Fri, 31 Oct 2003

top

jason nevins "i'm in heaven (presenting UKNY feat. holly james)"

The last place I visited in the Bay Area on Sunday before taking off for the infernal lands of SoCal was the Jamba Juice at Union Landing. (Tangent: I visted this Jamba Juice ridiculously often, on the way back to Fremont from Children's Oakland. One day I forgot to take off my ID tag, and the girl at the register totally had the "You're doing pediatrics?!" reaction&maybe I'll narrate what that is some other time&and I got all embarrassed.) In any case, I waited an inordinately long duration to get my carbohydrate-packed smoothie, and they started playing this song [link from Amazon][lyrics from Google][iTMS]. What grabbed my attention was the slightly sped-up sample of "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson.

16:55:44 31 Oct 2003 > /playlist > permalink > 4 comments

top

let go of the past for God's sake!

Can we say fear, doubt, and uncertainty?

An apologist for nested tables speaks his/her mind.

Fact: My cel phone cannot browse sites that use nested tables, and even if they can, it becomes excruciatingly painful because I have to scroll through pages and pages of navigational controls. If you use CSS instead, the navigational controls can be at the bottom of the HTML, but positioned at the top with CSS. No more endless scrolling.

I like how he/she keeps talking about ROI, ROI. Well, let me tell you, you are definitely losing potential sales and/or public relation brownie points when someone with a cel phone or handheld cannot easily use your site. You tell me how you'd rather leverage your investment.

Semantic markup is the future. Deal with it.

14:00:53 31 Oct 2003 > /computers/www > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 30 Oct 2003

top

interstate 238

I remember the first time I saw the interstate highway shield with "238" in it and recoiled in horror. I am, much to my dismay, a roadgeek. I have been obsessed with freeways and freeway numbering schemes since I was a little child. (If I had only known that transportation engineering was a career option, my life would've have been so different. See, this is what happens when you grow up in a freeway-dependent city like Los Angeles.)

If you don't care about freeways and freeway numbering scheme, I suggest you skip this blog post. Seriously.

For the rest of you, I'm going to assume that you are also road geeks, and are therefore well-versed in the Interstate Highway numbering system, and are therefore aware why I-238 keeps some roadgeeks awake at night. The horror, the horror.

Much has already been written about why I-238 came into existence. (C'mon now, even the most non-roadgeeky of you Bay Area folk must be curious as to why every freaking freeway is numbered x80, where x is anywhere between 2 to 9.) And, I agree, renumbering I-238 is probably not high on the list of things to do for Caltrans. But, because I spent a month driving past the I-880/I-238 interchange (and even drove on I-238 on my way to Southern California), I spent a lot of time stuck in traffic, contemplating trivial things.

So, without further ado: additional suggestions for renumbering I-238

The simplest thing would be to just renumber it I-480. While I-480 was the intended numbering for the ill-fated Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, it was never approved as an interstate (therefore remained signed as CA-480), and was eventually demolished after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Most San Franciscans loathed the looming structure and many rejoiced when it was torn down. I must say, the Embarcadero is much nicer now that you can see the East Bay. But, being an Angeleno, it is still difficult for me to fathom why San Franciscans hate freeways so much. To each his/her own, I suppose. But in any case, I-480 is actually free to use now, and since I-238 has like one exit, this would be the easiest way to re-sign everything. (I realize you'd have to change all the anticipatory signs on I-880 and I-580, but you could very well just remove the I-238 shield anyway, since practically all the signs are cosigned with either I-880 or I-580.)

There is, I think, a much worse signage problem further north in the East Bay, where I-80 and I-580 are co-signed. Now, I-580 between US-101 and I-80 was originally CA-17. I must assume that I-880 North (former CA-17) must have had a ramp to I-80 East (although it's not always logical to be logical), but, since the aforementioned Loma Prieta quake destroyed the Cypress Freeway alignment of the I-880 (and killed around 50 people as well), the rebuilt alignment only has a ramp to I-80 West. So it would be weird to number the San Rafael-Richmond bridge to I-880 at this point, and I think it would be prohibitive and redundant to build a ramp from I-880 North to I-80 East. So the signage problem is thus: There is a segment of freeway cosigned I-80 and I-580 between the Bay Bridge and the San Rafael-Richmond bridge (annotated as the "Eastshore Freeway" on many maps, although no one ever calls it that.) Now, I have no problems with cosigned Interstates, but, (1) the freeway runs north-south (2) the northbound part is signed as I-80 East/I-580 West and the southbound part is signed as I-80 West/I-580 East. While, as I've said, it's not always logical to be logical, but I for some reason I find it horribly offensive to be heading both east and west when in fact I'm heading north.

While I don't think that I-80 should be struck from this part of the freeway (since it's the only way the route can be contiguous from the San Francisco Civic Center to all the way to the George Washington Bridge in New York City), I do think that there should be an effort to properly delineate the actual geographic direction of the freeway, or at least to eliminate the horrendously confusing east/west-west/east signage.

(Speaking of directional confusion, while I-238 is in fact east-west, it is signed as north-south—the way that the surface alignment of CA-238 is signed.)

So I came up with these ideas that would both eliminate I-238 AND take care of the I-80/I-580 mess.

