2048, and other dated thoughts

In a world of hot takes and instantaneous reactions, where we’ve generally moved on from thinking about United Airlines and April the giraffe already…I keep having idle thoughts better suited to 3 years ago, when Frozen and “Pompeii” and 2048 were more freshly on our minds.

So.  Idle question the first: did Elsa control all snow or just that which she caused?  If my car is buried under a foot of snow, can she magically shift it?  Honestly, what are the limits to her powers?  How much effort would it take her to freeze an entire lake or ocean?

Second: Are there any youth pastors who got really into Bastille and did more overthinking of “Pompeii” than I did?  The line Oh, where do we begin?  The rubble or our sin? BEGS to be made into some kind of ridiculous Bible study, all “In a broken world full of distress, is it most needful to address physical needs and realities, or first see to spiritual wounds?”  Or something.  This is preposterous and I want it.


Latin memes = best memes.  Yes, even in 2017.  Even when this song was overplayed so much you stopped hearing it.

Third and lastly: 2048.  When this first became a nationwide (worldwide?) phenomenon, I got really into it for a while – to the point of adding squares in my sleep, you know how it goes – until I gave it up for Pentecost.  As you do.

Lately I’ve gotten back into playing it, and thus keep ruminating on the following: 2048 is like a microcosm of relationships and personality.

You’re young.  You’re a 2.  There are so many people and ideas for you to meet with, and any 2 will combine with you.  You’re a 4, an 8, a 16.  The combinations flicker by so fast, it’s hard to keep up.  And all around you the same: 4s, 8s, 16s.  The 32s fall into line beside each other.

At first, it’s harder not to run into a match, or a fit.  Even a 64 or 128 can match up.  There’s space to maneuver, 2s and 4s are doubling up 8s and 16s all the time.  It’s quite fun, and nearly mindless, because very nearly anything will work out.


Until the board’s worked up to a 512 or 1024.  Suddenly you’re a 64 or 128 or 256, perfectly reasonable – there’s even another 64 and 128 and 256 on the board.

You can see it.  But you can’t reach it.  You have no idea what would have to shift to bring the two together.  Trying to calculate it – trying to predict whether 2s or 4s will appear (is there a formula?), figuring if it’s easier to reach the Largish Number on the other side of the world, or if you have the space/time to wait for a new one to double up – it all leaves you feeling overcalculating, frustrated and impotent if not outright insane, and, unsurprisingly, makes it all feel like work rather than play.

Sometimes your careful machinations work out (o frabjous day!)  Sometimes they just give you a brief reprieve from Nothing Working Out At All, Ever.  Nothing will move.  Helpless, you know that if you could only shift this thing that way, all would fall into place beautifully.

Maybe you bungled it so many moves ago that you can never arrange things as they’d need to be arranged.  Maybe you were so focused on a strategy involving one piece that you missed the opportunity to find or fashion another double elsewhere.  Maybe you forgot that most elementary of facts about how pieces connect with the first match they run into, leaving that second match alone and forgotten.

Then the regret: if only you’d flicked things up instead of left.  If only there weren’t such a plethora of skinny, pretty little 2s gumming up the works.  All the cunning manipulation you’ve got, navigating all the blasted 2s in the world doesn’t change the fact that sometimes you’re a 256 or 512, and there just isn’t a 256 or 512 in sight for you.

It might all change, and quickly!  Or you might just lose.  Again.

You find you’ve run your battery down to 9%.

You feel that you’ve wasted your time and energy even playing.

…but even so, you wonder: what must it be like, to finally achieve that elusive, shining 2048?

2048 win

Watching this is basically like going through someone else’s album of wedding photos.


Come Out into the Brainstorm!

The old hands are immensely practical when it comes to the brainstorm.  That man sets out his barrels.  Everything that falls will be caught, examined, measured, and either retained forever or thrown ruthlessly away.  When he is well-prepared, the barrels fill quickly and all within it poured, neatly, tidily, no drops wasted, into a series of jars and pipes and other useful apparatus.  He is practiced at plodding steadily onward in dry seasons, making the most of what he has preserved.  Some of it is years, decades, threescore-and-ten years old; if time hasn’t dried it up, then the interval has probably rendered it sweet and strong: a sensible spirit, distilled by seasons.

Others wrap up tightly and keep safe beneath an umbrella.  They are on a schedule and have no time for any diversion from it.  The sensation of hair wet with forms and cold, clinging clothing disgusts them.  Only the concepts they desire in their heads will be there, only those they select.  Who knows what will happen, if one allows any old idea in one’s head?  A mind full of illusions, that’s what, one that needs to be wrung out (or, perhaps, direr means still)!


But we – we like to take our chances.

Come with me!

We dash through (catching a drop here, a drop there), jumping over a puddle that will take us a bit too deep, but not troubling to cover our heads or duck against the downpour.

Clasp my hand, and we will spin about in it.

Laughing, we will look out on those who, like us, know how to enjoy this most delightful of tempests: they splash in a collection of notions.  They stomp concepts into a muddy puddle that clings to their boots and hems when, eventually, they go indoors.  They lift their faces up to the sky, pleased that images land on their tongue, eager for drips and drops of essence and illusion to fill their mouths like wine.

