The Casual Blog

Tag: Bruce Hood

My walk to work, seeing Before Midnight, and eating at Dos Taquitos

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Now that we’ve moved our offices into Red Hat Tower, I’m within walking distance of work. How sweet it is! Last week I went carless three times. If I focus on moving along, I can make it in seventeen minutes. On a warm, humid day, that leaves me in a bit of a lather. On Thursday, I went a little slower, and took some pictures with my trusty Canon point-and-shoot, which are above and below in the order they were taken.
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On Saturday we went to the Rialto to see Before Midnight. I loved the two predecessor pictures, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, both of which were romantic but also smart. Along with My Dinner with Andre, these movies prove that great conversations can be art. In both earlier movies, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were astonishing in their seeming naturalness, and with great chemistry.

In the new movie, they return as the same characters, but middle-aged, and firmly a couple, with children of their own. Instead of gauzy romantic possibilities, they have frustrations and disappointments with life and each other, and anger. But they’re still talking. Boy can they talk! I really liked the movie.
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There’s a little conversational strand early in the film about the nature of the self that could have been inspired by The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood, which I’ve been re-reading. Hood works hard to deconstruct the conventional view of an unchanging self with conscious thought at the center. The characters briefly take notice of the force of this argument, but then do what we all usually do, which is plunge into a narrative.
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After the movie, we had dinner at Dos Taquitos on Glenwood. We’d tried to get in twice before, but both times the place was packed and the waits were long. The third time was a charm, although even at 9:00 we still had to wait half an hour. It was lively, with busy, colorful decor and lots of noise, and the food was just fine. I think the secret of their popularity is: it’s relatively inexpensive. And their margaritas have some kick.
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Helping bluebirds, and some good and not-so-good internet experiences

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Since 2004, Sally has tended a group of bluebird houses in Cary on the Lochmere golf course, near where we used to live.  She keeps fourteen houses in good working order and keeps track of the numbers of eggs and numbers of hatchlings, then passes the data along to the North Carolina Bluebird Society.  Bluebird rely on human-built boxes for breeding spaces, and Sally likes helping them.  It’s the breeding season, and this week she invited me to come along after work to see the activity.

She already had secured a golf cart when I arrived.  It was a sunny, mild afternoon, and there were plenty of golfers out on the course.  She started with hole number 1, where Sally opened the door, pulled out the nest of pine straw, and found several dark gray nestlings, which snuggled together quietly.  Their mama was not at home, but at the next house, the mama bird shot out as we got close to the house and nearly hit my face.  

At the third house there were both bluebird and chickadee eggs. We saw several others populated by hatchlings and eggs that must have been close to hatching. In one, where there had been eggs the week before, there were none.  Sally said a snake had probably got them.  It seemed sad, though not, I guess, for the snake.  Anyhow it was most pleasant to see the birds and birds-to-be with my dear one, and learn more about their lives.
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We have tickets for a trip to Cozumel next week for several days of scuba diving, and this week we met with our group at Down Under Surf and Scuba to get briefed on drift diving and other procedures.  Back home, we began our preparations — checking over the gear, refreshing on protocols, and paging through our sea creature identification books.  My underwater strobe wasn’t working properly, so I’ll need to get that over to the dive shop for a consult.  

Cozumel is English-language friendly, but even so I’ve been inspired to try to advance my Spanish.  In addition to Rosetta Stone, I’ve been working on verb conjugation at a very helpful web site that generates drills for every tense. I’ve been focusing on the preterite and the imperfect, and improving.

I’ve also been sampling lessons at Livemocha.  This service invites native speakers of one language, like Spanish, to help those interested in learning their language, like me, and they may also get help in another language, like English, from someone like me. I’ve gotten useful written feedback from folks in Columbia and Mexico, and have tried to give others some helpful tips on English.

The idea of the internet connecting language students is exciting. At the same time, it’s a little unsettling. Livemocha allows for “friending” requests, and I’ve gotten a few of these, but so far I haven’t accepted. I’m not quite clear on what the responsibilities, and risks, might be. I’m more or less constantly overcommitted already, and I would be sorry to disappoint my as yet unknown “friends” in, say, Columbia. And I would be particularly sorry if they turned out to be violent sociopaths of some sort.

Speaking of internet risks, I had an odd experience this week. I finished The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity, by Bruce Hood, which I’d purchased from Amazon in the Kindle edition to read on my tablet device. The next day, I got an email from Amazon asking me how I liked The Self Illusion. !!! I hadn’t realized that Amazon had invited itself quite so intimately into my reading life. Of course, I didn’t read whatever they required me to click on (does anybody?), so it’s possible that I in some hyper legal sense agreed to let them monitor my reading. But really! That’s just icky!