Mon, 27 Dec 2004

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the wall

I, my friends, have hit the wall.

It, no doubt, has something to do with the fact that in the past 2 months, I've gotten only two weekends off. Both of those, AFAICR, involved doing very exhausting things, and they weren't so much weekends off as they were days trying to catch up with the rest of my life.

Nonetheless, bills remain unpaid, trash lies uncollected, laundry sits unwashed.

Futility isn't exactly what I mean, but it's the best word I can come up with at the moment.

The bright, but possibly disastrous, spot in all of this is that I know that this can't go on forever, for various reasons.

Either I survive, or I don't.

I've gotten to the point where there's no use in worrying about it. Whatever happens, happens.

The ends of years just absolutely kill me.

10:25:42 27 Dec 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 01 Dec 2004

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song

the light the rain, the spilt shifting sand and lightning fog like ripe blossoms dessicated by the desert's furnace winds withering breath

we swear upon the souls of our grandmothers our grandfathers all this shit-stained mewling and bloody nothingness destiny makes us all miserable wracked with horror and agony sunk into tiny particles of despair of decay we wonder time and matter and free energy and freedom let it ring! some dream some trick some hoax each second is a four dimensional prison if there was only a way to flow between into the cracks and fissures of reality

we try to draw this out this ichor this poison as if with activated charcoal after downing an entire bottle of pain-killers how to kill the pain is to kill one's self and there is no other way around without resorting to sophistry

we sing like lightning and thunder and the hurricane winds rip roar around us like man eating predators like the lizard kings in the days before the meteor and still like tongues of fire like the roiling sea I cannot cease crafting nonsense words for all the things I will never understand

22:18:12 1 Dec 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 2 comments

Sat, 27 Nov 2004

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post-turkey depression

I now officially hate the holiday season.

I can't really explain this sense of dysphoria churning inside of me right now. I am angry and depressed at the same time, at nothing specific. There is no target of my ire, just this vague feeling of wanting to bash something with a baseball bat.

It's ironic that now that I only live 2 hours away from home, I still can't really come home. Not in a metaphysical sense, at least. There's something missing. It isn't really the fact that my sister is 3,000 miles away, because for years now neither my brother nor my sister have been home very much.

It's just that the last few holiday seasons just make me think of an old VHS tape being played over and over again, each time losing some of its quality, deteriorating from wear and tear.

I don't want to say it, and I don't want to believe it, but nonetheless: I think it's because we are all growing old. Not just older, either. And there aren't any kids in the family. There is no one with a sense of wonderment around, no one to ooh and ahh the pretty lights and the decorations and the special dishes and the turkey and the pumpkin pie and the cambing and the bibingka. It's just the same old, same old each year, and one of these days, someone is simply not going to show up, and not because they have something better to do. Yeah, I'm being morbid.

Speaking of which, I basically spent the weekend killing things. No, not in real life. But, bizarrely, it has become a sort of tradition between me and my brother. We sort of mutually decide on a particular video game and play it for hours and hours on end. This year it was Halo 2.

Maybe it was the fact that we beat it so easily, and the ending was really anticlimactic. (But that's all I'll say about that.)


and again, I really get too much time to think as I drive back and forth between S.D. and L.A. I realize that at this stage in time, I don't have a long range plan. I'm sure if you knew me well, you'd think that this wouldn't be surprising, and you'd think it would be ludicrous for me to saying something like this, but it's really odd. If you've ever watched "The Princess Bride," you'll remember Iñigo Montoya's little soliloquy about not knowing what to do now that he has avenged his father, after about a decade and a half of looking for his father's murderer. I guess you could say I feel a little like that, what with finally finishing med school after how many long hard, dark years, many of which were spent in going in circles and in backtracking. And sure, there are a few short-to-medium term goals that I have, but they're merely details.

I've always been a big-picture kind of guy, and right now, there isn't one.

I know, I know. Day by day.


Maybe it's because of the dream I had last night. I had a really hard time going to sleep for some reason and I woke up with a horrific headache. But I dreamt about my ex-girlfriend who has recently gotten married. The content of the dream eludes me at this time. All I remember is being frustrated, or maybe jealous. I don't know.


And basically, when I come home, it's just backstabbing and shit-talking. I suppose my parents and my aunts and uncles are at that stage in their life where it's all about looking back, and they keep digging up all this old bullshit that just pisses people off in one way or another. There's this phony facade of getting along, but deep down, there are grudges brewing, and venom simmering. And I know it's all pointless, because you can't undo the past without undoing the present.


I guess it's just the depressing idea of feeling so alone amidst all these people, my family. Home these days means this squalid, one bedroom apartment that I barely sleep in, much less live in, because I'm always at work. I only feel safe here because there's no one around to do any emotional or mental harm, not because it's really Home™

And that thought sends me tumbling down the tired old discussion of the futility of ever finding someone who'll come along with me down these twisted paths, the paths least taken through life. Someone who wants to come along, not because they're desperate to be with someone, anyone, as long as its a warm body, not because I'm hopelessly in love with them and they can manipulate me like a puppet on a string. Just someone who is going the same way as I am, and someone who'd welcome my companionship on this journey.

I don't know. Who knows what I want. All I know is that the lifestyle I'm leading right now can't be permanent, because one day I'll get completely bored with all my useless free time and quite possible blow my brains out.

(P.S. That wasn't suicidal ideation. I'm just being melodramatic as usual.)

Whatever. As they say, tomorrow is yet another day.

23:13:16 27 Nov 2004 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Tue, 09 Nov 2004

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getting the hell out

I had long, reasoned talk with the attending physician I work for after the election. She and I are both liberals in a city overrun by conservatives, and we got to talking about leaving the country.

Now I know that we shouldn't bail out quite yet. After all, California is a pretty blue state, and who knows, maybe San Diego could have a liberal mayor yet (Go Donna Frye!) I was actually quite amazed at the number of Kerry/Edwards stickers I've seen here in S.D., and I have a feeling a good number of those are on the cars of people in the military who are sick of the shit that Rumsfeld and W are feeding them.

Various forms of secession have been discussed on the Internet[1][2][3], abetted by the fact that Red State America would be gladdened by getting rid of us. California would probably be all right on its own, although I'm sure water rights to the Colorado River would get nasty, a border war waiting to happen. (I wonder if Las Vegas would join up with us? After all, much of the commerce done there is by Californians, and Clark County voted pretty blue. Then we'd have a bigger claim on the Colorado...)

Barring successful independence from Jesusland, I've tried to figure out a graceful exit plan. There is a chance that tyranny will be overcome, and perhaps we will be a free country again in 2008, when I finish my residency, but I'm not holding my breath. So currently I'm looking for a place to deposit my money where I can hold it in pound sterling in anticipation of the impending massive devaluation of American dollar, once China decides it's done with subsidizing our massive deficit and gets rid of their hoard of dollars. I'm still a little wary of the Euro, although I suspect it will be much more stable than the dollar in the next few years, so we'll see. I still haven't figured out a country to emigrate to, though. One, I have to figure out somewhere where my M.D. would translate into a job. Two, I'd have to find a place where I wouldn't be driven to suicide by seasonal affective disorder. (So despite it's utopian-like society, this kind of X'es out Finland.) Now lest you believe I'll be surrounded by white people, well, I will be, but there are Filipinos everywhere. I've met Pinoys and Pinays from Norway, Denmark, Austria, you name it. Good thing I know a little Tagalog.

But I'm not in a hurry. I'll have to keep my ear to the ground in case there is a civil war, but maybe W will go the way of Nixon and fail to finish his term.

14:26:45 9 Nov 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 1 comments

Sat, 02 Oct 2004

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fall of the towers

Just finished Samuel Delany's book "Fall of the Towers." The title caught me for obvious reasons, although the book was written well in the '60's, during the social turmoil of that era. Interestingly, despite being written 40 years ago, it is astoundingly relevant to today. The story is about an Empire that has found that it no longer has any space to expand, causing economic turmoil. The tanking economy is making jobs scarce, and unemployment causes an increase in crime. The society depicted takes to locking up their criminals in mines, but even that isn't enough to stem the tide of discontentment and decay, so they decide to go to war, against an enemy that may not really exist. At least, there is no real "other," the political and financial intrigues in the Empire come together that certain events look like attacks by an outside enemy. When they discover that there really is no enemy, they nonetheless keep up the pretense of war, the people in power refusing to admit to themselves the disaster they have wrought. It still isn't enough to control the malcontent by sending them off to war. And in the end, the made-up war gets out of control, and backfires on the Empire, and eventually, the Empire crumbles.

Through the lens of my completely informal understanding of poli sci and ethnic studies, it seems like an allegory of Marxism. Capitalism will eat itself. But somehow this text makes me come upon this conclusion: Communism isn't the end-stage of economic development. It is the beginning stage. And it still does come after capitalism. But once capitalism destroys itself, we have no choice but to start over again. With the population thinned by the inevitable destructive forces unleashed by the destruction of capitalism, while the land may be wracked and ruined and probably radioactive, most likely, the resource to person ratio will be increased. In a society where everything is abundant except for labor, it doesn't make sense to create a capitalist system. The infrastructure has to be rebuilt first, and every hand will be needed to do that. Since there is no (relative) scarcity in a post-apocalyptic world, it is difficult to accumulate what would be a meaningful amount of wealth. But as the population grows, and resources get scarcer, market forces come into play, and supply and demand inevitably create classes of haves and have-nots.

In history, it makes a lot of sense. When the English colonized the East Coast, their relatively small population was met with an abundance of resources. They had no choice but to band together to build the infrastructure, because without infrastructure you are vulnerable to the environment: starvation, drought, cold, etc. In the early days of the Republic, the economy of the time is often described as a "moral economy," a sort of intermediate phase between communism and capitalism. While wealth could be created, the group's social cohesiveness still keeps market forces in check, and entrepeneurs made sure to trade only things that the colonists could use, and made sure not to gouge them for it. In other words, it was a planned economy, really, although the "moral" part underscores the Calvinistic undertones.

So, contrary to the common Western concept of linear progress, economic systems are cyclic. Everything changes and evolves, and sometimes we are forced to start all over again.

11:40:45 2 Oct 2004 > /books > permalink > 6 comments

Thu, 30 Sep 2004

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fall

It is exquisitely subtle, but there is indeed an autumn in Southern California. Despite the fact that the highs are still in the 70s, the evenings feel pretty chilly. Like sweatshirt or light jacket chilly.

The smell of burning leaves pervades the crisp air, which, I suppose, makes sense since October is fire season. I always wondered what that smell was, but after the holocaust last year, I suppose it's the smell of the natural life cycle of chapparal.

When I was in the Midwest, the fall would always fill me with sadness and dread about the long, painful winter. The waning of daylight would send me into a tailspin of seasonal affective disorder. But, here, because of the eternal blue, cloudless sky and temperatures that rarely drop below the 50s even in the heart of winter, I feel myself more buoyant.

I'm not going to call it hope, though. It's been a long time since I've had that. ("Haven't had a dream in a long time/See the luck I've had would make a good man bad…" Thank you, Steven Morrissey. And Ferris Bueller.) Although maybe I wouldn't recognize it even if it bit me in the ass.

I might just start worshipping the Sun. Ra, Helios, Amaterasu, Mata Hari, Tamit, whatever you want to call him/her/it.

23:45:24 30 Sep 2004 > > permalink > 1 comments

Wed, 29 Sep 2004

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nyc fall 2004

Everytime I go on a trip, I always end up immersing myself in mind-numbing, artless pop music. These are the times I actually watch MTV (er, MTV2 and VH-1, to be precise) and I actually find out what they're playing on the radio these days. (I have saved myself from Clear Channel-style brainwashing by utilizing my iPod. How about that. Apple protects you from Big Brother, no?)

So without further adieu, the shit I heard on the radio, which I cannot get out of my head no matter how much I pray to God, and which I completely infect other people around me with, much to their chagrin:

  1. Destiny's Child "Lose My Breath"
  2. Avril Lavigne "Happy Ending"
  3. Usher and Alicia Keys "My Boo"
  4. Kylie Minogue "Fever"
  5. Frou Frou "Let Go"
  6. Juvenile "Slow Motion"
  7. Terror Squad "Lean Back"
  8. Black Eyed Peas "Let's Get it Started"
  9. N.O.R.E. featuring Nina Sky and Tego Calderon "Oye Mi Canto"

"Happy Ending" was the annoying song that would always get stuck in our heads. "Lose My Breath" played repeatedly and endlessly as we attempted to cross the George Washington Bridge to visit my relatives. It took about an hour to leave the city, and another hour to get to their place. The GWB was a clusterfuck of immense proportions. We probably heard the song about four times before we finally crossed the Hudson. I heard "Fever," which is an old track, playing in one of those jeans stores in SoHo. It was pretty infectious, kind of retro, freestylish, very '80's-like. Then again, Kylie did have a little stint in the '80's. "Lean Back" only stuck in my head because it references (intentionally? or not?) a place name in NYC, namely, Rockaway. "Oye Mi Canto" was playing everywhere. It took me a while to figure out Nina Sky is saying "Borequa morena, Columbiano, Dominicano." Interestingly, when I made it back to the West Coast, they added a few lines: "Borequa morena, Cubano, Mexicano" It's kind of like that song by "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" by Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz, where each city inserted it's own place names into the chorus.

There was one song that I rediscovered on my iPod as I headed back downtown after making it all the way to 190th St. in Manhattan. It's kind of neat to be listening to a song in an artist's place of origin. Like listening to 2pac while in L.A., Kanye West while in Chicago.

Mos Def resurrects a freestyle classic "Summertime," originally done by Nocera. It was pretty sweet to be cruising down the West Side while groovin' to Mos. I did actually make it to Brooklyn, however briefly.

21:48:00 29 Sep 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

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messy, not dirty

So I like to claim, at least. So today I gave in to my Virgoness and decided to neaten the tangled web of wires running all through my living room. Power cords, 10-base-T ethernet, USB, audio, cable. Like a sea of tangled snakes. I went down to Target and picked up some 3M cord controllers (or whatever you call 'em) and went to town. I don't know what it is (maybe it's just the realization that I spent 3 hours of my life that I'll never get back) but it does seem a lot neater. Of course, the rest of the apartment is a complete shithole at this juncture. I really don't know where to start. Stupid vacation.

Fuck. I have to work tomorrow.

21:25:11 29 Sep 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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red line to the sea

As I pine for non-asphalt dependent public transit in L.A., the City Council decides to support an expansion of the Red Line [registration required] The Red Line is L.A.'s only existing heavy-rail subway, which currently runs from Downtown L.A. (starting at Union Station) up to North Hollywood (trying to bite off of SoHo in NYC and calling itself NoHo), with a little spur that goes a little ways down Wilshire Blvd. That spur was actually suppose to go all the way to the Westside, but, unfortunately, there were a bunch of explosive methane pockets in the way (undoubtedly inspiring the movie "Volcano") The straw that broke the camel's back was the huge sinkhole that formed in Hollywood, and politics killed any more expansion. The MTA has instead focused on light-rail and improving the bus system.

But traffic down Wilshire Blvd. is horrrrible, and the stupid bus lanes are actually hurting businesses and making the traffic worse for cars, so they are now reconsidering.

The price tag is stupendous: $1 billion. (I feel like laughing evilly and maniacally, and putting my pinky in my mouth.) But if it happens, then L.A. is on its way to becoming a world class city.

21:21:21 29 Sep 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

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crash

Jesus Fucking Christ. When "crash" just doesn't mean the computer is going down. Remember that 3 hour delay at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) a couple of weeks ago? It was because a Windows server crashed, leaving 800 planes stranded in mid-air, completely out of touch with the air traffic control system, and leading to at least 5 instances of near-collisions.

If you ever fly in and out of LAX, I would suggest writing to the FAA to fucking switch back to using a UNIX system. Those things can run forever without crashing, while a Windows computer is apparently supposed to crash every 49.7 days or so.

08:33:15 29 Sep 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 28 Sep 2004

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gold line

I randomly decided to hop on the MTA Gold Line, which runs from Union Station in Downtown L.A. to the eastern edge of Pasadena. I got on at the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park stop and headed north to Lake Avenue in Pasadena, where I hoofed it down to Colorado Ave to visit Vroman's Bookstore (for some reason I can't get the actual site to load up, so I linked Google's cache.) I splurged and bought too many books, but, oh well. I have no excuses. On the way back I hopped on at the Memorial Park Station, which is where you would get off if you were interested in visiting Old Town. The bohemian-like enclave that I sighted off of the Mission St Station in South Pasadena intrigued me, and I had a rather late lunch there. I kind of wonder if it has always been there, or if it literally grew around the station. Of course, it was mostly white people. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It looks like there are going to be massive developments adjacent the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park station. There were a bunch of bulldozers at a vacant lot right next to the station. Just a block or so down the street is the Los Angeles River Gardens, which was the former site of Lawry's. I didn't really get to tarry too long there, although I may consider stopping there tomorrow before I head home.

While many people think it is completely ludicrous to build rail (whether heavy or light) in the city that built one of the first freeways in the country, it is interesting the patterns of development that subway and light-rail stations create. For better and for worse, nodes of gentrification are developing. You can see this most conspicuously at the Hollywood and Western stop off the Red Line. When I was in high school, this place was teeming with porno shops, and ladies were working the streets bigtime. Now it has given way to miles of non-descript strip malls and new housing developments.

I did have to chuckle a bit as the Gold Line crossed over the parking-lot like Pasadena Freeway. The experts estimate that the average speed of rush hour traffic will drop off to about 17 mph in a few years. Freeway widening will have little relief. (As I read somewhere—unfortunately I can't give proper credit—freeway widening is a little too much like trying to solve your weight problem by merely loosening your pants.)

Ever since I first rode the trains in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, I've dreamt of being able to traverse the City of Angels without ever having to hop in my car. It is unlikely this will ever happen in my lifetime, but at least the MTA is heading in the right direction. They plan to expand the Gold Line to go through East L.A. and some of the more proximal suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley. There is talk of using existing railroad right-of-way for the Expo Line, which would provide access to Mid-Wilshire and West L.A., and maybe even Santa Monica. As the traffic continues to worsen, as gas prices continue to rise, and as the world's oil supply slowly becomes depleted, someday the City of Angels will have to look to the future and build a reasonable transportation infrastructure.

One of the neat things about the Gold Line is the scenic route through the Arroyo Seco. As it heads out from Union Station, you get some of the urban vibe, but it quickly enters the viaduct maze where the L.A. River rounds the bend past the hills where Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park sit. From there on it gets pretty residential, and downright nature like, until it hits Pasadena. It quickly passes through a completely industrial area then ends up in Old Town, which is chock full of commercial fun. From there it finds itself in the median of the Foothill Freeway, where things are a little more nondescript, although Mt. Wilson looms grandly to the North. In the straight-up industrial and residential outskirts of New York and Chicago, I do not think you can get this kind of view. Sure, you get an excellent urban feel, which probably cannot be reduplicated in L.A. (although downtown L.A. does serve as the inspiration for all that noir fiction), but that's about it. In contrast, the Gold Line manages to highlight the natural beauty of the city which has resisted taming by even the most zealous developers. As one of my fellow passengers remarked, "Wow, this ride sure is pretty."

Which brings me to the fact that lots of people use the light-rail. In a city where it is often stated that there are more cars than people, in a city where the combined surface area of all the freeways could probably pave the entire state of Rhode Island over, in a city for which there is a song about how no one walks there, a lot of people overlook the reality that not everyone can afford a car, and the annual reg fees, the insurance premiums, the gasoline. In the trains I rode, most of the seats were occupied. Granted, no one had to stand up, and it wasn't packed the way a rush hour Brooklyn-bound B-train gets packed, but it was still impressive that lots of people were using it.

There was a computer game once upon a time (in the early 1990's) called "Rise of the Dragon" which depicted the city of L.A. with actually useful public transit. Like subways and shit. Since then, it's always been something I fantasize about. Imagine being able to take a train out to the beach on any of those numerous 70 degree days anytime during the year, and not having it take 2 hours to get back home. Imagine being able to hit all the hotspots without having to hop into a car.

Again, unlikely in my lifetime. Ah well.

23:43:27 28 Sep 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

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k-ci and jo-jo "all my life"

It is interesting how travel to a distance place defines a boundary in time. Less opaquely, my trip to NYC sort of divides things into pre-vacation and post-vacation.

I admit. I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

I feel changed, as usual, by this trip. Which is interesting since I really didn't do much that was different from what I usually do when I'm out there. Walk around what is essentially a gigantic outdoor mall called Soho. Check out Central Park, the museums. Visit friends who I haven't seen for a million years and who try to eke out a few minutes out of their busy schedules just to meet up. Take the subway everywhere.

On one hand, I left with a tinge of sadness. I suppose the end of vacation is always tinged by a little sadness. But my friends and family out there in the city—expatriate Californians, the lot of them—are dear to me, and I miss them. The Internet and cel phones with monstrous amounts of minutes make the barrier of distance more permeable, but nothing beats being face to face and hanging out and just shooting the shit with an old friend.

But, now that I am on the other side, just waiting to go back to work, I realize for truth that I would not have survived easily there.

The illusion of being able to stay in touch is easy to fall for when you're on vacation, but the sad reality is that without extraordinary effort, even if you live across the street from one another, it is hard to not feel isolated. Even here, surrounded by family, the loneliness will sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night, this hole inside me aching, and me not knowing at all how to stop it from doing so.

I am slowly growing used to the notion that, no matter what, at the end of your life, you are alone. Now, I am, statistically speaking, nowhere near the end of my life, but, the point is, I am trying to grow accustomed to the idea that loneliness is an unavoidable aspect of the human condition.

But the reason this particular song struck me as I was letting iTunes meander through my rather incoherent music library is that it makes me think of my second trip to NYC ever, back in 1997.

I was still in college, and it was a family vacation with my parents and my brother and my sister, the first stop in an East Coast cavalcade that would eventually run down to Virginia Beach. We stayed in Midtown, and did all the tourist things. The Empire State Building. The Statue of Liberty. Times Square. Watching a musical on Broadway. The World Trade Center. (Me and my brother have this now eerie picture with the WTC in the background.) Shopping on 5th Ave. St. Patrick's Cathedral.

I think back, and I still remember just who exactly it was I had a crush on at that time. It is interesting to reflect on how I actually had hope back then, however misguided.

I was struck, however, by the fact that despite being surrounded by 15 million people in an area that is probably just on the scale of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, it is still possible to feel completely alone.

I do not understand why I have allowed the aftermath of that time in my life to continue to haunt me to this day.

It's like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, really. You can figure out the causal chain of events, but you can never really pinpoint what exactly made you become the way you are. It will forever remain a mystery, the complex way that certain events in my life have conspired to lock me in to a particular behavior.

You know you're in trouble when you start entertaining the possibility that you are still right, and all the 6 billion other people in the world are wrong.

But this is all very cryptic, and I don't expect anyone to read this and understand what the hell I'm getting at. I have a feeling that a week from now, I'll read this entry and even I won't understand what the hell I'm talking about.

I was glancing briefly at Chuck Palahniuk's non-fiction work entitled Stranger than Fiction. His prologue brought up the interesting dialectic of the human condition. When we are in a crowd, we long to be in solitude. When we are alone, we start feeling lonely, and long to be in a crowd. I think it is more complex than just the "grass is always greener" syndrome. I think that it borders on pathology, just one hair shy of dissociative disorder. We want these two things simultaneously. We want to be alone, but we want to be around other people.

Or, to personalize it a little, every time I long for a relationship, someone always manages to point out the fact that a lot of times, there is a lot of pain and suffering involved.

Honestly, at this point in my life, though, I don't know what's worse. The aching, hollowing, sinking, sharp, stabbing feeling of heartache, or this dull, drear numbness that I currently wallow in. To feel pain or not to feel at all. That is the question.

I also finished Idlewild on the plane, which is by Nick Sagan (who, incidentally, happens to be Carl Sagan's son.) One of the little tangents he touches on is the question as to whether pain will be implemented in virtual reality. And the fact of the matter is that pain is a product of evolution. Pain serves an adaptive useful function. Without pain, we'd constantly be doing things to ourselves that would be fatal. A nice little cut here, followed by an infection, followed by gangrene, then septicemia, then death. This is one of the side effects of leprosy, by the way. It eats away at your nerves, and you cease being able to feel pain in your hands and feet.

But I suppose there is a difference between physical pain, and psychic pain, the pain that arises purely from the mind, and yet eventually manages to ravage the entire body. This kind of pain is real, but it's an open question as to whether it's really useful. Especially in my life, currently.

There's got to be another alternative besides pain or numbness.

Now the question is how the hell do I figure out what that alternative is?

01:09:56 28 Sep 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 27 Sep 2004

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spammers must die

I just spent a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up the spoor of some spambots targetting Blosxom blogs. I have enlisted the help of Doug Alcorn's modified writeback plug-in and his spam killing tools. We'll see if I can stop these dirty bastards.

18:04:45 27 Sep 2004 > /computers/www/blosxom > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 25 Sep 2004

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mountains and the city

I want to write something profound in these last ten minutes before I board the plane, but, as has been the case for a disturbingly long time, the words escape me.

Being out here in NYC, though, I feel like they're within reach again. Somewhere behind the foggy mist of sleep deprivation, caffeine induced madness, and suffering and disease, there is something solid I can touch every once in a while.

This isn't some Matrix-like illusion. I'm pretty sure.

Well. Whatever.

So I watched "The Motorcycle Diaries" last night with my sister and her roommate, and it was a very thought-provoking movie. As they depicted Guevarra's growing awareness of the greed-induced injustice in the world, it struck me painfully how very little has changed in the last 50 years, and, really, in many ways it's a lot worse than then. But that is another tirade entirely.

Three experiences that my apophenic mind took note of: (1) I spent some time in the Natural History Museum on 81st St., and, like my trip to the Met, it disturbed me that there was little-to-nothing regarding the various Filipino indigenous cultures, despite having decent exhibits regarding other Southeast Asian cultures. But I found myself wandering through the section on South and Central America. It is always interesting to wonder what would've happened if the great American empires had been able to resist the invading forces of the Spanish. Not that the Aztecs were exactly great guys, what with their preoccupation with human sacrifice and all. But I have always been fascinated by the Incans. Particularly with the rash of theories that postulate that Proto-Malays—my ancestors—may have actually made it across the Pacific Ocean. That and the fact that they use coca leaf pretty freely over there. Not that I'm a coke fiend or anything. I guess, though, that Machu Picchu has sort of become the South American equivalent of Rome in terms of feeling like you have to go there at least at some point in your life. I also am interested in the experience of living at or around the elevation of 10,000 feet, and wondering how my body will (or won't) adapt. (2) When I brought this up to B, he commented on how tons of his friends have literally just come back from vacations to Peru, and somehow this segued onto our discussion on the unraveling of the Republic of the U.S.A., and our little debate regarding the consequences of globalization. My take is that, somehow, the U.S. has stopped producing anything of real value. Our biggest export is pop trash like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, and the idea of basing our economy on the enforcement of the sketchy concept of intellectual property in an age of worldwide Internet connectivity is dubious at best. Economic disaster looms. (3) Then I watched "Motorcycle Diaries," and a lot of the most thought-provoking scenes were set in Peru.

My sister commented on how the upper reaches of the Andes had a lot in common with the Cordillera in the Philippines.

I find it interesting that the U.S. is now involved in an imperial quagmire similar to the quagmire in the Philippines a 100 years ago.

Well, my plane is boarding, so more later.

13:03:51 25 Sep 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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scrabble and the meaning of life

There is this Flash animation that tells the story of a woman who believes God talks to her through Scrabble, which entirely reminds me of a particular scene from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilog—or should I say pentology. In that scene, the protagonist of the book, Arthur Dent, who is one of the last living inhabitants of Earth AKA the largest computer in the Universe which was computing the question to the answer of life, the universe, and everything. As is well known, the answer is 42. Unfortunately, the Earth is destroyed right before it figures out the answer, so Arthur decides to see if somehow the answer if encoded in his brain, and he starts blindly picking out Scrabble tiles from a bag. The question that he comes up with is "WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY NINE," leading him to comment that he's always thought that there was something intrinsically wrong with the universe.

06:05:58 25 Sep 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 1 comments

Wed, 22 Sep 2004

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music

I don't know if it's just the change in environment, the fact that I have so many good memories attached to this city, the fact that I'm not under the crushing oppression of working 12-30 hour days, 6 days a week, or the fact that I'm no longer deathly ill and sneezing out thick, brown snot, but I feel a lot more alive now. And I'm not really doing anything. I'm actually spending a lot of time on the internet, hunting down random mashups and bootlegs, walking around the tourist areas and doing a lot of window shopping, and checking out the Museums. On Saturday I revisited the Met, which I realize makes my head spin after three hours, and yesterday I headed up to the very northern tip of Manhattan to see Tryon Park and The Cloisters. That was nice, but a little disorienting. It's strange to have religious iconography somewhat decontextualized. I don't know if it's the conscious realization that this is a museum and not a sacred place that does this. The other disturbing thing there are the unicorn tapestries, which depict the hunting down and the killing of a unicorn, which can be seen as an allegory for the crucifixion of Christ.

Maybe it's also because I'm getting lots of sleep and plenty of exercise. I've been averaging about 12 hours, including a late afternoon/early evening nap (I'm still on Pacific Time, so this corresponds well with the mid-day dip). I'm probably walking a couple miles a day or so, including hustling up and down the stairs in the subway stations.

I really miss the city (not just this city, but the archetypal construct of The City), but I guess, doing what I'm doing, I wouldn't get to see the city much anyway, whereever I went, and the weather would make me more miserable than I'd like to be.

My question is, why didn't they build real cities in hospitable climates?

Anyway, trips like these always make me listen to pop music for some reason, and walking into the clothing stores exposes me to all this techno and trance stuff, so I'm just happily searching the Net and the iTunes Music Store for things that pop up. This also happens to be my first trip to New York where I've had my iPod with me. At first I was apprehensive about screwing around with it while on the subway trains. I don't actually think I'm going to get ripped off in the middle of the day with all these tourists milling about, but there's often very little clearance, and sometimes you need both hands to brace yourself against accelerations and decelerations. But then I noticed the practically everyone has an iPod here (by the tell-tale white earbuds.)

It's strange, when I lived in Chicago, I'd go everywhere with my iPod. Wicker Park, the Mag Mile, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, the Blue Line, the Red Line. It was my own personal soundtrack. But here in NYC, there's something soothing about the city noise. Probably it's just because I've gotten used to wandering the streets and the subways without any musical accompaniment.

I realize that it gives you the illusion of isolation, too, revealing my underlying Angeleno roots. This is apparently something other Angelenos prize, being able to live entirely in their cars, being stranded on the 405 with literally hundreds of other people and yet not being able to interact with a single one of them. It kind of makes me sad, but having grown up there, I guess it's an instinctual tendency. Really, no one walks in L.A. There was an article in the L.A. Times about this guy who decided to make it his quest to go up and down all the major city streets in the Southland, and he commented on how there are hardly ever any other people around. Not even homeless people.

