Zam the Assassin and the Chase to 2 PM

Or, how I spent my Saturday afternoon.

By Scott James Magner, Eleventieth Grade.

Not so long ago (as such things are reckoned), a friend of mine embarked on a writing exercise in which he would type without filters, without editing for a set period of time. He did this to force himself to write, which was somewhat odd given that the written word is his primary mode of communication. It was such a good idea, so mindlessly simple and effective, that I resolved to do so as well, and we traded back and forth for a while.

That was then.

Now, I have nothing but time, many a thing to not write about, and more projects than I can name needing attention and diligence. And yet my days are mainly spent recovering from sleepless nights, in which I also am not writing. This is a somewhat useless way to spend the “gift” of leisure, so it’s time to turn off the filters again.


Today, there are black cats in my office. They are here on many occasions, arrayed in exactly the same fashion they are now. Medea (also known as Cat # 1) rests at my left elbow on her window perch, the source of much conflict with Maleficent (also known as Millie, or the Kitten). Millie wants to be anywhere that Medea is, and as she increases in both age and size, this becomes increasingly difficult to accommodate. So she sulks on top of a small, two-holed and bi-level cat tree behind us.

Both of them are curled against the cold of this late October day. I do not turn the heat on in the office, trusting to the heat exchangers from the multiple computers, accessories, and monitors to provide heat.

(pause to switch cds. Now archiving: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack—Star Wars/Episode III/Revenge of the Sith, aka, “John Williams is a Talentless Hack, part the 50”)

It is probably unfair to them, but neither complains much, and my additional layers make me more or less immune to the cold. It worries me that they are not seeking higher temperature areas of the house to do nothing, but they clearly feel they are needed here, and who am I to tell them no? Often, Medea will demand her rightful place in my lap while I type, which has caused me to reorganize the work space to accommodate her wishes. Coincidentally, this emboldens and enables the Kitten to claim the window perch, which in turn drives Cat #1 to reclaim it. There is growling, angered grooming, jostling, and then a satisfied but decidedly unhappy kitten alone on the perch while the elder cat stalks off to groom herself in another room.

This is repeated at least once a day, and is similar enough each time to make me question my status in the Matrix.

But I digress.

I am in the process of re-transferring my very large cd collection to iTunes AAC format. I have an 80% complete archive of these cds (up to about 2005 or so plus late arriving stragglers) in regular mp3 format, but the popular, big name software I used to LEGALLY COPY THEM FOR PERSONAL USE corrupted at least 100 of the burns, so that playing one of the affected songs would “shift” the titles onto a completely separate album.

That is annoying in the best of circumstances, but moreso when the event is random. I take my music very seriously. It is one of the three driving forces of my life, and the one which I am never without. There is always a song playing in my head, most often more than one. Playing recorded music focuses and relaxes me, and is something which should always work as intended.

(pause to switch cds. Now archiving: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack—Jurassic Park, aka, “John Williams does it again, and we all like it anyway”)

I play my music when I work. I stream it to all corners of my house, carry it with me on various drives, computers, players and devices. My last three mobile phones were selected based on their ability to provide me with music on the go, and to relieve my pocket of the chore of carrying an ipod.

Mp3s were the format I settled on in 2004, divorcing myself as fully as I could from Apple’s proprietary AAC format. It was too restrictive, said I. Itunes is actively keeping me from enjoying my own music, rationalized I. Change is bad, and I hate and fear change, someone who is named me may have been heard to say.

Also, Mp3 was more easily shared, transported, redistributed and organized.

At the time.

Said I.

I’ve given up that particular fight. With the purchase of the latest phone, the netbook, and the recent acquisition of an iPod touch, I now more than ever need to sit down and re-encode my collection. The recent upgrades to iTunes make it a far superior product than those I have been using, moreso now that with the touch of one button, it will make additional mp3 copies of my entire collection for me to use on non-iPod devices.

So I sit, and burn, when I find the mood takes me. I am now into my third binder (of 7, two of which are three times the size of the regular ones). The computer tells me that I now have 641 distinct folders full of this music.

That’s a lot. Considering I’m not even close to halfway through, it’s somewhat insane.

(pause to switch cds. Now archiving: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack—Jurassic Park: The Lost World , aka, “John Williams wants to make a movie? Okay, let’s re-invent dinosaurs. Again.”)

A separate, but equally relevant program tells me that I have at least 1133 DVDs, HD-DVDs & Blu rays, spread across 900 some odd titles. I had a more exact count of “spines,” but somewhere in my last update I undid a setting enabled before that helped me to keep the number more “reasonable.”

In our dining room is a wall of paperback books, half of which are mine. The living area contains L’s hardbacks, and my movies. But the garage contains more collected crap, ascribed solely to me. Boxes and boxes and boxes of books. I have purged them twice already this year. Pruned and picked and agonized over what to keep, not keep, discard, move, or “forget” on the street. Before the winter fully takes hold, I’ll need to do it once more, and then “weatherize” the paper products so that small mammals, moisture, and acts of Goo to not make those recorded years completely irrelevant.

Mickey’s big and little hands inform me that it is now 2:00 PM. In 415 characters, I will have written 1211 words about absolutely nothing, benefiting no-one but myself. The cats have not moved, I have not moved, and the temperature definitely has not increased. 30 minutes have transpired, and all the conditions outlined in the beginning of this message hold true at the end.

Just imagine what I could have written about instead.

Go ahead, you earned it. After all, you read this far…

End trans.

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