Pureness in, perfection out

My wife Cassandra can read in the dark. She’s doing it now, with nothing more than the moon and a skylight. It’s taken me some time to figure out how. I might have come across an inverse to GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) during my learning.

I started out with the idea that she had great eyesight. Then I remembered she has to wear glasses or contacts to navigate the world. I quickly moved on to myself, as we are all wont to do, and thought maybe I was just bad at low-light situations because of my own physiology. Perhaps she is only normal, I thought, and quickly proved myself wrong with Google.

Tonight I found the truth: My wife can read in the dark because her reading style is pure.

I’m sure the dictionary has all kinds of complicated explanations for “pure” that I don’t need or want to get into. My definition of pureness involves something that is unadulterated despite the situation.

Cassandra’s pure reading style is one I’ve frequently called something else: slow.

Again, I have to be self-centered to explain. I consider myself a fast reader. I remember a time in elementary school when I tried to max out the computer program that tested for reading speed. It gave you a passage to read, timed you reading it, then asked you questions about it to test your comprehension. I started out reading the entire thing and ended up getting a faster score (or whatever the metric was) than everyone else. So of course I tried to up the ante and skimmed as much as possible. If memory serves I ended up almost doubling the score, mostly by deduction and reasoning about the correct answer based on very little context from skimming.

Fast forward to today and I still believe in my erstwhile speed. My main data point is the number of books I read in a year. I read 100 books in 2018, which is more than most everyone I have to compare with. I’m sure there are more voracious readers out there. If you know of anyone who reads more I’d love to chat with them.

Back to the matter at hand: Cassandra read 19 books last year. Of course, she probably didn’t spend as much time with books as I did. She still spent a good amount of time with her nose in a book, however.

We’ve discussed it at length and she does in fact read much more slowly than I do. If my memory serves (she’ll tell me if it doesn’t of course) she says the speed is mostly a function of comprehension. Any faster and she won’t pick up the information.

The lightbulb (light, dark, lightbulb…get it? Of course you get it) came when I considered the speed and comprehension in a new light (come on, I had to do it). I “can’t read” in the dark because it’s frustratingly slow for me. I can generally see the words on the page. I generally get frustrated about a page in and try for more light or give up. Cassandra is reading at the same speed regardless of the light source. Cassandra can read in the dark.

Cassandra’s reading is pure because the changing light leads to no adulteration. This pureness appears to me as perfection as she sits on the couch and impossibly reads with only the light from another room, or the moon, or whatever body is emitting light at that particular point in time.

Finally we’re back to pureness in, perfection out. I have only this example so far. I’m going to take this as gospel and work to figure out where it falls down. In the meantime I will continue to read on a backlit Kindle while Cassandra performs her nightly feats of wonder.

Current Saturday evening status

I’m listening to Lateralus on my iPod video. That’s right, tech from a decade ago still works well enough to play an album from 15 years ago. 

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality. Embrace this moment. Remember. We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion. 

I found the iPod in an old box and scrounged up a “Dock Connector to USB Cable” to charge it. The iPod is a beautiful piece of work that more than holds its own against any contemporary Apple design. If Jony Ive is struck by a dizzying wave of nostalgia he should consider bringing back the great wheel of navigation. It’s too good, despite the dreadful clicks that should have been long ago banished to the deepest, darkest cell in the settings dungeon. Look at the wear – lit bright in chrome – honest proof of all the places we’ve been. I’ll take black on black with white accents over gold, rose or otherwise, all day every day. 

I’ve been using Apple Music the last few months. Consider my despair when I asked Siri to play Tool and she responded by laughing in my face. Watch my fruitless search for any digital version to buy. See me fail to unearth the music backup that has to be somewhere on one of the dozen drives sitting around the house. Don’t even ask about the CDs (round and holey with shiny backsides) I bought at Wooden Nickel Music (hometown shop, collect enough nickels and you can trade them in for a discount on a CD of your choice). 

Gaze upon my pure, unadulterated joy at finding all the Tool albums I crave. They’re all just a few spins of the wheel away.

The truth about the world

The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. 

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Book review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

This is a classic that I should have read before now. It took me a while, both to actually start reading the book and to finish it once I had begun, and it was well worth it.

The book’s premise should be familiar to almost everyone. Count Dracula is a vampire. He terrorizes people. The people try to kill him. Van Helsing is involved. Vampires don’t like the light. Or garlic. Or crosses. They can’t get inside a home unless invited.

You get the picture.

I probably put off reading the book for so long because I’m irrationally wary of stilted, “old” language. The book didn’t deliver on that front, and was actually quite easy and enjoyable to read. One of my favorite passages:

The tomb in the daytime, and when wreathed with fresh flowers, had looked grim and gruesome enough, but now, some days afterwards, when the flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns, when the spider and the beetle had resumed their accustomed dominance, when the time-discolored stone and dust-encrusted mortar and rusty, dank iron, and tarnished brass, and clouded silver-plating gave back the feeble glimmer of a candle, the effect was more miserable and sordid than could have been imagined. It conveyed irresistibly the idea that life, animal life, was not the only thing that could pass away.

I think the most enjoyment I found in the book came from all the wonderful vampire lore that ended up in more modern books. I love knowing that Stoker was breaking new ground with his ideas. And we’ve been using them ever since.

Dracula ranks 4 out of 5 stars. You can buy Dracula on Amazon if you want to support my reading habits.

Alternatives to iA Writer 3

I was once a daily user of iA Writer. They just released the latest version of their app, iA Writer 3. I tried it out and the experience is gorgeous. 

I still won’t end up using the text editor because it doesn’t support exporting to WordPress or Evernote. I’m using the Byword App instead. It’s great, but I prefer the aesthetics of iA Writer. 

So tell me: What are my alternatives if I want these features/characteristics:

  • Export to WordPress and Evernote
  • Markdown
  • Minimalistic 

Let me know if the comments if you have any suggestions!