Create a new east-west Interstate: People have suggested renumbering the segment of I-580 between I-5 and I-238 to something like I-70 (since it is south of I-80) This is nice because I think the Central Valley does deserve its own east-west interstate, and it leaves the possibility of building an interstate through Nevada, connecting to the western terminus of I-70 at I-15 in Utah. The only problem is that there is a CA-70 in the Sierras, and California has a strict numbering policy where interstate numbers and state numbers cannot overlap. While CA-70 could be renumbered, this is definitely a lot of work. Unfortunately, CA-78, CA-76, CA-74, and CA-72 are taken (though, admittedly, it could be anything less than 80 and greater than 40, the next east-west interstate to the south. Still, I checked at the California Highways site, and CA-68, CA-66, CA-62, CA-60, CA-58, CA-56, CA-54, CA-52, US-50, CA-46, CA-44, CA-42 are all taken. CA-64 and CA-48 are assigned routes that have never been built (and with CA-64, will probably never be built), and CA-42 has recently been decommissioned. So I suppose I-64 could be a possibility, although the closer the number is to 40, the more difficult it will be to find interstate numberings for the more southern portions of the Central Valley when it will be warranted by population growth.)

I like the idea of I-78. CA-78 is a freeway anyway, at least between I-5 and I-15, so if it meets interstate standards, maybe it can be an x15. Maybe I-715, with the non-freeway portion being resigned to CA-715. Admittedly, this is probably a lot of re-signing, but if CA-78 can become an interstate, it might be worth it.

So I-78 could be applied to existing alignment, from CA-99 to I-5 via CA-120, co-signed with I-5, then via I-205, and I-580. Now, if I-78 is made to run all the way to San Rafael, this will do nothing for the east/west-west/east signing, so I would apply I-78 to I-238, terminating at I-880. The former segment of I-580 between I-205 and I-5 should probably be renumbered to an x78 (I-578?) and not as an x05 (although I suppose I-705 is available, it definitely should not be numbered I-205 since that would be kind of confusing.) The former segment of I-580 between I-238 and US-101 could be numbered as another x78, running north-south, thereby eliminating the mess on the Eastshore Freeway and properly denoting the actual geographic direction that the Eastshore Freeway runs. (Alternatively, as above, instead of I-78, it could be I-64, but the idea would be the same.)

Now, if you don't want to create a new interstate, there could still be some creative renumbering. I-580 can be truncated at current I-238. I-238 could be renumbered I-580 (thereby making I-580 run between I-880 and I-5.) If we exclude the possiblity of I-980 ever being extended to Walnut Creek/Concord, then we could apply I-980 to current I-580 between I-980 and I-238 (and we wouldn't have to change the directional markers, as I-980 is also an east-west route, despite running more north-south.) The remaining segment of I-580 (the Eastshore freeway and the San Rafael-Richmond bridge) is problematic, however, but this is another place to possibly apply I-480, running north-south, thereby eliminating the east/west-west/east confusion.

Now, how's that for an exercise in complete uselessness?

21:33:44 30 Oct 2003 > /roadgeek > permalink > 0 comments

top

the games we don't play

As I was telling M the other night, my problem is that I foolishly refuse to accept that it is a game, in the strictest, Richard Dawkins, sense of the word. Not just the reproductive sense of it, but the fact that everything is a game, if you take the definition to the extreme.

The thing is, I haven't learned to create sufficient separation. Intellectually, I understand that playing the game doesn't mean that you don't care, but emotionally, it still feels like deception to me.

We won't even dig into the fact that, at least at this point in time, I've got no game.

Still, I have become mindful of the rules (as laid out in "Swingers", no less. Yes, I know, I'm doomed.) So I am observing them, despite telling myself that there are no rules, even though I know there are rules, it's just that we don't all have the same ones.

Dear God, I'm doomed.

19:52:06 30 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

top

r kelly "step in the name of love"

Does R. Kelly realize how calling himself "the pied-piper of R&B" has some possibly pedophilic associations? (Read "The Pied Piper of Hamelin")

11:07:23 30 Oct 2003 > /playlist > permalink > 4 comments

top

to wish impossible things

I couldn't sleep last night, tossing and turning every which way. Maybe it's because of not taking my medication until mid-day. Maybe it's the smoke in the air. Maybe it's the fact that there are a lot of things I need to get done that I haven't yet done.

But most likely, it's the fact that I have an endpoint in mind, but I have no idea how to get there.

For me, happiness has always meant something in the future.

I have been meaning to read my tarot cards for some time now, but I have been hesitant. I wonder if Heisenberg's uncertainty principle applies to the occult? I'm afraid that the very act of reading my cards will change my destiny.

Of course, I don't believe in destiny. That is, perhaps, the root cause of my sleepness nights. I just get locked into the classic existential dilemma, with the knowledge that whatever I do now will propagate itself into the future, often in spectacularly unexpected ways. Emergent behavior. Yay.

Why can't I set my heart on a possible thing?

In the end, I just need to get my shit together, to not worry about what hasn't happened yet, and to be happy now instead of procrastinating like I always do.

08:54:07 30 Oct 2003 > > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 29 Oct 2003

top

recursion

Again, I am perhaps entering a situation that seems remarkably familiar. (Sisyphus' stone rolling down again.)