If I do follow the path of least resistance (well, least resistance in some ways. Certainly not financially) and end up living in L.A., I will try my damndest to live next to a subway or light-rail station. I'm excited that they're going to build the Gold Line extension to the Eastside. Now all they need if the go ahead for the Expo Line to the Westside, and we're talking about the beginnings of a viable public transportation system.

Sometimes I wonder if I should've just gone into transportation engineering.

Well, that was a random walk through my brain. It's nice to have the time to ramble, these days.

07:29:02 22 Sep 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 20 Sep 2004

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real city - episode I

I am chillin' in NYC, in the royal borough of the Queen, in Astoria, to be precise.

And now I have time to think. Scary.

Within hours of coming back here, I felt life flow back into my veins. I have missed the noise: the screech of subway trains rushing along the rickety tracks, the cabbies honking insensibly at the pedestrians crossing at the "don't walk" sign, the rumble of trucks downshifting as they barrel down the highway.

There are scarce parts of L.A. that actually resemble a real city, scattered haphazardly amidst the hills and valleys. But I don't even live in L.A. these days.

Despite the fact that San Diego is the 7th largest city in the country, it feels way too much like a gigantic, monstrous suburb of L.A., a place that exists only as a reaction to both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its Old Town pretty much abandoned, its Downtown wholly artificial and manufactured. Abandoned freeways—signs of horrendously poor planning—lie scattered throughout the entire city: Friars Road, Kearny Mesa Road, Nimitz Blvd. The over-capacious highways crisscrossing needlessly across Mission Bay. The overgrowth of needless bridges connecting nowhere to nowhere. The massive off-ramp from the 805 that deposits you right into an Albertson.

You know you're in a post-modern city when the roads are built around freeways—when the interchanges distort the grid of the city. Interestingly, L.A. is not a post-modern city in that sense. You can tell that the city grid existed before they built the Hollywood Freeway. Major city streets flow around the four-level interchange unhampered.

So I've missed the city, although being out in suburbia has made me appreciate wide-open spaces. The one thing that I like about L.A. is that it has a classical city core, but it is surrounded completely by nature. Mountains and rivers, canyons and passes. You can drive five minutes from downtown L.A. and find yourself in a quiet forest, even though it takes about an hour without traffic to get to the city's edge. And the looming mountains remind you how insignificant the monuments of humanity truly are. Can you imagine how less royal the Sears Tower or the Empire State Building would be if they were framed by the San Gabriel Mountains, jutting up to almost 2 miles into the sky?

The only thing really real in San Diego is the natural aspect. The Cuyamaca Mountains off in the horizon, the San Diego River meandering through Mission Valley, the endless blue ocean shimmering for miles in all directions, obliterating any notion of international boundaries. And amidst the attempt of urbanization, or at least suburbanization, are the hidden canyons and vista points.

Central Park is pretty impressive, but despite what they say, you still know you're in the city. If you climb up to Mt. Soledad in S.D., or wander the trails of Griffith Park in L.A., you can forget that you are well within the city limits.

But enough mental masturbation. I need to go outside and wander, in this wounded city between two rivers, where all roads lead, at least for a short while.

06:55:58 20 Sep 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

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a.f. 632—a brave new world

Another quiz sighted on infiniti's site.

Good thing Freud has been thoroughly discredited. Otherwise I'd probably find myself inside of a loony bin.

Freudian Inventory Results
Genital (66%) you appear to have a progressive and constructive outlook on life.
Latency (53%) you appear to have a good balance of knowledge seeking and practicality.
Phallic (36%) you appear to have negative issues regarding sexuality and/or have an uncertain sexual identity.
Anal (36%) you appear to be overly lacking in self control and organization, and have a compulsive need to defy authority.
Oral (60%) you appear to have a good balance of independence and interdependence.
Take Free Freudian Inventory Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

05:52:23 20 Sep 2004 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 2 comments

Thu, 16 Sep 2004

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four humors

A quiz found on infiniti's site:

choleric with a touch of melancholy
Eysenck's Test Results
Extraversion (52%) medium which suggests you are moderately talkative, optimistic, and sociable.
Neuroticism (70%) high which suggests you are very worrying, insecure, emotional, and nervous.
Psychoticism (45%) medium which suggests you are moderately offensive, uncooperative, and rebellious.
Take Eysenck's EPQ-R based Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

07:44:55 16 Sep 2004 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 6 comments

Fri, 10 Sep 2004

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peace on earth

This little quiz that I found on R's blog matches rather synchronously with the book I'm reading entitled Peace on Earth by Stanislaw Lem.

The premise of the story is that a man has been sent to the Moon to spy on the robotic war machines there. He is shot by a ray which cleanly bissects his corpus callosum, the large nerve bundle that connects the right and left hemispheres. This causes his right hemisphere (the creative, intuitive side) to become independent of his left hemisphere (the anal-retentive, type A side) and the right side seems to be unable to stand the left. As they say, hilarity ensues.

Stanislaw Lem is a Polish science fiction writer. The books of his that I've read are really philosophical and, at times, satiric, informed by Cold War sensibilities and perspectives on both the capitalist and communist side of things. He also seems to have predicted a lot of what would happen once the Cold War was over. Some of his other books that I've read include Solaris which was made and re-made into a movie and Chain of Chance

But it turns out that I'm actually pretty right-brained, which explains a lot.

Brain Lateralization Test Results
Right Brain (64%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain.
Left Brain (36%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain
Are You Right or Left Brained?
personality tests by similarminds.com

21:45:02 10 Sep 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 6 comments

Mon, 06 Sep 2004

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simple machine

So I ended up being on the road for a good four and a half hours yesterday—as long as it takes to drive to Vegas, as long as it takes to get to Santa Nella on the way to the Bay Area. By the time I realized that I had forgotten my pager, I was already in Oceanside. Fuck.

The side effect of which was that I got to listen to my iPod more thoroughly. My iPod has gotten me through two semi-demi-cross-country trips, westward on old route 66, and a good number of journeys up and down I-5 in the Central Valley, but since the drive between L.A. and S.D. is (relatively) shorter, I find that I don't get as immersed into my music.

I remember, somewhat deliriously, lamenting about how it seems that these days, the only emotions I experience are 1. anger 2. fear 3. dull apathy. If I'm not pissed-off or utterly terrified, I don't seem to feel anything at all.

Of course, I suppose this could just be the medication talking.

But I find it kind of sad in a sterile, quarantined, remote sort of way.

Like it's only sad looking at it from a third-person perspective.

Because, like I said, a lot of the time, I just feel kind of numb.

But music seems to be the key. Or the double edged knife, depending on how you look at it. After a while, I started going through some of my cheesy pop ballad music, and I started meditating on my last quasi-romantic relationship which wasn't really a relationship (I am still at least a little dazed and confused about the whole thing, and have adopted a pragmatic stance towards it: if I can't ever figure out the answer, there's no point in thinking about it.) And how much easier it is to accept rejection these days, to accept that this is how things are, and this is how things are going to be.

To accept the notion of letting my genetic patternings decay into nothingness. To forswear the eternal chain of life and go it alone in the utter black darkness of oblivion.

To accept the fact that nothing lasting will come of this moment.

Again, sad in the third-person.

I do find it disquieting, in a rational, detached sort of way, that whenever I see an attractive woman, or talk to someone I really like, the feeling of defeat and futility automatically seizes me. In some ways, I suppose it makes it easier. Knowing that she will never like me the way that I like her, it is easy to tell the truth, to dissect my own heart, and lay it bare, letting it twitch like an anesthesized rat about to get eviscerated.

And then if we do get along (which is not that hard—I suppose I make a much better friend than I do a boyfriend), I automatically think about all the ways that it will probably go wrong, tell myself that there's no point in thinking about it, and just kind of accept the fact that there's no way in hell that I'll find someone that I like who actually reciprocates.

The odds are against me. I think I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. Twice. In the same day.

I also recognize that I am making all of this a lot harder than it needs to be, which is, unfortunately, my nature. I am complicated. Soy complicado, not Estoy complicado

But I wonder if I will ever let myself fall that hard again. Having done it a few times to absolutely no avail, B.F. Skinner's principles ought to kick in. No more bashing my own head in with a rock or putting my hand in the fire.

But. As they say. Never say never.

I am so fucking doomed, no matter which way you look at it.

14:53:57 6 Sep 2004 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

Thu, 26 Aug 2004

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flesh is weak

Given my current work schedule (11 hour days on average with a few 30 hour days) I have lost all sense of time and place. I wake up not knowing what time it is, whether it is late in the evening or early in the morning before the sun is up, whether it is spring, summer, or fall (in this land of no winter.) I wake up not knowing where exactly I am, since I've only been living here for three months now. I have dreams about the cities I have lived in, the separate lives I have led. Everything feels so remote, both in time and place.

I feel like every part of my mind is drifting apart from each other. Sort of the like the universe expanding, with more and more empty space in between.

To summarize: I may very well be losing my mind.

21:35:24 26 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 16 Aug 2004

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elusivity of the muse

There are a million things I want to write about, things I need to put down into words simply to give my thoughts form. If I do not fix them down, pin them to cardboard like wriggling entymological specimens, they'll keep pestering me, flitting this way and that.

Some would counsel to leave well enough alone, and that would certainly be the easiest thing to do.

But I worry that my habit of ignoring my emotional reaction to events is leading to the calcification of my soul.

What worries me most is that I have not been able to write. Oh, the desire, the need to write rears it head not infrequently, and, dizzy with need, I will throw down ill-considered lines, as subtle as cinderblocks, and just as heavy and graceless, too.

I cannot make my words float anymore.

And this is where the self-doubt creeps in.

I can't help but wonder if I really ever had the knack for crafting the turn of phrase, of smoothing a thought into a lyric. Maybe it was all just a solipsistic conceit, and it's only now that I'm realizing the hollowness of my work.

Still, I must write, even if it is painful and forced.

I suppose I've always known that inspiration can only get you so far.


Saturday night I had this illusory sensation that the world was changing. This is where the words run out, and the closest thing I can turn to is the description of sci-fi motifs.

Like the raster line of a television set, a computer monitor, except three dimensionalized. The raster line of God. Photons, electrons, gravitons, focusing like a beam, refreshing every single bit of matter. Reaffirming its existence, lest it flicker and fade away, like the dying phosphor traces of a television screen turned off.

Say simply, that there was a glitch in the Matrix.

With my current obsession with quantum gravity, I can't help but think of it as an artistic representation of how Schroedinger's wavefunction collapses. As certain probabilities get ruled out, the nature of the world-at-large changes. Some waveforms disappear, and what we commonly call reality "crashes out" like precipitate crashing out from an overladen solution.

I want to say that, at last, I am free. That an episode of my life has finally and irrevocably come to an end. But I've said that before, a thousand times before, and I find myself dragged into loony-toon drama. So I say it with reservation.

I do fear that it will never end. That the repercussions of that deep, hopeless autumn will continue to reverberate and echo throughout all of space-time, and I will never be able to escape its ripples as long as I live.

It's like the surf, the flotsam and the jetsam of the quantum foam.

You ride the waves as best as you can, and sometimes you will wipe out.

Things really would just be easier if I became a monk.


So now I sit in the darkness, wakened from an involuntary nap spanning the waning daylight hours. I've sat and contemplated. I realize that, at least lately, I can only really do my deep thinking while I'm barreling down the highway at 80 mph, with my iPod providing the soundtrack for my ruminations. And I've had a lot of time to think. Nothing conclusive really. The only thing that really motivates me as of late is the avoidance of pain. Let sleeping dragons lie.

Maybe dragons really don't exist, but you still walk as if on eggshells.

In this stillness, letting the cool marine breeze waft over me, I ponder my solitude, wonder if this is the best I can achieve. If this is the most fertile state of mind to be in.

I begin to wonder if there is something masochistic about my need to write. How the words only seem to come easily when something inside me gets broken, crushed, or ruptured. In this state of dull, torpid contentment—I hesitate to use that word, but I will do so unapologetically from now on—the words come off my tongue like briars, having to be pulled off one by one, prickly with brambles.

Each word, which I felt I used to be able to freight with gravid meaning, each word, which was as precious as silver, as incisive and crystal clear as a diamond blade, is now nothing than its constituent pieces. It requires horrendous effort simply to string these little bits together, to fashion them with some meaning much less beauty. Little puffs of air is all I've got, and the wind just rips them apart. They dissipate in the void.

Is this just a function of where I'm at on my particular spiritual journey? Wandering forty days and forty nights through the bleak, hopeless desert? Is the promised land really just past that horizon?

Or should I just get used to this ascetic lifestyle of wandering around the desert, forever eschewing the fellowship of humanity, and the hope that the rain will soon come?

Decisions, decisions.

So mostly, I sit here worrying needlessly as to whether the next stage will suddenly creep up on me and possibly eat me, or whether that's all there is and there ain't no mo'. Am I to remain vigilant, waiting perhaps years and decades for something that I am losing faith in? Or do I just give in to the torpor, the ennui of existentialism? That this is all there is, and anything else is illusion and possibly lunacy.

I truly have very little faith these days. That in itself doesn't really bother me, but I kind of wonder if there will be horrific long-term sequelae for getting too used to not caring.

22:41:31 16 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 11 Aug 2004

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eating your relatives

Dude. This is one seriously fucked up family. As if goosing a woman is a worse offense than eating your cousin.

Man stabs cousin and serves cousin to a wedding reception.

18:49:36 11 Aug 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 1 comments

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insomnia - episode iii

I have to wake up in four hours.

Not being able to sleep is cruel, lonely torture.

01:03:16 11 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

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leverage and the ipod

John Gruber's essay on Daring Fireball about the mythical Apple vs. Microsoft conflict illuminates the late history of the personal computer. Few probably remember that before the Macintosh and before MS-DOS—in the early history of the personal computer—there were several personal computer vendors such as Commodore, Tandy, Atari, as well as the IBM (with their PC) and Apple (with the Apple II) and they all pretty much had similar market shares. Homogenization was only apparent in the business world, and back in the day, personal computer was more synonymous with home use. From the business perspective, IBM (later supplanted by the combination of Intel and Microsoft) was really just breaking into a market previously dominated by UNIX and CP/M, which, in reality, is a wholly different paradigm compared to what personal computers had been up to that time.

Eventually, UNIX was proclaimed dead (and it may well have been, if not for the Free Software Foundation and the GNU suite of tools, which allowed the various open source BSDs to exist, and which eventually spawned Linux—but that's another tale to tell.) The personal computer (in the avatar of IBM PC-DOS and later Microsoft's MS-DOS) had defeated the mainframes and the minicomputers. The client-server model was obsolete, and the x86 platform reigned. (Oh, the irony, huh?)

In this context, you could interpret the popularity of Windows simply as Intel and Microsoft leveraging their dominance in the business world into dominance in the home.

In this saga, I think Apple's only real direct competitor was Commodore, who came out with the awesome machine known as the Amiga. Interestingly, the Macintosh and the Amiga ran on similar hardware (that is, on Motorola-based processors) Who knows how history would've changed if Commodore had managed to stay alive?


John Gruber makes the dichotomy that Apple is idealistic, whereas Microsoft is pragmatic, and uses the way they leverage (or don't leverage) their success to extend their dominance as examples of their philosophy. In betting terms, this is known as the parlay—of taking all your previous winnings and laying it all down on the next wager. Microsoft has succeeded so far with parlaying their OS monopoly on x86-based hardware through various evolutions (from MS-DOS to Windows XP) and using this OS domiance to corner the market on productivity suites—with the behemoth known as MS Office. If you think about it, Microsoft really doesn't do that much more than these two products—the OS and the office suite. Everything else has been icing on the cake, or more frequently, have been horrific blunders and miserable failures.

In contrast, Gruber notes that Apple has seemingly never relied on the parlay to create their products. The Macintosh in reality directly competed with their more popular Apple II series. The Newton was intended to be a desktop computer replacement rather than the adjunct that PDAs are. NeXT Step was a clean break from Mac OS.

Maybe the iPod isn't really that different, but thinking about it makes a different paradigm apparent.

Perhaps because Apple has not been chasing the holy grail known as market share, they have been able to muster a different kind of resource. I do not think it would be exaggeration to say that Apple's greatest resource is its reputation of creating innovative products, backed by actual creative talent to implement their ideas. It has become conventional wisdom that, while Apple products are not cheap or as popular, they are certainly pretty and generally awesome. Again, the Macintosh, the Newton, the Powerbook, and the iBook are cases in point. (As an aside, I would hazard to say that Sony had a similar reputation up until they became beholden to the bottomline and the corporate culture. Hence the failure of their Walkman mp3 player, but that's quite tangential.) I think these are the resources that Apple successfully parlays. And thus the iPod was born.

While the first two generations were completely beholden to Apple hardware, now at the height of its popularity, the iPod isn't really tied to the Macintosh either. But it should be noted that the iPod's marketshare among mp3 players was already significant before they rolled out their cross-platform products. Who knows what would've happened if they had continued to tie the iPod to the Mac?

For once, it appears the Apple is actually being pragmatic.

So the iPod spawned the iTunes Music Store. The convergence of Airport and iTunes (few will remember that Apple was one of the first to embrace the 802.11b and now the 802.11g standard) has led to the Airport Express (which, at $129, is reasonably priced for a USB print server, and is reasonably priced as a wireless access point/wireless network extender, and is reasonably priced as an mp3 streaming device, and the wonderfully awesome thing is that you get all three in a package that is barely larger than a power supply brick.)

Hopefully, the innovations will continue, though, and Apple will continue to be unafraid of breaking from the past. With this in mind, hopefully they will never be dependent upon the parlay.

21:55:57 10 Aug 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

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market share is bogus

When you enter certain realsm, such as computers, normal measures of profability are completely unreliable. It makes sense to think of market share if you're selling, let's say, Coca-Cola, but as luxury car manufacturers will tell you, who otherwise really cares? After all, the measure of a successful business has never been market share. (Would you really have considered the U.S. Postal Service—prior to privatization—a successful business despite having a market share of nearly 100%?) Success is and always has been measured by profitability, and if your balance sheet has more black ink than red at the end of the year without having to resort to Enron-like tactics, then that's a pretty good success.

Yet, despite basic business and economic common sense, otherwise intelligent people continue to push the idea of market share as the ultimate measure of dominance.

Daring Fireball deconstructs the myth, using the example of the Macintosh, and how the idea of licensing what later became known as Mac OS doesn't make that much sense.

21:04:08 10 Aug 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 09 Aug 2004

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who gives a flying fuck?

M reminds me of missed opportunities, of not having enough courage to steal a kiss, and of the eternal recrimination that comes thereof.

I kind of wonder, though, if the reason that I don't give a damn is simply medication-mediated, or if I'm really just losing it.

Whatever the case, it certainly can't be healthy.

Still, I guess I'll ride this feeling of numbness out as long as I can.

At least it beats feeling depressed.

23:19:40 9 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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genius and insanity

Found on Gura's blog:



What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

This is synchronistic only because I have been inexplicably enthralled by the search for the theory of quantum gravity. I am also reminded of the very apt observation: "There is a fine line between genius and insanity."

And then there is Bukowski's wonderful quote as well.

19:59:44 9 Aug 2004 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 07 Aug 2004

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apologia for laziness

I'm not being lazy. I'm just thinking.

This extract from How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkins narrates the inception of the tyranny of the time clock due to the Industrial Revolution, touches upon biology and human physiology with the notion that not everyone's pineal gland is set in the same time zone, and notes that idle hands are not the playground of the devil as the Puritans would have us believe, but are rather the crucible of revolution and enlightenment, and by extension, are the progenitors of democracy and egalitarianism. Productivity is the true opiate of the masses. He who works need not think, is plugged into the System, and submerged in the Matrix.

Long live the idler!

13:48:53 7 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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it all makes sense now

found on eye8infiniti:

What tarot card are you?


I am The Hermit

The Hermit often suggests a need for time alone - a period of reflection when distractions are limited. In times of action and high energy, he stands for the still center that must be created for balance. He can also indicate that withdrawal or retreat is advised for the moment. In addition, the Hermit can represent seeking of all kinds, especially for deeper understanding or the truth of a situation. "Seek, and ye shall find," we have been told, and so the Hermit stands for guidance as well. We can receive help from wise teachers, and, in turn, help others as we progress.

For a full description of your card and other goodies, please visit LearnTarot.com


What tarot card are you? Enter your birthdate.

Month: Day: Year:

I've been using the Page of Pentacles as my significator, but perhaps it's time to choose one more to my character.

To anyone who knows me, the Hermit probably explains a lot.

It is unlikely that I will creep out from under my shell anytime soon.

00:25:39 7 Aug 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 03 Aug 2004

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nine inch nails "closer"

Help me! I've broke apart my insides. Help me! I've got no soul to sell.

22:05:14 3 Aug 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 02 Aug 2004

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my old friend, fear

I don't know if it is purely psychosomatic, or if there is some quasiobjective reality to my sensation of flux. Like the axis of the earth has shifted ever so slightly, causing the wind to subtly change.

Instead of performing the activities of daily living that I should be performing, I am instead paralyzed by an irrational emotional inertia.

The more I dwell on it, the more I don't want to do it.

So, who knows, maybe this change in my medication is not agreeing with me, and it is somewhat depressing to realize once again that I am truly nothing but a clockwork orange. Better living through chemistry, indeed.

So, once again, the mail remains unopened, the bills remain unpaid. For no good reason. Instead, I am surreptitiously typing away into this ridiculous blog, unreasonably hoping that somehow destiny will look away this hour.

I am so mind-fucked. I would be really hilarious if it wasn't happening to me. (As they say, everything is funny so long as it isn't happening to you.)

Maybe (although I know better than to hope tomorrow when I should be doing today) I'll get my ass in gear after a decent night of sleep.

22:18:09 2 Aug 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 27 Jul 2004

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go speed reader, go!

How Many Words-Per-Minute Do You Read?

I've always been known to be a quick reader. (In technical terms, a book snarfer) According to this test, I can read about 400-450 words per minute, which also happens to be the theoretical rate at which the average human being can comprehend speech. Of course, I'm definitely not as good a listener as I am a reader. Maybe my visual cortex has co-opted some of my auditory cortex.

07:22:59 27 Jul 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Mon, 26 Jul 2004

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"donnie darko" addendum

My favorite quote:

Every living creature on earth dies alone.

18:43:59 26 Jul 2004 > /movies > permalink > 1 comments

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donnie darko

I think I have a soft spot for this movie mostly because a lot of scene were filmed at my high school. Not to mention the whole time-travel, alternate-reality theme. And the psychotic bunny.

Everything you were afraid to ask about "Donnie Darko" on Salon.com

18:26:48 26 Jul 2004 > /movies > permalink > 0 comments

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loneliness

There is nothing that focuses my mind upon my solitary state than leaving home and driving down the empty Interstate just before midnight.

Call it a sickness, perhaps. An idee fixee.

But I kind of wonder if that's really the problem. Living in this society, I have been brainwashed into thinking that loneliness is a pathological state.

But it isn't.

By logic and reason, I know this is true. But I still can't help but squirm in frustration and impatience.

What will be will be.

A lot of people think that I am giving up with regards to the whole "asking someone out on a date" thing. I've been hitting this emotional brick wall for a long time now, and I think it's just time to hang back and regroup. Get my priorities in order.

I have yet to figure out exactly what it is I want from life, for one thing.

But, yeah. I just can't do this right now, and perhaps not ever, but there certainly isn't anything productive about me beating myself up for being a pathetic chickenshit. This is where I'm at, and I just need to accept it.

Sometimes you stare and stare into the pool from the high dive, knowing that all you have to do is fling yourself into the air, and you know that you'll probably be OK, but you just stand there, staring and staring, and now everybody below is yelling at you because you're holding up the line, and the pressure mounts.

It is easy to tell someone to just jump.

But sometimes, when you can't handle it, even though you look like a big loser in front of everyone, you just have to climb down, shake it off, and do something else.

This isn't the same thing as just saying "Fuck it" or "I don't care." This is accepting the fact that I cannot do this right now, and while I will obsess constantly about it, probably until my dying day, there is just nothing to be done at this moment.

There's really no point of even hoping, because as long as I can't get over this wall, nothing will ever happen, and I'm the kind of person who freaks out even more when I have people behind me yelling for me to get on with it.

So that's where it stands.

I will probably complain about loneliness again sometime soon, probably quite frequently. It's just an unpleasant feeling. And maybe I'll never get used to it. But I know that there's nothing to be done but for me to get over my ridiculousness, and just go for it. And until this happens, nothing else will.

Advice isn't what I need right now. Because, in all honestly, I know precisely what I need to do. I just don't have the will to do it. And that may be the case for the rest of my life.

I did eventually snap out of my depressing reverie. And right now, I can't see what's wrong. This is how it's been for a long time, and this how it's going to be until I change, and I haven't run into anything yet that has the power to force me to change.

I'm like one of those pandas who won't screw to save the species.

There's simply nothing realistic left to do but wait and see.

00:27:22 26 Jul 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 24 Jul 2004

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trapped in tetris

You know you've been playing way too much Tetris when you start having nightmares like this. (Found on #!/usr/bin/girl)

What is especially disturbing is that a Tetris sequel was released in which the gameplay is exactly like this Flash animation, except instead of stick figures running around, they were cute little anime characters. (Oh, and the goal wasn't to kill them, but to save them.)

09:01:26 24 Jul 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Wed, 21 Jul 2004

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self pity

I am feeling really out of sorts.

Maybe it's the simple fact that it is close to 90°F and I don't have air conditioning.

Maybe it's the chilli dog that I had yesterday, which continues to haunt my GI tract.

Maybe I caught something from a little kid. They're like walking Petri dishes. I'm surprised I haven't broken out in some kind of rash. I do have diffuse muscle pain, though.

I had said that I was going to go to this dinner tonight, but, partly because I didn't RSVP on time, and partly because I feel like ass and really don't want to go anywhere right now, I think I'm just going to hang out at home in my underwear.

I'm afraid that I'm redeveloping my social anxiety disorder.

(Hah. I'm afraid that I'm becoming afraid.)

There is something desperate and sad about all this. I just don't want to admit it to myself. I really should stop peeping voyeuristically at other people's blogs.

It's not so much that I'm actually bored—my world has far too many things for me to do. It's just that I seem to have lost the knack for doing anything that might be even remotely interesting to another person.

In others words: not much to report today. Still traipsing through this vast desert of my life. Water supply still adequate, but no way to replenish it in sight.

I am afraid of what will happen when life decides to squeeze.

17:59:50 21 Jul 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 20 Jul 2004

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derangement

Yep. It's 3:15am right now. My sleep cycle is completely out of whack.

I went home for a day this weekend. My sister says that I scream in my sleep. Her dog started whining because of me. I've been trying to figure out a way to record whatever I say while I sleep. Last time, I tried to use my computer to do it, but the program I was using crashed.

The AirPort Express is coming out, I think, today.

I feel a little crazy right now. I think I had too much caffeine yesterday.

03:20:33 20 Jul 2004 > /meta > permalink > 4 comments

Sat, 17 Jul 2004

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ethical philosophy selector

I thought this was a neat test. It tells you how similar your own ethics (limited by multiple choice questions) compares to a few well-known Western philosophers.

  1. Aquinas (100%)
  2. Kant (99%)
  3. Jeremy Bentham (94%)
  4. John Stuart Mill (91%)
  5. Jean-Paul Sartre (88%)
  6. Aristotle (76%)
  7. Prescriptivism (72%)
  8. Nel Noddings (69%)
  9. Spinoza (65%)
  10. Ayn Rand (61%)
  11. Plato (61%)
  12. St. Augustine (61%)
  13. Ockham (52%)
  14. Epicureans (47%)
  15. Stoics (45%)
  16. Nietzsche (26%)
  17. Thomas Hobbes (15%)
  18. Cynics (7%)
  19. David Hume (5%)

Obviously, despite my current estrangement from God, those twelve years of Catholic school are still deeply ingrained. 100% agreement with Saint Thomas Aquinas. Hah!

00:04:55 17 Jul 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 11 Jul 2004

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cynical bastard

The appropriate song for this occassion would probably be The Cure's "10:15 on a Saturday Night" [lyrics][iTMS].

So I have pissed away most of my Saturday perusing random blogs. Yes, I know I'm pathetic. No, I don't care.

Outside of work, the internet is basically the only way I get some form of human contact.

Get ready for a florid case of cabin fever, folks.

But I'm not insane yet. I think.

(Which reminds me of a great Bukowski quote I saw in RF's blog: "Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.")

So I'm reading this particular passage (no, I don't know this person):

I still love him. I'm still comforted by the memories of his arms around me. It's been so many years, yet my heart still aches for this loss[sic] love.

I remember feeling like this about eight years ago. I've been brainwashing myself ever since. I am now convinced that I'm better off without these kinds of memories. (The problem is the whole wheat with the chaff thing, though. Bits and pieces of my memories have totally gone through my mental shredder, not to mention those several hundred shots of hard-liquor.)

But what I find amazing is how a person can force himself to believe that what he so desperately needed at one point (and, from a purely physiological standpoint, this may very well be true) is in fact self-destructive and should be avoided at all costs. Sort of like how anorexics successful dieters find that food becomes increasingly disgusting. Not the sort of thing that usually leads to healthy outcomes, but, hey, whatever works, right?

It occurs to me that if I truly accept this label of "cynical bastard," that I am irreversibly doomed. It's so easy to be cynical. It's much easier to disbelieve than it is to believe, the way it's easier to tear something apart than it is to put it together.

The only thing that I am sure of at this moment is that one day, I will die. Everything else is conjecture and (to steal a phrase from Douglas Adams), probably a figment of my imagination.

Yes. I am so mentally fucked.

01:22:42 11 Jul 2004 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Sat, 10 Jul 2004

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unwieldy

friends say that i spend too much time thinking. you can always catch me staring out the window, oblivious to my surroundings, lost in the arcane, labyrinthine inner working of mind. some might call it an absence seizure, except that it lasts way too long.

at this point in time, while I am still haunted by the concept of "normalcy," vaguely represented by the Horatio Alger myth, AKA the American Dream, I realized that the choices I've made have driven me far down the veritable Path Less Taken. Which is not to say that I can never run back to the fateful fork in the road, only that it would be a considerable effort to do so.

This is all well and good, except for the lamentable fact that I am a lazy bastard, and the bizarre mental and temporal contortions I regularly perform, as complicated as they appear, are really (often failed) attempts at cutting corners. (As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "Shortcuts make for long delays")

In other words, there is something absurdly perverse in me that believes the shortest distance between two points is completely non-linear, and crooked as hell.

Who'd've ever thunk it?

Of course, I'm really more transparent than I'd like to be.

