mostly formalisms—I’m thinking, for example, of mathematics, lambda calculus, computer code, etc.—are highly poetic and persuasive, despite what people imagine. In fact, I think that’s the mark of a gifted coder—he or she finds code to be beautiful and poetic and surprising and ambiguous despite precision.
  • Coke makes sugar-free cherry versions of both Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Neither is available anywhere in two-liter bottles for some reason, which means that I only get to have them on special occasions like New Year’s Eve. There are very few special occasions any longer on which I’ll have an actual drink, despite my love of whisky. These days I’m mostly a teetotaler (oxymoronic phrase?). Anyway, even diet soda is supposed to be verboten, so I’m already in the red as far as my own better judgment goes.
  • There seems to be a profusion of articles on New Year’s Eve parties and party culture this year. I have to admit, I’ve never been in a public place or at a widely attended party when the “ball dropped” to mark the moment. In fact, I’ve left a bunch of them about a half-hour beforehand, not to return. When push has come to shove, I’ve always realized at the last moment that I really preferred to be alone to watch one year give way to the next. It’s a meaningful moment, and I struggle to do meaningful moments with other people, who always seem to cheapen them.
  • Were it not for the particular cosmology, I’d probably be either Catholic or Orthodox by now. Were it not for the lack of any particular cosmology, I’d probably be either a Buddhist or a Taoist by now. Instead, I am nothing-in-particular, or (as I tell my kids) perhaps everything-at-once.
  • I killed a twin-barreled Slava 2427 movement this fall trying to regulate it. Moving the regulator sent the hairspring into all kinds of shocking contortions that I did not expect. My eyesight is not good enough any longer to see a hairspring with the naked eye, and I am unwilling to buy a monocle as of yet. Live and learn. I have another 2427 movement on the way. I am trying to persuade myself to make an attempt at a movement swap. But I am a bit scared to try it.
  • Once, I was a pirate. Then, I was a monk. The kids at grad school first time around said I was a rock star. I felt all of them. I was so many years in the groove, my groove. I am no longer in the groove. I don’t think I can find it again before some sort of transformation that I am, as of yet, unwilling to surrender myself to. Everything that I have written lately is me dancing around this fact.
  • I may be the last end-user on earth still backing up to DLT on their own PC in their home office. But I need some way to preserve 200,000+ photos for posterity. What I’m missing is offsite storage in case of fire or flood. The lack of it makes me more than nervous.
  • Football season came and went and I barely noticed it. I crave the day when I can enjoy it again. I suspect this won’t be until retirement. If I am never able to retire, it will likely be never. (I will likely never be able to retire, if I’m honest.)

© Aron Hsiao / 2009
  • The problem with me as an entrepreneur or a retailer is that it’s the craft, the one-piece-at-a-time that excites me. I don’t want to sell 10,000 wristwatches, because I couldn’t know all of them intimately. I want to sell ten of them, or even one of them, that I made myself, one tiny step at a time. The problem with my love of craft is that I also very much want money. Craft and money do not go together, ever.
  • I got a tiny condenser mic for free that I can place against watch cases to run them through a regulator and analyze their movement properties. The joy of seeing those numbers on the screen is incredible. I keep running analyses just to see the data. Sometimes on the same watch over and over again.
  • The love of data has been with me forever. Problem is, it’s small data that I love, not big data. Once again, love is not where the money is. It must be an incredible blessing in life to love something that is also lucrative.
  • The third hardest hardest thing in life is to express how you really feel in writing. The second hardest is to admit to your own self how you really feel. The hardest is to notice it at all in the first place. There are a few choice souls with genes that somehow invert this logic; for these rare and special people, they are the third, second, and first easiest things in life, respectively. I have been lucky enough to know more than one of these people. I admire them so much it makes my teeth hurt.