I will not feel sorry for myself, or mourn my fate, although perhaps I will always be tempted to do so. I am just remarking on what appears to be my destiny.

When there isn't a big target to aim for, no magnificent plan laid out, all that matters is the details.

Day in, day out.

It will be OK, one way or the other.

17:18:58 29 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 27 Oct 2003

top

firestorms of the fall

I made it back to L.A. yesterday, after a mostly uneventful trip through the Central Valley, despite my surprising lack of bladder control (I will speak no more of this.) Along the way, I noticed fire trucks from various sections of Northern California—Palo Alto, Fairfield, Vacaville, Monterey, to name a few—heading down the I-5, and getting off at California 58, most likely on their way to provide backup for those fighting the incredible blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains, which eventually cut off the I-15 running through the Cajon Pass.

The next delay occurred in Santa Clarita, as California 126 and California 118 (Simi Valley-San Fernando Valley Freeway) were closed off due to the fires in Ventura County.

Smoke filled the air. The Southern California forests are burning.

18:07:55 27 Oct 2003 > > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 26 Oct 2003

top

vigil

Again, what is it that I want?

I thought I had explicated it all the other night, but for some reason, it no longer rings true.

What did I expect? I'm not anywhere real anyway.

These past few nights, as I spent time with A and E, it struck me how far away I was from a life like this. I mean, I liked it, to at least observe it, but if I pushed the thought too far, I would be left with the bitter thought that I can't ever get here.

Now, I admit, it is rather premature for me to say such things. Who knows what might happen to me? Fate goes where it will, right?

But, really, I don't know how to get what I want. The sequela of this is that I've adapted by teaching myself how to convince myself that I never wanted it in the first place, which works extremely well except in times of extreme fatigue and loneliness, when I have no choice but to look into the empty depths of my soul.

Consequently, I no longer know what I want, and I no longer know how to trust my first instincts.

It's all bullshit.

Perhaps.

Or it might be real.

So I am stuck in this hellish existential crisis. Do I walk on, finalize my answer, and take the long, lonely road, never mind what is actually out there? Or do I plunge headlong into this fantasy, and grasp at faerie dreams?

Maybe I need to increase my medication yet again. This shit is expensive.

I don't know anymore. I just feel like I'm dead in the water. I don't feel compelled to take care of any of the shit I need to take care of, but I don't have anything else better to do. If I brood for too long, I start thinking that there is something crucial missing from my life, but then another part of my brain starts kicking in, deriding the initial thought as something that society has subliminally gotten me to accept.

The problem is that my psyche is inlaid with all these contradictions, there are all these rules and counterrules. When it works, it keeps me in homeostasis, but when it doesn't, it leaves me in this psychotic hell of being unable to make a decision, because I don't know which idea to trust.

I can't even operate on the pleasure principle, because I think I've trained myself to be unsure whether I feel pleasure or not.

Times like this, I feel emotionally dead. Which is really depressing.

The downward spiral.

I tried the "I don't give a fuck" thing and that didn't really lead me anywhere, and right now, it doesn't seem like the best way to respond to this stagnation.

But (and here's me turning over a new leaf—surprise!) the thing is, with every ending, there is a beginning.

And even when you feel like shit, there's always something that needs to get done.

Feh.

00:49:13 26 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Sat, 25 Oct 2003

top

knight of pentacles

the beginnings are always hard it is the endings that I am used to I have never truly watched the sun rise an angry red fireball beneath the churning sea but I have sighed forlornly at the sunset beneath the crashing waves extinguished by the cap of purple velvet night

but the hardest memories are right before the fall of night with time to ponder the inevitable there are the hours, when the sun still gleams from behind the stern mountain face the shadows aligned in a certain way to know the day is ending

I dare not watch the sunset stare instead at the eastern sky above the ridge of barren mountains gaze where my destiny leads me

I used to grieve but now grief is my companion and change my only friend the shifting water mark of the tide and the changing faces of the moon don't sing to me about happily ever after

though I love the sunlight I travel with the stars the knight of pentacles accoutered in black armor visor down homeward bound though not even sure home even really exists

20:55:22 25 Oct 2003 > /poetry > permalink > 5 comments

Thu, 23 Oct 2003

top

everything must change

Nothing ever stays the same.

Ah. My last few days in the Bay Area. I was able to connect with old friends, people I haven't seen in three years. In truth, people who had a great impact on my college experience.

I've said this before, but the things that I remember from college are definitely not the classes I took. Most of what I learned is either obsolete or irrelevant to what I do now, and I have scant memories of lectures and texts.

What I remember are the innumerable hours I spent working on the magazine or on PCN. The chain-smoker nights on the balcony. Dragging a friend across the carpet to drag him to watch the special edition of "Empire Strikes Back" The random trip to Seattle. The afternoons spent flying kites at the marina. (And then there is the pain. For once, I am trying not to think of it, although I can only remember too well the crushing loneliness. But, as they say, let sleeping dogs lie.) Ah, there are too many to ennumerate.

Those were good times. For the most part, I do not regret.

(Everything is always conditional with me.)

But I'm straying from what I wanted to say.

As the days wane, I realize that I am growing older, by which I mean, I am getting accustomed to loss. These past four weeks have been the best I've had in a long while now, and while, yes, I am once again leaving empty-handed, it does not mean I did not gain from the experience.

