My random thought of the day (aka What if the Wachowski brothers have a lot more intelligence than we give them credit for?):

It is common knowledge that the movie The Matrix got its title from the scrolling rows of numbers that fly by that little screen they're always watching, right? But what if there's an alternate reason for the title - a matrix can also be a table of data. Data are sets of hard facts upon which we base our assumptions (ie: a mold). What we choose to define as fact, our basic assumptions (ie: gravity pulls us toward the earth, the sun will rise the next day, giant robots are not using us as mere power cells for their post-apocalyptic civilization), define reality. Not everyone interprets everything the same, because not everyone has the same basic assumptions through which they filter life.

Some see an urban/rural world dominated by humans.

Others see a wasteland where the few remaining free humans are chased down by giant metal squids.

I say potato, you say potatoe.

It's late. I've been studying for days, only taking breaks to eat, sleep, node, and buy my father a birthday card. He's well past the half-century mark now, and showing no signs of fading. And after I post the card, I come back home and pull out the ol' acoustic guitar he gave me a long time ago, rummaging through the gig bag for something new to play.

There's a book of Irish ballads in there. It used to be his, but I'm sure he doesn't need it anymore: he must know all of these by heart. We used to play "The Fields of Athenry" every time I came home, him on his Stratocaster and me on the keyboard... and here's "Limerick You're a Lady," and God, I probably haven't heard "Sean South from Garryowen" since we saw Limerick thrash Cork way back when.

And then there's one I remember from the old man's Paddy Reilly tapes, back when I was in single digits...

Raised on songs and stories, heroes of renown,
The passing tales and glories that once was Dublin Town.
The hallowed halls and houses, the haunting children's rhymes,
That once was Dublin City in the rare ould times.
Ring-a ring-a rosey, as the light declines,
I remember Dublin City in the rare ould times.

He came to this country because he married American. Right before I was born, he gave up his flat in Dublin and his job with Aer Lingus. He worked a million jobs: fixing cars, building houses, pulling Bobcats out of cypress trees. And then, back before I can even remember, he got a job with a big airline, and took us from Florida to Oklahoma.

Every image I've ever had of him involves his mechanic's uniform. Back when I was three, I wrote: I love my daddy when he goes to work and comes back tomorrow. He always came back tomorrow, with his lunchbox in his hand, as I was in the living room with Lego bricks all over the floor. That was how I knew him.

Now, I'm older. Now, he's older. Now, his company is getting over an executive compensation scandal, and it's a few days away from bankruptcy, and he's probably a few days away from being downsized out of his career. But back then, I didn't read Motley Fool or watch CNBC. He just came home tomorrow, and that was it.

My name it is Sean Dempsey, as Dublin as can be
Born hard and late in Pimlico, in a house that ceased to be.
By trade I was a cooper, lost out to redundancy,
Like my house that fell to progress, my trade's a memory.
Ring-a ring-a rosey, as the light declines,
I remember Dublin City in the rare ould times.

We lived in North Carolina for a few years, in a white house with green shutters... he painted it. When I wasn't exploring the creek or smashing Hot Wheels into each other, I would go out to where he was working on one of several Volkswagens, and maybe hit the pedal for him so he could check the new brake lights. He always came home tomorrow.

Then, one morning in fifth grade, he woke me up early. Mom had had a terrible stomachache in the middle of the night, and we needed to go to the hospital. That was the last time I wasn't scared of the hospital. After that, she kept going back, and she kept getting a different diagnosis. The hives came, then the tumors, then the operations.

We moved to South Florida when I was still in middle school, and it was there that one day, I was called to the office, and he was sitting there, suddenly small, and I didn't know what to think until he hugged me and told me. And we were both silent going down Interstate 595 to the hospital where she lay.

I didn't cry at her funeral, and neither did he. The days just blended together after that. He would disappear at night and resurface in the morning, as though he had gotten lost somewhere along the line, and I would disappear into the baud until my eyes turned red and my body cried out. But still, he came home tomorrow, and that was all I needed to know.

And I courted Peggy Dignan, as pretty as you please,
A rogue and a Child of Mary, from the rebel Liberties,
I lost her to a student chap, with skin as black as coal,
When he took her off to Birmingham, she took away my soul.
Ring-a ring-a rosey, as the light declines,
I remember Dublin City in the rare ould times.

His job mattered less and less as the company grew more and more corrupt and more and more mismanaged, but he still went every day. In fact, he met his new wife on the employee bus. We left our house in the suburbs, and moved to a high-rise by the Atlantic shore, looking out across the ocean toward the island of yore.