So. Like I said. Normalcy does haunt me. There is a part of me that is irritated by the fact that more and more people in my life are entering the house-in-the-suburbs/2-car/2.5-children lifestyle. Now, I know that time is non-linear, but it is annoying to be constantly bombarded by stimuli supporting the opposite. And while I'd love to, like Hobbes (the tiger, not the philosopher), ask "Who are we racing?", unfortunately Calvin (the kid, not the cleric) keeps waking me up, reminding me that I'll never win the race by lying around all day.

Of course, what no one ever seems to mention is that the finish line is a little thing they call Death and, frankly, I don't see what the hurry is. (And the sick, sad irony is, because of the way our culture has been perverted by the American Dream, I think more and more people reach this finish line and realize that they are not ready to cross it. I think that Death has wrongly become something to fear. I'm not saying we should all embrace Death like a suicide cult drinking Kool-Aid and wearing Nike crosstrainers, but I think we should stop treating it like some kind of pathology. As the second law of thermodynamics unequivocally states, it is inevitable.)

This verbose realization could be more economically summarized by B's philosophy: "Fuck it."

So. I have this scarcely tested belief that, no matter who deeply connected you are to another person, no matter how many people you surround yourself with, you are ultimately alone. No one (sometimes not even you) can really decipher all your thoughts and feelings, and it is inordinantly difficult to articulate them to someone else. Ultimately, we live in our minds. Everything else is not necessarily reality. (Whatever reality might be, though.)

Of course this is biased by the fact that I haven't been in a long-term relationship for quite a while, and my subsequent attempts to establish one have all met with miserable and sometimes catastrophic failure.

I must say, though, that I haven't been going about this in a very intelligent manner. While I like to rail at Fate, I recognize that in many ways, I have been sabotaging myself.

But, really, what I'm looking for is more basic than that. I realize that my fatal flaw at this point in time is that I cannot trust anyone. I mean, I trust my friends and family to a reasonable degree, but I recognize that I always stop short of trusting anyone completely. Unjustly, I feel that disappointed is inevitable, so why freight friendships with my unnecessary baggage?

Still, yeah, there's something missing. I don't know how to change this in myself. I do think of Henry J. Stimson's quote: "The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him" (which I'm sure applies to the opposite gender as well.) But the risks of trusting someone like that absolutely frightens me.

So. My task is clear. Only time will tell.

09:39:01 10 Jul 2004 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

Wed, 07 Jul 2004

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forever

Zeno sings of the infinity in small spaces

and small steps recalling Sisyphus' task in an relativistic way

light is eternal embodied in an equation

you imagine forever is a long, long time

still Zeno notwithstanding and even Einstein did not get this right all things change (my soul instinctively recoils, both in horror and with a sick, desperate hope)

with the stirring of the coffee cup and the flutter of a butterfly wing the little packet of light striking the insides of my eye (a little gasp of air slips through my pursed lips I promised to stop chasing unicorns today--)

I drink and breathe light now my illusion of company and soft words spoken into my ear (Without it I thirst and gasp in solitude and silence)

I sing to myself dreaming pretending (watch the light shimmer in her bright hair as she twirls it around her fingers--

very much like the light of the sun I can feel her warmth and marvel at her brightness but can never clasp my arms around her)

Can you walk in loneliness for so long that you imagine that he is your only companion? From this emptiness, wreak infinite creation? From the meanderings of the labyrinth straight, broad paths?

In this ash and dust, somehow was breathed a soul Within meat and blood, enraptured, entrapped

Wisdom cannot be bought enmeshed in dead leaves and twine and still I pore over these textbooks as if life and love would explode forth in utter surprise catastrophically overwhelm me with joy

The pages do not speak except perhaps for the echoed whispers dwelling in my mind

Sometimes I fancy that the mad voices have taken up residence squatters and usurpers laying their arses upon the seat of my soul

I should just put up a sign saying "Abandoned" and give Dante and Virgil my keys

Hope is the currency of the living Like the prodigal son poor only because I have squandered my wealth now knowing where gold lies guarded by walls and steel is enough to turn me into a thief and an oathbreaker besides.

(Unicorn, oh, unicorn!)

19:57:17 7 Jul 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 06 Jul 2004

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meltdown

thermophilic, i am not dreaming still of sunlight more than heat not the noxious fumes of this gushing geyser this ramble-shamble of chaos and turbulence

obeying messianic instruction i don't know my left hand from my right neither up or down nor black nor white floating upon the quantum foam of ever-dancing pin-prick particles

vertiginous, four walls closing in toilet bowl swirl we are what we eat and used toilet paper is like a mirror a way to look inside out a perverse form of the ancient roman auguries predicting the future with entrails and the runnels and trickles of bright red blood

flung, flail, fists atavistic, balled-up, screaming like a newborn i am bloody, battered, and bruised blind, weak, and hungry

this thrill and harsh murmur, unfulfilled still dancing up the steps of spacetime where sound is frozen in four dimensions i imagine solidity in the evanescent vibrations of air touch and crumble fade, decay

lightning flashes across my eyes and this dull thrumming of the nerves in my fingertips is all I understand of reality at this point everything else, I have no choice but to take on faith.

21:55:01 6 Jul 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 03 Jul 2004

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beastie boys "hey fuck you"

Hey! This could be Dick Cheney's new theme song! I think it should play every time he appears on screen. Heh.

Anyway, I think the following line is clever. (I know. Me and bathroom humor.)

So put a quarter in your ass cuz you played yourself.

18:32:20 3 Jul 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 3 comments

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bad habits

I'm probably looking at this the wrong way, but I find that there's something emasculating about being considered "safe" by an attractive woman.

It's a sad thing, when being trusted can be considered a negative.

But I suppose I'm very comfortable with being exiled in the friend zone.

B analyzed it rightly a long time ago. Much like investment banking, it all has to do with risk.

It probably also has a lot to do with the fact that lately, I've been attracted to women who are (1) in a relationship (2) recently exiting a relationship (with all the psychological and often irrational baggage attached to such a process) or (3) crazier than I am, which is very crazy indeed. (Not that there's nothing wrong with crazy, it's just that there's a good crazy and a bad crazy, and I don't think there's a fool-proof way to tell until it's too late, and the discernment is further clouded by the fact that I'm not exactly the most sane person in this universe either.)

But, as B understands it, I end up in the friend zone precisely because it's safe. Especially with the doomed attraction to women in relationships, since obviously nothing is ever going to happen. (At least not then and there.) 0% probability is a very safe been indeed. (Even if I do find myself betting on it, meaning that I go for situations that I have a 100% chance of losing.)

Simply put, in capitalist terms, without risk, there can be no profit. Pay to play.

The deranged thing is that instead of changing my playing parameters, I think what I've opted to do is simply not to play at all.

God, I need help. Heh.

07:57:31 3 Jul 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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ass

What would you make of this if I text-messaged you this:

Help! Help! I can't feel my ass!

Yes, I am drunk.

00:56:05 3 Jul 2004 > /meta > permalink > 4 comments

Thu, 01 Jul 2004

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evil genius

I've just got to give up pretending and surrender to my true personality, I guess.

You are an SEDF--Sober Emotional Destructive Follower. This makes you an evil genius. You are extremely focused and difficult to distract from your tasks. With luck, you have learned to channel your energies into improving your intellect, rather than destroying the weak and unsuspecting.
Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack. Few of your peers know you very well--even those you have known a long time--because you have expert control of the face you put forth to the world. You prefer to observe, calculate, discern and decide. Your decisions are final, and your desire to be right is impenetrable.
You are not to be messed with. You may explode.

from Jenny Turpish Slapped Me: Quizzes - Better Personality

19:24:48 1 Jul 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 4 comments

Mon, 28 Jun 2004

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i'm not insane!

So I was walking through the IKEA today, and Five for Fighting's "100 Years" was playing, which, for no particular reason, really, put me in an extraordinarily contemplative mood, and I began thinking about my five years out in the Midwest.

There is only one IKEA in the Chicagoland area, and it is perhaps the only IKEA in a 100 mile radius. Me and my roommate at the time used to make many futile forays there to hunt for furniture that we could afford. Which is stupid, if you stop to think about it. (Some of our best furniture ended up coming from the Salvation Army and from the dumpster outside our apartment.)

And so I had this weird thought (alluding to my diatribe about cookie-cutter chain stores) that, what if these stores were like portals to various location around the United States (and, I suppose, the entire world, even)? Like, let's say I enter the IKEA in Mission Valley (in San Diego) and go out an alternate exit. Given the nearly identical nature of many IKEAs throughout the nation, couldn't I end up somewhere else? Like Chicago (or more accurately, Schaumburg.)

Now before you say anything, look at the title of this entry.

21:20:24 28 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 5 comments

Sun, 27 Jun 2004

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anti-social

What is it about summer that makes me want to avoid human contact?

I am breaking one of my cardinal rules and I'm not going to a party I've been invited to. This despite the fact that the sun is out, the sky is blue, and it's basically a beautiful day, meteorogically speaking. And I don't even have a good reason not to go. I'm just sitting in my apartment (which is still in a state of utter chaos) staring at my laptop screen.

Sadly, this is exactly what a recent tarot reading of mine commented on. If I don't change my ways, I'm going to end up hopelessly and irrevocably alone and most likely insane.

And still I refuse to change.

19:05:16 27 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 25 Jun 2004

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more than this

Is it really that unhealthy to love only what you do? Is it wrong to identify solely with your job, and to not have anything fulfilling outside of it?

I know the answer. I feel it in my gut. But to realize that there is nothing else as fulfilling outside of your job is an equally desolate thought.

I am floating in the void, here.

Now, for some weird (undoubtedly organic disease-related) reason, I get very anti-social during the summertime. I mean, it doesn't make me want to avoid people completely, but, let's say if people call me, or even IM me, I just don't want to reply. I can't explain it. It's some kind of Axis II diagnosis, I'm sure. Some kind of anxiety disorder. And the happy purple pills don't work on Axis II problems.

So, instead of hanging out and meeting people, I hunker down in my 1-bedroom apartment and brood. About what, I don't know. Well, that's not true. It's just difficult to ponder nothingingness. To ponder this emptiness existing outside of my job.

So, yeah, I know, get a hobby. Sure. Well, there's this blog, but despite being broadcast throughout the nether reaches of the Googlescape, it is nonetheless a lonely endeavor. The number of automated bots that visit this site and leave spam-spoor vastly outnumber the few readers of this blog, by several magnitudes of order, in fact.

So I could go out. Which used to give me such joy, however ill-considered and occasionally disastrous at times.

But, as I've whined about before, I really can't do this thing again. I'm just burnt out. I can't go out and meet people and make new friends just one more time. Whether it's some form of insanity, or whether I'm just pathologically lazy, I don't know. But my heart quails at the thought of calling some person up, on the pretext that I have some tenuous connection with them because of work, and ask them if they want to hang-out. Hell, if you think about it, I can't do that easily with my established friends.

There is, without a doubt, something seriously wrong with me.

The trick is, I suppose, to figure out how to get over it before the ever-ticking clock finally runs down, signalling my probable complete mental implosion.

I live in dread of the stark realization that no man is an island, and that human contact is as necessary as air, water, and food for survival. I'd love to be part of the human race somehow, but I just can't seem to figure out how to do it in a way that doesn't paralyze me with fear and self-loathing.

Pathetic.

Ah well.

Everything eventually comes down to do-or-die, no?

19:18:40 25 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 23 Jun 2004

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magic eye trick

Ah, the wonders of plaintext. Just focus on the R's at the bottom and cross your eyes so that they fuse into one, like with a normal magic eye puzzle.

20:18:36 23 Jun 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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retrograde consolidation 3

Retrograde consolidation is a clumsy term, but I'm too lazy to think of something better.

Anyway, this title caught my attention: The Location Field Is the New Command Line.

The article goes on to point out that web applications are fundamentally different from desktop applications—the advantages of the web do not trump the advantages of the desktop, but, as anyone familiar with UNIX would understand, it's all about using the right tool for the job. Do one thing, and do it well.

20:13:40 23 Jun 2004 > /computers/www > permalink > 1 comments

Mon, 21 Jun 2004

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dump IE

Another op-ed about how Internet Explorer is completely insecure, and if you hate spyware, it's time to switch to Mozilla Firefox.

Fact of the matter: IE is old. In fact, in a techie world governed by Moore's Law, it's downright ancient. To mix metaphors, why-oh-why would you keep driving a 1976 Dodge Colt when you could have a 2005 BMW M4 for free?

Firefox is fast, standards-compliant, available for many platforms, and because it is not intertwined into the OS, does not make your OS any more susceptible to Trojan horses and spyware than it already is. I can't think of any reason to continue using IE, nor any reason not to use Firefox.

19:57:09 21 Jun 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 17 Jun 2004

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the end of the microsoft desktop era

With the insane delay of Longhorn and the current reality of the web-dominated Internet, many bloggers are trumpeting the end of an age.

Gone are the days of the Microsoft monopoly on the desktop. Not because they were vanquished by Open Source Software or the eye-candy magic of Apple, but because the desktop itself is in many ways obsolete.

(As an aside: the funny thing is that the Desktop metaphor is a relatively recent concept, as far as computer technology goes, while thin-clients running server-side apps has a much longer pedigree. Witness the very first operating systems, which then lead to UNIX, which spawned technology that respected the client-server relationship like X Window, and which now runs almost all of the Web. The Desktop—which was probably first explicitly commercially implemented by Apple—is, in retrospect, an interregnum in the history of computing. I also conveniently lump the revolutionary 8-bit personal computers with the Desktop metaphor. While these harbingers of the Information Age did not have GUIs, they were nonetheless non-multitasking OSes with no native support for networking.)

Number one on blogdex today is How Microsoft Lost the API War.

Somewhat relatedly, lower down on the list is Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer.

While I agree that Microsoft probably has way too much money to be completely done anytime this century, Windows itself will go the way of the dinosaur, and computing as we know it will cease to exist.

14:09:55 17 Jun 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 15 Jun 2004

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earthquake

I didn't feel a thing, but the DJs on one of the radio stations commented on it. I wonder if surfers noticed if the waves changed?

16:08:31 15 Jun 2004 > > permalink > 5 comments

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continued transience

So this is what my life is reduced to.

I have been living out of a suitcase for pretty much two weeks now, my soul scattered across three cities. (I have this image of a blue amoeba-like thing splattering upon some hard black surface, coalescing into three parts, which are now futilely trying to come back together.) I think I am gaining some insight into why the narrator of Fight Club essentially goes insane from having to fly from city to city to city.

Especially with these prefab anchor stores. Borders. Barnes and Noble. Starbucks. Old Navy. Target. Each particular store is purposefully built according to some master plan. I recognize that the rationale is so that, no matter what city you're in, you won't feel lost within these franchises. Unfortunately, I feel like what this does is make you forget what city you're in. So I know where the clearance rack is, but I don't know where on earth I am.

I really think that constant repetition and uniformity causes insanity. Which, I suppose, explains why the world is now the way it is, but I digress….

I'm running on faith and hope these days. Which, I must say, is no mean feat when you're an avowed cynic.

13:10:10 15 Jun 2004 > /meta > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 14 Jun 2004

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neurotic little lists

I never used to do this, but I guess my latent type A personality is coming out in bits and pieces. I write these things out like some kind of incantation to ward off bad luck and evil spirits. You would think it would make me more productive, but I promptly lose them, forcing me to rewrite them over and over again.

How's that for magical thinking? For obsessive-compulsive personality disorder?

I never used to believe in lists. I figure if something is important enough, it'll just stay in your head. If you truly know something, understand it, you won't need to write it down.

So it's more for comfort's sake. Despite the fact that I lose my lists within 24 hours, it somehow eases the anxiety.

I'm clearly losing it.

23:22:09 14 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 13 Jun 2004

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null

neither increasing nor decreasing in this stillness lines drawn arbitrarily values assigned out of my control

who am i to say that this line leads to my destiny?

arguing with the vague voices that whisper in the moments between sleep and awakening considering this point or the other leading to a handful of loose ends tangled knots, twisted braids and nothing but rope burns from trying to hold on to everything it falls from my grasp

the lingering feeling of the touch of a hand no longer there

fullness known only by this empty vacuum completeness understood by being achingly unwhole infinity bounded by limitations everything is cut short

can there really be enough little things to fill these vast durations? enough to keep my mind at bay hold down the roiling waves of darkness lapping at my feet enough wonder in these small triumphs? enough light in these tiny flickers? inspiration, recognition, understanding connection

thin wispy lines, and all-but-invisible dots over and under the horizon i have faith only in that which is uncertain

21:42:54 13 Jun 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 09 Jun 2004

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LAX to ORD

So I wait at this airport for the last time for a long time, listening to the Muzak being pumped over head. (Goddamn, that shit is loud.) I swear, with all this back and forth, there ain't no way that my soul is gonna catch up to me.

I suppose that, as long as I can remember, June has meant transition, organized around the notion of the academic year. But I suppose other sorts of crazy things have happened this time of year, dreams shattered, but hopes kindled, and (as clichéd as it sounds) nothing is ever the same.

The veritable singularity. The mathematical catastrophe.

Infinities divided by infinities, zero divided by zero.

It never ends.

Yes, it is just before 5am, and I am ranting and raving deliriously. I just feel so, so…incomplete.

Something, I suppose, is always missing.

Just when you thought you've gotten used to it…

One of these days, I just wish something would work out without me having to lose too much blood and skin.

04:52:31 9 Jun 2004 > /meta > permalink > 3 comments

Tue, 08 Jun 2004

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panic

I am beginning to think that aspartame makes me depressed. Either that or caffeine. Time for a science experiment, I suppose.

It doesn't help that despite me being (transiently) in Southern California, the sun is refusing to come out.

Damn smog.

I don't think that any of this is a big deal, really (what "this" is, I'm not willing to divulge at this particular time) but, I suppose it could become a big deal.

I'm not even going to go there. I'm just going to get into my car and start driving.

09:51:01 8 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 07 Jun 2004

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momentary lapse

It doesn't ever end, does it?

When will I ever learn to value my own happiness?

When will I come up with a good reason for why I'm not doing what everyone keeps telling me I should do?

"I don't wanna" just doesn't seem to cut it, coming from a 27 year old man.

It's always a bad sign when I can't find any way at all to express how awfully frustrated I am these days.

Fuck.

22:53:05 7 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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rootless

Strange this. I came back to Southern California this past December utterly sick of the Midwest, exhausted and hurting with loneliness, feeling defeated by the darkness and the bitter cold.

But now that I realize that I might never get to go back out there for a long time, I can't help but feel sad.

Of course I guess it's natural. A lot of people don't like getting displaced, getting uprooted, even if where they are is not necessarily the best environment for them. Especially when I feel like I haven't said my proper goodbyes.

So I suppose a lot of my melancholy is simply the confusion of disorientation.

No matter how much I wax nostalgic, a part of me realistically understands that another winter out there just might kill me.

That, despite how familiar and home-like those city streets had become, no matter how at ease I felt wandering that land with no mountains, there is a reason that my journey begins again and heads out in another direction.

While time and again I might whine about not ever finding Home, about how I'm tired of being a vagabond aimlessly criscrossing the Paths of Life, I know that there is a part of me that is glad to be on the Road again.

The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.

—from the The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

I travel again to a new place, with some trepidation. I'm not sure if I can take another few months of isolation and alienation, of withstanding the darkness all alone again.

I grant that the winter nights won't be so long and dark where I'm going, but you can't escape the darkness.

I feel it lingering there beneath the surface, ready to snare me if I delve too deep.

This year has been all about crossroads.

As Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Four years from now, I have a feeling that I'll be staring at this screen, wondering where the hell all the time went.

Carpe diem, I suppose. Someday I'm just going to have to understand Sisyphus (and Camus) and finally learn how to live in the moment.

00:12:39 7 Jun 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 31 May 2004

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crap, crap, crap!

The question for today is: How the fuck am I going to get rid of all this shit?

Naturally, I am at a Starbucks procrastinating as usual.

This intersection of Webster and Clybourne is kind of interesting, in terms of allusion. Sure, a Starbucks is not that startling, but what I find funny is that there is a pizza joint called Pequod's just across the street. The trifecta is that I have a friend whose name is pretty close to (but not exactly) Ishmael who likes hanging out here. All that's missing is a Moby Disc.

Okay, I am being bizarre.

Jesus Sweet Christ, maybe I should just buy a flamethrower and be done with it. I would be quite happy to just flambe my furniture.

To quote Usher, "Let it burn, let it burn, gotta let it burn."

12:51:41 31 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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hypochondria and hoarding behavior

I woke up quite anxious at 5am today, with what felt like a hot flame searing the inside of my stomach. This is rather unexpected since I have been taking Zantac 150 milligrams twice a day religiously.

I have never been good with deadlines. Just the mere thought sends shivers of panic scurrying up my spine.

I also had a look at some of the pictures that were taken last weekend. Boy, am I fat. The raving hypochondriac in me swears that I have Cushing's syndrome or something. I swear I have the truncal obesity and the wasting of the extremities, and the purple striae. I refuse to admit it's because I eat like crap and don't get much exercise.

Still, I think I have gained about 30 lbs. since college, nearly 60 lbs. since high school. It's really hard for me to let go of the idea that this is some kind of disease process.

Then there is the chicken-and-the-egg problem: have I gained all this weight because I'm depressed, or am I depressed because I gained all this weight?

Somewhat humorously in a fatalistic way, I have noticed a growing small black spot on the volar surface of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the index finger on my right hand. Obviously (so saith my hypochondriac inner voice) it must be melanoma. I have to smile macabrely about this, since cancer is probably one of the fastest ways to lose weight with minimal effort. (Another way would be to contract tuberculosis. Not that I'm trying to make light of people sufferring from chronic, possibly incurable diseases.)

(As a side note, I am currently a textbook case of being underinsured with regards to health care. I am avidly awaiting the activation of the much more robust health plan I get with my new job. Right now, my health insurance pretty much only kicks in if I lose a limb or need a kidney. And that'll only happen after I shell out $2,000, which, admittedly, is probably pretty easy to do if I end up in the hospital and/or need surgery.)


But enough self-pity. (At least for this entry.)

N would be proud of me. I have learned, through much travail and many tribulations, that the trash can is my friend. Can't fit in the suitcase or box? In you go. Nothing beats travelling light.

What I want to know is whether or not I can get the Salvation Army to pick up my furniture.

04:30:17 31 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 30 May 2004

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hope (or the lack thereof)

"Hope!?" X spluttered, anger and confusion mingled. "Don't tell me about hope!"
Y sighed, shaking his head. "I know, I know. But you know I can't help but try." X gritted his teeth and walked away without a word.

Shit. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I just finished reading The Future of Spacetime (which is basically a book put together by theoretical physicists in honor of Kip Thorne's 60th birthday.) Interestingly, the last essay was by Alan Lightman, a physicists and a science-fiction writer.

It reminded me once again of the only good reason to write: because you have to.

Not in the sense that, if you didn't write, you wouldn't get paid and you'd starve to death. More in the sense that if they broke your hands so that you couldn't hold a pen or use a keyboard (and assuming you didn't have anyone to transcribe whatever you said, and that you weren't proficient with writing with your feet) then you would die, or at least probably go insane.

There was a time when I would have answered affirmatively immediately. I recognize that the reason why I type out this gibberish (not just this blog, but everything creative I've ever written in general) is because I've needed to. I don't think I would've died (the lack of writing itself wouldn't have been the proximal cause, legally speaking), but I surely would've gone insane. Or at least gotten even more depressed than baseline. Perhaps suicidally so.

I guess there is a sick truth to it, then. It's easiest to write when I'm abjectly miserable. This low-level, mild, chronic misery just doesn't cut it in terms of inspiration.

But, I gotta tell you, major depressive disorder is no fun at all. As I've written before, going through life thinking that you suck and that it's all your fault is incompatible with life.

There's gotta be a better way to be inspired than becoming suicidally depressed. Not that it isn't easy to become suicidally depressed considering the kind of world we live in.

Bleh. I have serious problems that not even the most potent psychotropic drugs can obviate, I guess.


It's times like these when I have a lot of shit to take care of but I really don't want to deal with it that my brain turns toward things I have absolutely no need to think about. (Holy fuck, that was convoluted.)

It's really fucked up, honestly. The way I procrastinate is by thinking deep, depressing thoughts.

For example: Because I have all these stupid little exasperating tasks that I need to get done before I flee this City, things that I really, really, really don't want to deal with right now, I have been thinking about my social life. Or more precisely, the lack thereof.

Now, B and B and N and most everyone I've ever talked to about this will tell me that a lot of it is my fault. Obviously I'm not gonna be going out on any dates if I don't ask anyone out.

The more rational side of me (which makes its appearance every now and then, though never often enough to actually make a difference) recognizes that this is simply a self-confidence issue.

Now, I have, at worst, a pretty inane personality. (Note that's inane, not insane, although I'll admit, I've been accused of the latter a lot.) Nothing boldly offensive, and sometimes even perhaps a little mildly interesting.

But then you all know what "nice personality" really means.

Now, again, the rational side of me notes that this really doesn't make a difference. I mean, seriously, who doesn't know an extraordinarily ugly guy who somehow gets all the chicks? I've seen plenty of attractive women out with guys magnitudes of order less attractive than I am.

In theory, as a straight male, looks are not that high on the list of requisite characteristics.

Except in its fatal intersection with self-confidence.

Well.

So I got that all worked out. Not that it makes a difference in anything. In any case, I have all these GODDAMNED tasks that require completion before I get fuck up out of this City, so you know that I'm going to revisiting this theme ad nauseam until I'm done.

19:45:01 30 May 2004 > /3p-omni > permalink > 0 comments

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like a thief in the night

So the end of the month approaches, and I need to evacuate my apartment. Which is a problem since I haven't dispensed of various unwieldy pieces of furniture.

The solution seems likely to be simply tossing everything into the nearby vacant lot in the dark still of the night. Or perhaps onto the sidewalk.

I feel like a fugitive.


I had been sitting on the dismembered carcass of an IKEA dining table chair, placed on top of a lone cinder block. My erstwhile "roommates" (read: my squatter friends) neglected to tell me that they would be putting away the green plastic patio chair that had served as my couch for the past few weeks. My stepladder proved to be unable to accomodate my (also rather) unwieldy buttocks, so, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

While I have been brainlessly content these past few weeks simply trying to sort out the various frayed and tattered loose ends in my life (it's really amazing how little I can get done in 24 hours) I sat on my makeshift chair pondering the frightening possiblity that I might sink back into depression once I run out of stupid, little aggravating things to do.

Cue rug being pulled from underneath me. But, luckily, I am, indeed, getting quite used to this sort of thing.

No, I will not explain that last paragraph. (Remember, to give name to the monster will cause it to take form…)

So. Other than the ten thousand various and sundry useless items that I must find some way to dispose of awaiting me back home, there is very little to do except watch the basketball game and kill a few more brain cells.

Nothing ever lasts, does it? Especially when it's not even real. But I guess I knew that already.

16:09:24 30 May 2004 > > permalink > 0 comments

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suicide by chatroom

Wow. This is extraordinarily bizarre. A 14-year old kid tricks a 17-year old into trying to stab him to death. How fucked up is that?

15:44:45 30 May 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 25 May 2004

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last days in this city (cont.)

The brief sojourn in the City by the Bay left me exhausted. I've taken two red-eyes now ever since I vowed never again to take a red-eye. Nothing beats rolling in at 5:30am, to the drear of false dawn creeping behind the Sears Tower, above the lake.

Like they say, you never know what you have until you lose it.

I distinctly remember thinking something along the lines of "I'm home!" as I cruised the Orange Line, half conscious. As close to home as anywhere, I suppose, despite the fact that I will no longer have a mailing address in six days, once again living out of my suitcase, as I often have in these five years since I left the city of my birth.

(I hesitate to call that place "home," it having become as alien to me as any place else. Except for my parents, everything from my childhood has been pretty much transformed or obliterated. My friends from elementary school have all moved on, as have my siblings, and every time I come back, I am made acutely aware that my life there is, thus far, quite unrealistic. More on that some other time, though.)

On the other hand, I wonder if the only reason why I wax nostalgic about the Windy City is the fact that I know I'm not going to be stuck here for another winter.


But I must say, it is in this city that I learned the beauty of being alone. Strangely, the alienation I feel amid the grid of these city streets feels "right." As I wander, disenchanted and full of cynicism, I feel bizarrely at peace.

I don't want to call it a surrender. I'm not going to claim that I will be alone forever. For one thing, I know I'd be accused of being melodramatic. Rather, I'd like to say that I have deferred romance and companionship indefinitely.

Still, the world turns, and I'm not getting any younger.

For now, I suppose I must be content to watch and live vicariously.


As I was first, so shall I be last.

Of my friends from college who decided to get an advanced degree, I was the first one to start school again, and I will be the last one to finish (by a margin of three weeks.) For a while I wasn't really looking forward to graduating. In my field, graduation is sort of anti-climactic. It doesn't really mark anything, other than the acquisition of a piece of paper. The epiphany of Match Day has come and gone, and the first day of internship looms ominously. We aren't finished by any means, and all of us will have to go through at least three more years of training.

But seeing B and his class march down that aisle reawakened my excitement.

Stupidly, I am doing rotations until the bitter end. (Some of my classmates have been on vacation for months now.) So, despite knowing that a watched clock does not move, I've been counting every second.

It's so close that I can taste it.


Anyway, I ended up sleeping all of yesterday away. I made it to my apartment around 7 am, took a shower, got dressed, and then drove through rush hour traffic to my final rotation. I probably almost died at least seven times, since I kept nodding off, but miraculously, I made it in one piece. Naturally, the paperwork was all screwed up, and I ended up not starting. So I got home around noon or so and passed out until 6pm. After talking to M briefly, I continued to pass out until 6am the next morning. And I was still exhausted. Maybe I'm coming down with something. (SARS, perhaps?)

So I'm still kind of in a daze today. I went to Jamba Juice today and found myself absent-mindedly staring at a girl, who smiled at me wryly and then laughed aloud along with her friend. I naturally panicked and withdrew my gaze.

I clearly have a lot to learn.

And I am clearly not all here.

I have very little incentive to focus these days. I kind of worry how I'll straighten up by the time internship starts.

17:36:46 25 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 6 comments

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17:10:13 25 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 21 May 2004

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wind in the door

I have decided to speed through Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet (which starts off with A Wrinkle in Time[Amazon][previous blog entry]) The first three books were written in the '60's and '70's (pretty much before I was born) and the level of biological knowledge in A Wind in the Door is kind of intriguing. For one thing, it gives me some insight on my own uninformed assumptions about the history of molecular biology. Considering that Rosalind Franklin just discovered the structure of DNA in the '50's by X-ray crystallography, I imagine that the electron microscope was pretty damn new in the '60's. While mitochondria are visible by light microscopy, for some reason, I imagine that molecular biochemistry was not advanced enough to figure out the precise mechanism by which ATP is created by these little symbiotes.

