Every human is different. It's part of the gene pool and part of the beauty that is humanity. I might disagree with you, you might like men, while I like women; you might smoke while I don't (anymore). Whatever it is, there are differences among us. I know I am different from the majority reading this.

I want to feel sad. I don't want to be depressed; oh no, never do I want to go that far, but I want to feel sad. You see, my grandfather on my mother's side is diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. He was in the fifth percentile the first time, so I dunno what percentile he is in with the second, let alone the third. My parents have already done their duties. My mother has busied herself with finding a proper home for them. Not a nursing home, but a place to live.

My grandparents have lived in Florida for over ten years now. Like Conan O'Brien joked, it is life's end zone. Bit I'll try and be serious here. From the sound of things, my grandfather is going to have a trachiotomy so he can breathe. This ultimately means a feeding tube and a whole bunch of shit you'd never wish on your enemies, unless you really really hated them, or their name was Adolf Hitler, but again I digress

My parents have been making plans for a place for my grandparents, but, by the sound of things, mostly my grandmother, Giselle. It doesn't sound like grandpa has long left in this world, but he's 82. He's lived longer than I hope to, and he's fought in WWII, which makes him my official hero.

I'm drunk, and I'm rambling, but I really don't care, and neither do you, because you're going to upvote this because you feel sympathetic. I don't give a shit. I want to feel sad. I don't feel anything right now. I didn't feel anything when "the news broke." Fuck, I didn't feel anything when I heard my Dad's Father died. Shit, I didn't even tear when I saw him in the coffin.

Do I think something is wrong, no, I know there is. I've never had a strong connection with my family, ever. My dad's been busy with work since before I was even born. He's an orthopedic surgeon, so I guess he has to be. While this has disenfranchised me, it makes me jealous more than anything else. And no, not jealous of the kids who's dad's played catch with them, my dad did that too, he even took me to Red Sox games. I just wish I had his work ethic.

I dunno where this going. I'm 7 beers into the evening and I don't have to drive, where are you? The image of my dad's father in his coffin is burnt into my brain. The only memory of my Mother's Father is bringing me a Transformer when I was young, maybe 8, the one that turns into the microscope. The other memory I have is later than that, my teenage years, you know, the rebellious ones. We were playing pool and I snuck the cue ball behind the 8 ball. He told me I was playing Jap pool. I didn't get it at the time, but I did when I started studying World War II.

Is he old? Yes. Has he lived a good life? I'd say so. I just wish I could help him. Besides donating my throat I dunno what I could do. Will I miss Grandpa, Yes. Will I be sad, I doubt it.

Here's to those growing old, and those feeling young. Be happy, be sad, just don't smoke a pipe for the majority of your life, I beg of you. I don't mean to be a downer, things just happened that way.

Today's business hours came and went without a phone call from the lender. We went to look at the house again; I told her we were just looking, but honestly, I think I went to say goodbye to it. Sounds corny as hell, but in that regard, nobody's opinion but mine matters. I've never owned a house, and never thought I'd be able to. For awhile here, I believed my renting days were over, but thanks to this crap, I'm convinced I'm doomed to live an apartment life forever. I felt that one long, last look at a dream I almost achieved was the least the world owed me for taking it away from me again.

At this point the house is effectively finished. There's a few little things left, but the paint is touched up, the floors are vacuumed and swept, all the circuits are live, gas is hooked up, and the appliances are ready. Just wish it were mine.

We got the builder involved; she asked how the closing went, and I answered. "No closing yet; they cancelled it and haven't rescheduled. Have you heard anything?" This piqued her curiosity, since, as their "preferred lender" they'd have called up the builder's sales office the instant the loan "fell through", and she hadn't heard anything. Maybe with the builder asking questions, we'll finally get some answers. I don't look forward to those answers, and I'm considering getting a lawyer involved if the answer is "no," (fair housing, truth in lending, all that crap), but I need to know; no more waiting. I can't take another weekend of worrying about the mortgage approval.

