Wed, 31 Mar 2004

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

hope

Dum spiro, spero

While I breathe, I hope.

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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

top

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 > 1 comments

top

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

top

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