But, long story short, I am somewhat astounded that what L'Engle wrote about mitochondria and the putative farandolae is certainly not outdated. I remember when I was in grade school and first read A Wind in the Door, my only source of definition for what a mitochondrion was was the dictionary, and it gave me a really vague definition. But, perhaps a decade later, after earning a degree in molecular biology and (soon) earning a degree in medicine, mitochondria have become something to take for granted.

Not that we know everything about them. There are certainly some deep mysteries left.

But, interestingly, while the farandolae seem to be a McGuffin invented by L'Engle, there is actually a (very crucial) molecule that seems very close to L'Engle's artistic description: the F0F1-complex, also known as ATP synthetase. This molecule has often been cited as an example of the anti-Darwinian model of "intelligent design" considering the machine-like way it's put together. If we ever get that far, this is probably what nanotechnology is going to look like.

16:38:03 21 May 2004 > /books > permalink > 5 comments

Wed, 19 May 2004

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time traveling

(Some random scrawlings that I can't seem to make coherent)

Knowing that these are My Last Days in this City makes everything dreamlike and surreal, like I'm waiting for my own personal apocalypse.
The past and present meld together in a spiraling, feedback fashion. As I walk aimlessly across this urban matrix, I orient myself through space with nothing but memories: I pass that patch of sidewalk where he pointed the gun at me. I walk across that parking lot where my buddy took off his shirt and just about took off his pants before we stopped him. I drive down the street where we tried hailing cop cars to take us home. I walk past that club where my other buddy picked up those two women and where we danced countless drunken, sweaty nights—these last memories all blur, smeared by alcohol and repetion.
I try to un-know these past few years, pretend that I am once again caught in the moment, exploring this vast place that I am now familiar with (though I only learned an infinitesimal increment about it)
Knowing that my immediate future lies completely elsewhere, literally half a continent away, it is close to impossible to start anything new. No matter how adventurous I feel, I find myself walking through the same familiar streets, drinking at the same, tired bars. The only difference is that I no longer meet familiar faces.
My own personal, transient history is being erased even before I leave this place for the final time. I realize it is megalomaniacal to expect that I would leave a mark in this place, but the immensity of this city and my insignificance in it bears down on me in this solitary days.
The weather has morphed at least six times since I've been sitting here, recapitulating the seasons, with change to spare. The bright, blue sky of summer, the brooding grey of winter, the deep dark, pregnant rain clouds, the yellow glow of the sunlight gleaming through the breaking bank of clouds.

It's odd, this feeling, that, despite knowing precisely where I'm going to be in the next month (well, not precisely, but about as precise as you can be given the changing tides of Fate, Godel's Law of Incompleteness, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle), I feel completely directionless.
It doesn't help that there are a hundred, thousand trivial tasks that pull at me this way and that, these ridiculous loose ends that, like dandelions or gophers, just keep popping up.
It's like this cosmological game of Whack-a-Mole.

I still marvel at the sensation of being completely isolated and disconnected despite being embedded in a rock-and-concrete organism made up of millions of people. Sometimes, much like how motion-sickness and the concomitant nausea can creep up on you, I lose my sea legs and plumb the depths of this seething loneliness. Then I regain my equilibrium and composure, and plunge on dazedly, immune to passion, sorrow, or joy. It's amazing the sorts of things human beings can adapt to.

17:23:02 19 May 2004 > /portents > permalink > 1 comments

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thermodynamics and relationships

Contrary to the claims of my friends, disconnecting my Internet connection at home has failed to improve my social life. In fact, since I also don't have a T.V. anymore, or a phone line, and I'm not really sure that I'm still receiving mail at my erstwhile place of residence, I'm rapidly losing touch with any semblance of "reality" (whatever that may be) and I don't know when anything is supposed to happen anymore. Since I don't have my computer on almost 24-7 anymore, I'm not even sure what day of the month it is half the time.

Somewhat ludicrously, I think my sporadic posts to this blog are the only evidence to the outside world that I am, in fact, still alive.


This entry on f(r)ictions caught my eye, mostly because I am a supernerd who stupidly took the organic chemistry class that only chemistry majors and chemical engineering majors usually take, and the schematic of organic molecules reacting snared me.

But, even more synchronously, I have been using the term "free radical" to euphemistically refer to newly single people in my (increasingly incestuous) circle of friends here in the Midwest. (Skip the following if you have no interest in reading about organic chemistry or biochemistry—which I imagine will be both of my readers) The analogy, while extraordinarily nerdy, is, I think, also apt. Think of break-ups as the splitting of covalent bonds. Depending on how tight the bond was (how strong the relationship was) and how much energy was expended to break the bond (how dramatic the circumstances of the break-up were), you will end up with (1) two atoms that momentarily split apart, then rapidly join back together again (2) two atoms that were loosely bonded anyway even before the energy was applied, and which rapidly drift apart, either calmly binding with other unbound atoms or simply going its separate way as a stable, single atom or (3) two atoms that separate with explosive force, shearing electrons this way and that—in other words, creating free radicals.

Now, just as in a reaction chamber, the result of such a reaction depends on the neighboring molecules. If the other molecules in the chamber are sufficiently stably bonded, the free radicals will eventually shed their unpaired electrons without much ado. But if the other molecules are unstable as well, likely all hell will break loose. A chain reaction will ensue until some stable state is attained, which is typically nothing like the starting conditions.

You squeeze a bunch of molecules tight enough together, and some interesting (though possible devastating) things can happen.

Very few elements actually stay unbound, though. There are, of course, the noble gases, such as helium, neon, argon, and xenon, but even argon and xenon can be induced to bind to oxygen or fluoride, given enough energy. Non-reactive single atoms are very rare indeed.

So I suppose that's either a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you think explosions are a good thing or not.

15:38:27 19 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 11 May 2004

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a wrinkle in time

I haven't thought about this book in a long time, despite the number of ideas it spawned within my addled brain, and despite the bizarre synchronicity swirling around this particular point in spacetime.

A Wrinkle in Time was one of the books on the reading list my 4th grader teacher gave us. I remember that me and one of my classmates had actually gotten towards the end of the list, so our teacher had to extend the list a bit to accomodate us.

There was a lot of stuff by Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume, and Roald Dahl, from what I remember, and a lot of other stuff that I barely remember. One of the more haunting ones was Island of the Blue Dolphins, which I'm sure many of you have read. (Incidentally, this book had much currency in my then-expanding weltanschaung, since the aforementioned Island is maybe around 75 miles southwest of Los Angeles, named San Nicolas Island by Spanish. The girl in the story—whose name I forget—actually ended up living—and dying—at Mission Santa Barbara. But, as usual, I digress.) However, what I owe this book list most for is my introduction to the genre of Fantasy.

Like many geeks, I devoured The Hobbit, and read all the books in the Chronicles of Narnia (which is also interesting because apparently J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had somewhat of a complicated personal relationship which I won't even dare to speculate about here) But I also stumbled upon Madeline L'Engle's intrepid series of books, the first one of which was A Wrinkle in Time. (The other ones that I remember really liking are A Swiftly-Tilting Planet and Many Waters) This is probably what sowed the seeds of my obsession with cosmology, which inadvertantly lead me to quantum mechanics and relativity. (I'm not claiming I really understand either of them, and I certainly don't understand the math, but I think I recognize their particular constructs.) In any case, the McGuffin, as it were, is the Tesseract, which is simplistic referred to as the fifth dimension (that is, as hyperspacetime) and which actually well approximates how physicists currently understand the possibility of time travel. (For more on this, I would recommend Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy, or more to the point How to Build a Time Machine) Basically, the idea is that spacetime "wrinkles," causing distances to shorten. A journey that would otherwise take 20,000 years at light speed could be accomplished in a few seconds.

Now, the wrinkle is evocative of Einstein's idea of mass causing spacetime curvature (and, ultimately, warpage, in the case of a black hole.) The shortcut through the universe brings to mind the concept of wormholes, which is—ever since Kip Thorne tried to figure out a way that Carl Sagan's protagonist in Contact, ably played by Ms. Jodi Foster, could travel through time—the most likely way to create a time machine.

It remains to be seen if time travel is truly compatible with the laws of physics, and if you've met someone who might seem to be from another planet perhaps they are in reality merely from another time period.

In any case, ABC showed the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time yesterday, and, in addition to increasingly propelling the aspiring scientist in me, it has also reinspired the budding writer in me.

In addition to (perhaps vainly) trying to comprehend quantum gravity and black hole physics, I've also been reading books by Mike Davis, who, besides being a professor at UC Irvine, is also a passionate historian who specializes in the history of Southern California. I just recently finished Dead Cities and am now starting on City of Quartz, and what I am struck by (which I might never have noticed if my sister didn't spell it out for me) is how he invokes the auspices of the now-recognized fantasy subgenre of "magical realism."

Now, bear with me. I'm not a lit major. I'm certainly no sociologist or historian. I'm just a dilettante with a bit of spare time on my hands these days, and so I might be describing this all wrong. But from a Science Fiction and Fantasy perspective, what this is is inserting Fantastic elements into what otherwise would be a "realistic" work of fiction, i.e., set in the present, in societies that we are familiar with (mostly thanks to Hollywood, the MPAA, and the ever expanding universe of media conglomerates.)

Because of A Wrinkle in Time's embedding into quasi-realistic physics and biology and an intuitive but very physical description of Evil, and because the possibility of time travel addresses the possibility of spectacular things happening in the most mundane locales, I've sort of found myself with an affinity to magical realism.

Which is interesting because this is (according to my sister—I may be misinterpreting her) how cultures that do not have scientific traditions archetypically view reality anyway. (We won't get into the bogus science vs. other traditions argument here. I'm not trying to imply any value judgements, but obviously I have my biases.)

Anyway. The other literary thing that A Wrinkle in Time evoked is the idea that reality is non-linear.

I am also reading Stephen Jay Gould's The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox, which, while mainly illustrating the destructiveness of the false dichotomy between science and humanities, also provides some insight into who the prototypical Hegemon really is.

From the little that I've read in Gould's book, what post-colonial deconstructionists typically see as the Hegemon is in fact a painfully anachronistic remnant of the 17th century Enlightenment, replete in Deistic "rationality" and a belief that this is the best of all possible worlds. (A point-of-view which Voltaire lampooned in Candide, way back when.) Hence, the clinging to Adam Smithian economics, the belief that progress is linear, the idea that all things can be predicted—these are, from what little I understand, the elements of what we simplistically refer to as Capitalist Culture that often allow much Evil to be committed.

Now, science has progressed quite a bit since the 17th century, and what we have learned (admittedly, relatively recently) is (to be reductionist about it) that most everything is unpredictable (see Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Godel's Law, and Chaos Theory), the structure of the universe cannot be deduced by common sense (see Einstein's Theory of Relativity as the prime example), and that while there is an Arrow of Time, it is embodied in Entropy and Decay. So much for utopian progress.

And while people committed to the Struggle might (righteously) rail against the Miltary-Industrial-University Complex embedded within the matrix of Capitalism, whose religion is "science," I do not believe that science is not the enemy here.

As I have taken to habit to say: Science is like a map. It can tell you where everything is (provided you know how to use it), but it can't tell you where you should go.

And what is Science? It is not a disconnected body of facts about the physical world, but a Method. And this Method allows anyone who knows how to use it to gainsay any authority figure. Because without evidence, whatever you say doesn't mean shit. (Admittedly, the Establishment has ways of manufacturing evidence and of discrediting dissenting voices without using such niceties as logic and evidence, but this in itself does not discredit the Scientific Method.)

But I am rambling all over the place, and have long since forgotten my original point, so I'll stop here.

18:58:58 11 May 2004 > > permalink > 11 comments

Sat, 08 May 2004

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prince of persia: the sands of time

I don't know how this popped into my head today…I have this weird recurring vision of a character riding a comet into the raging fires of the sun (the way that guy rides an atomic bomb in "Dr. Strangelove) and I'm trying to turn it into a story somehow.

I guess I'm just mulling over the basic idea of crafting a story, and the problems of killing off your main character (or one of your main characters.)

In any case, this reminded me of the cute little conceit that the video game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has. The idea is that the protagonist is really narrating his adventures (which is where the gameplayer comes in.) Now, despite the protagonist's pretty amazing capabilities of climbing up smooth sheer walls without equipment, and a hang-time that Michael Jordan would envy, every so often, you (the player) will cause the protagonist to splatter across a palace courtyard or get impaled on iron spikes or get dismembered by spinning razor-sharp blades. The gameplay, naturally, ends at that point, but the protagonist then intones, "No, no, no, that's not what happened," and if you choose to continue, you get to restart right before the fatal event occurred.

That's the kind of detail that most game designers just don't pay attention to these days. Once upon a time, there was this idea that video games would basically become interactive literature—a more immersive telling of a particular narrative. Now most games are all about blowing up or eviscerating as many people or misshapen creatures as you can.

13:56:40 8 May 2004 > /computers/games > permalink > 4 comments

Tue, 04 May 2004

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self evident truth

I recognize full well that desperation is not attractive.

I never like to do something simple if I can do it in the most difficult, perverse, and absurd way possible.

22:14:29 4 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

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lorem ipsum dolor

Do those of you eminently familiar with desktop publishing tools, especially fonts, recognize this? Or am I hopelessly alone in this piece of mindless trivia, acquainted only because of my brief affair with Quark XPress and Adobe Indesign (nee Pagemaker) and the subsequent hunt for Truetype fonts that looked good when printed on a press coupled with my serendipitous bout with Latin in high school? Man, I have problems.

19:27:49 4 May 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 3 comments

Sun, 02 May 2004

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blogging on my feet

this is surely not good for my joints. i currently don't have a seat, so i'm just blogging on the fly, trying to sort some things out.

i've been angry a lot lately. not because of anything specific. sure, there's the iraqi occupation and all the young men and women dying for a dubious cause. all the right-wingers who don't care to listen and sometimes don't even care to think. then there are the liars and cheats. my colleagues with questionable ethics. my peers whom i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. and then there are the parents who mean well but who can't help but aggravate me at times by trying to run my life.

i'm such a self-righteous, sanctimonious prick sometimes.

to put it crudely, and to paraphrase my oldest friend's own deconstruction of the situation, perhaps it all has something to do with the fact that i've been—shall we say—physiologically repressed for a while.

that's right. always thinking with the wrong head.

seriously though. i devolved into a fit of shouting to myself after i spent an hour looking for my keys. i don't know what it is. i always lose my keys.

times like this i wonder if i'm just insane. if i should just show up to the psych ward and tell them "i'd like to be locked up, please."

now, i've always had a bad temper. while i didn't get my dad's luck—with both the card flip and with the ladies—i did get his raging, irrational temper. it is, i believe, a southeast asian cultural trait, though. running amok. when everything seems all fucked up, there's really nothing left but to go beserk. we southeast asians invented going postal, perhaps.

and yet i am not a violent man. obviously i'm biased here, but i like to think that it is rather infrequent that i just go bonkers like this, and i'd like to think that most of my friends (although not my family) would attest to that. of course, i could be wrong.

the other problem, besides the lack of, ummm, feminine diversion, is the fact that a lot my thoughts seem to trail off into the phrase "whatever, it doesn't matter."

this feeling that no matter what i do at this particular juncture of time will have little-to-no impact on the world is, to put it mildly, a little frustrating.

i can't start anything, but it still never ends.

what i need is the archetypal chill-pill. or maybe a drag off of a blunt.

(and i know that this is way too much information, but, umm, self-satisfaction is of no help here. i will refer you to a quote by Louise Ferdinand Celine. then there is also a very pertinent song lyric by Green Day.)

22:10:20 2 May 2004 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Wed, 28 Apr 2004

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off the matrix

Now I realize that most people find it extremely boring to read blog entries that discuss the blogger's profoundly mundane personal life, but, well, (1) I am clearly not doing this for my vast throngs of readers and (2) I find this situation sufficiently absurd as to warrant comment.

Because my roommate that I hate has skipped town and has shut off the phone and the DSL, I am informationally marooned. I don't even have dial-up, unless I'm willing to resort to using my cel-phone as a modem and spending a small fortune. I don't know what's more pathetic—the fact that I don't have regular Internet access, or the fact that I am so desperate for it.

So now I am sitting in a smoked-filled cafe (yep, that's right, because I'm not in California, it is, in fact, smoke-filled) surfing the net. I'm an addict. I clearly need professional help, but anyone who knows me knows that this is true on many levels.

But what is absurd is the fact that, while I do in fact have a laptop, it has no keyboard. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to spill some water on my laptop and I managed to render the keyboard effectively useless. While about 75% of the keys still worked post-spillage, this 75% did not include vastly useful keys such as "Escape," the letter "E," or the "Delete" key. For a while, I was trying to subsist using the Character Palette and some aggressive mousing manuevers, but this only aggravated my indolently-progressing case of RSI.

So I bought a full-sized keyboard. I admit it. I feel extraordinarily ridiculous pulling up a full-sized keyboard in a crowded cafe. It looks like I've fucking set up shop here. A guy has just looked at me incredulously, asking in amused bewilderment just what the hell happened to my keyboard.

Even more absurd is, because I didn't want to pay $120 to get a new keyboard, I decided to try my luck on E-Bay. Hilariously, the only thing I found was an iBook keyboard from Japan, complete with Kana.

I feel I am approaching the height of my geekdom.

So that's that. At least it forces me to leave the apartment in order to check my e-mail.

18:47:52 28 Apr 2004 > /meta > permalink > 1 comments

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when you see a fork in the road

When I was in 8th grade, our English teacher would give us a prompt every day, and at least 15 minutes to write about it. This is probably the first time I thought about becoming a writer. Sadly, despite the various signs that the universe has given me, and because of my faith in the inevitable heat death of the universe and the odds that favored the outcome that I would become a mediocre writer at best, my path has turned quite bizarrely astray. But sometimes I still dream.

(edited for typos—my brain is seriously turning to mush)

17:46:07 28 Apr 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 27 Apr 2004

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transience

Of course I'll start with a random tangent: I initially mispelled "transience" as "transcience," which is kind of interesting to those sufferring from logophilia. Transcience—that which is beyond knowledge, officially in the zone defined by Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem as that which is true but cannot be expressed as a mathematical truth using the rules of the particular system we are working in.

But, as usual, this is not where I want to go.


What is within me that so demands that the time I spend has a purpose? There is no reason why this should be so. I don't know why I can't just wander pointlessly around this world, trying to live only in the moment. Why can't I just exist like a mayfly: the simple cycle of birth, reproduction, and death. We live, we fuck, we die. The circle of life.

So to be here, in this purgatorial state, how do I know what I should do next? My superego demands that I do something here that I cannot do anywhere else. What that might be, who knows?

I feel like I'm waiting for inspiration while I stand here on the railroad tracks. I know that the train is going to come, but inspiration is another matter.

I wish I could find my equilibrium.

I am, once again, in a state of profound and very basic indecision. The existential crisis upon my back.

A part of me understands that all burdens are, to some extent, voluntary.

There is no reason to stay, but there is no reason to go. Inertia. Stasis. Entropy.

It does not matter.

Seriously though. I'm in a fog. I can't seem to focus. In a metaphysical sense, everything seems to be fluctuating in and out of my existential focal plane.

I'm pissed off at nothing in particular. This is a sign of brain damage for sure.

Ah, what a fucking waste.

16:44:22 27 Apr 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 25 Apr 2004

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denial is a river in egypt

I sit here, not wanting to sleep, not wanting to pack. My clothes are strewn completely all over my bed, so I can't sleep without packing. How clever my subconscious is. An attempt at negative reinforcement, perhaps. Self-sabotage, more likely. Despite all my soul-searching and impatience, I think there is a large portion of me that actually likes being in limbo.

Have I been really thinking all that deeply, these past few days I've been traveling down the Mother Road? Or have I been just chewing on ragged ends, obsessing over decisions long ago decided, digging up the corpses of my fantasies long ago interred? In other words, a lot of mental masturbation without the money shot. (How lovely, huh?)

Now, I don't know how to unravel this knot tied tight in my head. So we'll go chronologically. Not always the best, definitely not always the clearest, but you've got to start somewhere.

I'm not entirely sure what to do with the statement: "Wow, everybody is getting married and having kids." Obviously, the amount of discomfort elicited depends on entirely who is stating this. In of itself it is completely innocuous. But, clearly, the atavistic part of my soul recoils in horror at the implied meaning and the insinuated algorithm that I should follow.

I am, perhaps, just batting away at the flies in my eyes again.

Which gets me to start thinking about the nature of my solitude. Like, how much of it is self-imposed, and how much of it is the fact that, while, objectively speaking, I'm not repulsive—by which I mean to say, I don't look like Quasimodo, or Sloth from "The Goonies"—I am also clearly not hot.

Definitely not as hot as the women I tend to lust for.

Attractiveness mismatch. Wonderful.

I gravitate towards situations involving unrequited love lust whatever the way that moths like to fly right into open flames and immolate themselves.

So I could drown myself in self-pity like I've been doing for the past, oh, I don't know, decade of my life, but, frankly, it's starting to get a little boring.

I think one of the things that I have learned in these past few years is the notion of futility, and how you should stop bashing your head against the brick wall after around the third bash, and definitely before you lose consciousness.

But, as usual, I digress.

So, instead, we will continue to slide down the mental staircase:

The egotistical side of me insists that, while I haven't succeeded in getting any of the really attractive girls I've liked to like me back, surely there are some perhaps, ah, less attractive women whose attentions I've managed to snag. (Like I said, this is the egotistical side of me. Not very well acquainted with reality, unfortunately, so forgive my presumptiveness.) This is clearly not a thing that I have managed to prove, so it could all be coming out of my ass academic, but a man has got to have some hope, right?

I suppose even this presupposition could be wrong, and I am simply ugly and unlovable, but, like I said, I just don't want to go down that road again right now, so we'll take another tack…

Anyway, we eventually get to the idea of settling (however completely hypothetical.) Which, at this juncture, is a big "no way," regardless of how superficial this makes me. (I'd like to try to temper this with the rationalization that I don't make these kinds of judgements based purely on appearance. Big cynic that I am, I tend to think that pretty exteriors tend to harbor decidedly ugly interiors, but, like with many things, I am hoping that I am wrong.)

Long story short, these days I find it quite easy to imagine myself on my own for the rest of my life (which may not be that unbearably long in any case, but that is another neurosis to tackle.)

Hmmm. This insomniac ramble through my brain is quite entertaining.

Which brings me back to my tendency to sabotage myself.

Like putting myself in the friend zone immediately when I realize that a woman I like is too attractive for me.

I suppose there is such a thing as being prudent.

But then, this begs the question, why even bother?

In the end, I think it sucks to pretend that you don't want something because you know that you can't have it. And yet, it's just as equally sucky and even more stupid to continue to go after something when it's clear that you can never have it.

I fear that I have taught myself to not know what I like, for fear of never getting it.

What a bizarre little non-dilemma. I reiterate: there must be something gravely wrong with me.

I suppose the real question is: what is the best way to cope with failure? Should I choose complete surrender and abdication, fold my hand, give away the rest of my chips, and call it quits forever? Or should I choose denial? Should I just slam the accelerator all the way to the floor and see how quickly I can crash into that brick wall known as rejection?

Decisions, decisions.

I'm definitely not packing tonight, so I wonder where exactly I'm going to sleep….

01:22:13 25 Apr 2004 > /soul > permalink > 7 comments

Sat, 24 Apr 2004

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purgatory

like an island with the sea roiling all around upon a lonely mountaintop with the smoke and the clouds drifting below

the sign says: you are free to dance within the painted lines romp around naked and drunk and delirious within the pre-apportioned space

and it is not the long arm of the Law or the Commandments of God but the hard iron will of Mother Nature that keeps you bound to this constrained space

looking back upon the time passed the chronology slowing hardening like newly set concrete mulling over the decisions and indecisions of yesterday remembering the nights lying in bed pondering destiny waking from nightmares shrieking in a cold sweat as you dream that Fate pushes you over the precipice

and the answer to every question increasingly becomes it does not matter and nothing would have changed and the frettings and the unease of traipsing that thin line between disaster and stagnation (each in some weird way a synonym for death) becoming nothing more than the regular red line on a map representing your itinerary with well-spaced fuel stops along the way

as you sit in line before the toll booth each car admitted representing something like an eon of waiting you cannot go anywhere not backward certainly, but neither forward not until the appointed hour which comes like a thief stealing in the night

21:20:49 24 Apr 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 2 comments

Fri, 23 Apr 2004

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allow initial numbers in category

I just realized that Blosxom won't let me use category names that start with a number (like, for example 3p-omni) and this is for good reason: so that dates don't get confused with category names and vice-versa. Of course, I was dissatisfied with renaming the category to something like thirdpersonomniscient, so I decided to hack on the source (which is probably a bad idea, but I can't do this as a plug-in)

The result is this patch that allows you to have category names that start with numbers. WARNING: this has not been well-tested!!! I have no idea what I may have broken by doing this. YOU MAY NUKE YOUR BLOG!!! You have been informed. Usage implies consent.

19:47:09 23 Apr 2004 > /computers/www/blosxom > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 21 Apr 2004

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one moment in time

Great. Now that Whitney Houston song is in my head.

In the final stretch driving last night, alone under the comforting blanket of night, my mind started wandering.

The iPod is a wonderful toy. It turns what would otherwise be an unbearable long-distance drive into your own personal Odyssey complete with soundtrack. I will try to trace which songs exactly infiltrated my mind, but I came up with these vague ideas as I drove and rocked-out:

  1. Was ten years of emotional torture—of failing to live up to expectations, of taking wrong turns and riding up the curb, of not knowing where I was going— worth this single moment driving at 80 mph down a lonely Interstate highway, happy not necessarily of where I've been, or where I'm going, but simply because of where I am (er, or was? This is where the past pluperfect tense comes in handy, doesn't it? I wish I paid attention when they were teaching English grammar…)
    As the music blasted, and the highway thrummed underneath me, the green milemarkers flicking past with reflected light, I answered yes to the universe
    That was it. That was my peak. In that single moment of time, everything was perfect.
    And now I understand. These moments of sheer joy are not meant to be bottled up, like rain water to be carried for the journey through the vast desert of pain and disaster. There is no surety in happiness, no such thing as insurance for contentment. These moments exist only in that brief time and space, though perhaps lingering vaguely as a memory. Like a happy dream, maybe. When you wake, you know it's gone, but at least you know that, in some way, it really was real.
  2. Was three months of playing games—tricks of the heart and other deceits of the flesh—followed by three more months of heartache, depression, bouts of pounding my head against the wall, and otherwise total and complete failure to function as a human being—was this price worth one good song?
    What can I say? Women will break your heart and leave you weeping, cold and alone, but a song can warm the heart even in the deepest, darkest pit.

Feh. This time of transition. The future is never guaranteed, but it's always nice to at least be holding a boarding pass.

P.S. Sorry R, don't know why my comments are broken. Oh, wait. Actually, maybe I do. Not the why, but the how. I'll have to dig into the code when I'm no longer on the road.

22:16:18 21 Apr 2004 > > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 19 Apr 2004

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radiohead "scatterbrain" and elton john "someone saved my life tonight"

Over the roar of the A/C and the distorting influence of being in another room, not to mention the screwy acoustics of the apartment's living room, I swear "Scatterbrain" by Radiohead [lyrics][iTMS] sounds a little like "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John [lyrics][iTMS]

Or I could've just forgotten to take my medication.

00:01:37 19 Apr 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 1 comments

Sat, 17 Apr 2004

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fast and furious

I can never think of anything on my own…

This is what happens when I'm all alone at 1:30am on a Saturday night (er, Sunday morning) and I fuse the idea of writing pseudoautobiographical vignettes (an idea which I am shamelessly stealing from f(r)ictions") with a random Xanga entry:

He stepped out of the cab with his freshly shaved head and newly grown goatee. The eyes of a drunk across the street lit up, and she dragged her equally drunk date along with her. She gaped and pointed: "Fast and Furious! Fast and Furious!" It took a while for it to register that she was alluding to a Vin Diesel movie. Great….
"Hey, have you ever killed anyone?" she asked, and, after hesitating a beat, and thinking about his last 36 hours all but locked up in the ICU, like a sadomasochistic farmer tending to the glistening tubes, the massive, hulking ventilators, and the glimmering, beeping monitors, he answered rather seriously, "Not on purpose."

Eek. That sucked. Like Celine, I seem to be unable to not write about work. I think I should just go to sleep. Damn it.

23:50:11 17 Apr 2004 > /3p-omni > permalink > 0 comments

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planet krikkit

As the Empire is thwarted at the frontier, losing legions by legions in its attempts to subjugate a recalcitrant province, as the Imperial Capitol is in tumult, the line of succession in dispute, as the People wallow in the Reality of their poverty, or float in the Unreality of their mind-altering drugs, I still manage to blog about completely random things.

I am in the midst of upheaval in too many ways to explicate—I am in a state of physical displacement, mental and emotional disarray, and I'm quite unable to focus on the here-and-now.

So I have been reading f(r)ictions and in the last three posts[n][n-1][n-2], the theme of Paul McCartney runs common throughout. Which reminded me of Douglas Adams's Life, the Universe, and Everything (book 3 in the completely misnamed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy)

Some select quotes:

They walked quite near the watchers beneath the tree, swinging lanterns that made soft and crazy lights dance among the trees and grass, chattering contentedly, and actually singing a song about how terribly nice everything was, how happy they were, how much they enjoyed working on the farm, and how pleasant it was to be going home to see their wives and children, with a lilting chorus to the effect that the flowers were smelling particularly nice at this time of year and that it was a pity the dog had died seeing as it liked them so much. Arthur could almost imagine Paul McCartney sitting with his feet up by the fire one evening, humming it to Linda and wondering what to buy with the proceeds, and thinking, probably, Essex.…
Arthur saw that a couple of members of the party were now singing a different song. It came lilting back to them through the soft night air, and was a sweet romantic ballad that would have netted McCartney Kent and Sussex and enabled him to put in a fair offer for Hampshire.…
At this point Arthur noticed a curious feature to the song that the party was singing. The middle eight bridge, which would have had McCartney firmly consolidated in Winchester and gazing intently over the Test Valley to the rich picking of the New Forest beyond, had some curious lyrics. The songwriter was referring to meeting with a girl not "under the moon" or "beneath the stars" but "above the grass," which struck Arthur as being a little prosaic. Then he looked up again at the bewilderingly blank sky, and had the distinct feeling that there was an important point here, if only he could grasp what it was. It gave him a feeling of being alone in the Universe, and he said so.…
…they arrived at the inner perimeter of the hollow, spherical Dust Cloud that surrounded their sun and home planet, occupying, as it were, the next orbit out.
It was more as if there were a gradual change in the texture and consistency of space. The darkness seemed now to thrum and ripple past them. It was very cold darkness, a very blank and heavy darkness, it was the darkness of the night sky of Krikkit.
The coldness and heaviness and blankness of it took a slow grip on Arthur's heart, and he felt acutely aware of the feelings of the Krikkit pilots that hung in the air like a thick static charge. They were now on the very boundary of the historical consciousness of their race. This was the very limit beyond which none of them had ever speculated, or even known that there was any speculation to be done.…
They flew out of the cloud.
They saw the staggering jewels of the night in their infinite dust and their minds sang with fear.
For a while they flew on, motionless against the starry sweep of the Galaxy, itself motionless against the infinite sweep of the Universe. And then they turned round.
"It'll have to go," the men of Krikkit said as they headed back for home.
On the way back they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life-forms.…
"It's all right," she said quietly, but clearly enough for all the shadowy crowd to hear, "you don't have to do it."…
"I want you to do something for me," she said, and unexpectedly laughed.
"I want," she said, and laughed again. She put her hand over her mouth and then said, with a straight face, "I want you to take me to your leader," and she pointed into the War Zones in the sky. She seemed somehow to know that their leader would be there.
Her laughter seemed to discharge something in the atmosphere. From somewhere at the back of the crowd a single voice started to sing a tune that would have enabled Paul McCartney, had he written it, to buy the world.

