In Which Lists and Footnotes Matter More Than They Should

16 April 2003

One of my old friends thinks I sound a bit like Vlad Taltos. I'm not sure what my proportions of amusement, pleasure, and alarm should be there. Maybe I'll figure it out when I reread that series.

You know what I needed? More to-do lists! Evidently, anyway. It seems to help, sort of. I made one list of what I need to have finished by the end of the week, and it included stuff I don't usually write down, like "fold towels, wash sheets," because usually that stuff is so automatic. But I wanted to have a sense of what I'm actually getting done and not just what I'm getting done that I feared might get forgotten.

I also made a priority list for projects, so that I know what comes next at any given point. So that I don't work on stuff without thinking about what's important or how I want to do things. It's still a sort of long list:
0. Take care of self and family
1. Dwarf's Blood Mead edits as crits come in
2. [project I haven't been talking about]
3. Not The Moose Part 1
4. short stories/essays for anthos, theme issues, or because it makes me laugh to write them
5. Reprogramming re-edit
6. Not The Moose Part 2 (and 3, if applicable)
7. [next project I haven't been talking about]
8. other short stories -- random
9. next book -- figure out what?
10. essays -- random

So, big stuff on there. And I'd like to have the finishable ones done up to at least #7 before I'm concentrating on moving and all that goes with that. Obviously, I can't finish all short stories in category #4 forever and ever. And it's not entirely up to me -- critiques and parts of the projects I'm not talking about are dependent upon other people's schedules. But it looks like a decent list for the next couple of months.

And hey, before I forget, those of you who start observing Passover tonight, have a good one.

I'm glad I have an appointment with Dr. Bill tomorrow, because my back is messed up enough to make everything more tiring. Ick.

I'm almost done reading Seeing Voices, and I can't say it's on my list of favorite Sacks books. I grew up with a deaf and hearing-impaired program in my school, so I don't think I ever really got the notion that ASL was anything less than a "full" language, which is part of what Sacks is trying to combat here. And the date of this book is an issue: it was written in 1989, when cochlear implants were not nearly as much of a hot-button topic. When all of Sacks' rhapsodic rhetoric about deaf culture and the deaf community wouldn't be used to argue against giving people the ability to hear. It leaves me wondering what his opinion is now. Whenever I read people speculating about what if there was a society where being deaf wasn't a handicap, wouldn't that be great?, I can't help but think that they mean, wasn't a social handicap. Because it seems like there are things that you can try to engineer around, but generally we use our hearing for more than just conversation. It alerts us to all sorts of things that we wouldn't find out other ways, or wouldn't find out until much later.

I guess the anti-cochlear-implant people make very little sense to me because if someone said, "We can give you the ability to see in the UV range" or something like that, I'd totally take it. More data that the brain can learn to process? Sure, why not? Learn ASL, learn whatever languages you like, but don't restrict people's data flow unnecessarily.

Anyway, another thing that's strange with the date of the book is that Sacks was commenting that Fremont, CA, was, at the time he wrote this book, a nearly entirely integrated deaf/hearing community, that there were deaf people wandering around doing everything in stores and so on, and a lot of hearing people knew ASL, and wasn't that great? Well, it's clearly "our" Fremont, but I haven't seen any of that. Is it just in areas we don't visit, or has it changed in the last 10-15 years? When? Why?

Ah well. It's a short book, and I have at least one story idea because of it, so I can't complain too much. Oh, wait, I can: the layout of this book is terrible. Instead of following the general footnote conventions, it makes up its own, and they suck. Here's how it works: usually, if you have a long footnote, you break off the text at the end of the footnoted line to fit as much of the footnote on the same page as possible. Then, you put as much of it as necessary on the very next page, even if that means the text on that page is a tiny block. Not in this book, no no! Here, the amount of footnote text at the bottom of a page is limited, so you may have a footnote that goes over the bottom of three pages, with fairly large blocks of unrelated text above it. Then, if your footnote takes up the allotted footnote space on all three pages, the footnotes from the second or third page will be pushed to the fourth or even fifth page. Yarg. That is not okay. Silly silly.

Anyway, anyway. Before I go, one thing: does anybody else want to kill Pepsi for using the theme to "Carmen" in their stupid commercials? YARG! I spent the entire second half of my sophomore year of high school with that song in my head, and now I can't watch The Simpsons without getting it back in there again. And the Bob Dylan trick doesn't help, and the William Shatner trick doesn't help. Although the William Shatner trick does make me kind of giggly. And I suppose there are worse things to be than giggly.

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