I am going to miss this place. I am not so sure I want to go back down to L.A. And I definitely dread heading out to the frozen wastes of the Midwest. But everything must pass.

If I could store time in a bottle.

I do not know why I have taken the label of "exile" upon myself. It feels that no place feels like home, but every place feels familiar.

Sometimes these memories are enough to carry me through the darkness.

Sometimes the darkness closes in and all I can see the infinite night.

I will write this down, because I know I will forget, and even though I know that when I read this again when the going gets tough and the shit hits the fan, I'm not going to believe a single god-damn word in it, but I'm still going to write it down anyway.

Note to self: Remember once that you were happy.

I find it strange that it is much easier to give advice than it is for me to take the very same piece of advice.

Yes, I admit it. I am drawn to situations that promise high drama. I have this penchant for trying to turn friendships into something else, knowing full well that I am likely to discover tragedy, like as not. These things do not work, at least for me, and still, I persist.

In any case, it's the same old story that people write cheesy pop love songs about: the girl keeps talking about some other boy, about how he doesn't treat her right, about how she wishes he was more like you, all the while never even considering....

(I know she knows. They always know.)

But I've learned a thing or two in this quarter-century (give-or-take) sojourn of mine, at last, and that is this:

You can't sit around waiting for things to get better.

And most of the time there is nothing you can do to make things better.

Sometimes (like now), life gives you a reprieve. The other times, there's really nothing to do but to endure.

And still, the smallest decision just might have a disproportionate effect on the trajectory of your life.

It's funny how a single word, an errant turn of the head, a glance, can change whole worlds, overthrow empires, change destiny.

I know where I'm going, and yet I still, still hope that I'm wrong.

One day Sisyphus will just have to realize that, yes, life is all about rolling the stone up the hill, and then watching it come down again. (And while this may be horrifically depressing, there are other ways to look at it.)

Drink deep, for someday, someday....

Yeah. The only thing certain about luck is that it will change.

Good times for a change. See the luck I had would make a good man turn bad....

But, as I promised, I will write this down:

You can only get what you give. There is no hope of receiving anything if I don't give of myself freely. Because there is more of where that came from. To freely give of myself, now that is love.

And love is all the same. While people are wont to confuse love with lust, true love with romance, I really do think they are all cut from the same cloth: the love of family, the love of friends, the love of that one special someone in your life who you anticipate spending the rest of your life with.

Regardless of whether I understand it in practice, I know the theory.

Love can only be given freely. I know there is this phrase, "unconditional love" but anything with conditions isn't love.

And then: it is impossible to love someone else if you do not love yourself.

You know what's sad? I've always known these things. I hold these truths to be self-evident (to steal a phrase.)

And I, for once, know who I am. Well. As far as anyone can no themself. I do not rightly know the limits of what I can give, but I do know that I am willing to give. While I do not know what the future holds, and I cannot imagine the specifics, I know that I am capable of a lot.

I have a lot to offer.

So, if there are no takers, then fuck 'em. There is no need for me to subject myself to anyone else's external metrics.

My worth is intrinsic, undeniable by the words of mortal humans.

So. It's easy for me to give this advice. This girl, this woman, I wish she could see. I know I can say these things and not do a damn thing about it, but it hurts to see what happens when you don't believe.

That is perhaps my biggest flaw: for myself, I couldn't give a rat's ass. I was made, it seems, to suffer. But when it is someone else, I can't stand it.

But it doesn't matter.

Whether or not things will work out the way I want them to is not entirely in my hands.

In the end, as an old friend reminded me, all you can really do is roll with the punches.

21:43:03 23 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 19 Oct 2003

top

various artifacts of nerdiness

Again, I need a miniblog.

Various nerdy things I stumbled upon today:

Find out all about numbers like Planck's length and the Omega constant.

A mock-trial in which an AI sues to prevent the corporation that created it from pulling the plug.

How England defeated Spain

22:26:00 19 Oct 2003 > > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 18 Oct 2003

top

plus not minus

Like the author of Incidental Findings, I am often seized by doom and gloom, by full-blown major depressive disorder, by neurovegetative signs. Polyphagia, insomnia, hypersomnia, emotional incontinence, fatigue, anxiety. You name it, I get it.

So I am getting help. But that is neither here nor there.

While I often pine for companionship, I have slowly come to grips with the finite probability that I will be alone for the rest of my life (read: single). While this causes some untold amount of trepidation, like I said, if a human being has to endure anything long enough, he or she will get used to it. Or die from it. But, in the end, everything is endurable.

One of the more problematic moments is when one of my relatives asks me about my (non-existent) love life. While I hem and haw and try to make excuses for why I haven't met anyone (And this is not entirely not true. I have met women. They just aren't interested in me. At least not in that way. But that is another story entirely), it kind of focuses my grief.

It makes me ponder the fact that, despite all the platitudes in the world that I can heap upon my singular existence, the fact of the matter is that it x-es me out of the great Circle of Life. To put it scientifically, my genes are being selected against by Darwin's inexorable forces.

I am not fit, evolutionarily speaking. (I am not fit, just plain medically speaking as well, but we'll defer that discussion as well.)

For those of you who have had the luck to never experience such existentially angstful moments, let me tell you, it is very depressing.