It is a little sad to mention Linda McCartney, since she's dead, but then again, so is Douglas Adams. (The world is now a lot less funny.)

The entry entitled "pleased to meet you" also reminds me a little of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", but that is really neither here nor there, and I don't know which deranged neural pathway in my mind lit up to make me think that. I suppose I identify a lot with the protagonists of both pieces.

15:58:04 17 Apr 2004 > /books > permalink > 4 comments

Fri, 16 Apr 2004

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ghosts

no one here but me and my ghosts recurring nightmares from which there is no waking and the neverending sadness of things that were never meant to be

the ghosts of what-if, dreams cut down before their time wishes stillborn hopes that sickened then died

strange how the memory of things that never became could haunt even my waking hours

sifting through the paper trail receipts and movie tickets bank statements and insurance policies the last traces of my ill-spent moments lying alone in the cold dark hoping for stillness the only record that these five years had some kind of impact upon the world-at-large however mundane and trivial, pointless and without meaning dismembered by the shredder gone

no use hanging on to lottery tickets when you already know they didn't win

15:30:58 16 Apr 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 8 comments

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snip, snip

I could hear the clicking of the shears miles away:

You Are Edward From "Edward Scissorhands."

You are very shy and often misunderstood. Innocent, sweet, and artistic, you like to pass your days by daydreaming and expressing yourself through the arts. You are a truly unique individual. Unfortunately, you are quite lonely, and few people truly understand you.

Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!

So I guess it's time to find some haunted-looking house standing all alone on a dark hill. Get used to some good ol' Don-Quixoteish loving, pure and chaste, from afar. Yeah. And maybe I need to kill myself some Anthony Michael Hall… Just kidding. I'm not as crazy as you think I am. Yet.

11:20:36 16 Apr 2004 > /blog-bites/quizilla > permalink > 8 comments

Tue, 13 Apr 2004

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sick

(WARNING: this entry promises to be very disjointed and long and possibly boring. Despite the line breaks, this is not a poem

(Oh yeah, and this is probably going to be pretty depressing, so you might want to look elsewhere and wait for the weather to change here.)

I

This week I've learned the difference between "do you feel sick?" and "where does it hurt?" Ultimately, all pain is in the head You give enough drugs, or you cut up all the nerves And I start wondering: Is it true that pain is what makes us feel alive?

psychosomatic, repressed rage stress headaches, stress ulcers the line about pain and gain is all bullshit it means that something is wrong the red alert the warning light check engine, service required

And I've been running on fumes for years now maybe only deluding myself that I'm actually going anywhere you realize when you get in the car, it's the same trip day-in, day-out 30,000 miles a year to exactly nowhere and the word "progress" just makes me laugh with derision straight lines always run crooked, turn into circles

No matter how far I sail I won't come to the edge of the world There is no end to any of this Even crazy people know that the world is round And that you're doomed to spin and spin and spin

And this space that I'm in is so past hopeless That I've forgotten what that means Nerves burnt out and yet there is this phantom feeling these weird sensation even though I know that what used to be there is gone

And this space tham I'm in is so past lonely That I'm afraid to be around other people I haven't answered the phone in weeks I haven't opened my mail in months And still, and still, no matter how hard I try I still can't wish the world away.

And maybe I'll never beat this As far as I run, or if I sit still

In the end entropy always wins

II

I held the child that would never have been mine in my arms watched her smile and gaze at the world in wonder and remember why it was that I thought I had fallen in love

To fall in love: I don't really know the difference between this, and the panic of being alone forever

My soul was anesthesized and then they forgot to wake me up

it takes about 8 minutes to permanently damage the soul

and Death all around me and despite this drear nothingness of days passing by with no change of scenery I am afraid to die would rather wallow in grief than lie still and sleep, free of this pain (for lack of a better word) (this dull, aching roar, this bleak vacuum imploding my heart) I am not ready to face Her and her merciless scythe to gaze at all those whom I loved watch them still and forever silent I am not ready but She will not ask anyway

III

If I could only map out all this darkness and understand the tortured inner workings of my soul

But entire cities disappear as I draw the lines and write the names oceans dry up into deserts and north becomes south

If I can't even understand myself How do I dare to understand another?

How do I mend the break within myself, Much less bridge the gap with the rest of the world?

Epilogue

I do not ask for pity, mostly because I would not know what to do with it, and it would hurt me worse to know that a gift is being offered that I must refuse. I have no idea what I'm looking for. I only know that I've lost something, which I cannot name nor describe.

And maybe I'll never find it, but I wish I didn't have to keep groping pointlessly in the dark.

But like they say, "Humihinga pa, Dum spira, spero" and there's always tomorrow

02:37:30 13 Apr 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 09 Apr 2004

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virtual hosts and cgi

I had this working before, mostly with the help of this script [citation on macosxhints.com][post on patrickgibson.com] Because of my iBook mishaps, all my tweaks were wiped, and I haven't had the time to reinstate the changes.

So this is what I did (essentially doing everything that the script does manually):

  1. Open /etc/httpd/httpd.conf
  2. Find the line #AddHandler cgi-script .cgi and remove the #
  3. Add the following lines to the end of /etc/httpd/httpd.conf: NameVirtualHost 127.0.0.1 Include /private/etc/httpd/virtualhosts
  4. In /private/etc/httpd/virtualhosts, create a file named _localhost
  5. The contents of this file should be: <VirtualHost 127.0.0.1> DocumentRoot "/Library/WebServer/Documents" ServerName localhost <Directory "/Library/WebServer/Documents"> Options All AllowOverride None <Directory </VirtualHost>
  6. Again, in /private/etc/httpd/virtualhosts, create a file with the same name as the virtual host name. For example, if you want a host that will be accessed with http://blog, create a file named blog
  7. The contents of this file should be as follows (Replace $USERNAME with your username and $VHOSTNAME with your desired hostname <VirtualHost 127.0.0.1> DocumentRoot "/Users/$USERNAME/Sites/$VHOSTNAME" ServerName localhost <Directory "/Users/$USERNAME/Sites/$VHOSTNAME" Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI AllowOverride All </Directory> </VirtualHost>
  8. Open a root shell by typing sudo bash and entering your password
  9. Run the following commands (again, replace $VHOSTNAME with your desired hostname): niutil -create . /machines/$VHOSTNAME niutil -createprop . /machines/$VHOSTNAME ip_address 127.0.0.1 niutil -createprop . /machines/$VHOSTNAME name $VHOSTNAME niutil -createprop . /machines/$VHOSTNAME serves './local'
  10. Restart apache with apachectl restart.

15:10:46 9 Apr 2004 > /computers/macosx/unix > permalink > 4 comments

Tue, 06 Apr 2004

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slurping

I notice that Blosxom uses a variation of the code that perl.com deems inefficient. I wonder if slurping would really speed it up all that much?

Currently, Blosxom (2.0) does something like this:

$fh->open("< $path_file"); chomp($title = <$fh>); chomp($body = join '', <$fh>);

Would it really make any difference to do something like this? (I don't know how to profile things, so maybe someone could teach me how to do test it, or better yet, figure it out for me.)

$fh->open("< $path_file"); chomp($title = <$fh>); { local( $/ ); $body = <$fh>

Just a thought. I found myself doing this as I try to construct a command-line trackback pinger.

What I also want to know regarding Blosxom is whether I can change the entry reading code (which is where the above fragment comes from) completely, and have it slurp XML files and interpolate using XSLT. Another project. Hmmm.

02:04:30 6 Apr 2004 > /computers/perl > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 04 Apr 2004

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emacs carbon

Don't ask me how I got here, but trying to install GNOME 2.6 on my iBook running Panther is taking me to really strange places.

While a pre-built binary for Emacs 21.3.50 on Carbon (built on 2003-10-25) already exists (which I'm currently using), I thought I'd try building it from CVS myself (following these instructions)

(Since Andrew Choi has apparently resigned from maintaining the Carbon port, the continued existence of his webpage is in question, and so the instructions go something like this:)

export CVS_RSH="ssh" cvs -z3 -d:ext:anoncvs@savannah.gnun.org:/cvsroot/emacs co emacs cd emacs ./configure --with-carbon --without-X make bootstrap sudo make install

The main reason is to see whether I can get Károly Lőrentey's multi-tty support to work. (I applied his frequently updated patches.)

15:38:44 4 Apr 2004 > /computers/macosx/unix > permalink > 1 comments

Fri, 02 Apr 2004

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fam 2.7.0 macosx patch

I have begun the long, lonely journey of compiling GNOME 2.6, and the first roadblock I hit was in the prereqs with fam. Now I realize that you only really need this for Nautilus, and since I'm running MacOSX, I don't really need to use it as a file manager (although, surprisingly, there are times when it can be handy.) But I am a resolute pedant.

So I collected the FreeBSD patches for fam 2.6.8, applied them to the fam 2.7.0 source, did a little more tweaking specific for Darwin, and came up with this patch. So fam now compiles, but I don't know if it actually works.

It's pretty amazing the things you can do with code without even understanding a single line of it.

(The cleaner thing to do would be to utilize MacOSX's built-in file-change notification, but I have no idea how to do that.)

21:05:27 2 Apr 2004 > /computers/macosx/unix > permalink > 2 comments

Wed, 31 Mar 2004

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in memory of kurt cobain

It's been almost 10 years since Kurt Cobain offed himself (or if you wear tin foil hats, 10 years since Kurt Cobain was murdered.) Call it synchronicity or apophenia, but R posted a link to a Quizilla quiz that tells you what rock genre you most exemplify.

Nirvana
Grunge! You're all about the music and would even
turn your back on fame just to stay true to
your roots... You reached your high in the
early '90s, but you're still making some good
stuff! Keep rocking!

What genre of rock are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I bet you the only reason why the quiz algorithm thought I was Grunge was because the only song lyric I could recognize came from "Lithium" by Nirvana[lyrics][iTMS]. (Because of my computer geek roots, I'm kind of curious to see just exactly how the Quizilla engine calculates these things, but I also realize that life's too short, so I'll leave it at that.)

I'm so happy 'cause today I've found my friends… They're in my head

20:52:16 31 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 30 Mar 2004

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century city and civilization iii

Other than the alliteration, there is really nothing that links these two things, but for some reason they are things I am concomitantly (I had to look that up in the dictionary) obsessed with.

First is the computer game Civilization III. Now, since my roommate freshmen year in college introduced the original version of Civilization to me (nearly ten(!) years ago), I've wasted countless days playing this nation-state simulation cum war game and its multifarious sequels and spin-offs (which include Colonization, Civilization II, Civilization II - The Test of Time, Civilization - The Call to Power, Alpha Centauri, and Civilization III.) I have also wasted much time playing the GPL'ed clone of Civilization entitled Freeciv [Freeciv homepage][blog entry regarding Freeciv] I suppose it's to satisfy my Napoleon fantasy. (Although, more accurately, I used to play as Julius Caesar, and now, more recently, as Emperor Tokugawa, Emperor Montezuma, or Hammurabi. The thing that's cool about Freeciv is that I can lead Filipino civilization as Luis Taruc, leader of the Filipino guerrilla movement of northern Luzon against the Japanese during World War II, which evolved into the Hukbalahap. Anyway.) Now that I have more free time again, I've been playing it too much, in any case, and I probably should stop.

Then there's Century City, which I waxed verbosely about previously (It's embedded in there somewhere.) I really do hate the Westside, but there's just something magical about seeing the twin towers of Century City from all the way across town in Eagle Rock, which is perhaps the most northeast portion of Los Angeles. Besides the views off of my hill, there is the interesting view from the westbound Colorado Blvd. offramp from the 134 (also known as the Colorado Freeway to roadgeeks such as myself.) As you glide over the Ventura Freeway, Century City lies straight ahead—it almost looks like the freeway stub is actually going to take you there. (Instead, it deposits you on the eastern edge of Eagle Rock.) I'd like to get a picture of it, complete with the old-style four lane freeway with a wide median in the foreground, but I'll probably crash my car or something trying it, since it's visible for all of two seconds at 60 mph.

01:47:15 30 Mar 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 27 Mar 2004

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mt hollywood

God only knows what possessed me to climb Mt. Hollywood today. OK, I'm overstating. I drove up to the Griffith Park Observatory (which is currently closed for renovation) which supposedly has an elevation of 1,135 feet. I then proceeded up the trail to the peak, which I've read has an elevation of 1,640 feet. So I climbed about 500 feet and walked somewhere between 1.25 and 2.5 miles. It had a really good 360° view of Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Echo Park, Downtown L.A., Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, Century City, and Westwood, but unfortunately it was one of those inversion-layer days, and the basin and the valleys weren't all that visible beneath the trademark L.A. smog. If it weren't so smoggy, you could probably see Mt. San Antonio (AKA Mt. Baldy), which is, I think, still snow-capped despite it being 85° in the basin today. I could make out Pasadena, Mt. Wilson, and the hills of Palos Verdes, but I couldn't really see the ocean at all. Hopefully the sky will clear up before I have to go back to Chicago, and I'll try to get better pictures.

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with knowing the names of places. I figured out that the transmitter I can see outside my window is in fact Mt. Lee, the peak that the famous Hollywood sign adorns. I'm not entirely sure which peak is Mt. Hollywood, but I can see the Observatory. I want to figure out if the hill my parents live on has a name, as well as the peak I can see north of Glendale. I think it might be Verdugo Peak, but I haven't seen it on any maps.

Standing up on Mt. Hollywood, I found that the San Gabriel Mountains really awed me. They are like some gigantic, impenetrable wall. I felt like a kid trying to get a glimpse over the lip of the kitchen counter. I'm really tempted to try the Verdugo Hills next, but maybe after my quads recover.

I could trace the sleek curve of the 134 West to 2 North connector, and the way the 2 North was artificially carved into the San Rafael Hills, an unnatural straight line like a scar across the side of the hills. I could follow the 134 all the way to Pasadena, abutting the southern edge of those hills, and I could see the actual Eagle Rock out in the distance, although I couldn't make out the actual eagle. I could see the hill my parents' house is on, and it looked like a paltry ant-hill from the peak of Mt. Hollywood.

Admittedly, the skyline of Downtown L.A. is kind of pathetic when compared to Manhattan or Chicago, but maybe it's only because of all these mountains. There is something vertiginous about looking south towards the city, tracing the chrome lines of Vermont Ave. and Western Ave. leading all the way down to San Pedro, because there are no points of elevation in that direction. There is something bizarre about seeing the clusters of high-rises suddenly springing up in Koreatown (which kind of looks like a westward curling tail of Downtown L.A.) and then in Mid-Wilshire. Then there are the shadow cities in the west, Century City, and Westwood. The twin towers of Century City have, I think, haunted my dreams. I can actually see them from my parents' hill from certain angles. Somehow, there is a clear line of sight above the hill directly east of here, and through the Hollywood Hills, so that you can see Century City gleaming in the sunset. Growing up, I never knew where there those buildings where, and because I can't see them from different angles off this hill, I sometimes thought that I was hallucinating, or seeing into another dimension, or experiencing something akin to what happens in "Brigadoon." There is something audacious about calling a place Century City, but for some reason, the name fits, and I can't help associating those twin towers with the future, even though the turn-of-the-millenium has come and went, and it is unlikely that high-rises will pop up to fill the voids between Koreatown and Mid-Wilshire, and Mid-Wilshire and Century City.

And, frankly, I've grown to despise the Westside, because of the pretentiousness of the celebrities and of the Bruins, and the fact that non-Angelenos think of the Westside first when they think of L.A. (Non-Angelenos including OC'ers and various denizens of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.) Growing up on the east side of the City, I've grown fond of the hills and reservoirs, the freeways nestled in the narrow valleys, the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco. The beautiful bridges that cross these once free flowing rivers. Over the L.A. River glides Hyperion Ave, Fletcher Drive, the Arroyo Seco Parkway (AKA the Pasadena Freeway), Broadway, Spring Street, 1st St, 3rd St, 7th St. Over the Arroyo Seco crosses York Blvd., Colorado Blvd., and the Foothill Freeway. They may not be as magnificent as the bridges of the San Francisco Bay Area or those crossing the Hudson and East Rivers, not even as grand as the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, but they hearken to a bygone era, before the freeways caused the Southland to explode spatially but implode temporally—the former manifesting as urban sprawl, the latter demonstrated by the mass displacements caused by the freeways, and the starvation of once-booming communities now bypassed by what my high school history teacher likes to call the "vanilla freeways" where the pretentious Westsiders can forget about the ghettos and the barrios.

I imagine that the Colorado Blvd bridge was what alerted the westward-seeking Chicagoan driving down Route 66 that he had in fact reached Los Angeles, that the York Blvd bridge once marked the entrance into Highland Park. Hyperion Ave linked Glendale and Hollywood, Fletcher Drive once had state highway status, Broadway was the main thoroughfare entering the city from the north.

I suppose every city has ghosts, the hidden, forgotten histories that lurk in every hillside. Driving down Solano Avenue through Chavez Ravine, staring at the gigantically empty parking lot of Dodger Stadium, I pondered. Unlike Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is embedded in a very happening neighborhood, Dodger Stadium sits lonely and mournful, over the grave of a once-teeming community, even where a game is on. Things like that.

But despite the new things I discover every day, or more accurately, the old things I grow reacquainted with every day, I'm not ready to stay here quite yet. I'm glad that this is the place that I started from, my hometown, the place where my story begins, but I'm not quite ready to call it Home (with a capital "H") yet.

21:05:25 27 Mar 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

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the panda's thumb

A website "dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world."

17:27:22 27 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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hope

Dum spiro, spero

While I breathe, I hope.

15:38:07 27 Mar 2004 > /quotes > permalink > 0 comments

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love and misnomers

One of my favorite lines from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" goes something like "Why do I fall in love with every girl who shows me the least bit of attention?"

I feel like I have this battle going inside my head—the part of me that is foolish and naieve and wants to believe in love at first sight and all that Hallmark bullshit versus the part of me that refuses to get even the slightest bit hurt, the part of me that is numb and machine-like and doesn't believe in emotion, Vulcan-style.

And so I've spent about half-a-day trying to craft an e-mail to a woman I have known for all of sixteen hours, and I realize that I am stupid and utterly doomed.

And then I realize that I really, really shouldn't even worry about these sorts of things, not in the least.

Despite my desperate denial of the fact, the future is wide open. I would do well to meditate on something that Chuck Palahniuk once wrote.

As Jim from "28 Days Later" proclaims, it's not all fucked!

11:00:02 27 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 26 Mar 2004

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eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

There is something eerily familiar about this movie. Perhaps it's just my weird fascination with the malleability of the mind. Some of the movies I've been enjoying as of late involve anterograde amnesia (e.g., "Memento","50 First Dates") And of course, there's the whole field of inserting spurious sensory stimuli into people's brains (e.g., "The Matrix","Dark City", or "Vanilla Sky"/"Abre los ojos"—which reminds me, that last one is probably what "Eternal Sunshine" is closest to in many ways.)

Maybe it was the sequence strange dreams I had last night. I felt like I was reliving certain experiences (none of which I can recall at present) and that all the memories were for some reason being munged and distorted, dissolving into incoherence. I actually ended up waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, wondering whether the coenzyme-Q10 that I had taken had caused some major brain damage.

There are certainly people out there who would heartily agree with the idea that I have already suffered some severe brain damage, but that is another story entirely.

Anyway, this movie reaffirmed things that I should've already known anyway. That you better be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. That memories are irreplaceable. That they define who you are, or, more accurately, who you think you are. That memories are the only way to keep hope and happiness stored, even if they have limited half-lives. That no matter how good a job you do of trying to forget something, sometimes, they come back to bite you in the ass at some point or the other.

Not to give too much away.

So I worry about this numbness. And then I realize that maybe I shouldn't worry so much.

22:48:27 26 Mar 2004 > /movies > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 21 Mar 2004

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soul lag

William Gibson mentions it in Pattern Recognition. A metaphysical explanation for why you experience jet lag is because souls can only travel at a finite speed (akin to how light can't travel faster than 186,000 km/hr.) Jet lag is supposedly the sensation of the astral cord (connecting body and soul) being pulled apart, and it doesn't resolve until the soul finally catches up to the body.

So I'm wondering if my emotional lability is just that. I mean, sure, it's been an emotional few days. My fate for the next four years has at last been determined. New horizons have opened up.

On one hand, there is the release of finally knowing what is going to happen next, and the joy of realizing that my life will be filled with at least literal sunlight (nevermind the actual weather in my soul.) I haven't been this happy for a long time.

On the other hand, there is the inevitable sense of loss. Where I am now is merely a holding pattern, some transient respite. The eye of the hurricane.

Of course, I prefer to be here in L.A., in my home town, where I have all this time to myself, to reminisce of days gone past, of all the sorrow and woe that mean nothing now that I know what's going to happen next. (And I say that very loosely, because who really does know what's going to happen next.)

This sense of limbo, or perhaps more accurately purgatory. Or (if you're at all familiar with The Lord of the Rings) my own personal Shire. I'm like Frodo Baggins on one hand longing to follow Bilbo into Wilderland, on the other hand, not quite done with the Shire, not quite ready to let go of the familiar hills and valleys, forests and streams.

I know full well that to leave again, to start once more, is the best of all possible worlds (not that I believe in Deism.) Staying here would've been a less optimal path. In the long run, I'm pretty sure this is best. This sense of loss isn't so much that I feel like the decision was wrong. Rather, I'm being greedy. I wish I could have the best of both worlds, to stay and to go.

And then there's the whirlwind aspect of being in Chicago for four days. I have smeared my soul all over this place, wallowing in ridiculous grief and woe, wrestling with the loneliness, and sometimes the hopelessness—the feeling that nothing will ever change, that life will be just be one futile circle after another, from icy winter to sweltering summer and back again. My fondness for that place is probably more the kinship ascribed to victims of shared trauma. This city has accepted my tears, my rants, and my ravings, my pointless wandering, my pensive journeys, with the silent stoicism of the comrade who's in it for the long haul. Not to make me feel better, or to dispel my fears, but just to get me through the day, and the dark, lonely night, with the drear poison flowing from bottle to glass, or the murky smoke, and the flash of flame.

And it's not just the city, I suppose. As the end times approach, the place of forking paths nears, I realize that some alliances I had formed were relationships of convenience, again, more because of shared trauma than genuine friendship. While I think I will always hold the city in high regard, despite the punishment of the merciless winter, there are some people that I'm glad I will never see again.

Drama. Who needs it?

But there is never rest for the wicked. I will leave once more, recross that desert back to Egypt, and serve out my remaining sentence.

For many reasons, I am not looking forward to it. But there's no point in getting this far only to falter at the end.

19:53:21 21 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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float

vague insinuating whispers in the still of the frozen night empty streets and the thrum of electricity and the forlorn wind kicking up the trash, skimming across the puddles of stagnant ooze, sitting in the clogged sewer drains

visions of this city peeled from my memory like onionskin layer by layer like pages off a tattered notebook

it isn't so much whether I was really here or whether all of it really happened

more like unwinding thread substance surrendered stitch by stitch the core of all matter caught in such an infinitesimal space (in the end we are all alone, even our very atoms sit in a still pocket of bleak void spinning in their lonely energy fields)

unwinding the heedless warp and woof of time's careening dance the tangles and the knots bearing lashed-together thorns and brambles as time had spun careless upon the dry, dusty, desert soil picking up all sorts of decaying matter dead things caught in time's trap and the carrion beasts circle and wait

I will not look back not so much because I am afraid of turning into a pillar of salt like poor old Lot's wife but because there is no back only the front side thrown through a wormhole opening up in the mushy expanses of memory gray matter like so much Jello the insides of a can of Spam or corned beef

this goo is all that is real

And this sunshine that lights the misty valley that peeks through the trees lining the crest of the hell this dawn's light to which the purple and white flowers turn even dandelions and the reckless flowers of Jimson's weed bottled up in the untapped depths (woven into my very being enlaid in my very design) bottled up in the wellsprings of my life's blood deep and yearning like the molten nickel and iron swirling beneath our feet the still slow creep of oozing lahar down the side of a blasted open crater (it all oozes out in the end, grows cold, and still)

This sunshine is all I see when I close my eyes— the bleak lightless days the stonehearted, frozen days like the lingering aftertaste of a nightmare all bitter and full of fear like vomit and bile splashed upon the ground after a night of attempted suicide by slow poisonous death these hopeless, heartless days like some parodic horrorshow, squirming and shrinking in the sunlight dessicated like the creepy crawly things that only live at night —gone

so much like lucidity after psychotic hallucinations when the mescaline and peyote, Ecstasy and LSD streaming through your veins and caverns and cisterns runs dry only that acid taste that crawls out of your gut and the ache from the hours of dry heaving

you wake up it doesn't matter where you are much why you are or who you are the relief of the ending night terrors and the comforting solidity of what we call —for lack of a better term— real

00:39:18 21 Mar 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 19 Mar 2004

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tossing salad with oprah winfrey

Sorry for the scatalogical post, but I thought this was hilarious: tossing salad and rainbow parties explained to Oprah. But there is a more serious component to it: the fact that the 1st amendment is being abridged.

09:26:55 19 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 2 comments

Tue, 16 Mar 2004

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the beauty of being in between

I think I've too deeply internalized Zeno's Paradox. I am all about trying (and failing) to cover an infinite amount of distance in a finite amount of time—in less arcane terms, I have developed a perverse taste for the feeling of going nowhere fast.

I mean, seriously, this really sounds pathological. I would worry, except that it's working so well. I have given up on thinking too far ahead. I mean, who really knows where they're going to end up anyway, right? In life, there are no guarantees. And all that sort of tripe.

I've decided that five-year plans are solely for obsessive-compulsives, that having long-term goals is overrated.

I have this feeling that I'm going to be wandering this earth for a long time without ever finding out where it is exactly that I belong.

Still. Times like this, I feel like I've lost my soul somewhere. I've stopped dreaming, stopped trying to reach that unreachable star. I'm settling for numbness. For the safety of my familiar solitude. Why take a chance?

And yet, intellectually, I know that without risk, there is no reward. Without the agony of defeat, there can be no thrill of victory. Without pain, there is no passion. Without death, there is no life.

(I am also apparently reduced to nothing but clichés.)

Where am I going? How do I get there? What are we having for lunch? (Sorry. This is what happens when I start thinking about Life, the Universe, and Everything.)

And, once again, I am reminded of this particular exchange between Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin: You'll never get anywhere lying around, you know.
Hobbes: Who are we racing?
Calvin: Obviously, we're…um…well…uh…. I'm too busy to explain this stuff! I've got important work to do! VERY important!
Hobbes: Let me know if you win.
—from There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson

I just feel that, at this particular age (quickly approaching the big 3-0), my contemporaries are all entering (or trying to enter) the next stage in life (which, as I've mentioned before, is fraught with the treachery of trying to define "normalcy") You know, the whole deal. Getting married, embarking on a career, buying a house. Settling down. The whole nine-yards. The entire ball of wax.

I don't know if it's a matter of not being ready, or of being irrevocably fucked-up. I ponder that new Jim Carrey movie, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and while I kind of oppose deliberate brain damage just on general principle, there is something seductive about the idea of being able to selectively burn out all those bad experiences. A memory-ectomy, if you will. There's something numbingly comforting about the idea that all my troubles have a focal starting point, from which I can just prune all these horrific ideas from.

Intellectually, I recognize that it won't work. That whole wheat and chaff thing.

So. It is from that sort of demented starting point that I have come to the sad, sorry conclusion that thinking too far ahead will simply get me into a world of shit.

Hence, the beauty of being in between.

From now until Thursday at 11am CST, I will have absolutely no idea where I'm going to be come three months from now. The veritable infinitely forking paths. Well, it's not infinite. There are eight places I could possibly end up. (I suppose, technically, it's still infinite, because (1) I still won't know where exactly—i.e., to the minute and second—I'm going to be and (2) like I said, there are no absolute guarantees, and who knows what devastating event might occur between now and June. Ever the optimist.) But there is something luxurious about not having to think ahead. Of just basking in the timelessness of your existence.

Truth be told, my life has really contracted as of late. I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, walk the dog, fuck around on the Internet for a while, then go to sleep. Rinse, lather, and repeat. And, rather uncharacteristically, this is fine. There's something wonderful about this simplicity. Outside of the people in this household, the people I see at work, and the people I IM with on the net, I have no real contact with other people. I've been letting my cel phone go to voice mail. I haven't called up friends in town. I've just been doing my own thing, spinning my own wheels.

But I did have a weird thought the other day as I walked my dog. While, at present, everything seems mundane and not-a-little boring, I just got this feeling that someday, I'd look back on these relatively stress-free days and think to myself, "Wow, I was happy then. Those were pretty good times."

I suppose it's because it's Lent, and my Catholic upbringing is reasserting itself. I have this disconcerting feeling that this is the calm before the storm, the forty days wandering the desert and being tempted by the devil before coming back to the city and waiting to get crucified. Shit, I have a messiah complex or something. Maybe what I really need is some lithium.

I suppose I should be grateful for this scant time to reflect, to be still, to be at peace with myself. Come Holy Week, things are probably gonna start moving fast and furious again.

So, to reiterate a philosophy that N and I came up with, "Small non-threatening things." Or, to spin it with my terrific optimistic, there is no insoluble problem so big that you can't break it down into multiple, small, but still insoluble problems.

The future is gonna come get me whether I want it to or not, I guess.

There ain't no turning back now.

22:17:22 16 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 14 Mar 2004

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27.5

Yesterday, I turned 27-1/2. I don't know why I make such a big deal about this mid-way point, considering that I'm starting to not like counting birthdays, but I suppose it's due time to step back and reflect a bit. It's time to take the long-view, appreciate the big picture. That sort of thing.

With my destiny beginning to unfold as of tomorrow (which is, disturbingly, the Ides of March), and knowing that this time next week I will know the physical location where I'm headed, I am kind of starting to freak out. (I was going to say that by this time next week I'll know where I'll be heading, but this is only partly true. Because, as I seem to be telling people a lot these days, nothing is ever guaranteed. Even when you know, there's still a lot more you don't know. Because of my fear of uncertainty, I've tried to embrace it, though I don't know if I'm succeeding.)