I went to Japan and then I finished high school and then I packed and then I left. But I would still come back over the holidays to see my friends, even though they were growing fewer and farther between. My best friend capitalized on his right of return and moved to Jerusalem: my old sweetheart disappeared, my favorite English teacher died, my friends from middle school were all on drugs, and my friends from Japan were all thousands of miles away in every direction.

I can feel myself getting old, even though I know I'm too young to be old. Even the people who are older than me look like children now.

The years have made me bitter, the gargle dims my brain,
'Cause Dublin keeps on changing, and nothing seems the same.
The Pillar and the Met have gone, the Royal long since pulled down,
As the great unyielding concrete makes a city of my town.
Ring-a ring-a rosey, as the light declines,
I remember Dublin City in the rare ould times.

Now, I don't think about my father coming home tomorrow. He thinks about me coming home tomorrow. I know that all the Guinness and Jet A won't bode well for him in the long run, and I know that it won't be long before there's no home to go home to.

But I know that in a couple of days, he'll have his Strat, and I'll have my keyboards, and we'll have another session. Now, we're both old. We both remember the rare ould times, and the rare ould times will live with us until he and I are buried in the family plot in Kilbehenny, in the shadow of Galtymore where it all started. And when he goes, I know what I'll say:

Fare thee well sweet Anna Liffey, I can no longer stay,
And watch the new glass cages, that spring up along the Quay.
My mind's too full of memories, too old to hear new chimes,
I'm part of what was Dublin, in the rare ould times.
Ring-a ring-a rosey, as the light declines,
I remember Dublin City in the rare ould times.

The night air feels cooler now, and the guitar can wait. Only two more exams to go, and then the freeway will take me home. I can see tomorrow already, and I can see home on the horizon.

"the rare ould times" by pete st john

Stupid Girl

You pretend you're high
You pretend you're bored
You pretend you're anything
Just to be adored
And what you need
Is what you get

I wish I still smoked sometimes, because craving a cigarette is like craving poison, and every time you light up you know you are killing your self slowly, and you feel connected to the rest of the human race. People do that, act self destructive and masochistic. Now that I don’t smoke, I sometimes feel I have lost some part of my humanity. In fact, I never even crave cigarettes any more. As in wanting to light up just for the sake of having one. That is not normal, like I don’t know what an addiction feels like any more. The most addictive substance, more so than heroin, and I just stopped one day. So much for humanity there. I wish I still smoked so I would still crave something.

Don't believe in fear
Don't believe in faith
Don't believe in anything
That you can't break

I wish I was in love so I could hurt, it’s strange, I never really do any more, it’s like I know that none of it really matters so I just watch it unfold. I do a damn good job faking those emotions though. I guess here I am suppose to get upset, here I am suppose to cry, here, insert romantic interlude. Its funny – because most people end up perceiving me as very human, reactive, neurotic to some extend when it comes to interactions, they just don’t realize that it’s fake, like when you do make-up for a play, everything is exaggerated, I just know how I am suppose to act, what the script says, and I exaggerated it for a solid performance.

You stupid girl
You stupid girl
All you had you wasted
All you had you wasted

Applause, another day well done Susie.

Do I really care is the question… I used to think I generally got upset over what people thought of me, and repressed it. Now I know I just don’t care. It’s not a defense mechanism, it’s just the truth. I feel so disconnected from the rest of the world, becauseI don’t care. What drives you on (What drives you on)
Can drive you mad (Can drive you mad)
A million lies to sell yourself
Is all you ever had

It’s hard to realize that you are really a very unemotional person, that all your reactions are an act based from watching TV. Your life plays out according to a script and you smile and nod when you should, you cry, when the cue cards tell you to.

So recently I stopped this bullshit, I stopped pretending to be happy, pretending to be upset, pretending to be anything, now I just am, and suddenly no one is recognizing me.

From a conversation late last night:
Me: “Maybe I am a mean person…”
L: “Yes, you are…” Me “I don’t think I could ever change it, but I can keep pretending…”
L: “……..”

I have also been informed that I am condensending, that I make people feel insecure. And I come off like I hate everyone. I don’t, but I stopped pretending to care, so maybe it’s precieved as dislike.

Don't believe in love
Don't believe in hate
Don't believe in anything
That you can't waste

Ah, and other people, like cigarettes, I chose those that hurt me because it’s like being a death junkie, and if it still hurts, so I must still be alive. Except nothing hurt or feels good. Fake tears, fake romances, fake conversations.

You stupid girl
You stupid girl
Can't believe you fake it
Can't believe you fake it

Things will happen, and I thinkI should cry now and I cry, I know when to let the tears spill, how to run my hand down my cheek and wipe it away pretending to want to hide it. I know those emotions so well they may have been my own, except they aren’t, just a well rehearsed play.

