Last time I checked the windchill, it was -44. That's the level where if you go outdoors, you come back encased in a three-centimetre layer of ice, like in that scene from Excel Saga. Inasmuch as I don't have a hyperactive redhead to warm me up afterward, I'm cancelling or at least postponing my plan of going grocery shopping today. If I'm lucky, it'll be a little warmer in the afternoon.
I've had, for years, a pay-download copy of the album Sociable by the Dust Rhinos, and one track starts with a spoken intro in which one of the bandmembers talks about some pub where they regularly go to perform - "There's a little place called the Toad in the Hole Pub, down in Osborne Village..." - but then last night, when I was out having a beer with some co-workers, I looked around me and realised, wait a minute, that was exactly where we were. I'm not sure I'd even known that the Dust Rhinos were from Winnipeg, and up until that moment, although I was probably aware that the pub mentioned on the album probably really did exist somewhere, it still felt like something imaginary and not somewhere I'd ever expect to actually visit in the normal course of events. And then the world shifted and all of a sudden it was not only a real place but an ordinary place, a block away from my apartment building, where I pass every weekday morning on my way to work.
I'm very interested in that kind of question from the other side: what things are ordinary to me but exotic to someone else? And given something that is exotic to someone other than me, what's the impression they have of it? This kind of question is one thing I seek out, and seek to create, in science fiction (both my own and other people's). We maybe have some idea, some emotional impression, of what kind of person a Grey alien or a Reptoid or a Vulcan or a Klingon is. I think that's often based on visual appearance and comparisons to assumed human physiognomy. But we don't even have to go as far as hypothetical space aliens, and it's no accident that "alien" has an older meaning. What do human beings from other ethnic backgrounds assume about me because of their assumptions about English-speaking mixed-European descendants? I'm not just talking about basic racism, but the more subtle details of the impressions we have about cultures. What does it feel like to be the kind of person - and they certainly exist - for whom "nerdy white boy" is special and strange, even a sexual fetish? Hell, I'm confused enough - though certainly not complaining, and I recognize the evolutionary necessity for it - about the fact that a lot of human beings say they desire men at all.
I've posted a new version of the Tsukurimashou demo PDF. It's almost at the point where I'll be willing to make a release of source code and font files in a form others can use. About all that remains before that is to tweak the calligraphic effects on most of the katakana in the mincho style. If you look carefully at page 6 of the demo file, you can probably see which characters have had that done and which haven't, though it's complicated by the fact that some strokes are subroutines used in more than one character, so there are some characters that now have some calligraphic adjustment applied because of subroutines, but other strokes clearly not yet adjusted.