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I have been in an unusually good mood all day.

Could be that Stephen Hunt's The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is quite good. I recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi with a healthy nod to pulp adventure to it and well-done female protagonists physically strong enough to lift and throw a horse. I see nothing short of glory in all of that.

It could also be the fact that I got a new instrument the other day. It was a gift. It's the one in the middle, here:

It's a four-stringed little number about a bit longer than a mandolin is. Two of the strings, the two highest, are doubled-up in the fashion of a mandolin while the other two are standalone strings. It's a fascinating bit of musical wood that's surprisingly versatile despite being tuned to modes in D. I've got it tuned to Aeolian mode at present. Every time I see it I picture an old wizard walking through a sprawling forest with it strapped to his back. I wonder if it'll survive with me until I am that old wizard gone a-walkin'.

Once I get a better hang of the thing I might post a video of me playing it for your entertainment and amusement. So far the things I write on it manage to sound like the bastard child of medieval music and bluegrass. It's definitely unique.

Every now and then I remember that I am not only the youngest of my coworkers by far but that they may all, save for one, be bastards. I'll go through night after night with them and every now and then they do or say something to remind me that they're all bigoted old men. Let me give you a quick run-down, a dramatis personae of the night crew.

Larry: A miserable old man and a pathological liar. He claims to only work here for the health insurance. He also claims to have been in both the Army and the Navy, fought in wars, killed men and been in street gangs as recently as the mid-nineties. Nothing seems good enough for him. Not a night goes by where he doesn't complain about today's youth, how the warehouse is run poorly and how everyone else but him is an idiot. He is generally fond of me because, like me, he aspires to be self-employed. He has had some small successes at independent photography but his age is ever against him and he knows it. Feels all social programs of any kind should be abolished and that the handicapped need to "have a chat with Mr. Darwin and pack their bags." For all his rancor, he is very well-read and spends most of his time educating himself. Divorced for being a bitter fuck that can't be lived with.

John: The world's nicest racist. He will do impossibly kind things for me, always ask after my well-being and never hesitate to offer me a ride home if we happen to be getting off work at the same time (which is almost never as it happens). His racism, when it evidences itself, is sharp, sudden and caustic. If I were not a white man, I'd be garbage to him. It's also evident that even white women are suspect because they are all after my money and sperm, so he tells me. Divorced for infidelity.

Bill: My favorite co-worker. Mostly open-minded former contractor. He works here to pass the time and because he was never much good at sleeping at night. Sexist in the way most men in their sixties who come from working-class backgrounds are but willing to admit this is a flaw. He is often known to say he wishes he was a hawk because "then nobody could fuck with me except for jet engines. Let me tell ya, buddy, those engines eat everybody eventually, no mistake." He half-jokingly teases me about having gone to college and having multiple degrees but still working a job he refers to as "honestly blue-collar and beneath you, kid." Happily married.

Dave: My boss. Younger than the others in that he is in his late forties. He's in good shape for his age and has a really creepy mustache. He keeps photographs of naked women he downloads on the internet on his phone. Very quick to objectify women and qualify his value as a man based on the number of women he's slept with and continues to sleep with. Divorced for being unfaithful. He has a great sense of humor when he isn't being a sexist asshole, though.

And then you have me, the mid-twenties aspiring artist who graduated college with an armful of useless degrees, debt and a chip on his shoulder. An internet connection, a word processor, a pile of books and a heap of instruments stand between me and gibbering madness.
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