Don't believe in fear
Don't believe in pain
Don't believe in anyone
That you can't tame

Things will happen, people will say “gee, you seemed so upset about this and that, but now you are really hiding it well, you must be a strong person” and I think “I am not hiding it, I just don’t care, I cannot fake pain in the long run… Everything is in one dimension. I am never hurt, just an error in the logic, this person did not continue with the script, they are now out.

All you had you wasted
All you had you wasted
You stupid girl
You stupid girl

How can you cut people out of your life so easily? You are strong, or cold” they say.

You stupid girl
You stupid girl

Neither, I am neither, just am…. Except people forgive, people hurt and move on and do contradictory things because they are human, I, on the other hand, just know the expected responses, like I am preprogrammed, and when there is nothing to recall the program, I freeze.

Can't believe you fake it
Can't believe you fake it

When nothing is happing, I don’t know how to act, please Run Task Manager, programs not responding, please end task and reboot.

Except I felt lonely last night, for the first time in ages I felt some inkling of emotion that was undefined by careful algorithms of the expected.

I am scared… I think I am very fucked up in the head.

You stupid girl…

Let me tell you about my night... or

Fire trucks, Paramedics, Hazmat, Oh My!
Policemen, An Arrest, DOE, Oh My!

(Spoiler: Before the few who know me here worry, let me start this out with - nobody received so much as a broken finger nail in the events of this story)

Spring Cleaning

That's how it all started, my roommate and I were cleaning up the backyard. I found a large green duffle bag between the storage shed and the garage. I opened it up to see what was in it and, oh my gawd, the smell just about knocked me out. I tell my roommate it smells 'like' ammonia, he says it's just cat piss on the bag. I said no way, there's no way that's cat piss. He insists it is and has to go check it out. Oh guess what? He believed me then! Inside this green duffle bag was a big tank. So we call the fire department to find out who to call to check it out - it's clearly not something that should be in our backyard.

The fire department said for us to stay out of the backyard and they'd have someone over. At that time - I went downstairs to inform my tenants in the duplex, so they wouldn't worry when men in masks show up. My roommate had apparently already told them.

Overkill?

About 10 minutes later a big fire truck shows up, then another big fire truck, then a paramedic truck, then another fire truck. That was it for a few minutes. Till another fire truck, a first responder rig, and a hazardous waste (hazmat) truck shows up. We live across the street from a grade school, this being after 3:00, that side of the street had no cars. By the time they were done the block from one end of the other was covered with trucks. They cordone off the street on both ends, and the alley on both ends. At this time I'm thinking to myself, gawd what if I am wrong and it is cat piss on a bag, but geez a swimming pool full of cat piss would not smell like this had, so I was hoping they were not bringing out the Calvary for a little cat piss. They ask us a few questions then go about putting on the hazmat suits. About 10 minutes later they come back and put big red 'danger danger danger' strips of tape across the side of the house to keep people out.

What was it?

I've certainly never had a meth lab, but apparently it was a tank of almost pure ammonia, something called anhydrous ammonia, which is poisonous and highly flammable. (What I gathered from their talking is store bought ammonia is 2% pure, and the stuff in this tank is up to 98% pure). This makes sense to me because the first thing they asked when I said it smelled like ammonia is "like you buy in the store?" and I said, no like 100X stronger than that! The tank had corroded so the ammonia was leaking out. They searched the property further and found nothing else related. They said they had to call in the Department of Ecology (DOE), because they couldn't move the tank until they packed it in ice. (I believe they were referring to dry ice.)

The Arrest

While all this was going on 3 police cars and an unmarked detective car shows up. (They had to park on our side of the street, the other side was full of firetrucks , etc.) This material apparently is not found usually outside a farm unless it's for a meth lab, so they had to find out the names of all who lived in my house. So me and my roommate gave them our names, and they asked for the names of the folks who lived downstairs. I gave them the name of the male who lives downstairs, they didn't ask for further info and I knew the gal had an outstanding warrant for a traffic ticket, so I was glad they didn't ask me. Now they go to their door just as a formality, the gal is asked her name and she gave them her real name. The police went to look the property over further and then came back, knocked on her door and said "Your under arrest" - The thing is, why the heck did she stay there? If it were me and I knew police would be showing up and I had a warrant and didn't wish to go to jail, I would have left and went to a movie or something! Anyhow the problem with this, is the whole neighborhood was watching. The entire block was covered with emergency vehicles, cops, etc., so when someone is taken off the property in handcuffs it is going to look like they were involved in something very serious. I still have no idea why she didn't leave, or didn't answer the door - now she's going to end up in jail till at least Monday and probably lose the new job she just got, because apparently they "Won't let her out on OR, because she has a FTA". What a night. at least I didn't have any warrants!

The End

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