Whether we get this house or not, I intend to put my writing skills to their ultimate test by writing the nastiest letter ever, to the lender, the Better Business Bureau, and anyone else I can think of who might care, explaining just how nasty this rollercoaster ride has been. Nobody deserves this crap. I understand there's lots of money involved in this, but people deserve a consistent answer. Tell me what I need to do, and I'll try to do it. If I succeed, don't change your mind and throw other requirements in my face less than a week from closing. Don't tell me I'm approved if I'm not.

I've noticed my recent Day Log entries have drawn plenty of downvotes. There's more upvotes than downvotes (thanks for the upvotes, folks), but there's enough downvotes for me to take notice and scratch my head. I was under the impression Day Logs were intended for rant-style entries that weren't appropriate for general nodes. If I missed something, let me know. If you're just downvoting me for shits and grins, you could at least let me know WTF bugs you about these entries. I'm sorry my recent days haven't been exciting or interesting enough... although I don't intend to do anything about that, as I've had quite enough excitement for a good long time.

Are our NYC (and surrounding) area noders doing all right? Not that I expect them to answer for themselves, but...

At about 5PM Eastern time yesterday, a power failure in or around New York state caused a ripple effect that's blacked out entire cities from New York City as far as Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, plus a big chunk of Ontario. It seems to have only moved east and northeast of NYC, so places like Washington, D.C. are unaffected. This is described as the largest blackout that North America has ever seen, period.

Kind of fascinating from an engineering perspective, really. The analysis as I've heard it so far is that when the failure occurred at one point in upstate New York, it caused areas of the power grid to basically surge to meet the increased demand from neighboring areas. To protect themselves from damage caused by that surge of demand, those neighboring grids shut down automatically...and repeat as necessary. So strictly speaking, the blackouts happened because the grid did exactly what it was supposed to do.

This morning I expected to hear all sorts of bad news from the New York City area, but so far it seems like everything's going well. It's been a hot couple of days there, but I suppose that's better than a freezing one. Office workers in Manhattan put their post-9/11 training to use by evacuating their skyscrapers in a calm and orderly manner, police officers began regulating traffic as the subway system stood paralyzed, and people unable to commute home slept in offices, with friends, even outdoors.

I expected tales of massive and widespread looting all across the city. But after spending a whole night without power, it looks like 9/11 has honestly transformed New York City into a community we can be proud of.

The blackout left us all sitting around, wondering what to do. We all had a bunch of work to do (I had a couple of deadlines I had been fending off myself), but realized that nothing was going to happen without power. When it first happened, the lights in the office flickered as first one phase failed and recovered, then the other, and then all power died. I tried to call my girlfriend on my cell, as she worked in Manhattan, but no luck. I then called my buddy Ted in South Carolina, and told him to get to a TV and check the news to see how wide the blackout was. He floored me when he said it went all the way to Canada, and they were still determining how wide the swath of darkness was.

I was stranded, as were a few other co-workers. Our office is on Long Island, so without the LIRR, anyone without a vehicle was pretty screwed. The roads were jammed as well, so those with cars weren't much better off, but at least they would eventually make it back home.

As it turns out, there was an extra company vehicle, which my boss offered to me to use to get home. I found out my friend Jim, our IT director, had his car in the shop. We decided that it would probably be better if I took him home and crashed on his couch instead of fighting my way to Brooklyn.

A group of us who had decided to wait until the traffic died down before trying to drive anywhere went across the street to our local happy-hour bar to get some beers. The taps were still working, so the place had a decent crowd, other people who had abandoned the thought of trying to make it back home while the traffic was so heavy.

Eventually, Jim and I made it to Huntington, where he lived. We first went to his place, but realized that with no power, it would be better to take a walk instead of sit around a dark apartment. We went to a park near the harbor, and walked around a bit, looking at the stars. The sky was relatively clear, but the almost-full Moon washed out all but Mars and the brightest stars.