Watching, we do likewise.  Before the cloudburst ends, we cup our hands to receive one shining vision, clutching it carefully to keep.

Clearance Cairn

We often compare the mind to a computer, nowadays: we process information, we save information in our hard drive, our neurons form a network…and should we find ourselves burdened with trivia, we attempt to delete it.

But one of the more traditional metaphors was that a mind resembled a field.  It was cultivated, like a garden, and ideas sprang up from the fertile soil of an imagination well-watered with reading, observation, and life experience.

There has been nothing to harvest from my mind-field of late, no matter how I rack my brains for it, so I reckon that something is preventing proper growth: neglect of planting, poorly chosen seed, stony soil, lack of light or water or air…hence this post, wherein I dig out a few rocks, hopefully, and assemble them into a heap of stones, and perhaps aerate this fallow field a bit.

Clearance Cairn

To the great amusement of my housemates and friends, I occasionally issue myself orders out loud.  Sounds mad, a bit, but since orders must be direct and succinct, they almost always work.

I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness again last night.  This is atypical; it’s odd enough for me to see a movie opening week, much less twice, much less thrice.

My roommate and I keep wondering why anyone lets Jim Kirk be in charge of anything.  He’s even more of a Gryffindor than Harry Potter.


Last weekend was my first comic-con.  Tomorrow is my first steampunk expo.  Tonight there shall be hasty costume-fashioning; fortunately said comic-con outfitted me with goggles, and as everyone knows, that fulfills the second law of steampunk (right after “slap some gears on it”).

Huzzah for the Salvation Army, and how much easier it makes the costuming process!


On reflection, this was sort of a nerdy week.

I love it.

Work, on the other hand, is going quite slowly this week, so slowly that I started a phone log out of boredom.  Each day I’ve answered, on average, 38 calls.  Most are dull, but this one wasn’t:

Can I talk to an attorney?  What’s the issue?  Well, it’s complicated.  Okay.  My in-laws own a house right next to theirs.  They added one of their sons to the deed many many years ago because he wanted to fix the house up, and he needed it for collateral – he was supposed to fix it up and pay rent.  We just found out that he didn’t do any fixing up at all – they don’t even know what he was using it for.  His ex-wife was helping him by getting a friend of hers to notarize it – and he abandoned his 19-year-old son in it with no electricity, water, or food.  The son went psychotic: he set the woods on fire, he set a Bible on fire, he said that the voices told him to do it.  He needs psychiatric help and someone took him to the hospital for treatment.  The dad wants to say it’s his house.  The grandparents are still on the deed; they never gave him the house – and the father somehow lied to the psychiatric hospital and got his son back and put him back in that house with no electricity or water.  He’s just in there alone with a pit bull the dad feeds gunpowder to, and we’re just wondering what rights the grandparents have with respect to the 19-year-old…

My first response is “Well, our firm can help with your questions about the deed, but I’m not sure we’re qualified to answer questions about psychotic breaks or pit bulls.”

My second response is “Kyrie eleison.”

My third response is something like “Ummmm, 19-year-old?  No matter how psychotic he is, he’s passed the age of majority.  Americans 18 and older are legally adults, but it sure seems like there’s this effort to keep ever-older people in a state of adolescence.  … …I wonder if the laws will change in the next decade on account of it.”

My youngest brother gets married a fortnight after tomorrow.  For all that I’ve been willing and waiting for this event for years, I am not ready.  For all the weddings I’ve gone to before, none of them increased my own family at the end.  I feel as though there is something I’m meant to say to them on this occasion, something significant, a poetic farewell to the single years before it, a greeting of the coming years of married life.

So of course nothing comes to mind.

3; 4.75; 3.85; 4.68; 1.60; 3.34; 2.78; 4.06; 3.6; 3.3; 3.4; 3.91; 3; 2.51; 2.15; 4.21; 4.21; 3.35; 4; 5.64; 5.75; 7.54; 4.37; 2.84; 3.15; 2.85; 2; 4.47; 4.38; 2.85; 5.19; 3.73; 3.13; 3.56; 5.12; 3.42; 2.92; 2.31; 1.88; 2.5; 6.82; 6; 6.13; 3.81.

This may look like a string of random numbers, but it is in fact amounts spent on each serving of a lunch made from scratch over the past few months.  The average cost of these 44 meals is $3.82; the six meals (not listed) with partly pre-made ingredients from the store averaged $5.04; and the average restaurant or takeout lunch cost $6.69.  As you might guess, I delight in rather anal-retentive precision.  Even if it’s generally accepted that making your own food costs less than having someone else make it for you, I like to have data to back it up.

Sometimes while driving I am gripped by wonderment and horror that I’ve been entrusted with two tons of metal, to drive when and where I will.  Not that I am a big fan of the TSA, or in favor of further government intrusion into daily life, but I don’t recall the licensing process as being that thorough.  Considering how much time I spend on the road, they hardly vetted me for this!  Good heavens.

In my less generous moments, the horror and wonderment focus much more on the other drivers who have been trusted with so much with so little cross-checking.



Neither need you tell me that we must take care of our garden.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.