I am proud to say that I bounced back from it rather quickly. It may have taken about an hour of brooding and sulking, but in due time I had recovered to my typical emotional haze.

Yep. This days, usually, I don't feel a thing.

I'd like to coin a term: limbic neuropathy. My cortex has lost touch with my limbic system, and I can no longer emote properly.

Although I must say, haze is much preferrable to suicidal depression.

I'll take what I can get.

But back to my point: what I realize is that it is impossible to better yourself by adhering to negative standards. You have to have a positive plan. In other words, it's counterproductive to set rules based on "DON'T." It is, instead, important to establish rules based on "DO."

Case in point: the most success with smoking cessation I've seen is not when people force themselves NOT to smoke. This is a self-defeating proposition. The successful ones instead make plans for what they want to do. Mostly, this means increased physical fitness: working out more, eating healthier, etc., etc. Invariably, this causes people to want to stop smoking. After all, if you're trying to get into shape, smoking really makes it hard to work out. It becomes sheer expediency at this point, because you are aiming for something. To get what you want, you have to know what you want. It's almost worthless to only know what you don't want.

So, at least at this stage in my life, I know that I don't need to be not-single. I'm not saying that I wouldn't jump at the opportunity if it came my way, but, really, what are the chances of that happening? So I know what I don't want, at least right now.

But, as I've said, the problem is I kind of don't know what I do want. Yes, there is family. Yes, there are friendships. But to obtain that sense of home. Of belonging somewhere. Well, I don't know how to get from Point A to Point B, especially since Point B is so ill-defined.

Even thinking back to my first memories as a child, I really can't remember anytime that I felt safe and protected. The real world was always intruding. I do remember feeling alone a lot. There is no idyllic place in the back of my mind where I can retreat when the world is threatening to swallow me whole.

Honestly, it took me a while to figure out times I've been happy besides the time God Himself pimp-slapped me and I felt like I had almost died out in the ocean. (It was exhilariting though. Again, however, this is surely another sign of depression.) But then it comes to me in gasps and spurts. The random moments that accumulate that make me think of home. The times that my brother and my sister have come to visit me in Chicago. (Whenever I pass the gas station where Clark St. and La Salle meet, I think of that tail end of March 2001.) Just random moments, really.

Or that trip to Seattle with B, A, and J. And the time they came to visit me for my birthday and we went down to San Diego to watch a play adaptation of Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters.

And then my trip to NYC when J graduated.

Then that long and lazy summer when B came to visit me in Chicago and all we did was drink beer and smoke cigarettes. (And I still remember that dance with the pretty girl at the hick bar, even though it didn't mean anything at all.)

It's bittersweet, though, isn't it? I feel like I don't really appreciate these moments until all they are are memories.

Once again, it reaffirms my resolution to think of the here and now.

No day but today.

10:29:59 18 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Wed, 15 Oct 2003

top

i said it before and i'll say it again

...an elephant is faithful, 100 percent.

But that is beside the point.

Every day it seems like I am less and less able to get done whatever I need to get done. Whether this is due to the waning levels of sunlight or to some other psychological derangement remains to be seen.

But I have observed something.

While, being a creature with a Y chromosome, I am at times moved by certain endocrine influences that are barely held in check by some rather sophisticated neural machinery (read: driven by lust), whatever you might think, this is not the prime motivator of my wants and needs.

I've mentioned this before, but it really hits home these days: family is really important to me.

I was reminded of this when my brother and my sister came to visit me the other day. But I am also reminded of it daily, as I observe the family dynamics with some of the patients I see, and when I come home at the end of the day to A and E's family.

I think this is the greatest factor that is keeping my head above water these days. Back in Chicago, I was coming home to an empty house, or worse, a hostile environment. For the longest time, I couldn't remember what it was like to belong to a functional household. How important it is that, after a long day at work where you are beaten down, you can come home and recharge, and talk to someone who actually gives a crap about how you're doing. (Again, I need someone who has a stake in what I have to say.)

Partly, it's because I am beginning to regard one of my roommates as human toxic waste. Partly, it's because there are, sadly, many socially incompetent people entering the field of medicine through my school, and I've made very, very few friends in my five years in the Midwest. Partly, it's because I have been betrayed in the past, and it's hard for me to open up to other people.

I know. Excuses, excuses.

But, truly, I have not been in the most ideal environment.

So now, I sit and ponder, trying to figure out what exactly I want out of life, and I weigh the price of attaining what I want, measured in pain and suffering, against the happiness I might experience, and so far, the price seems too high.

Unfortunately, the world we live in really does operate on the principle of "pay to play," and the longer I wait to ante up, the harder it will be to stay in the game.

There are no clocks ticking. But I just don't want to wake up one day and realize that there's really nothing left to do but wait for the eternal darkness to take me.

22:45:19 15 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

top

insomnia episode ii: the attack of the blahs

OK, the fact that I am still awake almost guarantees that I will be unable to wake up at the proper hour tomorrow, but I can't get to sleep.

There really isn't anything that I'm worrying about just now. I mean, sure, there are a few things hanging over my head, but nothing that's causing aching despair.

This, of course, makes me a little jumpy.

I am not used to peace and quiet. I am not accustomed to contentment.

So I'm very afraid of what the future holds.