Yesterday, I spent the entire day finishing my month-long endeavor of sorting through all my high school and college crap that I've left behind at my parents' house. I can now see the ground. (Hallelujah!)

Obviously, such an endeavor took me down Memory Lane quite a bit. The one thing that struck me the most is how absolutely numb I feel.

I think the only emotion that I've been able to feel lately is anger. Anger at my unethical, narcissistic, and somewhat schizotypal roommate. Anger at the racism and classism that corrupts the U.S., and the incompetence and outright dishonesty of W's administration. Anger at the years I've wasted in deep, dark depression, going down the wrong roads, looking for the wrong things, when what I needed was so much simpler. Anger at the wounds that I've sustained, and anger at the fact that I can't stop reopening them.

If it's not anger, then it's depression, and exactly for the same reasons. (It's like I'm on some abbreviated course of the Kubler-Ross continuum, except that, as usual, it never, ever, seems to end.) I guess I've gotten too used to all this rottenness and realize that both denial and bargaining are completely futile and utterly stupid. The locomotive called Fate has no brakes, and if it's gonna run you over, it's gonna run you over. The most you can do is wait with both your eyes open.

How wonderfully fatalistic.

But this isn't like the last time I held a vigil, awaiting my figurative doom. Instead of a possible brick wall or 20,000 foot cliff, what I'm approaching is a massive branching of paths. If you're an Angeleno, you'll understand the simile that I'm going to use: it's like the East L.A. interchange, where the Golden State, Santa Ana, Pomona, San Bernardino, and Santa Monica Freeways all split-off. Obviously, you can only choose one way at a time—going down one path, you essentially eschew the others. And if you have no idea where you're ultimately supposed to go, because you obviously can't stop in the middle of the freeway, you'll still end up on one of these routes, and you won't be able to change your decision until you've traveled a few miles.

OK, if this simile makes no sense to you, skip the next few paragraphs (or maybe, skip the rest of this entry—in more ways than one, I have no idea where I'm going)

The thing is, if you pick one freeway and realize you made a mistake, you can't just get off the freeway and backtrack. You have to really know where you want to end up, and you have to know how the interchange works, so that you can figure out how to get back to where you were supposed to go. Because it's L.A., you can always get anywhere from anywhere, it just might take you a few more interchanges than you anticipated.

For example, let's say you're heading northbound on the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), and you need to get on the Golden State Freeway (which is also I-5, but is, in reality, an entirely different structure, requiring you to take a distributor ramp.) However, you make the mistake of staying in the left lanes, and end up continuing up the Santa Ana (which becomes US-101.) Now, if you get off the first exit (which is, I believe, 4th St.), there's no way to get onto the southbound 101. (Although, if you're familiar with the area, you can actually easily correct yourself by heading down 4th St. a little bit and finding the onramp to the northbound Golden State.) And even if you could get back on the southbound 101, there's no direct ramp to get from the southbound 101 to the northbound 5 (Golden State Freeway). So (assuming that you aren't familiar with the area and didn't get on the Golden State via 4th St.) what you're forced to do is pass through Downtown L.A., take the Pasadena Freeway, then make sure you get in the left lane and catch the Golden State. And then, let's say that you don't realize that there's only one lane feeding into the Golden State, and you end up careening past the distributor ramp, panic, and try to exit at Figueroa. From here, there is essentially no direct way of getting back on any freeway.

Long story short, there are ways to get back to where you're supposed to be after making a wrong turn, it's just that you have to be clever and observant and have a good sense of direction, and it's never as simple as going back and fixing what you did wrong. And if you make too many wrong turns, you might find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no apparent way back to where you're supposed to be (although, in life, just like in L.A., you can always find a way to get somewhere from whereever the freeway unceremoniously tosses you off onto the surface streets.)

So I suppose there's no reason why I should be apprehensive. Even if I end up going down the wrong path, I suppose I can always get to where I'm supposed to get to. I guess that's what's freaking me out. Life (again, like L.A.) becomes very unkind if you have no idea where you want to go, and you can't exactly try to figure it out as you're driving at 70 mph (especially since the speed limit on the freeways through downtown is 55 mph, and at some points, 45 mph.)

So anyway. I dreamt the other night that I matched in Miami, which is actually 5th on my rank list. While I liked the program, I've come to realize that I'd rather be somewhere where I know people. I don't know if it's because I'm getting old, or what, but the prospect of moving to yet another part of the country, to start over and make new friends, just makes utterly, utterly tired. So I suppose I'd rather match somewhere like L.A., NYC, or even Chicago (except for the damned weather—while it's 40°F in Chi-town right now, thanks to the wind, it feels like 30&def;. In NYC, it's 38°. In contrast, in Miami, it's 76°. In L.A., it's 72°.)

I actually ended up ranking UCSD at the top, and I'm wondering if this was a good idea now. While I love the weather out there, and I've been curious about San Diego ever since I was a senior in high school, and while I'm familiar with it because my sister went to undergrad down there, and I have a couple of 3rd degree cousins out there, and it's only about a 2 hour drive back to L.A. (if there isn't that much traffic, which is almost never), I don't know if that's where I should be. Not that I'd actually see people any more often if I did match somewhere in L.A. So I suppose it doesn't really matter between the four Southern California programs I ranked.

Still, given that it is mid-March, and winter is technically supposed to end in a little more than a week, I think it would drive me insane if I had to spend another March in weather that's just barely above freezing. Given that last week, it was hovering around 90° here in L.A., I no longer have the visceral revulsion of sub-50° weather, but thinking about it is wearying.

Anyway, I'm rambling on and on. I guess I'm just getting older. I used to have more philosophical and portentious ramblings [25][25.5][26+1d][26+12d][26.5][26.5-1d][27@0135-06][27@0944-06][27+1d], but most of my concerns are kind of mundane these days.

Numb is better than suicidal, I guess.

12:21:17 14 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Fri, 12 Mar 2004

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not quite right

The problem with me is that I always try to find something wrong.

It's been a long time since I've just been content. Happy with the way things are going, and not worrying about how things are going to turn out.

I've realized that I've adopted a very Kantian attitude to life—I believe that I should do things for the sake of doing them, and not as means to an end.

I try not to let the future freak me out. But it's either one thing or another.

Either the terrible unknown lies in wait underneath my bed, in anticipation of waylaying me with unforeseen tragedy and adversity, or I can only extrapolate a featureless, meaningless, gray timeline, where everything is the same day after day, and life cease to have purpose, a pointless exercise of going through the motions of daily living.

Either way, it makes me want to stay in bed and never get up.

In an abstract, intellectual sense, I know that I'm wrong. No one really knows what the future holds—as Ren Hoëk once said, "Maybe something good, maybe something bad." I wish I were wise enough to believe it, though. I wish I could believe that life will neither be utterly terrifying and dizzingly out-of-control, nor completely homogenized, predictable, boring, and pointless. That somewhere in between, there's something that, while filled with some surprising potholes and bumps now and again, won't lead me off into a yawning chasm or straight off a cliff into the sea.

I know that there's no happily ever after, but I wish I could at least believe that the universe is unfolding the way it was meant to unfold.

Which reminds of this, which, for some reason, despite a couple of years of trying, I still can't internalize it.

If someone could just tell me that everything is going to be OK, and actually make me believe it.

22:15:48 12 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 3 comments

Thu, 11 Mar 2004

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software wants to be free

From the Financial Times:

Earlier this week, Microsoft had classified the latest flaw as "important", one notch below "critical" on its four-level warning system. It said it upgraded the threat to the most serious level after receiving information about a new and more threatening "attack scenario" than the ones it had anticipated before.
Microsoft credited the discovery of the flaw in part to Jouko Pynnonen, an independent Finnish computer consultant. Mr Pynnonen, whose previous discoveries have included a serious flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, said it was difficult to judge if the company's products are more vulnerable than those of other software companies because of its large user base, which attracts more attacks.
However, writing in an email, he added: "My feeling is that open source software tends to be more secure because the code is under more scrutiny."
The latest flaw involves Outlook, the email program contained in the widely-used Office suite of PC software applications. According to Microsoft, machines running a version of the software called Outlook 2002 are vulnerable when they are used to visit malicious web sites that that have been set up to exploit the flaw. They can also be compromised if they run HTLM programs that are delivered by email, the company added.

I suggest dropping Outlook entirely and going with something like Mozilla Thunderbird.

06:59:55 11 Mar 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 09 Mar 2004

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rivermaya "a love to share"

This song is absolutely perfect.

If I could take over this world that we're in I wanna reach out to every human being I'll take all the sorrows from every goodbye I'll shed all the tears so no one ever needs to cry but
Nobody cares for me nobody here needs me a love to share but nobody dares nobody cares for me
I'll summon the oceans to drown every pain I wanna be shelter to the countless in shame erase every conflict from every divide I wanna give every bit of me until I die
Nobody cares for me nobody here needs me a love to share but nobody dares nobody cares for me

A tab is at Ultimate-Guitar.com

23:23:09 9 Mar 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 3 comments

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bludgeoned by an iPod

Holy crap, does this mean that we won't be able to bring iPods onto airplanes anymore? (As if TSA actually worked…)

iPod Used in Domestic Homicide (link from littleyellowdifferent.com) I know, I know. It's a hoax. I'm a little disturbed that I thought it was funny.

16:52:11 9 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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fear continued

How do you dispel fear? By confronting it.

But I think I am more afraid of facing this fear than I am about the hallucinatory prospect of facing a hostile army with superior weaponry (OK, I'm seriously reaching for metaphors here. I clearly need help in more ways than one.)

Seriously. I think I would be less afraid to jump out of an airplane. Less afraid to go swimming with sharks. (OK, maybe I'm lying there. Maybe that's the problem. I'm just a big coward.)

You know, though. There really hasn't been a time when I've actually completely given up on anything. Sure, as time passes, as events occur, as I sit here paralyzed by fear, the probability of things going my way rapidly approaches nil.

Intellectually, I realize that the end result doesn't matter at all (as Immanuel Kant would probably say.) Whether I achieve what I set out to do or not is not the point. The point is that I do it and face my fear.

But right now I can't, even though I don't know what I'm waiting for. I know the longer I wait, the worse and worse it'll get.

I don't know why I'd rather be doomed instead of facing up to my fears.

Nobody ever died of rejection.

And still, I will sit on my hands, waiting for my hair to turn gray, waiting for spring to turn to fall again, over and over again, until one morning, it just won't be worth it to wake up.

A thousand tomorrows of never facing up to what I fear.

Zeno ain't gonna save me now. I don't know how to break this up into small, non-threatening things. This is the leap of faith, the jump off the precipice. Do or die. Do or do not, there is no try.

Damn it.

I keep telling myself that tomorrow, it's gonna change, but nothing's going to change if I don't do a damn thing about it.

I have this knack of knowing that I'm going to get run over by a train, but of not being able to do anything about it. Very Wile E. Coyote-esque.

I don't know. The more pressure I put on myself, the less likely I'm going to do anything about it. I guess the time is not right. And maybe the time will never be right.

I admit it. I just can't do it.

01:12:22 9 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

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dogs can feel ghosts

Every so often, at a particular time in the evening, all the dogs in the neighborhood bark. I always thought it was just their set time to meet, you know, like they'd hold some grand council remotely, just by barking. Because I can hear my dogs bark, and then wait for some other dog to answer.

But my sister's boyfriend had another interesting theory. He has a Lhasa Apsu/Poodle, and he was walking him around our neighborhood, when for some reason, passing this certain spot on the street, the dog just reared up and started growling at thin air, like there was something there, although it didn't look like there was. The dog didn't calm down until they passed this particular spot.

So the theory is that there might be a ghost or two haunting the street. My sister's boyfriend wondered if someone had died at that spot, or maybe something tragic happened at the house adjacent the spot.

I've always believed that dogs can feel things that they can't necessarily see, and things that we humans definitely can't see. (My 13 year old is probably half-blind by now, but she seems to be able to see just fine.) I mean, after all, there's that theory about dogs predicting earthquakes (although this isn't all bullshit, since they can probably hear at a lower frequency than we can, and the sound waves generated arrive a lot faster than the actual wave through rock.)

I know I've dreamt of bizarre tragedies occurring on the street where I live. Like that time I dreamt I saw a car get repeatedly struck by lightning. Or that time I thought I could hear coyotes howling (this was before we had dogs) and dreamt that there was a massive pileup on the nearby freeway. This happened to precede the Whittier-Narrows earthquake in 1986 (which happened to be the first major earthquake I ever experienced.) Although I don't remember our dog freaking out during the Northridge quake, surprisingly.

Which reminds me. I've been meaning to see if I can find out if there are any Tongvan sacred sites around here. (The Tongvans are the people that the Spanish called the Gabrieleños, and are responsible for naming Eagle Rock) Well, besides Eagle Rock itself. I imagine that there must be a lot of haunted sites nestled amidst these hills that the Tongvans once occupied. That might explain the weird dreams and the dogs barking. (I don't know how, but hey, it's 1am, and I need to be awake in 5 hours. I'm obviously grasping for straws here.)

Or maybe it's just the spirit of this hill, still groaning about the incision that the Glendale Freeway makes through its flesh.

OK, I'm losing it.

By the way, I walked one of my dogs past that spot this evening and he didn't react. So it could all be my own personality insanity wanting to tie everything together.

01:00:27 9 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Mon, 08 Mar 2004

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fear

Again, I will be completely non-specific. It's this canker upon my soul, this ulcer gnawing away at my mind, the kind of malady that doesn't kill you, just weakens you bit by bit, wasting you away, until one day, you just don't feel like getting out of bed.

You start wondering if it's only hypochondria…maybe I'm not really sick, it's just all in my mind, and if I just suck it up and power through, I'll be all right.

My resolve, for some unknown reason, is wavering these days.

I can't get to sleep.

But I pondered the nature of my particular fear. Here I am, again, comfortable, except for the uneasiness of uncertainty, despite knowing that so there are so many parts of my destiny I have no control over. But it is sophistry to imagine that I have absolutely no control. I can't abbrogate my responsibility to the universe, claim that it's not my fault, even though all the tragic, miserable sequelae of my life are the results of my inaction rather than my actions.

(Judas hung himself for what he did, but I think the whole point of Jesus' prophecy about the cock crowing is that Peter was just as guilty for what he didn't.)

Maybe I am not seeing it right. I imagine that there is something missing, some vast void inside myself that I have to fill somehow, and that without being complete, I'm doomed to fade away. And then I think to myself, maybe there is no void. Maybe I'm just paranoid, and this is the way things are meant to be.

And yet, even this rings hollow.

(Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.)

I'm standing at the seashore, wondering if I should get in my boat and set sail. No, what I'm really wondering is, will I regret it if I don't set sail? Can I just stay on this side of the ocean, all alone, choosing the familiar misery rather than taking a chance on possible happiness?

And, yet, the longer I sit here waiting, the bigger the ocean gets. If my ancestors didn't get in their boats, there would be no statues on Easter Island (and yet, despite their courage, their domain still shrank, by the ravages of those stronger and more brutal.)

I know that it's all on me. I have to make a decision, I have to take a risk, if I want anything to change. And I will fall on my ass a lot, I will have egg thrown in my face. I will weep with every failure, and each time, my soul will shrink further and further upon itself. Yet I know that I can't stay here, that this stability of not trying is an illusion, that one day I'll wake up wondering what I did with my life, or worse, that I'll know that I wasted it, chasing sterile visions down empty roads that lead to nowhere.

Why have I come to believe that it is better to do nothing and fail, than to try something and fail? Why would I rather be hopeless instead of having hope, however infinitessimal?

22:13:26 8 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Sun, 07 Mar 2004

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the hill

I've been walking around the neighborhood I grew up in lately, now that I have the time, and it's always interesting the things you find when you slow down your pace (i.e., from driving to hoofing it.) For example, I finally figured why the hell Round Top Drive is divided into two, each part flanking the Glendale Freeway just before it intersects the Ventura Fwy. The western segment has houses with addresses beginning with 4500, while the eastern segment has houses with addresses beginning with 4600 and beyond. When glancing at the relationship of the two segments from a distance (from an adjacent hill that is divided between Glendale and L.A.) I realized that before the Glendale Freeway was built (requiring a huge trench dug through the hill), the two segments were actually a continuous street, and once the freeway was built, they had to build a road to allow people to get off the hill. I'm trying to find an old map of L.A. to confirm this.

So I kind of wonder if the gated-off road that runs through the old park, flanking the freeway, is part of old Round Top Drive. Mapquest makes the relationship between the two segments even more obvious (search for the intersection of Round Top Drive and Lawndale Drive in Los Angeles)

Anyway, while searching for an old map online (which is becoming a more and more futile quest), I found this random site, which had this quote which I thought was kind of funny. (Not funny, ha-ha. OK, it's not funny at all. I don't know what's wrong with me.)

I think I was born a skeptic, but also that the conditions of my early life made it especially hard to believe in a loving, caring, active deity or other comforting religious notions. My parents had few values in common, fought constantly without ever resolving anything, and divorced when I was 5. As I grew up, the beautiful hill in front of our house, originally covered with pungently fragrant scrub and inhabited by many creatures, was first lopped across the top for an evangelical station's radio tower, then sliced down the side to make room for the Glendale freeway, and then almost completely covered with homes which fill with mud every time there is a landslide, and threaten to burn down whenever there is a brushfire on what little open land remains. At some point the resident coyotes, who once sang me to sleep every night, began to eat neighborhood cats, and then either starved to death or perhaps moved on.

Anyway, this reminded me of that damned evangelist preaching when I was a little kid. Since we live so close to that radio tower (who knows what sort of cancers I'll be developing when I'm 65), the radio station would interfere with our poorly insulated copper wiring, so you could hear him on the telephone. He would also creep into the radio (and because I couldn't sleep in silence when I was a little kid, I would sleep with the radio on.) Who knows what sort of perverse ideas that evangelist put into my head. It might explain a lot about why I hate fundamentalists so much, and why I am currently in the throes of a crisis of faith these days.

Ah well. I'll figure everything out once I'm dead, I guess. Or not.

23:26:24 7 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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rebuilding l.a.'s public transit

Some dreams about what L.A.'s subway and light rail system could look like if most Southern Californians weren't so short-sighted: Concept Expansion Maps.

21:44:34 7 Mar 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 06 Mar 2004

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subways

This site compares the extent of the subway networks of various cities. I wonder how L.A.'s MTA light-rail system and the San Francisco BART would compare? Time to do some mailing, I guess.

13:40:08 6 Mar 2004 > /unrealcity > permalink > 4 comments

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chicago fire

Heh, those damned comets. Apparently there is a theory that the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was caused by a comet (link from Slashdot), and not Mrs. O'Leary's kick-happy cow. Which incidentally jives very well with the explanation Matt Groening gives in "Simpsons Tall Tales", where Paul Bunyan saves the earth from a meteor, but finds it too hot to hold onto, and ends up throwing the meteor onto Chicago.

13:36:07 6 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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aragorn

Viggo Mortensen seems like a pretty cool guy. (link from deconstruct life.) I had only previously known him from films such as "A Perfect Murder" (which was apparently a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock movie—"Dial M for Murder" which is something that I apparently need to watch) and "The Prophecy" (where he plays, of all people, Lucifer and where Christopher Walken plays the angel Gabriel turned evil—the movie was pretty cheesy but watching Christopher Walken was pretty entertaining.)

But Mr. Mortensen went up greatly in my esteem when I discovered that he was one of the few actors with the guts to openly oppose the invasion of Iraq.

Which reminds me of this awesome quote from The Lord of the Rings—by Faramir, not Aragorn—which was regrettably omitted from the movie:

I do not love the sword for its brightness or the arrow for its swiftness, but for what they defend.

09:36:37 6 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 1 comments

Fri, 05 Mar 2004

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driven by fate

I'm
Destiny!
Which Member of the Endless Are You?

Not what I expected, but then I suppose it makes my domain name extremely apt.

15:20:05 5 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 3 comments

Thu, 04 Mar 2004

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priorities

I wish I wouldn't be so heavy handed, melodramatic, and dead-serious philosophical about all this, but, well, one problem at a time, I suppose….

Having refuted the American Dream in a very oblique manner (I haven't even touched upon the whole imperialism, tyranny, and exploitation angle), I find it hard to center myself. If I must employ clichés, then I would say that since I've deliberately taken myself out of the mainstream of popular culture, without the current to push me, as polluted as the river is, it's hard to decide upon a direction.

This is me realizing that the reason why people cling to ridiculous notions such as the American Dream and Manifest Destiny and predestination and other religions is because it gives them purpose, however misguided at times.

Holy Christ, I'm starting to sound like Agent Smith.

But, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we're here. We're not here because we're free. We're here because we're not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.

Needless to say, such an idea is appalling to me. I don't know why that is so.

I don't know why I've decided that the universe has no innate structure other than the rules that define physics, a set of arbitrary, evolving interaction of variables which do not need nor care about human beings or free will.

This is my current religion, if you will.

I don't know why I have chosen to believe that we are all the products of Chance. Or more precisely, the bizarre, emergent interaction of Chance and Purpose, of the capricious unpredictability of all the particles in the universe versus our human desire to order everything into neat little packages.

In my religion, Heisenberg is its Prophet, Godel is he who engraved the truth in stone.

I have chosen to interpret Godel's Law in an extreme form, applying it well outside the realm of mathematics (but is there such a thing outside of mathematics, given the (relatively) fixed rules of physics, which are essentially all mathematics?) I believe that it is impossible for one human mind to truly comprehend why the universe is. There is nothing within the system of physical laws that will tell you why. Perhaps it can tell you how, that is, how life came to be, but we don't even really know that. We only have conjecture.

Godel again: and no matter how complete you make your system of rules, there will always be behavior that cannot be explained in term of the rules.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting Godel completely, but this is how I read it.

Coupled with the physical fact that we can't know a particle's position if we know its velocity, and vice-versa, and you might see how I've come to doubt everything.

Or, more subtly, I've come to realize that everything I perceive is the arbitrary result of the interactions of a near-infinite set of variables.

To give an example, there is no reason why the wavelength of 550 nm should represent the color green. This fact is arbitrary (although, probably the emergent result of the variables defining photons, and how photons knock electrons out of their orbits, and how the excitation of electrons can cause proteins to change shape, and how this shape change eventually causes an action potential—or more accurately, attenuates an action potential, and how this action potential gets summated and translated by a complex cluster of neurons—which also came into existence due to the myriad interactions of various proteins with other proteins, which is also governed by the exchange of electrons.)

I am a classic case of someone who has been overeducated.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And yet, the more I know, the more I realize how little I know.

In any case, you can see how I look upon those who think they have the world figured out with derision. If we don't even understand entirely how our senses work the way they do, or why we only see a particular spectrum of light, then how can we even be so certain about ethical dilemmas, about morals?

How do you know that that voice in your head is really God? How do you know it's not Satan? How would you know the difference?

In other words: I hate fundamentalists.

Elitist as it sounds, I've come to adopt the stance that conservatives essentially have limited mental capacity. They are unable to perceive the fuzzy electron cloud of multiple quantum states that surround every issue. Like computers, they can only function in binary: good or bad, black or white, war or peace. There is no subtlety in this.

But any sane person knows that you can't describe the world in binary terms (no matter how much computer scientists wish they could.)

But I am wandering far afield.

In any case, now that I've started down that path less traveled, with the wavering intent of eschewing the possibility of traveling down the "standard" route, the final common pathway of finding someone to marry and having kids with her, get a good job, and then die, I find it difficult to look too far ahead to the future.

This is the all-or-nothing control freak in me. (Again, the limiting desire to keep everything in binary states.) If I think that something is unattainable for me, then I make myself believe that I can never have it. And good riddance.

In other words, I suppose I give up too easily.

Which might sound funny to those anyone who doesn't know me that well, but knows what I have accomplished thus far.

Not to brag or anything.

So essentially, I am trying to find my way out of this nihilist trap without sacrificing the delicate and arbitrary weltanschaung I have constructed in my mind. (If I would ever give it a name, I would steal a phrase from N and call it "organized chaos." Or perhaps "chaotic organization." I don't know.)

Anyway, I find the Tao very compatible with my current beliefs. There is no one right way, because all paths are the Way, whatever you are doing, whether it is taking care of children, protecting the innocent, or their cardinal opposites. I suppose that each person has an inscrutable purpose that makes little sense to anyone who wants to dissect it out and reify it.

I suppose that, instead of trying to figure things out, I should just let things be. While I should stay out of the flow of raw sewage known as consumer capitalism, I still need to use the current to propel myself somehow.

Whatever will be, will be, and especially at this stage of the game, my destiny is currently out of my hands.

I am reminded out what Candide (from the book by Voltaire with the same name) said: "We must tend our garden."

There may be no rhyme or reason to it, but we still must do. As Gandhi put it, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is important that you do it."

Purpose will always remain elusive so long as I decide to forge on down the road that few will take. Like too many things, I suppose I'll just have to make it up as I go along.

There's no turning back now.

22:48:57 4 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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the road to CHLA

On the way to work in the morning, I've opted to take a street that has four names, maybe five depending on which way you believe it goes. Maybe even six.

So it starts off as Brand Blvd. in Glendale—essentially it is Glendale's main north-south artery. It then enters Los Angeles at Atwater Village, where it turns into Glendale Blvd. As it crosses the L.A. River, it actually splits up. If you stay in the thru-traffic lanes, it becomes Hyperion Ave, which is the way I take. (The off-ramp passes under the cool old-style bridge and continues as Glendale Blvd., eventually leading to Downtown L.A. I'm hesistant to call Glendale Blvd. a contiguous route, because of all the turns you have to make to stay on it. But if you accept that Brand Blvd. is contiguous with Glendale Blvd., and Glendale Blvd. runs straight through despite having to take a ramp off of Hyperion Ave, then having to turn left at the intersection with Rowena Ave., and then there's that questionable fork where the road splits off into Fletcher Ave. on the left and Glendale Blvd. on the right, from there on out, Glendale Blvd. essentially merges into 2nd St., thereby connecting the central business districts of Glendale and L.A. This is also, incidentally, the route of an old Red Car trolley line, evidenced by the fact that Brand Blvd. is so wide that the parking spots are perpendicular to the street, rather than the usual parallel to the curbside, and that a huge median runs down Glendale Blvd. through Atwater Village as well as in Echo Park. I kind of wonder what route the trolley took at the Hyperion/Glendale splitoff, and how it ran through Silver Lake. But eventually the line continued underground where Glendale Blvd. intersects with Beverly Blvd., 1st St., and 2nd St., terminating at the Subway Building in Downtown L.A.) Anyway, Hyperion Ave. winds through this area intermediate between Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and eventually turns into Fountain Ave. Fountain essentially splits off into Myra Ave. if you turn left, and stays as Fountain if you go straight. Fountain Ave. past this intersection, however, is a minor two-lane street, whereas Myra Ave. is much wider, especially when considering how much less traffic it used to carry. Myra passes underneath Sunset Blvd. and eventually merges with Santa Monica Blvd. (old US 66)

20:10:10 4 Mar 2004 > /roadgeek > permalink > 1 comments

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the roots "quills"

I first came across this song as I drove across New Mexico. I had originally ripped Phrenology without having listened to the entire CD, and so had missed this song for more than half a year, but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the sample of Swing Out Sister's "Breakout" [iTMS][from the album It's Better to Travel], so much so that I thought I was hallucinating.

19:39:49 4 Mar 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 03 Mar 2004

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circa 1981

By some bizarre quirk of Fate, iTunes decided to take me to the very early '80's, playing "Super Trooper" by Abba [lyrics][iTMS], "I Won't Hold You Back Down" by Toto [lyrics][iTMS], and "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club [lyrics][iTMS] back-to-back-to-back. It's weird how iTunes just goes about picking random songs and all of the sudden my mind picks up some unintended pattern.

I read into things too much. Feh.

18:33:22 3 Mar 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 02 Mar 2004

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the rain

As a coda to my rant and rave about my love life (or, more accurately, the lack thereof), I have these bits and pieces of lyrics to pop music floating through my head:

Then the rainstorm came over me And I felt my spirit break I had lost all of my belief you see And realized my mistake But time threw a prayer to me And all around me became still —from "Love's Divine" by Seal

I think that's the song that set all of this off in my mind.

We all begin with good intent Love was raw and young We believed that we could change ourselves The past could be undone But we carry on our backs the burden Time always reveals The lonely light of morning The wound that would not heal It's the bitter taste of losing everything That I have held so dear. —from "Fallen" by Sarah McLachlan

The Art of Not Wanting, once again.

This is where I start wandering off the path.

I was just guessing At numbers and figures Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science Science and progress Do not speak as loud as my heart —from "The Scientist" by Coldplay

I think of all those days and nights I frittered away, wishing for impossible things, trying to read between the lines and finding things that weren't really there. Ghosts of dreams.

I will go down with this ship And I won't put my hands up and surrender There will be no white flag above my door I'm in love and always will be

And then there's just the possibility that I'm doomed, that my Fate is set. That never shall the timelines cross, that no matter how many alternate universes I search through, there won't be one where mine intersects with yours, not even for a brief space of time, or more bitterly, for too brief a time. Gone.

Whatever. I don't know where I'm going with this. As usual, probably nowhere. Such is life. At least my life.

23:12:57 2 Mar 2004 > /playlist > permalink > 0 comments

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greek gods and the sandman

Sweet! I'm one of the Endless!

Morpheus
Morpheus

?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

OK, well, maybe I'm not Dream.

Destruction, the sixth of The Endless, you are a rebel. You abandoned your realm, refusing to be held responsible for all the disasters in the world. You roam forever, trying to escape%
Destruction, the sixth of The Endless, you are a
rebel. You abandoned your realm, refusing to be
held responsible for all the disasters in the
world. You roam forever, trying to escape what
you are. Always on the run, and never facing
the truth, you live in denial. It's not your
responsibility, it's not your fault, and it's
not your problem, even when it is.

Which Endless are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Great. No wonder my life is just utter chaos, wrack, and ruin.

22:45:18 2 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 4 comments

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calvin and hobbes extensive strip search

Awesome. I wonder if Bill Watterson authorized this, though?

Search for your favorite Calvin and Hobbes strip at Martijn's Calvin and Hobbes Extensive Strip Search. (Not to be confused with something much more perverted.)

19:26:23 2 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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peanuts

More Quizilla madness:

Schroeder
You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

19:17:25 2 Mar 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 01 Mar 2004

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quirkyalone: why fight it?

When this meme came out, I tried to resist it for the longest time. For one thing, I automatically resist things that I perceive (rightly or wrongly) to be trendy. For another thing, I didn't quite want to give up. I wanted to believe that, deep down inside, I was just like other people, I just needed to figure a whole bunch of shit out, I just needed to break out of my shell, get over past betrayals, stop wishing for impossible things. That someday, I too would join the great chain of being, get a decent job, get married, have 2.5 kids, have grandkids, and on-and-on. What a lot of people like to call "normalcy," whatever that's supposed to mean.

