February 21st, 2005


The Videotapes

Okay, now that we're back from vacation, it's time to give away the videotapes that I offered a week or so ago. Here's where I'm currently planning on giving things. Everyone, please get in touch with me so we can figure out delivery. Note that no one has asked for the partial collection of Star Trek: The Original Series or (surprisingly) the full set of Buffy; those will be getting dumped if no one asks for them soon, so speak up if you want them.

goldsquare gets The Prisoner and Firefly.

mermaidlady gets first dibs on Carnevale. She should pass it to alexx_kay once she's done; he should pass it to bleemoo, and then probably back to us to get it to alethea_eastrid.

bleemoo gets ST:TNG. (Sorry, dagonell, but that's by far the largest collection, and it's easier to give it to someone local.)

However, dagonell gets The Avengers. You should send me your postal address for shipping that.

aquamonkey gets first dibs on Babylon 5. That doesn't include Season 1 -- I can loan you that when you're ready to watch it, provided you promise to take good care of it. Once you're done, I encourage you to loan/give them to goldsquare.

alethea_eastrid gets Angel. You and msmemory should talk about which event is going to be convenient for delivering those.

Hopefully all of the tapes are in decent condition; most of them haven't been watched in a fair number of years, so I can't be certain, but I suspect they're all in at least viewable shape. I'll put together indexes of what's on each tape, for the recipients...

So what *does* it feel like to lose your mind?

I have to admit, I'm starting to worry about myself a bit. For the past year or two, I've been noticing that my memory, never the best to begin with, has been slowly weakening. I've been losing words stuck to the tip of my tongue pretty often, which is unsettling for a linguaphile like myself. Just a short while ago, I managed to get two people I know entirely mixed up -- for a moment, I was quite sure that person A was person B, and managed to quite embarass myself. In general, I've simply been feeling slow and stupid altogether too often lately, not a sensation I'm used to or care for. I'm used to seeing the world with a sharp mental focus that has gotten slightly blurred of late -- I can regain it when I try, but it requires a sort of mental squint.

Realistically, it's probably just a combination of stress and lack of sleep taking a gradual toll on my head; odds seem good that, if I can overcome those, I'll bounce back. And a certain amount of slowdown is to be expected over time. But in the meantime, it's scary stuff. Flowers for Algernon was a very influential story on me when I was young, and gradually fading like that is one of the creepiest things I can imagine...

Strange Analogy Time

I was struck, while driving to Cooks' Guild yesterday, by the odd similarities between a highway and a stock market. It seems silly, but there's an interesting relationship there.

What originally caught my attention was the way in which trying to zig and zag on a crowded highway resembles market timing. In both cases, you've got someone who is relatively aggressive, grabbing opportunities as they come at him, to try to get ahead. In both cases, it tends not to work unless you're exceptionally well-versed in these things; indeed, a "buy and hold" approach (staying in a single lane unless it's obviously jammed) frequently beats the market-timing one unless you're quite good at assessing the subtleties of the situation. There is an elevated risk in playing the aggressive game: someone trying a guillotine maneuver will often find themselves stuck behind the pack if they're not careful.

The analogy is very loose, but isn't entirely specious. Both of these are examples of a semi-competitive environment where everyone has approximately the same information to work with. In such an environment, different kinds of people will take different approaches, ranging from safe and predictable, to higher-risk with a chance of getting ahead of the pack. I suspect that there are other examples of this kind of situation, each somewhat different but sharing some underlying principles.

Anyway, it's an odd little observation to chew on. In the meantime, it's going to take a while to get past the slightly goofy notion that market analysts and traffic copters fulfill roughly the same job, with the same tendency towards 20/20 hindsight...