After four long months of procrastination and avoidance, I finished Seveneves. I hope that’s the end of my 2022 reading slump. Someone said that Neal Stephenson books start well but fizzle out at the end, and one could say that about this, but it wouldn’t be fair. The first half is an incredibly detailed look at the mundanity that occurs inside a giant tragedy; the eye of an apocalyptic storm — the world is ending, okay, but how is a small team going to engineer their way to survival over two years? And then a lot of time passes, and the final third of the book is a sort of sci-fi action movie, but not at an epic scale. So, super meticulous world building, some powerful ideas about humanity’s purpose, and then an ending that doesn’t quite shoot for fireworks.
I still loved it though! Coming after Daniel Suarez’s Delta-V, also involving survival in space, it was a lot of mental time spent banished in an orbitory purgatory. Back when I started in late May, I was reading it in a darkened bedroom, with live-streamed video from the ISS projected on a wall, feeling intensely alone and stranded. Perhaps that not so enjoyable experience made it hard to pick up again and continue? Anyway now that it’s over, I need to make up for lost Goodreads reading challenge time so I’m moving on to the (relatively slim) One Day This Will All Be Yours, by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Earlier this week I got exposed to Covid in the workplace via a client who tested positive later, but still haven’t developed any symptoms myself. I’m hoping to make it through the next few days without incident.
We had an excellent dinner at Brasserie Gavroche one night to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday, where I declined to taste the bottle of wine in that little ritual they do. What are the odds, really? One bad bottle in a million? Is that worth the amount of sniffing and swirling time this steals from humanity in aggregate? All the interrupted conversations; the sheepish nods to say okay?
I met Ci’en and Peishan for a Saturday afternoon coffee and chat for the first time in what feels like forever. Somewhere, an alien observer has a record showing that we used to do this more often, undoubtedly along Orchard Road in cafes long-since shut, and they’re probably writing in their little notebook that some things in human life do stay easy and stress free. If you’re reading this, I appreciate you both immeasurably.
A few weeks ago, I read Michael’s complaints on his blog about not being able to get a pair of Uniqlo shorts that matched what he was used to, and I want to rant a little about Muji’s jeans in a similar vein. I’ve bought several pairs over the years — completely switching over in allegiance from other brands — solely because they had a dedicated smartphone pocket. It’s on the hip, just above and to the side of the regular right back pocket, high enough and to the side enough that you can sit down without sitting on your phone. It wouldn’t fit a Max iPhone, I think, but anything below. It was discreetly sewn into the lines of the jeans, enough to be hidden away that if someone robbed you and wanted your phone, they might not be able to find one.
This obviously freed my front pockets for putting my hands and mask and maybe a single credit card in. It was wonderfully minimal. The phone had its own place, and it wasn’t in the way of anything at all. And for some reason, their new jeans do not have this pocket. I think some of the skinniest jeans may still have it, but I wouldn’t/couldn’t wear those. It suggests that Muji believes the pocket is only useful in scenarios where you can’t put your phone in the regular front or back pockets, but that’s a ridiculous conclusion to make. A dedicated phone pocket is always welcome!
I discovered this a few weeks back while looking to renew my currently faded pairs, and have made several visits to confirm that none of the ones they sell, and that I fit in, have this pocket anymore. Liberated from my obligations, I may now be in the market for some nicer specialist denim, I don’t know. They’ve really done it to themselves.