But, in the same way that extroverts outnumber introverts 2-to-1 (guess which one I am), I guess I just have to accept that I'm not like other people. That I am a minority of a minority of a minority, at least in the society I find myself in. That this feeling of alienation will persist for the rest of my life, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's just the way I am.

(Lest you try to read too deeply into all this, no, I'm not coming out of the closet. Sure, I like to think that I'm an open-minded guy, but I'm simply not attracted to other men.)

My quirkyalone quiz score results:

Your score was 98. Very quirkyalone. Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world. Celebrate your freedom on National Quirkyalone Day, February 14th!

I read this entry on Incidental Findings, and a part of me just recoiled in horror. While I've been guilty of experiencing the same emotions of being forsaken and being utterly, utterly alone, I realized that it's all in the way I've been looking at things. As my high school History teacher once philosophized, when you get right down to it, everyone is ultimately alone, and the decision is whether (1) to accept this fact and move on, so that you can live an interesting and fulfilling life and meet interesting and fun people, or whether (2) to try to fill the void with distraction by latching on desperately to people who are as desperate as you are.

While, perversely, option (2) is attractive, and for some sick reason, my heart will yearn for it now and again, I've come to realize that, in my case, option (1) is the healthier solution.

(That next realization that I need to make is that what's good for me is not necessarily good for other people, and I shouldn't look at people who opt for option (2) with scorn and derision.)

So I've come to build my life upon a core group of people I trust. The kind of friends who are with you for the duration of the journey, even if you even barely see each other. The kind of people who you can just call up one day and continue where you last left off. Now that the big 3-0, while still distant, has appeared over the horizon, and now that the durations of my most significant friendships all exceed 10 years, I realized that I've adapted.

Now I didn't necessarily come to this realization in a peaceful, bloodless manner. I recognize that it has a lot to do with (1) how my first significant relationship ended in utter wrack and ruin and (2) how my attempt at a second significant relationship missed the mark by about a thousand light-years, give or take. And after that, all my attempts were bizarre and awful mockeries of these failures: some demented combination of me trying to read into various cross-transmissions while at the same time trying to stay detached and rational about everything. Such an attitude is pretty antithetical to romance.

And, while I've been admonished by a lot of my close friends who are on the standard path to happpiness that I need to stretch and grow, to break out of my comfort zone and try to meet people, I've come to realize that I really don't have any problems meeting people—it's just that it never develops into something more, partly due to my own madness, and partly due to capricious fate. I am a perpetual denizen of the friend zone.

As I once told C, I think I'm an easy person to become friends with, but I would probably be a royal pain-in-the-ass if I were in a "relationship."

And for the longest time, I thought that it's only because I'm not ready, that I have all these wounds that need to heal, that I wouldn't be ready until I unearthed more of life's great mysteries, like there was some secret rite that would make me worthy of becoming "boyfriend material."

It's only now that I wonder: maybe I don't want it at all.

I've been free for too many years now, and whenever I see people in miserable relationships, instead of thinking to myself, "Well, at least you're in relationship," like I used to, I find myself invariably thinking, "Wow, I'm glad I'm not you." I've come to realize that I'd rather be alone and happy than with someone and miserable.

So maybe deep down inside, like any stereotypical guy, I just don't want to be tied down. I don't want to live the domestic life. I don't want the two-car garage and a nice house out in the suburbs, the next 30 years of my life pretty much planned out, waking up in the morning, going to work, coming back home, going to sleep. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. I don't want my life to ossify like that, where the next big milestone is essentially death, where the next big unknown decision is where I should be buried and what should I put on my tombstone.

Now I know I exaggerate, and that there's plenty of unpredictability in the most Martha Stewart-like of lives (hell, look at Martha herself these days), but I like to wax philosophical about how constricting that kind of life can be.

On the other hand, I know that it doesn't have to be that way. That, if I can meet the right person, the one who wants to go along on this odyssey known as life with me, then there's no reason why I should wander the world all alone. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Because I'm not ever going to compromise this. I'm not going to acquiesce to being boxed into the American Dream, working to buy glittery, expensive trinkets I don't need, trapped in an insane cycle of incurring more debt in order to finance the debt I already have. I'm not going to let someone dictate how I'm going to live my life, someone who will try to smooth away my rough edges, who'll try to make me fit in more. And I realize that perhaps I'm simply wishing to meet a person who doesn't exist.

Such is life.

In these long lonely years of exile, I've learned that it is probably unlikely that I'm ever going to find everything I need in one person alone. I mean, sure, I can still dream, right? But pragmatism wins out in the end, and I've adapted. So I find bits and pieces in the various people I've met. While I do trust my closest friends with my life, there are parts of me that I keep necessarily locked up. I don't want to terroize people who might not be able to deal with my various manias and neuroses. I've come to realize that some people just wouldn'ty be able to tolerate my whole self in living color, volume turned all the way up, unfiltered and raw. (OK, maybe I have problems sharing myself, but, hey, give me enough time, it'll all come out in the end.) I've learned who can and who can't deal with my different types of insanity, who to impose on, and who will probably freak out and run away screaming. And some things, I just need to deal with things on my own. For some things, it wouldn't do anyone any good if I werer to drag someone else down into my variegated vortices of despair.

So I guess I need to accept this label. Quirkyalone. It really does describe a lot of what I am. Despite my cynical veneer, I am deeply, even naievely idealistic, and I'm not one for half-measures. For better or worse, I'm just an all-or-nothing kind of guy. And yet, for every brick wall that life might put in front of me, give me enough time, and I'll find a way around it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, despite the fact that Love is one of the greatest forces on Earth, there's a lot more to life than finding Love. (Not to mention the fact that Love comes in a lot more flavors than simply Romance.) And here comes my idealism: I believe that true love will accept me for who I am. She will not try to change me, she'll just be happy to go along for the ride, because this just happens to be the same direction she's going, too.

Someone once told me that the difference between friendship and a romantic relationship is that, in a friendship, it's two people looking in the same direction, but in a romantic relationship, it's two people looking into each other. And I guess I really just prefer the former.

Who's up for an adventure? Maybe I'll meet up with you somewhere along the Road of Life. Or not. It ain't no thang.

22:30:08 1 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

Mon, 23 Feb 2004

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what am I doing with my life?

I should've been asleep almost two hours ago. Instead I've been tap-tap-tapping aimlessly on this computer of mine, searching. Ah, if Google could only solve all my problems.

So in 36 hours or so, my path will be irrevocably set. I am frightened by the inexorable nature of where I'm going to end up in four months, and, worse, the complete opaqueness of it all. I just have no idea. (Didn't I tell you I was a closet Type A personality/control freak?)

On a obliquely related note, I've decided to abandon my habit of failing to capitalize the beginning of sentences. It has begun creeping into my non-blog writing.

Whatever.

I have been busy stalking virtually. I am a sad, scary guy.

In any case, I'm not the one who invented Googling people. They say that this is a popular technique for people who are going on blind dates, and for job interviewers as well. This is, in my impossible moments of sheer utter boredom and inability to do things I actually need to accomplish, how I try to find people that I have lost touch with.

For instance, a girl I met one drunken August evening in a club in Chicago. I never went out on a date with her because, well, for one thing, she had a boyfriend. Interestingly, I did not learn this fact until late in the evening, when she felt that she had to confess what exactly was up. I believe my response was something to the effect of "ain't no thang, ain't nothing says you can't have a good time." I did call her up once, and ended up meeting her again, along with her friends, of course. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring a wingman. From what I remember, I thought the evening went quite well. I suppose I could be quite wrong. In my more mentally altered moments (which is, surprisingly quite rare these days), I like to wonder about what the hell exactly was going on, but, as N, B, and B will likely point out: there was absolutely nothing.

There were two points of ridiculously hilarious synchronicity: one, her boyfriend lives near where my parents live in So Cal; two, her sister goes to my school. (Which unlike the monstrously large university I attended, is small enough where you could actually meet everybody, which I haven't, since I am particularly anti-social.)

What the hell. I'm rambling and crazy. I need something to center myself with.

I am suddenly reminded of these song lyrics from the grungy '90's:

Runaway train, never going back Wrong way on a one-way track Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I'm neither here nor there —"Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum

As I write this, "Gods and Monsters" is finishing up. What a poignant examination of the nature of loneliness. And how ridiculously appropriate.

As I finish writing this, HBO is now starting to play soft-core porn.

I believe I should just go to sleep.

23:47:24 23 Feb 2004 > /soul > permalink > 2 comments

Sat, 21 Feb 2004

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haunted house

I've dreamt about this before. I think it's just a manifestation of all the adventure games I used to play on my computer as a kid.

anyway, so there's this haunted house in this abandoned part of town. for some reason, I imagine it's some part of L.A. that is very rarely traveled, near the ocean. perhaps something off of an abandoned routing of old US 66, or one of those abandoned freeways in L.A. of course, this place I'm imagining doesn't actually exist, although I dream incessantly of a partially built x15 that deposits you in the middle of some hills. but anyway.

everyone knows about this haunted house. In fact, it's become a game of sorts. so me, my brother, my sister, and my dad go into this house, and explore, level by level. We already know that if you try going back out the front door, you won't be able to leave. We already know that the only way out is through a hidden grating, across a lawn, and over the fence, which has a gate, but it is locked, and the lock has fused. we get to the 4th level of the house(!) and I open one of the doors to find a wolfman sitting in a room, sleeping. I don't mention this to anyone else, and we head up to the 5th level, into the inner sanctum, where the final confrontation awaits. This is where it gets very game like. so there are two wolfmen whom accost us to do battle. it gets very Final Fantasy like, and suddenly there are several German Shepherds on our side. after a while, though, I remember that we can't defeat these guys—the actual objective of the game is to run away, out the grating, aacross the lawn, and over a fence. so we beat a hasty retreat. the wolfman on the 4th level is awake and now giving chase. we struggle with the grating, try to crawl across the lawn (because there are sentinels that would sight us otherwise) but the guys from the 5th level get to us and massacre us. after that, we end up in the atrium of the house again, locked in a loop until we can get out.

strangely, I have access to the Internet, and everyone knows about this "game." this is, apparently, where I learned the strategy to escape this place. and there are some false memes floating around too, like how if you just hit each of the wolfmen on the 5th floor 100 times each, they'll die. This is refuted by people who actually tried it and failed. also, we are required to have dinners every so often with the host of the house, who is a ghost. he appears and disappears a la Q on Star Trek, giving us useless, sarcastic advice. he also provides weapons. every so often, on the lawn, questers can receive one item from him. these items are whatever was left behind by people who get massacred by the wolfmen.

also bizarre is the fact that while literally millions of people are playing this game, you never really run into them a the house, except during the item exchange on the lawn, and at the mandatory dinners. when you actually ascend into the house, you can only bring your original party with you.

anyway, the dream somehow segues into me alone gaining my freedom, and I'm wandering the very altered streets of L.A. (the L.A. of my dreams where there is an Interstate 21 that starts at Adams Blvd. south of Mid-Wilshire and goes all the way down to San Pedro) most of the layout, though, is grossly intact. the noteable additions are that there is a significant light-rail system in place (as I mentioned in a previous dream), K-Town is even more significant than it is (like, there are even bigger buildings, it is more gentrified, and Korean businesses aren't the only ones thriving.) I eventually head up Elysian Blvd, which doesn't exist in L.A. (although there is an Elysian Park.) on a clear day, you can actually see the ocean from Elysian Blvd., but as in real life, clear days are rare in L.A. I eventually get on a freeway that I thought was the 101, except that it intersects the 101. this freeway has some exits that have San Jose street names. in any case, my objective is the haunted house, which I imagine is that solitary house you can see when you come down from the southbound end of the Glendale Freeway.

anyway. geography. undoubtedly it is a manifestation of the fact that I don't know where I'm going to be three months from now.

08:54:16 21 Feb 2004 > /dreams > permalink > 1 comments

Fri, 20 Feb 2004

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the flying song

and here I thought that I've actually stopped being pessimistic.

goodbroken
Your wings are BROKEN and tattered. You are
an angelic spirit who has fallen from grace for
one reason or another - possibly, you made one
tragic mistake that cost you everything. Or
maybe you were blamed for a crime you didn't
commit. In any case, you are faithless and
joyless. You find no happiness, love, or
acceptance in your love or in yourself. Most
days are a burden and you wonder when the
hurting will end. Sweet, beautiful and
sorrowful, you paint a tragic and touching
picture. You are the one that few understand.
Those that do know you are likely to love you
deeply and wish that they could do something to
ease your pain. You are constantly living in
memories of better times and a better world.
You are hard on yourself and self-critical or
self-loathing. Feeling rejected and unloved,
you are sensitive, caring, deep, and despite
your tainted nature, your soul is
breathtakingly beautiful.

*~*~*Claim Your Wings - Pics and Long Answers*~*~*
brought to you by Quizilla

Sheeeit.

anyway, this makes me think of "The Flying Song" by Colin Hay (formerly of the band Men at Work)

It's easier to love somebody It's easier that you be loved You say you want to be somebody Why don't you be yourself
If you wait for an answer From somewhere up above You may never hear the laughter You've been dreaming of
Now we're flying so high With the world down below Spread your wings across the sky
It's easier to love somebody It's easier that you be loved You say you want to trust somebody Why don't you trust yourself
If a wave rolls down from heaven With the turning of the tide You're pulled in all directions Only for awhile

of course, it also makes me think of "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister(?)

OK, enough of that.

15:33:25 20 Feb 2004 > > permalink > 5 comments

Tue, 17 Feb 2004

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(don't) shake it like a polaroid picture (memetic backdiffusion)

A song lyric from Outkast becomes a FAQ

18:00:06 17 Feb 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 15 Feb 2004

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forgot something (QT/Mac and KDE cont.)

of course, to save much pain and misery, you can use the scripts provided by Ranger Rick for building KDE, which includes configure-kde, which will figure out the proper flags and library locations for you. He also included some patches, but I haven't gotten them to apply cleanly to the CVS versions of the kde modules.

13:35:22 15 Feb 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 1 comments

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QT/Mac and kdelibs (Part 2)

12:21:02 15 Feb 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

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QT/Mac and kdelibs

in trying to configure kdelibs, I ran across this problem with net/if.h (which is, again, present in other applications being ported to OSX)

a patch to config.in.in allows configure to succeed without warnings.

after applying the patch, run make -f admin/Makefile.common cvs

now to see if it compiles.

11:44:16 15 Feb 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

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QT/Mac and arts

in the ongoing saga of getting KDE to build against QT/Mac, I have been following Ranger Rick's instructions on how to build KDE against QT/Mac yourself. the first hurdle was arts. after some kludgery, I came up with this configure command:

LDFLAGS="-lXi -lXmu -lm -lXext -lX11 -L/usr/X11R6/lib" CFLAGS="-Os" CXXFLAGS="-Os" ./configure --prefix=/opt/kde --with-qt-dir=/opt/qt-mac --with-extra-libs=/sw/lib --with-extra-includes=/sw/include --enable-mac

I won't claim to understand everything that's going on here. The CXXFLAGS are necessary to keep the atomicity.h error, also found in other applications, from happening. The LDFLAGS are necessary so that arts can find X11(?!) I don't know why the code depends on both glib and X11 despite being based on Qt/Mac, but, hey, it compiles.

01:22:43 15 Feb 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

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adventures with QT/Mac and KDE

I have embarked on a quest to compile KDE against QT/Mac so that I can run KDE apps natively instead of running them with X.

I finally got QT to compile cleanly, using the instructions on how to compile QT/Mac by Ranger Rick as a reference. I don't know if the instructions don't work exactly as stated because Qt/Mac is no longer beta, or if there are other reasons, but what I did was somewhat different (NOTE: I will assume that you are very comfortable with the command-line and have some experience with compiling from source):

  1. Untar the archive to whereever you want, such as in ~/.
  2. Set $QTDIR to point to whereever you unpacked the archive. For example, ~/qt-mac-free-3
  3. Add $QTDIR/bin to $PATH
  4. Add $QTDIR/lib to $DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH
  5. ./configure --prefix=/opt/qt-mac
  6. make
  7. sudo make install
  8. Change $QTDIR to /opt/qt-mac
  9. Reset $PATH, $MANPATH, and $DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH to reflect the change in $QTDIR

01:12:07 15 Feb 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 10 Feb 2004

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personality disorders and levels of hell

I found these tests through R's site, and this is what I got:

DisorderRating
Paranoid:Moderate
Schizoid:Moderate
Schizotypal:High
Antisocial:Low
Borderline:Low
Histrionic:Moderate
Narcissistic:Low
Avoidant:Very High
Dependent:Very High
Obsessive-Compulsive:Moderate

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

there's that schizotypal personality once again rearing its ugly head. inpatient psychiatry, here I come. damn it.

and since I was there, I thought I'd see how damned I was going to be as well:

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

wonderful. but probably true. at least Satan won't be eating me for all eternity like poor Judas.

(This reminds me of a dream I had—that Satan had abandoned Hell (just like in Neil Gaiman's Sandman), leaving his minions to duke it out amongst themselves. Of course, they end up destroying each other, leaving Hell a smoking ruin. All the sinners are still there, though, so Virgil and Dante decide to turn the whole place into an amusement park, giving tours to those who pay the admission price. Shit. Maybe I am crazy.)

20:52:16 10 Feb 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Mon, 09 Feb 2004

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lost (en las calles de los angeles)

(author's note: as you can see, my title is pretty much a rip-off of Barbara's series on calles [fundación][los orientales][moreno y oscura][del consejo práctico y los dolores y trastorno de tensión postraumática]. what follows is an unmanageable, undecipherable piece of mind-blather that fails to encapsulate the inexplicable sense of alienation I experienced today, wandering aimlessly through the streets of the city of my birth.)

city overlaid map in my mind forking roads, to sea and sky like double-vision the eyesight of a drugseeker or a prophet

Sunset and Hollywood where the road splits the city splits eastside vs westside reina de los angeles, her comforting embrace despite the depradations of the conquistador and the gringo vs lost angels, fallen angels, cast down from heaven, thrown up from hell the hookers and the pimps the dealers, the pirates, the bandits in their suits and ties and their slick-backed hair

they claim that two things cannot occupy the same space and so my memories must be bulldozed the ground razed and wiped clean tabula raza build upon the rubble even as the ground shakes

Santa Monica and Sunset even here, still, the rumor of the lost Great Road running to the sea like a river of chrome and reaching back to the cold and hard places through the unforgiving desert and the dry and dusty plains 2,000 miles of generations past, and era falling down the memory hole to where my heart froze solid and shattered once and for all

I am futiley picking up the pieces still

signs of renewal and decay phoenix dawn, ashes to ashes childhood memories flicker and fade a Polaroid picture in reverse dissolving into the murky white gone no, never was

where did I come from not so much forgetting but simply not wanting to know how much pain and suffering seeking ignorance and yet circles in circles blind spots and the brink the edge

Hyperion, Fletcher, Silver Lake lost in the winding rills and ravines through the rolling hills pockets of silence and sweet bliss the reservoir shimmering in the sun the lone house on the hill a voice sings softly in my heart and still I dare not be stirred

all I can see is the edge

Vermont and Los Feliz in the shadows of the verdant hills in this land of no seasons and the watchtower upon their brow lonely citadel gazing upon the city below the stately forbidding houses enclosed in their fences and gates do they keep us out, or trap those within?

so many years run together fast-forward then rewind warp and jumble images lashed together with twine like so many wet bundles of newspapers and magazines thrown haphazardly on the porch

where am I going? in this space that is no space time suspended like a bridge that touches no shore true north, when there are only lies half-truths, rationalizations, and spin control only the mountains tell me in their majestic silence the grand hulking bleakness snow-touched and mighty dwarving the towers of Babel the ringing towers south, and east, and west K-town and mid-Wilshire, Bunker Hill downtown, Hollywood and Century City cold and gleaming like pikes and swords encircling, as I gaze out from the ramparts

Vermont and Franklin obscurity and glimpses of the stars in these hidden spaces I have trod where dreams bloomed unbidden in my heart riotous flowering colors without roots I let them wither and die

I am king of no country not even the barren wastelands of my heart nor the wind-scoured deserts in my soul not so much emptiness, but nothingness not vacuum but non-being like slipping out of a dream I wonder am I figment of someone's imagination? a character in God's dream? and if He should awake?

Glendale and Hyperion upon the ancient bridge across the concrete river dry like witch's tears dry as the wellsprings of my soul I stare at Mt Wilson black giant staring back down upon the valley prickling with antennae like some giant insect queen

my lone beacon in the night shimmering and flickering as the February winds gust the spirits on the wind keen and moan and still I fear that in the high places even there, I cannot find what I seek the things that I have lost not the flowers, but the roots of a dream

19:57:28 9 Feb 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 08 Feb 2004

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ebotula

I'm not much of an IRC'er, so I don't even really know what bots are supposed to do, other than auto-replying. but this project on freshmeat.net caught my eye just with its name: Ebotula. it sounds like some novel bioweapon, a combination of Ebola and botulism. scary.

06:37:53 8 Feb 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 7 comments

Sat, 07 Feb 2004

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URLs

I know I have way too much free time on my hands. but I am again contemplating switching blogging engines.

as lovely as Blosxom is, I'm not entirely down with the file-format. it is admittedly very nicely simple: the first line is the title, the rest is output as is (in my case, garden-variety HTML, but other bloggers have implemented other markup languages [ATX][textile][wikiwordish].) but, unlike XML, it is not as easy to spot errors in the markup, particularly with the pre-theme flavor files. (and if you dig around my site for a while, you will see instances plagued by HTML errors such as unclosed <a> tags and mismatched <span> tags.)

so, because of my masochistic nature, I am trying to write my own blog engine based on XML and XSLT. I am a little apprehensive as to what sort of load this will cause to my webhost despite the light traffic, but there is always static rendering, I suppose. In reality, I'll just be writing a more dynamic version of my hand-kludged blog engine that I had been using previously, with more Perl and less XSLT.

I'm still stuck on parsing the requested URL. I have decided on the popular format of /category/subcategory/2004/02/07/slug, although I'm still wondering about the extension. on one hand, slug.html is kinda crufty looking. on the other hand, I like Blosxom's notion of flavors. still, the only other flavor that I can think of that would be worth supporting at this time is RSS, and while good for indices, I can't see the utility of serving up individual RSS entries. and this in itself leads to some parsing ugliness. if I stick to the flavor idea, then my RSS feeds will be specified like /category/subcategory/2004/02/07/index.rss, and I realize that index is pretty crufty. but if I discard flavors entirely, /category/subcategory/2004/02/07/rss would probably be how I should specify a feed, but I think it would cause a parsing nightmare. I think I would have to hard code it, but that also strikes me as inelegant.

so it's still a work in progress. I've spent a couple of days on the parsing routine already, using Blosxom's routine as a take off point. I've also been screwing around with regex's, but I imagine that would be processor intensive. so we'll see.

anyway, I found inspiration about non-crufty permalinks here:

11:39:33 7 Feb 2004 > /computers/www > permalink > 4 comments

Thu, 05 Feb 2004

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i spy

so I spent part of my weekend in nyc screwing around with b's computer, which was completely infested by spyware and viruses and all sorts of irritating, memory-consuming, surreptitiously installed programs. the computer is on the verge of complete unuseability. my advice was simply to wipe the hard drive and reinstall windows xp. this is, after all, the favorite piece of advice given by anyone who does win xp tech support. but this would require backing up the hard drive, which would inquire purchasing a hard drive, and in the freezing temperature at this time, this wasn't a palatable option.

we then tried installing spyware-removing software, which either don't really find anything, don't remove anything without a $60 fee, or they actively install even more spyware.

Adware did discover about 200+ different spyware processes living on B's machine, but, of course, it wouldn't remove them without us paying for it.

so we delved into the registry. fun, fun, fun.

what stumped us was svchost.exe. installed in C:\windows, masquerading as a legitimate process (which really lives in C:\windows\system), if you try to kill it in the task manager, it does some funky RPC stuff that makes the system shutdown in 1 minute, a la MSBlaster. eventually, we called it a day, and I headed out to manhattan.

the problem is internet explorer. using internet explorer is a lot like having unprotected sex in thailand. I'm mean, really, the advice to not use hyperlinks and manually type the URL is utterly ridiculous. and given that there will no longer be a stand-alone IE, and that the next update will not occur until Longhorn is released, that means these things will probably proliferate for years. it's like gonorrhea before penicillin was invented.

if you don't buy this argument for migrating to mozilla and family, well, good luck.

when I got back to L.A., my sister ran into a pop-up that started opening her cd tray.

I'm so glad that I've been windows-free for five years now.

so. stay safe. practice safe web-browsing. don't use ie.

09:03:57 5 Feb 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 04 Feb 2004

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oh the places you will go

because I am obsessed with maps, I find this really amusing.


create your own visited states map or write about it on the open travel guide

I just added Missouri and Oklahoma in December on my ridiculous drive half way across the country. I do not think it is surprising that I have not ventured into the northernmost Great Plains states, nor the northernmost parts of New England given my dislike of extreme cold. I have been deliberately avoiding the South because, well, I've heard of too many racial situations there. In any case, I have this feeling that my Californian ultra-left wing leanings wouldn't be too welcome in that part of the world. OK, I admit it. underneath it all, I'm prejudiced against Southerners.

15:06:39 4 Feb 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 02 Feb 2004

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lily white

spill your secret to me creeping shadows, and the evil that lurks in the night that makes the dogs bark in fear with their tails between their legs the hooded man without a face stealing innocence

why it was that you turned to me to fill the gap how did I get sucked into the vortex knowing what I know I had counted myself wiser than Odysseus, thinking to just skirt the outer edge of Scylla but I should've known better to think that I was better than a hero

and still everything lay outside of my grasp I do not understand I'll never understand those dark nights when the only people in the world were you and I singing each other to sleep drowning in each other's sorrows the soft catch of your breath as you lay your head upon my chest your dream-filled smile as I kissed your cheek innocence, stolen by the years and the heartache the betrayals and the evil intentions yet nothing is ever innocent like an image reflected in facing mirrors distortions with every layer deeper depending on which way you look the Devil can look like God without even bothering to wear a disguise

in other words, we see what we want to see dream only good things hope for the best

but you and I, we have grown wise the fire searing our flesh blackening our hearts know better than to put our hands back into the flames to expect the worst to know that, in the end, all things fail and promises were never meant to last forever

I do not understand I'll never understand these webs of words that I keep twisting and turning trying to suit my own purpose and only tangling my will into knots did I mean what I said or did you really see the truth in my words?

to love is to lose and the reason we die is when we've lost too much

17:56:05 2 Feb 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 29 Jan 2004

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iBook logic board repair extension program

for all you unfortunate folk who purchased an iBook between May 2002 and April 2003, this program is for you.

while my old iBook 14.1" 700MHz certainly falls under this category, and I shelled out $300 to try and get my iBook fixed, I'm not sure I want to go through the trouble of recovering my $300 since Apple decided to just give me an iBook G4 14.1" 933MHz. For $300, that's a pretty sweet upgrade. Of course, I had to get new RAM, and an Airport Extreme card, but I was able to pawn off my old RAM and Airport card to my sister, whom I convinced to purchase one of these afflicted iBooks (14.1" 933MHz with the old G3 processor) for around $900, a sweet deal given that this logic board repair program is in effect.

as a side note, my iBook G4 did break down already, quite possibly because I may have electrocuted it, although I still believe that I was properly grounded and I was careful not to touch any of my iBook's innards that shouldn't be touched, and I've been screwing around with the insides of computers since the early 1990s with few (although spectacular) mishaps. I would've probably shelled out another $300, but luckily it was Christmas time, and the guy at the genius bar wanted to give me a break, additionally considering my long, sordid history with the Apple repair depot (I haven't had a functioning iBook for 2 months even after three trips to the depot, and each time my iBook became less and less functional, such that by the end, I was reduced to booting it in console mode, and running only the command line. Even in this sorry state, I was still impressed, because the Darwin core properly initialized the Airport card, so I still had net access, and I could run X and hence GNOME. Not very pretty when compared to Quartz and Aqua, but functional. The anti-Microsoft bigot that I am, I would say it was still superior to a Win XP machine.)

08:48:53 29 Jan 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 4 comments

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the unix-haters handbook

I am reminded of something that Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote in his epilogue to The Scarlet Letter. To paraphrase: love and hate are not very different emotions. (A more diametric opposite to love would be apathy and indifference.) Both require intimate knowledge of one's object of desire/derision. Both seem to exhibit characteristics that our modern age has deemed to name co-dependent behavior. Just as it is seemly to care about what one's beloved thinks of them when one is in love, in parallel, one who exhibits hatred often does so because they care too much about what the other person thinks of him/her. To rephrase it in pseudo-psychiatric lingo, the other person starts becoming an obsession, an idee fixee, that impinges upon one's own personal identity (as much as I think Freud was a quack, I will use his term ego.)

Or, in observance of what happens in prepubescent crushes, little boys make fun of and are cruel to little girls because, deep down, they like them, and they wish they didn't.

Hence, The Unix-Haters Handbook.

These people do not hate UNIX the way people hate Windows XP. These are people deeply committed (however involuntarily) to UNIX, who live and breathe the command-line, compile all their programs from source, and disdain GUIs. These are people who would be as incapacitated without a computer as some people are who develop serious brain disorders. The reason they hate UNIX so much is because of their deep intimacy with it. UNIX is that ex-girlfriend that you almost married, except that she keeps breaking your heart, and every time you try to get her out of your life, she finds her way back in. In contrast, Windows XP is a lot like a prostitute. You can't really hate her. After all, it is essentially a professional relationship. Obviously, you can't really love her either. There are no deep attachments here, just a fear of sexually transmitted disease (appropriate, given the amount of viral cross-contamination that occurs in the Windows world.)

OK, I obviously need to get a life.

07:48:58 29 Jan 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments

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cradle to grave

now I know I promised to stop being so pessimistic, but this sig I stole from someone made me laugh:

We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

07:15:01 29 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 7 comments

Wed, 28 Jan 2004

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wtf

I have no idea what I'm doing. The world just swirls and loops all around me, and I stand mesmerized, mouth agape, drool oozing from the corner of my mouth, all sense gone.

N would laugh at my ridiculous attempt to analyze the situation(s). B would argue that I have little sense as it is in the first place.

We all know that thinking too hard about something is a good way to make things even more complicated than they already are.

All of this could mean nothing.

Then again, perhaps I am purposefully turning a blind eye, in hopes of avoiding peril. (Although, again, we all know that the best way to get something to attack you full-on in the face is to ignore it. What you don't know only gets bigger—and stronger, with sharper claws. Man, I'm a paranoid bastard.)

The truth, most undoubtedly, lies somewhere in between.

Damn.