I am a city dweller, and an open sky is a treat. I looked for the Big Dipper (which is an asterism, a part of the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation) or Orion (the only other group of stars I can recognize.) Finding the Dipper, I looked at my friend and said, "just think, there is nothing between us and those stars, nothing for millions and billions and trillions of miles. If we are truly alone in the universe, then there must be a God, because that means this is all for us." (I had had a beer or two by that time, and so was waxing philosophical.) It was a concept I had expressed before, and it came to me again very strongly that night. I added, “we are naked to space, sitting here with nothing to protect us, no shield, no magic word, nothing.” Jim responded dryly, “except space and time.” I had to give him that. The fact that we are so isolated is a protection in itself. Anyone who has played Spaceward Ho! or Strategic Commander knows that if two adjoining star systems are populated by different species, eventually one will overwhelm the other. In one way, we are lucky that there aren’t any (as far as we know) neighbors close enough to visit easily.

On our way back to his place, we saw neon lights working in one of the local bars, the Valencia Tavern. We assumed that the owner had the foresight to have a backup generator. We found out that some of the regulars were building contractors, and brought a couple of generators from a nearby worksite to power up the bar. The place was packed, full of people attracted by the only open bar in town (and possibly on the entire island.) We wound up staying there until midnight, leaving only because Jim wanted to be able to get up to bring our computers back online if the power came back before morning.

We talked about how dependent we are on power, and how legless we are without it. Luckily, I had a cell phone/PDA (the Handspring Treo) so I could occasionally check the internet for news, but all we found out that night was that nobody was completely sure how the blackout became so extensive. I think it’s because too many people have a NIMBY philosophy when it comes to power lines, transformer stations, and power generators. As much as I dislike Bush, he wasn’t the real culprit here, we are. NYC has tried to set up additional generation capacity in the past, but was frustrated at every turn by locals who don’t want any of it near them. We have met the enemy and they are us.

At around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, the shrill whines of the uninterruptible power supplies throughout the office signaled a power-outage. There were minor outages and squeaks of protest throughout the entire day, so we figured that it was just our shoddy electrical system, and waited for the power to reappear. As we powered down the servers, and joked around, it was becoming clear that this was bigger than our little building -- most of our cell phones did not work, either overloaded ("All Verizon circuits are busy. Please hang up and call back later.") or because of power failure somewhere in the infrastructure. The couple of people that did get through to their families reported gridlock in downtown Cleveland (the traffic lights were down), and on the I-90 and I-480 highways (as everybody rushed to get home from their dark office buildings). The Cleveland Clinic was being evacuated, all non-essential systems were being taken down, and backup generators were stepping in to provide life support.

Fortunately, my commute home runs in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic patterns. It was eerie driving through the mostly empty highways, looking over at the other side of the divide at the gridlocked southbound traffic. With no traffic lights, everybody was surprisingly polite and cautious at the intersections. Half of the radio stations were silent, the rest just played their usual annoying crap, and only one (normally all-music) station was talking about the blackout and taking callers. News were starting to trickle in that Detroit, New York, and Toronto were also hit, and that terrorism was unlikely.

My wife was home for the day, and with no batteries in the radio and no power, had no idea that anybody else outside our building was affected. I told her the news so far; we called friends and family to check up, rescued ice cream from immediate demise, and chilled out and talked. When night fell, we walked up to the roof (16 floors) of our building to watch the city. It was an amazing sight. To the north, the lake was quiet, hazy and still, with only a couple of boats running home. To the east, the skyline of downtown Cleveland was a weird patchwork of dark office towers, red blinking warning lights on the roofs, a string of headlights along the highway, but also pools of floodlights near the stadium and a couple of other places with generators. To the south, all the way to the horizon, the city was dark, save for the cars hurrying home and faint candles in the windows. It was also full of life - you could hear people talking and laughing on the nearby roofs and on the streets, as well as plenty of police and fire sirens. I was hoping to see some stars, free of the usual light pollution, but the sky was hazy and bright (an almost full moon was hiding up there somewhere), and only the brightest few were visible. On the ground, though, fireworks flashed and crackled throughout the city -- nothing official, just a bunch of enthusiasts all getting the same idea in their heads.