I think it's very difficult to be always expecting the worst and yet not be paranoid.

Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help! You know I need someone! Help!

OK, I'm done now.

00:04:28 15 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 14 Oct 2003

top

i need a miniblog

One of the things I had on my old blog that I haven't figured out how to reimplement in Blosxom is a mini-blog in a sidebar. It let me document various sites I visited without having to write a full-on entry on them. But I don't want to screw around with Perl right now, so I'm just going to do it here, for now.

There is this story about a black man who shot a white man who broke into his house for the purpose of "killing him some niggers." Unsurprisingly, there are many skeptics. One can only wonder at their motives. As a person-of-color, my first instinct is to believe that they just want to promulgate the lie that racism no longer exists in America. Although you only have to look at such abominations like the World Church of the Creator to know that white people routinely shoot people-of-color for ridiculous reasons such as "keeping America white."

And then there's a little blurb regarding Raymond Damadian, a believer of creation science, who incidentally came up with the idea of applying nuclear magnetic resonance to imaging human anatomy (in other words, he came up with the idea that became the MRI.) Of course, his actual research and paper was completely worthless, but it did provide the seed for the actual inventors of the MRI. But then, given that logic, science fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and William Gibson ought to be awarded Nobel Prizes as well, for being the first to come up with some outlandish ideas that are now our reality.

Gillen makes explicit the interesting apophenic connection between the latest incarnation of Mac OS X called Panther, and Malcolm X. (Black Panthers, X, hee-hee. Good thing that Apple has better sense than to try to exploit this connection.)

Livejournal is like a virus. I don't know how I found this: girlyunderwear.

22:13:39 14 Oct 2003 > /via-trails > permalink > 5 comments

Sun, 12 Oct 2003

top

de clunibus magnis amandis oratio

Someone translated "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot [lyrics][iTMS] (link from blogdex)

10:20:39 12 Oct 2003 > > permalink > 2 comments

top

to boldly go where no man has gone before

More personality tests. From the "Which Fantasy/Scifi Character Are You?" quiz.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

James T. Kirk

An impassioned commander with more respect for individuals than for authority, you have a no-holds-barred approach to life and its obstacles.

I don't believe in the no-win scenario.

James is a character in the Star Trek universe. STARTREK.COM has his Starfleet record.

Now where do I go find me some green-skinned alien women with interesting ridges on their forehead?

08:56:29 12 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

top

the fragility of life

As I lie here in a hotel room bed, watching my brother, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend sleep as the sun slowly creeps over the horizon, I am content.

It's sad to ponder. The reason why my sister and her boyfriend are here is because one of my sister's friends died in a car accident on the I-80 in Nevada (especially eerie because one of my classmates died on this very stretch of road just this past summer.) The wake was yesterday and the funeral is on Monday.

It just further illustrates the dilemma of caring. On one hand, you'd wish they'd be careful and not do things that would put them in danger. On the other hand, you want them to be happy, and sometimes, to be happy, they have to act on risks.

Nothing in this life is certain, except that we die. (Like much of what I write here, it's depressing, but true.)

But the sun is sparkling over the Bay. It's beautiful. I wish I could bottle up these moments, when I'm feeling well and at peace, and just build up a stockpile of these emotions. I would uncork them again during the long, hard winter of my exile in the Midwest to help me endure the darkness.

08:24:05 12 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 11 Oct 2003

top

obsessive compulsive disorder

The thing that sucks is that I really can't stop thinking about it.

In the end, I am afraid. In spite of my big talk about being able to handle whatever comes my way, being willing to ride out the steep plunges and arduous climbs of life, I am afraid, and I worry about what will happen to me.

The thing that scares me are those moments that grind me down, that smash me into submission, where I feel paralyzed and unable to function. The worst part of this is that I know I could survive them if there was someone I could lean on. If I can rely on someone to help me bear the load for the harder parts.

Instead, I feel like, between me and the deep, dark oblivion of failure and defeat, is nothing. Anything can push me over the edge.

In contrast to real life, where it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end, I know that my friends won't let me hit the ground, emotionally speaking. I have a lot of really good friends who provide the last line of defense before I sink into that morass of depression and hopelessness. But what I am afraid of is the fall. My friends are like the firemen who hold the trampoline at the bottom of a burning building. They can only help me if I jump, and I'm scared shitless about jumping. Why can't I just stay where I am, and try to make it from here?

I am afraid of the part where I have to watch the stone roll all the way to the bottom, and that I have no recourse but to roll it back up again, inch by backbreaking inch.

Every time I fall, I have to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch.

Now I know that being in a relationship might be more problems than solutions, but I cannot, for the life of me, help but feel that I'm missing something huge. That whatever potential that lies within me will remain fallow, that I will never become all that I can be.

Times like this, it's hard to see the point.

And yet, I know, I know, that I must go on, and fight the good fight. And I know, if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest.

17:56:13 11 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 10 Oct 2003

top

i need to stop but i can't

Excellent quote from Incidental Findings:

At this point in my life, my romantic aspirations total to this: I'm looking for a girl who will let me feel her up occasionally.

But, you know what, given my borderline personality, I'm tired of being desperate. If I can't have what I want, then I don't want anything at all.

In the wise words of my oldest friend: Fuck it.