Sorry for being painfully cryptic. It is, unfortunately, my nature.

P.S. It is fucking cold in Chicago right now. Maybe I really am a masochist. I'm actually starting to like it. Not that I'm really willing to endure four more years of seasonal affective disorder, but, well, as I've said time and time again, these things are quite out of my hands.

P.P.S. @!#$&!!! I just don't know anymore. Although, most likely, I never did know in the first place. Bleh.

21:42:45 28 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Tue, 27 Jan 2004

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fire and ice

flat lands, icy waste curling smoke, steam rising the city breathes in, breathes out like a sleeping dragon

there is a fire burning inside of me drear, dull fever snowflakes melt upon my skin heart filled, like bursting flames in my chest through gritted teeth in the bitter frost in silence, I scream

restless, a tiger pacing in its cage ready to tear limb from limb

I want to burn burst of fire like a roman candle flaming wreckage crashing down in re-entry a shooting star bright flash of starfire flaring flaming out in the cold, blue, winter sky poof clouds of steam, the forest heaves and puffs trees flattened, splintered, shattered, fallen the cratered ground, smooth and shiny and not of this world nothing else remains

the snowflakes come drifting, one by one and the wind blows fitfully in gusts and blasts the silence broken only by the echos, the memories, like thunder, like the tides crashing on high cliff walls gone

21:54:28 27 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 24 Jan 2004

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to grok

clearly, I have too much time on my hands. or, more tragically, instead of doing things I need to do, I sit her mentally masturbating as usual. (notice the word mental.)

anyway, I was thinking of the word "grok" for some reason. for those who aren't into science fiction and therefore have never read the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, well, that's where it comes from. in the story, it's of Martian etymology, meaning literally, "to drink," and figuratively, "to understand deeply." well, of course, the latter connotation inevitably seeped into geekspeak, but the crazy thing is that I think it is beginning to spread into the mainstream. of course, this might just be a reflection on how much more technological our world is (read as: how much more acceptable—nay, perhaps necessary—it is to be a geek—I have to say it: it has become chic to be a geek—OK, well, maybe not....), and, of course, I was in Silicon Valley when I heard a non-computer science person use it, so maybe it was a meaningless occurance. nonetheless, it is in some general dictionaries (post-Y2K, granted.) and, I might add, it is quite a useful word.

I then turned my thoughts to the word "savvy," not in its adjective form, but in its verb form. I'm not sure if it really is standard pirate argot, but Johnny Depp certainly used it a lot in "Pirates of the Caribbean", and even at least once in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". What I figured out, then forgot, then looked up is that it is derived from the Spanish word "sabe," which means to know.

anyway, back to "grok." there are a few related geekspeak terms (which, by the way, I've never really heard before) such as "glark","glork", and "zen," again, not as an adjective, but as a verb.

well, enough of that for now.

19:32:29 24 Jan 2004 > /language > permalink > 0 comments

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wInter-im

I have been telling people how soft I'm getting with respect to the weather. Given that it has been roughly 70-75°F in L.A. for the past couple of weeks or so, I woke up Friday morning at the crack of dawn. Going outside, I felt the "cold" seep into me, and I was abashed when I discovered that the ambient temperature was actually 50°.

So it was with quite a bit of apprehension that I flew out to Chicago today, especially since I couldn't find my beanie, my scarf, or my gloves. I thought I would die on the walk from the L station to my apartment. Ironically, it was lucky that it was snowing, 'cause otherwise it would've been way too cold.

So I am quite cozily ensconced in my apartment right now, with the heat blaring at 73°, and procrastinating about packing for my flight to Miami tomorrow. (I will, again, have to trudge through the snow to get to the L, but hopefully no more will accumulate overnight. Fingers crossed.)

I am quite convinced that I need to get away from here and leave cold winters behind. How fate feels about this, though, is anyone's guess.

17:16:49 24 Jan 2004 > > permalink > 1 comments

Thu, 22 Jan 2004

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spirit

ever burning flame searing rays of light eastern sky afire I turn and turn and turn only the sun tells me where I stand casting my shadow hither and thither

in this land of no mountains in this bleak and empty space silence and the dry, raspy wind of an old, dying world

cold iron the smell of blood proof against magic and the spells of elves hopefully a ward against gremlins and whatever ancient power guards this alien landscape hostile against my kind

blood, red sand spilled from the years of sacrifices to the God of War and the tang of iron, of steel imagine that these mysterious rivulets carved by flowing water into wine wine into blood

cold wind, aching bones still the sun burns relentlessly my heart still blazes but I know the warmth seeps out by quantum grains of sand I leak time upon the ground each step, marching towards oblivion

millions of miles from home I could wander around this world a million times and be no closer

knowing the moment you begin is the moment you begin to die

the end, we already know what it's going to be like to die, still and forgotten last messages fluttering into the empty void acknowledge, never received, signal lost when the heart has grown cold the fires at last quenched in the end, we are all alone

11:29:59 22 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 20 Jan 2004

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letting go

interestingly, though in various shapes and forms, some of the bloggers that I read almost daily have been discussing letting go. so whether it is material objects, relationships and situations in general, or specific self-destructive behaviors, well, I generally do the opposite.

I admit it. I am a resolute pack-rat. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to get rid of all this stuff I've managed to accumulate since 8th grade. I have the Leaning Tower of Crap against the wall in my room (which was previously my sister's room, but she usurped my room while I was away in Chicago): fifteen boxes filled with papers, books, useless gewgaws and doodads with sentimental value, and worthless ancient computer equipment. I have already gone through one cycle of purging (eliminating three boxes) but do not have the wherewithal to go for another.

Damn it. I need a system.

For me, organization is an ambiguous term. Now, I consider myself a high-functioning individual, so, clearly, I've got to be somewhat organized to some degree. Still, I realize I don't really approach the social norm. (Not that I've ever really approached the social norm on a lot of levels, but that's something else entirely.)

There was a time I believed in organized chaos. While my environs might look like a miniature landfill, at least I knew where everything was. Whenever my mom would take the initiative to organize my room, my system would break, and I'd never be able to find anything, much less do anything productive. Typically it takes about a week for me to degenerate into this state after cleaning up. It's just how my mind works, I think. (Again, I find a quote from Charles Bukowski about kitchens very apt and sympathetic to my woes. There is also a Slashdot article regarding the same phenomenon somewhere, but, naturally, I can't find it.)

The problem is that I keep accumulating more and more crap, and I am deathly afraid of tossing something out that hasn't been properly regarded. I think it's because my ass have been saved on too many occasions where any sane person would've thrown something out 11 years ago, but I was able to dig it out of my closet in an hour or so just in time to save the day. For all those people who keep nagging me: "Are really going to use that again?" Well, you never know.

But, yeah, I appreciate being able to travel light. I was pretty happy when I was able to reduce my indispensable worldly possessions to one carload (not to say that I threw away the rest, I just, well, stored it.) So of course now that I'm back home (at least for now), I have about 14 years of crap to sift through. Lord.

But I've been interrupted too many times writing this entry, and I no longer know what I'm saying or doing, so I'll cut my losses, and stop here.

14:17:11 20 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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unrelenting massive cock destroys innocent pussies

while postmodern literary critics (like critics of all media, genre, and timeperiod) can be full of shit, I really dig the creation of postmodern art (or is this post-post modern art? hey, art critics, I'm sorry for saying you're full of shit! can you please think of a proper name for this time period?)

for example, take this illustrations of a deliberate misinterpretation of a common spam subject.

11:47:36 20 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 4 comments

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words like fallen leaves

now is the depth of winter when the heart mourns for warmer days when the sun hides behind the swirling clouds and light plays games with the fog and the shadows teasing with the bone-chilling brightness and the darkness comes before you expect it gaping like the black abyss and the neverending fall

and the words do not come quick-frozen, stillborn in my soul not so much as a whisper escapes between my cold-cracked lips

dry, listless wind spinning the dead and fallen leaves raspy sussurations against the frozen ground reach out to catch one slips away

like snowflakes grasp out, they melt into raindrops mingled with sea-brine tears

creeping dread upon my soul lost in the fog and the shadows not knowing which way lies the rising sun I reach for the words like rough-hewn handholds in the dark, bitter night failing, crumbling in my hands as I touch them I am afraid to climb, yet fearing to fall

struggle to draw forth the words (like living water, turned to slush in the copper pipes) the shape and form of warmth and brightness the flickering flames of life's sweet bliss crackling embers in the hearth and even the memory seeps away cold and hollow

to not know the name of things to lose, each one, bit by bit, drop by drop, to the endless howling wind of winter's dearth desperately digging through the drifts and banks seeking warm loamy ground

perhaps we must just wait for the ground to thaw

11:37:16 20 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 3 comments

Mon, 19 Jan 2004

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reflection: forwards and backwards

true to form, I have procrastinated thinking about the past year. I have also procrastinated thinking about the upcoming year. in short, I am, once again, ill-prepared for life.

without resorting to 5-minute psychiatric consults, or blaming various parts of my neuroanatomy for the state I'm in, I can't help but wonder what it is I should be doing with this space. Not just, literally, this webspace that I am profusely cluttering up with my endless blather, but the space around me. the world I inhabit, in both the personal and universal realms.

(iTunes just spun up some Sigur Rós. thoughts of Iceland come unbidden, despite the fact that I've never even come within a thousand miles of Reykjavik. God. I am so random.)

I just can't keep things in order. the room I am staying in in my parent's house is an absolute disaster area, like someone had decided to take a leafblower and wave it around to see where everything would fly off to. (oooh. I think I hurt myself trying to think of a simile and coming up short.) I can't keep my mind clear, my thoughts neatly arrayed. meta-discourse and prose fiction mingle freely, undistinguishable. despite the fact that I'm baring my psychological profile for all the world to see, I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm about.

I don't know why I keep writing this drek, only knowing that I must.

I suppose that's a good enough reason as any.

God save me from getting caught in the recursive loop of endless navel-gazing.

14:24:01 19 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Thu, 15 Jan 2004

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you betta recognize

because I'm such a depressive motherfucker, I really need to keep track of these rare moments. let it be known, at this particular, specific moment, I am happy. (surely this is one of the signs of the apocalypse.)

one of the things I learned from The Lord of the Rings is that (to paraphrase Gandalf the Grey) to break something in order to find out what it is is, well, stupid. so it is with some trepidation that I meditate upon what it is that makes me happy at this particular point in time.

one: the end of the tunnel nears. at some point this year (crossing fingers, barring complete and utter catastrophe) I will at last attain the pay-off of my five year self-imposed exile to the frozen wastelands of the midwest. it's so close I can fucking taste it. goddamn!

two: I think I know where I want to go. regardless of whether I make it there or not (because these things are entirely out of my hands), at least I feel I have very well-thought-out reasons for wanting this, which jive very well with my gut feelings.

three: I feel OK by myself. I mean, yeah, it's great to have other people around. It's really nice to have someone to talk to once in a while, but, well, this is my personal sophistry philosophy: we are all journeying on this road of life, each with his or her own special destination. whether or not we share the road with another at some point is not entirely of our choosing, and ultimately, at some point, your road will always diverge. so the most you can hope to do is stay true to your companions while they are with you, hurry along to your destination when they are not, and not to waylay anybody as they, too, try to make it home. hmmm. the end of the journey is always home, whether you know it or not. (as I am wont to say, this is what I tell myself so I can sleep at night.)

four: sunlight. need I say more?

five: the art of not wanting. maybe it's just the happy pills completely killing my sex drive, but, hey, I'll take what I can get (or more accurately what I'm not getting.)

six: I think E (my friend, not the drug) really helped me get to the heart of why I am alone. nothing is going to change until I go for it, and I can't go for it until I'm ready. and I'm not ready. but I'm learning to trust myself. In slow, measured steps. and someday, I will trust my own judgement about how I'm feeling, and someday, I will know that I am ready. until then, all I can do, all I should do is go with the flow. the current has gotten me this far, after all.

seven: music. no further comment.

cheesy songs as I drove up the I-5 that put a smile on my face:

"The First Cut Is the Deepest" by Sheryl Crow [iTMS][lyrics]

"The Flying Song" by Colin Hay [iTMS][lyrics]

"Love's Divine" by Seal [iTMS][lyrics]

23:46:04 15 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 14 Jan 2004

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names (why i probably shouldn't be a father)

i can't help myself. whenever i get bored, my mind wanders. very far. so sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic (is there any other kind in SoCal?) where the 91 and the 5 intersect (before i had to dodge some rocks some punk kids were hurling from a pedestrian bridge before the imperial hwy exit), i looked up at the freeway signage and, unbidden, i thought that "artesia" would make a pretty name. while perhaps a little bizarre and unwieldy, it could easily be shortened to "tesia" (pronounced "tisha," i supposed.)

of course, my mind wanders even farther, and i start to wonder if i could get away with naming a kid "california," (shortened to "cali.") man, i am just increasing the number of arguments as to why i should not be allowed to reproduce.

some other names that my friends say violate the 8th amendment:

being a big lord of the rings geek, i have always been obsessed with the names galadriel and arwen. i read a young adult book about a girl named galadriel (except everyone called her "gilly") and i actually know someone named arwen.

when i was in a relationship, we actually thought about baby names. for fun really, considering that we were still quite young at the time, but nonetheless, there were some howlers.

sampaguita (tagalog for jasmine, the national flower) which would be paige for short.

naitadhanan (tagalog for fated) which would be shortened to nai

clearly, there is something wrong with me.

23:13:03 14 Jan 2004 > > permalink > 6 comments

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quizilla, quizilla, quizilla

You are Dylan Thomas - a poet who lives to spite the banal continuity of modern life.  You are the new word, the new voice.  You will trample on tradition, and breed a new school%
You are Dylan Thomas - a poet who lives to spite
the banal continuity of modern life. You are
the new word, the new voice. You will trample
on tradition, and breed a new school of poetry.

Which Dead Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(sighted on barbara jane's new blog)

21:14:24 14 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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the otso-otso revisited

this meme just won't die, will it? as Ernie first pointed out, it seems to have been inspired by Beyonce Knowlés. there is a description by Manuel (as well as a stick-figure instructional animation), and political commentary on last days of the republic. and, incidentally, Angie unwittingly provides more evidence that the otso-otso was created by Beyoncé (watch the white guy carefully, and listen to Steve Harvey's commentary) and that the anti-copyright infringement ads they have on TFC are therefore ironic and a tad hypocritical. (P.S. copyright infringement is not stealing! Exaggerating only makes you lose credibility. I'm pretty sure no Filipino recording artist is living in a nipa hut or in a shanty on top of Smoky Mountain, or in Olongapo next to the toxic waste the U.S. left there.)

20:59:45 14 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 5 comments

Sun, 11 Jan 2004

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grease the wheels

"gotta grease the wheels of the economy to keep it running" my communist sister declaimed sarcastically as she bought that new outfit with money that she didn't have earned from the job that she hadn't been offerred the paycheck that she wasn't given for the 4 hours of work she did each day putting it on in full view of the banner of che guevarra hanging on her bedroom wall

still, sunlight streams through the windowpanes through the muck and the grime smeared upon the glass I cast an eye out to the freeway traffic down below yup, the machine's still running

bought the uniform of the Establishment today not one, but two straight-jackets to put on so I can dance for the Man in hilarious hopes of dancing my debt away

I admit it I do not understand the Man Why is it that they scream bloody murder when we give an extra million to the teachers and a million to the healers to help them do their work another million to the poor and the old, to those who cannot help themselves even when the coffers are full, the treasury is overflowing

but when we lay mired in ruinous debt we borrow billions upon billions to give to the butchers, the rapists, and the thieves call slaughter liberation holocaust victory and fear courage and security say that fences lining the borders, our "land of the free" say that those armed with AKs and 9-millimeters facing a horde of hungry, desperate, unarmed people "we are the home of the brave"

I am the prophet of a new religion give thanks to the Reagan, for he is good and the Nixon who came before him who proclaimed "I am not a crook" For only the wealthy are righteous and the poor should be swept from the earth this Bush is idiotic, but he is not consumed And as it was to the father, so is to the son and so in every church sanctuary, let there be a missile to commemorate the sacrifice of Lockheed and McDonnel-Douglas let the holy sacrament be bullets and a gun not my body and blood but yours he who is persecuted because he believes in the 2nd amendment be blessed

blessed are you who are mean in spirit your kingdom shall be better than God's blessed are you who rejoice in massacring the weak for the dead are not vengeful, and your sins will remain unpaid blessed are you who are arrogant and ignorant you shall usurp the whole earth blessed are you who despise those who hunger and thirst handouts are for the weak and lazy blessed are you who show no mercy for it is the merciful who are slaughtered, the just who are slain blessed are you who are purely greedy the wheels of the economy must remain greased blessed are the warmakers the armsdealers, the bombmakers the murderers and sadists for you shall be called the sons of the Dollar blessed are you who are persecuted because of your selfish beliefs oh, blessed, blessed, are you

America, America, where art thou, country that I once loved? To your shores of opportunity came my ancestors with hope and faith that you were just and true I remember Lady Liberty, standing alone upon that isle "give me your tired and your poor" embracing the huddled masses yearning to be free I used to Dream of you, America I used to believe now that dream has left me I wake to the bitter dawn unveiling human nature so help me, God

14:22:27 11 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

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I am become Death

not blame nor recompense no assuagement, no consolation, nor your brutal pity just a fair retelling of this grievious tale

the words are all that are left the tainted residue charred ash upon bone white scrawl, sprawl, scritch-scratch breaks the silence

los alamos

the consuming blight of the land and of the fisherking's body and my heart, my soul leaking out in fitful coughs blood flecks upon my lips still i stand wasted upon the hallowed hearth wastelands all around

waiting for the light to shine furtive rasp of flint on steel the wind steals the last bits of tinder

the gray is worse than the darkness and still the sky bleeds white, then whiter the sun only rises in my memory but i do not feel her comforting warmth upon my skin

trod the empty plain cattle long gone to slaughter ice in my breath blood freezing i sneeze still-frame, silence death delivered in a million tiny droplets even death dies in the void oh God, the hills are no nearer

i heeded the siren's song fled wildly into the barren desert (and though barren, the hardy grasses cling jealously to the ground steal every tiny sip of water--in this empty place it is kill or be killed they cannot hear you scream) saw visions, knowing only that i am sunstruck my empty gaze reaching into the cosmos and all the stars are burning at once until all i see is light

the treacherous ground finally betrays me stone against skull (crashing together like flint and steel) my heart, my soul, seeps onto the earth

though sightless, my eyes still harbor embers fading as the starlight burns away everything

14:16:19 11 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 10 Jan 2004

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compiling gaim with ssl

in order for gaim to connect to MSN, you need to have some form of SSL compiled in. I hear that mozilla's headers contain what you need, but the instructions to compile gaim with ssl by mike styne (as recommended by the gaim maintainers) describe compiling it on OS X with gnutls. good luck, and may the source be with you. (sorry, I couldn't resist.)

21:09:22 10 Jan 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 1 comments

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more personality tests



What Classic Movie Are You?


What Famous Leader Are You?

How disturbing. This only further corroborates the notion that I am doomed. (It doesn't help than an ex-girlfriend once compared me to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights)

13:43:07 10 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

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plodding onward

This entry was, for better or worse, inspired by today's entry on Incidental Findings (scroll down or browse the archives, as there are no permalinks.)

On one hand, I am somewhat disturbed that my thoughts don't ever reach this level of discourse. I am not thinking of relationships not because I've reached some sort of spiritual peace, but because there are even more basic issues to consider. (Bear with me.)

Now everyone should now that health care professionals are the worst patients to take care of, the least compliant, the most recalcitrant, the unhealthiest, etc., etc. So it should be no surprise that I left the house without taking my meds today. (Of course, there was that unmarked white van that seemed to be observing me as I left the house today, making me want to get away from the house as quickly as possible, but we will get into my paranoid delusions later.)

I was OK for maybe a couple of hours. I had a bizarre craving for Chicken McNuggets. Instead of going to the MickeyDs (Hmmm. How do you transliterate that properly?) that I usually go to, I spaced out and completely overshot it. So instead I decided to go to the one in downtown Glendale. After getting my grease fix, I went over to the Marketplace, and had what I considered an out-of-the-ordinary exchange with the barista at the Starbucks (Have mercy on me! I'm just a fallible human, after all!)

Barista: Do you want room for cream? Me: Nah, it's OK. Barista (incredulously): You drink your coffee black? Me: (for some reason, reticent) Err, yeah. [Usually, I do take cream, but for some reason I didn't want to argue about it] Barista: All right. You want anything to eat with that? Me: Nah, I'm good. Barista: Are you sure? Me: Yeah. Barista: Maybe next time? Me: Sure. Barista: Promise? Me: Um. (amused uncertainty) Promise.

In any case, I left the Starbucks and sat down at a table outside. (Again, note the unhealthiness.) I then proceeded to have a cigarette, except my lighter wouldn't work, so I had to borrow a light. One cigarette turned to two, and I sat staring, thinking. About what, I can't exactly remember, but at some point I realized how extraordinarily tired I am. Not necessarily physically tired or drowsy, but psychically weary. The kind of soul-weariness usually reserved for survivors of horrific tragedy. The kind of inability to rest and heal that Frodo Baggins experienced (for those people familiar with The Return of the King, book or movie.) After thinking to myself, I'm so tired, I immediately also thought, I'm never going to find anywhere to rest.

Now granted, I've been through a lot in the past year. Or two. Or three. Or four. (I mean, if you had the wherewithal to read through this blog from the very beginning, you'd see what I mean. Now my writing style is not necessarily the most lucid, and I have this annoying habit of refusing to give names to people, even imaginary names, so that I tend to begin stories with pronouns without ever giving an antecedent, and I also have this annoying habit of getting sidetracked by irrelevant details, so that I ramble on and on until most people wonder what the point is, and I tend to talk about sensitive issues rather obliquely, but, yeah, read my blog. Hehe.) But I mean, realistically, I really shouldn't feel like this. Like Sisyphus, with no joy in whatever I do, just rolling that stone up that hill, only to watch it roll down again. At that juncture today, if you asked me what made me happy in the past four years, what made it worth enduring the rigors and sometimes outright torture of medical school, I would've been at a loss. Nothing would've come to mind. All I would've been able to remember is the intense, often self-inflicted, mental anguish, the bonecrushing loneliness, and the bitter, bitter cold, both literally and spiritually. Only the darkness, the emptiness.

Oh, it gets better.

I finish my second cigarette, and hoof it over to the Borders, whereupon I get enthralled by all sorts of linguistic books that I can't afford and will never have the time to even open the covers of, much less read. Nonetheless, after a couple of hours of aimlessly wandering the shelves and a lot of zoning out, I ended up buying them. Then I headed out to Fry's in Burbank. Right about now, you might discern that I have some sort of penchant for punishment.

Nothing is worse than trying to stave off a mental breakdown at an electronics store. For starters, there are a lot of weird people there. The last thing you want to do, particularly if your self-esteem is flagging, is to be the weirdest one there. I make it through the returns line OK, despite some inexplainable self-consciousness. I start browsing through the networking section, looking for a PCI wireless card. And then it hits me. The tears start welling up, and if I weren't so morbidly depressed, I might have laughed at how ludicrous I was being. Objectively, I could tell that there was no reason for me to be sad at this point, but nonetheless, I felt like the weight of the world was collapsing upon my back. My inner self-dialog (no, I was not having auditory hallicinations) started to tell me that I wasn't going to make it.

I ended up wandering through almost every square inch of that godforsaken place, in search of what, I don't know. Maybe salvation. Heh. Unlikely. At the end, I started feeling a touch of agoraphobia, and for some reason, I kept running into some serious weirdos, so it was a good time to make my exit.

Needless to say, I felt rather ragged, like I had been dragged across an asphalt-covered parking lot strewn with broken glass. And of course, all I could think of were negative thoughts. For example, like, my god, the day isn't even close to being over.

The waning sunlight did nothing to ease my cares.

Still, I made it home without mishap. The white van wasn't waiting for me. I hurriedly took my pills, and decided to go for a walk around my neighborhood until they kicked in. By the time I got back, I was feeling decidedly better. Not happy, to be sure, but at least not suicidally depressed. I suppose the state that I'm in when I do manage to take my meds is what they call "serotonin fatigue." I find myself somewhat apathetic and unable to efficiently organize my time, but there is no emotional component to it. I'm just numb, really. Which is, sad to say, preferrable to what happened today.

(I figure I should get to the white van before you think I'm a stark raving loony. Let's just say that I posted something on the Internet that wasn't exactly complimentary to our reigning commander-in-chief, and I started having paranoid vibes that They were coming to get me. Seriously, if people are being visited by state troopers for inquiring about the availability of Microsoft Flight Simulator at their local Staples, and people are being treated as social lepers and evoking the mistrust of their fellow citizens by the simple act of reading an almanac, I don't think it's completely paranoid to worry about getting carted off for bad-mouthing the president, U.S. Constitution notwithstanding. The verb to disappear, in its transitive form, comes to mind. Of course, I suppose they could've been just robbers, or, wonder of wonders, legitimate repair workers. The latter being doubtful since I drove off away from them, circled around, and tried to catch them from behind. Needless to say, by the time I had gotten back to my house, they were gone. I know they were there, though, because my dogs started barking like maniacs. I suppose I could've hallucinated the entire episode, but, despite everything, I'm not that crazy, at least not yet, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

Anyway, back to my depressive episode. I remember being appalled at how much it hurt. If that's how I've been feeling for all this time before I started taking the happy pills, no wonder it's been a long and arduous climb. I mean, seriously, it would be the psychic equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest with shackles and weights attached to your ankles, and no supplemental oxygen to boot. And I remember thinking that, if I have to live with that horrific pain and sorrow again, I am clearly not going to make it.

Ah, me. Better living through chemistry.

I wish I knew what the hell is wrong with me, but knowing the cause is not going to help. I've just got to keep believing that some day, it will all be OK. Not perfect, but at least better than this.

So, yeah, this is the reason why I can't even seriously consider getting involved with anyone, because I am such an emotional and psychiatric train wreck at this point. There's no need to drag anyone under the water with me.

Still, I've got to say, I'm so much better at giving advice than taking it. For some reason, I can give hope to other people (yes, really, I can, I've been told so, so don't worry, I'm not going to be a hazard to the people I treat) yet I can't take any for myself. I don't understand it.

Jesus sweet Christ. Things have to get better. I am seriously feeling stretched out and worn down.

00:50:48 10 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Fri, 09 Jan 2004

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what is macosx?

A good overview of Mac OS X intended to dispel certain misconceptions. The author assumes you have a good grounding in various operating systems, particularly UNIX or UNIX-like OSes.

20:23:20 9 Jan 2004 > /computers/macosx > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 07 Jan 2004

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words

eventually, it's all a game shuffling numbers through gates and pulses of lightning through arborized tangles

just for the sound of it the way the tongue slides, curves and flexes the throat rattles, hums, thrums

sing a song of sixpence, pocket full of rye

this dizzy dance of meaning and sound separating then in close embrace meaning flirts with the silly sing-song noises teases, leaving to the imagination escapes the ballroom at midnight, leaving behind only a glass slipper an idea the words crowd around, trying to see if it fits barely avoiding shattering it in tiny sharp shards meaning's fragrance lingers, the memories fading only the transient joy, when I held you in my arms takes root in the mind idee fixee

like a stray electric current causing an errant magnetic field everything swirls and spins around it circling the drain toilet bowl flushing vital fluids fleeing the body prepare to evacuate the light at the end of the tunnel beckons

sometimes all it takes is an electric shock a veritable bolt of lightning to realize that it's all in your mind to realize that no matter what you do in the world or what it does to you everything that is, as far as you're concerned lies painted in impressionistic strokes across a canvas of convoluted, grey goo lurking somewhere behind your eyes

11:36:09 7 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 06 Jan 2004

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science, the first amendment, the simpsons, and stupidity

23:14:42 6 Jan 2004 > /blog-bites > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 04 Jan 2004

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hitchhiker's guide quotes collection

Incidentally, I found the HHGttG quote on this site.

20:50:20 4 Jan 2004 > /quotes > permalink > 1 comments

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chasing my tail

Random thoughts on this Feast of the Epiphany:

It's not that I'm not over you. It's that I'm not over being betrayed. —hypothetical response to an ex-girlfriend, regarding the question as to why I haven't hooked up with anyone in a long time

Here I am, thinking that I've made some progress, but perusing some old entries in my blog, I realize that I am still a nut case. I think the only real improvement is that I'm more amusing at parties. Though, usually at the expense of my dignity.

Crazy wild things are afoot. Only, if things follow the traditional pattern of my life, these things will remain tramelled only in my mind, and everyone will—rightly so—think I'm crazy.

Times like this make me think of Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

Arthur felt happy. He was terribly pleased that the day was for once working out so much according to plan. Only twenty minutes ago he had decided he would go mad, and now here he was already chasing a Chesterfield sofa across the fields of prehistoric Earth. —from Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

Stark raving insanity is oh-so-very tempting at this juncture.

18:56:24 4 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 1 comments

Sat, 03 Jan 2004

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a good day

(Title courtesy of Ice Cube)

So, despite accomplishing almost nothing of what I needed to accomplish today, despite spending money that I do not have, despite flaking on two of the three people I tried to meet up with today, I must say, today (or, more accurately, yesterday) was a good day (I'm pretty sure I've miscounted, because I've only mentioned two other good days in my blog [1][2]. At least, I hope I've miscounted, otherwise that would be very, very sad.)

There is something wrong with me. I have to stop believing this. Even if it's true. (OK, B? Hehe.)

My God. I can't even write proper sentences. I've had to make a correction for every paragraph I've typed.

Anyway, I've got to remember that nothing is ever completely futile, and that nothing is ever wasted. There is a reason for everything, even if it's not a really good or even logical reason. (Because I do not believe that electrons have feelings or free-will, and yet they are perhaps the most important determinants of what is going to happen next. But I blather nonsensically.)

This was supposed to be a short entry, but I am rambling on and on and on....

OK, I'll stop now.

21:48:18 3 Jan 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Thu, 01 Jan 2004

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hope springs eternal

small victories, like firefly sparks like flickering embers smouldering sunlight is not so easily extinguished

treading upon that ancient path (there and back again) dimly lit, the corridors of memory and time ascending and descending those rotting stairs of the ivory tower clarity like lightning flashes than sightless stillness groping in the dark for the way forward the doorways and passages still faintly familiar

the abyss looms ahead but we knew that ere we started this journey the abyss is the end of all journeys but, as the Sages say, the journey is not about the end

in the quiet darkness, my soul unmoving like a baby stillborn in the womb the words are all there is the words are all that matter

no, not dead, just sleeping slow, frozen sleep dreaming of nameless horrors and hopeless doom imprisoned in this chrysalis of life-stealing ice

like a seed sown into the ground ere winter frost

i must wait for the thaw

14:50:21 1 Jan 2004 > /poetry > permalink > 0 comments