The rest of the night was hot and humid, filled with crickets and more sirens. The power came back up at around 8am. Google News had the usual range of reactions, from the reserved 'Power returning to the US east coast' (mostly US sources) to the frantic 'CHAOS AFTER US BLACKOUT!' and 'Power cuts cause havoc across US and Canada' of UK and Australian papers. I started to get ready for work -- it was going to be business as usual at the office, for better or worse.

August 14, 2003, was an interesting day on many levels. I spent most of the day cleaning up after other people's mistakes, fixing various problems not of my own creation, and in general, feeling completely frustrated.

I left work early, at 3 pm, and immediately got stuck on I-95 southbound. There was a multi-car accident backing up traffic for three miles. Just peachy. Perfect end to the day. I eventually got to my city and went grocery shopping, where I had even more fun. I dropped a bottle of Snapple on the floor, soaking myself with Fruit Punch. I had someone run into me with their cart and then yell at me to get the f*uck out of their way. The credit card I wanted to use couldn't be recognized by the system, so I had to write a check.

I arrived home just before 4 pm. All of the aggrevation and frustration came to the fore and I nearly kicked the cats out of my way. I (barely) restrained my temper and just yelled at them. After I had put the groceries away I turned on the air conditioner and sank into my comfy chair. I was already to cool off, relax, and try to forget one of the more annoying days I have experienced in a long while.

Air conditioner flutters; kitchen light dims.

"Oh shit," I mutter to myself, and whisper "brown outs." Just what I needed today.

The power came back full force for several minutes and then dipped again. I waited. The last thing I saw, before everything died, was the digial readout on the cable box: 4:11.

If the power is going to go out in my city it seems to go out first, and come back last, in my section, the North End. No doubt other residents of the city would disagree with my assessment. Thinking about the blackouts of the past, I decided to get in the car and drive around to see if it was just my local neighborhood or if it was the entire city. I flipped on the car radio and reports were sparse at first. I switched to New York City stations and eventually heard this blackout extened from Ontario to Ohio. I listened to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech regarding the blackout, reassuring the listening populace that the blackout was not a result of terrorism. Something I hadn't even thought of until the radio broadcasters had mentioned it. I idly wondered if we will always immediately think of terrorism every time there is a major problem. I suppose we will.

I eventually parked my car in the empty grocery store lot and listened to the various news reports. Around 7 pm, the director of the New England ISO said that power was coming on in southwestern Connecticut. I looked around. Really? Not from what I could see. I drove downtown and, sure enough, power was on in some neighborhoods. It seemed that, as usual, the North End would be the last to get it's lights back. I decided to go home.

I got back to my place around 7:45 pm and most of the condo's residents were around the newly re-opened pool. I didn't feel like hanging out with anyone, so I opened the windows and down to just a tee-shirt and undies. It was too sticky for more clothes than that. The cats whined and cried for no reason, so I just ignored them and lit some candles to ward off the gathering darkness. Fidgit felt the need to investigate one of the candles and singed his whiskers. He howled in complaint and I told him it served him right for being stupid. I was, obviously, still in a foul mood.

I sat in the candle light, all hot and sticky (and not in a good way), for what seemed like an eternity. The crowd around the pool wasn't very loud but I could tell that there were a fair number of people out there in the dark. I was thinking of throwing on some shorts and joining them when I heard someone shout

Lights! I see lights!

WTF? I thought.

I looked out the window and didn't see anything. A few minutes went by and someone else shouted they saw lights coming on. I wondered what these folks were drinking and if I was too late to get any. Several more minutes went by and the street light right outside my living room window started to glow. It was slightly eerie to see, glowing so faintly in the dark. More people started shouting about seeing lights and then they started clapping. The clock radio by my bed suddenly went off and I jumped a foot. It scared the bejesus out of the cats as well. I laughed at myself and then turned the radio onto the local station. Yankee game. Most nights I'd be thrilled to get the Yankee's on either TV or radio, but I wanted to get the time and news. I was impatient. I fiddled with the dial and found a New York station and found out they were still out of power. I didn't want to switch on all the power in my place in case of more brown outs, but I decided to switch on the television. Lights were showing in New Jersey but New York City was still mostly dark. Just the red glow of tail-lights of cars inching their way out of the city. It was 9:15 pm when I turned on the television. We had been out of power for five hours. Considering the scope of the problem, not bad.

This morning I found out that large areas were still without power and Connecticut had blown one of its major transmission cables in the early morning hours here in the southwest. We weren't out of the woods just yet. The 'blame game' began yesterday afternoon and it will continue for sometime to come. The power grid of the United States has needed a major overhaul for at least a decade, if not longer. Perhaps now it will be addressed. But I won't hold my breath.

This power outage offered me an opportunity to relax, kick back, take life a bit more slowly, even if for only five hours. Instead of heading out to the pool, going to a friend's house, going to the park to look at the stars, I sat in my hot and sticky house and grumbled. I sulked like a spoiled child.

I'm going to have to spend some time thinking about my attitude and make some adjustments. Normally, I would have taken yesterday's power outage as an opportunity to play. It was a free pass out of the work-a-day world into the freedom's usually reserved for kids on vacation from school. I missed it, which tells me there's something wrong with me.

Monday was my birthday. I'm 42, which is the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. My brother called; my mom didn't. That made me sad. She's really, really busy. When she talks about "retiring" she means cutting back to 40 hours a week. She's said in the past that she'd really like it if I found a job closer to New Hampshire. I actually looked, for a while, but I realized she still wouldn't have time for me if I lived there. She's in Ireland right now with my stepfather, but it's for work. A little bit of a vacation but mostly work. My brother and I are supposed to join her for a few days in September. I haven't bought tickets yet, which is stupid.

I've been working on a synthetic oil spill at a factory that makes the mechanical parts for swivel chairs and recliners. It's not a very big spill and the oil is mostly made of hexylene glycol, which is not too dangerous, but it happened in a small town and the neighbors are very excited and will be suing them. For me, "working on" it is much less hands-on than actually having to clean it up. More to do with oversight and monitoring of the cleanup, and preparing an enforcement case. Yesterday I conducted a standard stormwater inspection at the factory and tried to explain to their safety person that often, when you call people about official things, it's a good idea to take notes, in case you DO get sued someday. And that making actual records of things you're required to do by Federal law is pretty helpful. But it was a good day to go for a walk, and the person was a nice lady, just very disorganized. Even worse than me; the whole company is sort of ... vague. So if you have a swivel chair, maybe you shouldn't spin very fast in it or anything like that.

Last night I saw Seabiscuit, and it was good. Some scenes were filmed in Kentucky. There were some early scenes that looked a lot like parts of Utah or Idaho, but I couldn't tell. Today we were given new cell phones at work, and for lunch I and another birthday person were taken to our favorite Indian restaurant. It's hot, humid and sunny today, just like Venus. I feel like going home and playing with my cat.

so in the movies whenever people get angry/upset/frustrated, they go somewhere to be by themself and to contemplate their emotions. I got angry/upset/frustrated last night and thought I would give it a shot. I walked up a hill by my house, and I sat on a rock, and just looked out at the view. I sat there and waited for the consolation of my own self-pity to kick in, but it never did. I got bored and only wished I had someone to complain to.

The only thing this helped me to realize is that I whine a lot and I get bored easily. I didn't actually contemplate the incident that had just occured, I threw little rocks at this bigger rock until there weren't any more rocks to throw. Then I got up and went home. As soon as I walked through the front door, the feelings of rage returned. I think that this "quick-fix" for self-realization only helped me to bottle-up my emotions. The media shows "us" a situation in which one gains some-sort of self-actualization by contemplating an incident in solitude; $200,000 spent on therapy over the past 15 years begs to differ the effectiveness of this method...Either that or my therapist has been playing me for a fool.

Therapy on it's own is a crock, that's what friends are for. You really shouldn't have to pay someone to listen to you talk about what goes on in your life, and then give you advice. How on earth do these people get to be doctors? I listen to my friends and give them advice, maybe I should start billing them...

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