The aggravating thing is that I can't seem to stop thinking about it. Despite all the things I have going for me in my life, despite the fact that I love what I'm doing, and that I've liked all the people I've worked with who aren't from my school ever since 4th year started, and that I just recently found out that I kicked ass in 3rd year, and that I have finally come to accept that, all modesty aside, I'm a pretty sharp guy, the likes of whom you probably won't meet very often. (Hehe, that's probably the cockiest thing I've ever said. I'm still lacking a little bit of common sense, but I cover for it a lot with bravado.)

I mean, sure, I can blame our society that pathologizes being alone, that creates these standards of beauty that not everyone can attain (especially if you're not white), that has somehow fixated on the somewhat artifical construct of the nuclear family (because, in most of human history, and still extant in developing countries, it is the extended family that is the most important social unit. The way I see it, the nuclear family is only useful for the sake of biology.) But I know what the problem is. I let it get to me.

It's like this one fly in the ointment. This single gaping hole, a septal defect in my soul, if you will.

I mean, sure, it's not like I'm not experiencing a little bit of pressure from my parents. I finally got that freaky phone call from my mom where she's demanding that I get married soon, because she's sick of worrying about me, and wants someone else to have to worry about me instead. Which is incredibly insane since I haven't dated anyone in an obscene amount of time. It was also kind of depressing talking to my parents. Maybe things have changed now that two out of their three adult children have decided to move back home, but when it was just the two of them, they both independently, in completely different contexts, stated that, at the age they're at, there really isn't that much left to wait for except to die. This immediately got me to thinking that, shit, they need grandchildren.

(The idea of my sister bringing life into this world absolute horrifies me. But I'm sure that will pass, when the time comes.)

And it doesn't help that I've done 6 weeks of pediatrics, and I'm living with a family who has a 3 year old.

There is a part of me that I can't submerge, that wants, against all odds, to be a father.

This is not very compatible with the Art of Not Wanting, and my resolution to enjoy life on my own.

Still, I recall what A said to me once upon a time: It's not like you have to be married to have kids.

No, well, it's more than that.

Despite the fact that I know she probably doesn't exist, in the deep, dark basement of my soul, I still secretly hope that I will meet the girl of my dreams. I have no idea what she looks like. I have a feeling, though, that she has long dark hair, that she likes singing, that she is creative, and funny, and smart. And that while we will have terrible, raging arguments from time to time (see my bizarre take on love), no matter what happens, we will always have a feeling of certainty that this is the way things are meant to go, despite all the warty and hairy parts of life, that, no matter what sort of mean things we might say to each other, the fact is that we understand each other, and we know that we understand each other.

I have a feeling that she will make me a better person, not by changing me, but by recognizing what I can already do, even though I don't know it now.

But this is all pointless.

I've got to be practical here. I've got to focus on the here-and-now, and take care of what needs to get done before I start dreaming.

I have to play the cards that were dealt to me as best I can. Such is life.

But I won't back down. That's the problem with borderline personalities. It's all or nothing. Give me liberty or give me death. To dream the impossible dream.

I'm playing against Fate here. To steal a phrase from a song by Sting, the sacred geometry of chance. And if that magic number never comes up, so be it.

17:26:38 10 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 09 Oct 2003

top

in the beginning was the word

I don't know why I can't do this, why it's such a painful task to just pound this shit out, write down what I mean to say, and get it done with.

I just can't write my personal statement. It's absolutely killing me.

Well. At least I can still write (as long as you keep your threshold for what constitutes as writing relatively low, that is.)

Seriously, though. I miss it a lot. I don't know what made me give up, why I can no longer feel the euphoric rush of inspiration, of writing down the crystallized images emanating from my mind.

Instead, the words come out long and labored, rough-hewn and unfinished.

The form is obscured by the content. The content is distorted by the form. A veritable downward spiral of incomprehensibility.

The idee fixee. The overvalent idea. (Odd, that, that something I wrote nearly a year ago parallels these thoughts bouncing through my mind. Something about autumn, no doubt.)

I am trapped in my own circular, solipsistic universe.

But, like I said. Incomprehensible. I hardly understand what I'm saying.

In any case, it was good to go back to Berkeley on Tuesday. I haven't been there since June 2002, when A and E got married. I haven't really been there since December 2001, when I bought a, uh, "tobacco accessory." (It wasn't for me, I swear! It was supposed to be a Christmas present!)

Like I told BR, it was strange that my body remembered the place, but my eyes didn't recognize a goddamned thing. (In the words of a nerdy biology major and future M.D., my procedural memory was intact, but my visual memory couldn't make heads or tails of anything.)

I went to the maganda event in Dwinelle, where Barbara Reyes and Aimee Nezhukumatathil read poetry.

Ah. The word. It seems like a lifetime away. And yet I can't let go of it.

(Since I am mentioning poets' blogs, I ought to mention Gura's Blog as well. I apparently missed her, as I came too late.)

I need to get in touch with my soul again, I suppose. I can't help ponder William Gibson's caveat regarding blogging and its possible incompatibility with serious writing.

Oh well. You can't hurry love inspiration. You just have to wait.

