Books, Mine and Other People's

5 February 2002

Does anybody know how to find out what a cup of coffee cost in Finland in 1950? Alternately, does anybody know how to find out the exchange rate from here to Finland, same year? (I'm a little wary of the latter -- coffee may just have been more or less expensive in Finland. You couldn't figure out what peanut butter costs there by going to Cub Foods and then calculating the exchange rate.) I've found cost of living indices, but I'm not sure that they scale for things like coffee, either. What I need is one of those birth year books they make here, only in Finnish, except that I don't read Finnish, so that might be a problem.

I really don't want to read any more economic history of Finland than I have, especially because I'm not sure how I'd find any. But if I have to, I will.

I've decided what we should use for genderless pronouns: er and um.

Timprov found this amusing idea from Maureen McHugh: "Conscious use of a formula isn't any worse in writing than it is in physics. The problem is when you only have one formula and you try to apply it to everything." Yeah. I think so.

Yesterday was one of those good work days. Very many pages on the Not The Moose Book, and it could have been more if I hadn't consciously decided to spare my back. Everything was just going. If I was further along and had any idea which scenes would be the difficult ones to write, I could do them right now. As it stood, I just did some random ones and then went back to the beginning and started filling in from there.

I finished Smilla yesterday and read Thrones, Dominations, borrowed from David. It was cowritten by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh, because Dorothy Sayers had the bad taste to go and die with it incomplete. It was fairly clear to me that it was not a "real" Dorothy Sayers novel clear through, and I wondered how much was in the outline and how much was Walsh indulging her own happily ever afters. I also read T.H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, which gave me a pretty firm sense of this man's worldview. Which is what I wanted. Now if I manage to read a bit more Verne, I should be ready to write the short story I have in mind. I started Peter Watts' Starfish, and so far both of the major characters annoy me a good deal. I'm hoping that they grow up soon, or else that new major characters are introduced, or else this is not going to be a fun read.

In regards to Sunday's entry, several people asked me what was wrong with being small and, um, self-esteemy. Well, nothing, really. Nothing a priori, which is how Evan asked the question. I probably wouldn't be bothered so much by the size thing if it was simply in harmony with how I see myself, because I don't think there's anything wrong with being short or thin. I'd still be bothered by the other women who make, "Oh, but you, you're sssskinny!" into the kind of hissing, spitting assault that you can't argue with because they'll claim it's a compliment. But mostly it's the discontinuity that's the issue there. (Aet described the same phenomenon: from the sounds of it, she's not a very big person, either, but she grew early and feels large to herself. I wonder if there are late-bloomers out there who are 5'11" and feel small.)

As for the self-esteem bit, well, it depends. If you mean "reasonable estimate of abilities, traits, and talents, some of which are good," then, okay, it's fine to be all self-esteemy. But it seems that a lot of people use it as a weapon, as I said Sunday, and that's not okay. Also, it seems that people assume that it's all there is, which is not okay, either. And I have to quote Aet directly on the phenomenon of judging people solely by their journal musings: "It is just the blind men and the elephant effect - you cannot get the whole object by multiplying one part the required amount of times." Hey, yeah. What she said. What I'll say in the journal -- what anyone says in their journal -- is only part of the elephant. For some people, it's the face: you can tell a lot. For some people, it's the patch of skin on the side, or maybe just the tail. But it's still not the whole thing.

Hmm. Well, I think I'm going to have to make this short. I'm still in intense writing mode (fiction writing, I mean), and the next few days are a bit social. I'm heading up to David's in the late morning, and then after I get home, Timprov and I are going to fetch Mark from Stanford, head up to House of Nanking for supper (woohoo!), and go to the Nick Mamatas reading up there, since we missed the one in Berkeley on Saturday and he was kind enough to do two. Tomorrow's calendar says "Avi lunch noon." All of this is for the best, as it will not only allow me to interact with people I like and find interesting, but also will force me not to be typing for the next two days straight.

Just in long, slightly desperate intervals.

Oh, and thanks to Jennifer for her kind words in her February Journal Focus. She's always so nice in that. Sometimes I think I should do one of those, a monthly recommended journal, I mean, but I tend to find journals I like in clumps, three or four in a month and then none at all in the next month. I suppose I could ration myself....

Forget rationing. I'm going to binge-write. Right now. Have a good day.

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