beyond the north wind | the flute plays

Pliny, Plutarch and Ptolemy all talked about these stones I am walking amidst. There were holy men and strange rituals here in these desolate lands, cold and gloomy, beyond the northern most winds the Greeks knew of then.

The Hebrides is close, even today, to the stories I had read as a child. I came back younger, fat on milk and cheese, head full of a young girl’s dreams once more.

They are an open, hospitable, warm sort out there, sparsely populated as the tiny villages are. The women mothered me, and the men fathered me. At this point in my life, I must wonder if I come across a perpetually lost lamb that even hardy men in kilts and no-nonsense women who flinch at nothing have begun to pat my head and ask me to eat more. I sang Omnia sol temperat for them, badly, and they humored me nevertheless. All things were warmed by the sun that day, for their weather was playing coy for once, retreating with clouds and rain to make way for a taste of spring or two before it returned with vengeance to drench everything once again.

I felt safe as I wandered. There were no irksome flirtations, no expressions of interest that when turned down became nasty and troublesome. There was just plainness and honesty, even when I was invited for more, and that was a remarkable change from everything I fear in my daily life.

Bluebells bloomed everywhere, on the barrows and in the crags crawling to their coastlines. There, among the bluebells and the heather, as the gorse bloomed yellow on hedge and rock, under cloudy skies through which sunlight streaked through in patches, I could only stand in my muddy clothes and ruined shoes, armed with my trusty umbrella that has accompanied me for many years now, watching the fishing boats return, watching the crofters head home after a day’s work, watching how life thrived even here, even beyond the northernmost winds that the Greeks knew of. I thrive too, relaxed and young once again, enjoying more whisky than I ought to, enjoying pies, black puddings, and cheese and haggis. Each time I deviate from my general regard for my health, I promise myself I will give it all up, and return to water and tea starting the next day. Unfortunately, my promises to myself are very rarely kept.

The prospect of returning to San Francisco is unappealing. I don’t live there. I merely exist. I’ve never really known how to give up on a lost cause gracefully, though. So I’ll return to suffer and whine, I suppose.

At least, I have matters to look forward to. I need to buy new shoes. And I need to find a way out of the tedium that is the self-driving industry running on hype and stupidity of people who have never done anything real before in their lives.

Even if the hype doesn’t drive me out, then the men will.

[All those little boys who were the apples of their parents eyes, raised to believe they can do no wrong, successfully transitioned into poorly socialized men who believe everything they do is for some greater good (even if all they do is optimize clicks by getting the naive public addicted to things), and therefore they deserve whatever they set their eyes on, damn the consequences.

I give it a week before the next one tries to hit on me and then promptly goes weird after I decline. No, I don’t know who the next one will be. It doesn’t even matter. After a while, it’s become a blur.]

To think that I was once so set on robotics back in my naive and foolish youth, keen enough to do unpaid or poorly paid work because of how much I loved it.


I was wandering about on the continent when I heard the loveliest folk song performed by some buskers. I had to write it down and then look it up later. It is a haunting song about a flute-player in the spring. The girl promises to love him from dawn till dusk if it is someone she knows already. If it is a stranger, then she agrees to love him all her life. I laughed at the translation, if only because of how ironically it reflected my general sentiments about life these days. I’ve always liked new people and new places as opposed to anyone or anything I know already. I ought to plot a chart seeing how my whining about life increases as the novelty of the place where I live in or the people I know goes down. The bay area, though, and the people, utterly drive me nuts with how painfully stereotypical they are, and how much unintended harm and deliberate cruelty I have faced over the years I have worked here.