21:50:36 9 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 08 Oct 2003

top

loneliness has always been a friend of mine

On Monday, I drove across the Bay Bridge to visit B and we shot the shit about relationships (or more accurately in my case, the lack thereof.) On one hand, this past summer was one of the most action-filled in my life. I've met more women in this one year than I ever have before.

But of course, nothing ever went anywhere. Fate and my subconscious have conspired to sabotage any chance I might've had.

Thems is the breaks.

So I've been really, really concentrating on this whole Art of Not Wanting. (Thankfully, the medication is doing it's part. While most people complain about their decreased libido, it's actually working in my favor.) I know, I know, it sounds like hollow bullshit, the kind of thing that losers tell themselves when they have to go to sleep cold and alone with nothing but a bottle of handlotion or a jar of vaseline by their side, but, well, it's all I've got.

I can't stand how our culture pathologizes being alone.

I definitely count more couples than not as I sit here in the B&N.

Maybe I am a freak.

Anyway, what got me thinking was that my brother just turned 23, and he was really depressed. (What can I say, nobody loves you when you're 23.) Mostly, it's the whole direction-in-life thing that's getting him down. According to my sister, he, in fact, has a girlfriend, something that he has neglected to inform me about (although he's had a long history of hiding this kind of shit from anyone related to him. The only reason my sister probably knows is because she is the nosiest person in the world.)

The point being, it reminded me of when I turned 23, and how it was the loneliest day of my life.

I had just moved out to Illinois, and I was completely uprooted and adrift. My roommate was away on a trip (I think it was his sister's wedding) and no one else around knew that it was my birthday. Of course, my good friends all gave me a call, but I'm pretty sure it only highlighted how horrifically alone I was.

And, yet, it didn't kill me.

Loneliness is in fact survivable.

I mean, yeah, it kind of does interesting things to my mind. I'm currently living with two families: two couples (both of the wives are currently pregnant) and a 3 year old.

It kind of hurts to imagine that this isn't anything that will happen in my future.

It was even crazier when I decided to go to church with my friends on Sunday (I haven't gone since Ascension Thursday Sunday) and the Gospel was essentially about marriage. I don't know whether God was mocking me, or trying to comfort me in some warped, twisted way.

But, I suppose, like always, it's all about small steps. At least I haven't been brooding about it. I mean, yeah, it's popped into my mind now and again, but it doesn't make me weep the way I did when I found out my two friends were getting married to each other. (And that is a long, long story that I really don't want to get into at this point.

Really, though. This is not so bad. I can do this.

I also imagined what it would be like to be an uncle. That will be good enough, maybe. It takes a village, and all that.

I've always said that I shouldn't be allowed to reproduce anyway.

Hah.

Anyway, the Art of Not Wanting.

You've got to hold on to something even when there is nothing to hold on to. Such is life.

22:37:16 8 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

top

enneagram

I love personality tests.

 Conscious self
Overall self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

19:14:54 8 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 06 Oct 2003

top

the friend zone

Fit the First

I have been trying to convince myself that there's nothing wrong with being alone, that I am capable of living a rich, fulfilling life on my own, without having to rely on anyone else.

Now, of course, there is something that rings hollow to that. My thoughts on the matter otherwise gel together. But there is a conspicuous, vacuous space embedded within, an air bubble in the tubing.

Human beings are, for better or for worse, social beings. We need to be around other people. At the same time, we inevitably need to express our individuality. And I am convinced we cannot survive at either extreme. The whole of human life is the balance between self and other, a continual, vital dialectic.

So, for now, there is something missing.

I am approaching the Godelian no-man's land of my theory for contentment.

But I've got no recourse but to pretend it's not there. Selective amnesia. The last refuge of the madman and the scoundrel. I hope there is such a thing as karma, because at times like these, I feel like life owes me some payback.

Heh. Wishful thinking.

Fit the Second

But I have tarried here too long, in this land of No Chance. As what she says digs deeper into my heart, all these assertions that I'm a great guy, that I'm a lot of the things she wishes she could find, that I would be a great catch, as what she says inches closer to the vital regions of my soul like a bullet, or a fat embolus, making me wish impossible things, making me aspire to delusions, what she says is further proof that I am screwed, that I am trapped in this box, and that anything I try to change the situation will only dig me a bigger hole to wallow in.

Catch-22. If you're crazy, then I can't let you do this to yourself. I can't let you blow yourself up again. But then, if you were really crazy, you wouldn't think twice about self-destruction. You'd just jump in and say "Geronimo!" The fact that you don't want to destroy yourself proves you're not crazy, so I have to make you destroy yourself. Oh yes. Much more bizarre and insane than "Damned if you do, damned if you don't." This is Godel in literary form.

I could take the easy way out and say that my life sucks.

But it would be an oversimplification of what is, despite all my friends' attempts to downplay it, a hopelessly complex situation.

My brain is on fire.

How do you keep hoping when there is clearly no hope? How do you stop hoping when a million opportunities lie in your path, just ready for the taking?

Why can I never set my heart on a possible thing?

Simultaneously, what I say will be true, and it will be false. (More Godel for ya.) None of this really matters. On one hand, it's a rationalization to account for all my failings. But on the other, it is objectively true. Some day, I will forget any of this ever happened, and someday, no one will know or care.

I will not let this get to me. But it's there. It has always been there.

Hello, darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk to you again....

22:33:18 6 Oct 2003 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments