In which our intrepid hero jokes about fractals, receives the best gift ever, and hears voices.
During the week, Mary from my work mentioned that she’d taken her grandmother’s antique wristwatch in to be repaired. It turns out that the sterling silver timepiece had handmade workings, also made from silver.
Mary thought it would be cool to have a peek before it was sealed back up again. There’s a sense of mystery and awe about complex devices; like Arthur C Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Of course, being the smartarse that I am, I said to her, “Well, we’re not supposed to know this, but when you open up a watch, all you find in there is a little man with a crank—and a wristwatch.”
“Of course,” I told her, “inside his wristwatch is another little man with a crank and a wristwatch. And the same when you open up his wristwatch…
“It’s little men with wristwatches, all the way down…”
It then occurred to me that I’d made my first ever joke on fractal self-similarity. And whilst there’s no reason why Mary would’ve come across the concept, she does have the kind of mind to appreciate the perversity of little men with wristwatches in infinite regress.
It’s not the kind of mindset you often find in women in their late fifties, or in a political office. That sort of mind is one of the things that makes it worth turning up every morning.
In other news, Mim K/W and I wandered down to a local newsagent (which doubles as a post office) yesterday morning. I picked up the last of three glossies that the Daily Telegraph has done over the past few weekends on genealogy, and Mim picked up a package. And that package was a surprise for me: an MP3 player.
Back in the day, before the advent of iPod, I had a Creative Nomad Jukebox, with 20GB of storage (not nearly enough, even back then), and it was so cool having that much music on hand at any given time.
And then, just out of warranty, my Nomad died. I’d spent around $AU1000 on the thing, and now it was gone. And the worst thing was, being pre-iPod, not many people could get their head around the concept of what I was carrying around on my hip. I didn’t have enough cash to buy a new one, and couldn’t see the point of getting another MP3 player, as most of them on the market only held a CD or two. And I let it slide, content to listen to CDs on my Discman.
Although I’d been the first person I knew to get an MP3 player, I missed out on the iPod-driven craze. And my CDs were getting scratched, taking them out into the field.
Anyway, once I got the thing home and figured out the instructions—
This machine packs into the battery the each openning the confidential waiting for for the first time 10 second, need the machine from measure to complete to grow to press to open the machine key the square can show, the inconvenient place begs your pardon. [sic]
—what did I do? Load it up with my favourite songs, or music from the CDs I always carry around? Nope, I filled it with podcasts from Wizards of the Coast’s roleplaying R&D team and the Lovecraftian Yog Radio.
I am such a geek.
(Incidentally, Mike Mearls sounds much more “American” than he does in my head. I find those kind of preconceptions weird, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them. Perhaps I’d thought he’d sound more like a caffeine-powered robot.)