Today I went to the bank and deposited enough money so that now I can pay the rent on Monday.

This is a big deal.

This will be the first rent check I will have ever paid on my own. After college was supposed to end, I didn't graduate, but I got an apartment with some friends and started to wish I was working while in actuality sitting on my ass for 3 months and doing nothing, burning through my savings and "graduation" presents.

I refused to become an adult, kicking and screaming all the way.

15 days ago I got a job. Yesterday I got a new senior project, the one thing I have to do to graduate from college. I have also started posting here again after my hiatus, and today is also the day that, after 2.5 years, I get to be a novice here.

I guess I decided to start living.

Also, I was just told that my best friend from college is going to be back from Austria this weekend and will stay at my place.

Today was a beautiful day.

The kids went back to school today. My son started his freshman year of high school. He woke up on his own at 6:20 A.M. after three months of sleeping in. He is most concerned that he will not succeed. He's heard stories that the football players all pick on the freshmen, the American History teacher is very difficult and favors the jocks (he is one of the head coaches), and that he'll have to work harder than he ever has.

He was on his way out the door at 6:50 A.M. His mother asked him twenty questions:
"Did you brush your teeth?"
"Do you have your running clothes for practice?"
"Do you have money for lunch?"
"Do you have your bus pass?"
"Do you have notebooks and your schedule?"
And so on and so forth with him answering "yes," "YES," "YES" to each question. I swear to God we'd be lost without her sometimes. He was out the door with his backpack and skateboard. He turned once in the backyard to wave. He knew we were standing at the back window watching him go.

I left about 15 minutes later. There were groups of half awake youth at the usual corners waiting for their bus. One was coming down the road to the first group so I made an impromptu detour down a side street. There were more student riders waiting at the next corner. I saw more yellow buses before I finally got on the freeway. They're back.

Yesterday, August 27th, would have been my dad's 71st birthday. He died last September. We had a big birthday party for him when he turned 70. It was his sister and my neice's birthday too. He left me his truck with the blessings and approval of all my siblings. I let my son practice his driving skills in it after Cross Country practice. One of the other fathers and I run with the team on occasion. Last night when my son was backing into a parking space he hit the concrete base of a light pole. Neither of us saw it.

He was very upset with himself. He was calling himself stupid and retarded and said he would never be able to learn to drive. He got out and let me drive home. I told him that people learn from their mistakes and no one is grading him on his driving performance and most of all,
"No one has to know about this. This is just between you and me."
and anything else I could think of that a parent tells their kid. I checked the concrete base and couldn't find a mark but the rear bumper of the truck was pushed in a little.We got home around dusk and I turned on the range to heat up the pan of water sitting there for corn on the cob. I accidentally hit the wrong switch. I went upstairs to put on a clean shirt. When I came back down my son told me that the glass pot broke. What? Oh no, no no no, my wife just bought that. I ran to the stove and sure enough it was broken. I had turned on the burner under it instead of the pan of water. She was up the street talking to a couple of neighbor ladies. How was I going to tell her about this? She only paid 50 cents for it at a tag sale but she was really taken with it.

I'll remind her about when we talked about how if it is human it is a priority and that you can replace material items with something of like or equal value, uh, don't sweat the small stuff. My mind was in overdrive.

After a while I heard her come in the door. She said hi and told me where she had been and ran to the bathroom. After a long time (about 30 seconds) she came out and said, "You won't believe what Judy said..."
I interrupted her. I had to get this overwith. "I have something I have to tell you," I said.
She was puzzled and asked, "What?"
"Well, I had a little accident."
"Oh no, what happened? Did you hit someone?"
"Oh no, no, nothing like that."
"Well what happened?"
Wow. This was working out better than I thought. "I accidentally broke your new glass pot that you boil water in."
"That's it? I only paid 50 cents for that. My God I thought you hit someone or something."

We were standing in the kitchen now laughing about it when my son came around the corner. He was taking a basket of favorite clothes to the laundry room. He saw us laughing and smiling and said, "Did you tell her about the truck?"
I told him no we were talking about something else.

Meanwhile, school went well for him today. He thinks he'll be lucky to maintain a "C" average in American History. He may be right. I looked over the paper his teacher sent home for us to read and sign and it will be a challenge. Sometimes I wish I could go back to school. I was a major slacker. I was in the bottom 5th of my class.

When I somehow graduated from Oil City High School in 1975 I applied to a branch campus of Penn State. Before I could be admitted I had to be interviewed by the guidance counceller there. He said that I probably had not studied more than 20 hours my entire time in high school. It was a slight exageration but I agreed. I was informed that I would need to study at least 20 hours a week, or say, an hour and a half for every hour in class. I said okay. When he was done he said he personally didn't think I would make it. I asked if they were going to take me or not. Oh yes they would take me, they could always use the money.

So I started the South Beach diet yesterday. My reasons for this were twofold. The second was, of course, to lose weight—I’ve put on a good 30 pounds more than is healthy for me in the past two years. The first, the reason I’m going on South Beach instead of any other diet plan, is to help me regulate my hypoglycemia.

This plan was developed by a physician, for a bunch of overweight cardiac patients whose extra pounds were putting them at severe risk for a heart attack, or a second one. Oddly enough, however, he found by coincidence that it was also fantastic for diabetics and hypoglycemics because the entire point of the plan is to teach your body to process carbs in a different way. It’s basically a two-week Phase 1 with no “traditional” carbs (bread, pasta, potato, rice) and also no fruit . During that time, your body learns to deal with sugars and fats differently and will burn them differently from then on. (There’s also an expected weight loss of 8-13 pounds in the two weeks). After that there’s a more lenient Phase 2 where you add healthier carbs (sweet potato, whole-grain pasta and rice if you want, and fruit) back into your diet, with an average weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week. Phase 3 is maintenance, with nearly all carbs added back in moderation, for weight “maintenance”. Phase 3 is basically an unrestricted diet but by then you’ve learned to watch the amount and kind carbs you eat more carefully.

My mother actually recommended it to me, she and my father went on it for weight reasons alone, but she thought it would also help me a lot with my blood sugar issues. Mom teaches aerobics and pilates and has studied nutrition a bunch. I give her recommendations a lot of, pardon the pun, weight when it comes to things like this. I was at first surprised to hear she’d gone on it, as she usually ignores “trendy” diets. (This book is currently a top-10 bestseller at major bookstores.) She passed up on Atkins several others during their heydays, but this one caught her eye. Reading through it, I can see why. It looks solid, balanced, and logical.

I’m really hoping it’ll do what it’s supposed to and balance out my metabolism. My hypoglycemia has been a drain on me for some time now and often leaves me feeling utterly lacking in energy and unable to do things I should. It would be nice to put an end to my sugar peaks and drops and have my blood chemistry be more flatlined and less bipolar. If it doesn’t do that, oh well, at least I’ll have shed some of the weight that’s making me feel a bit sluggish lately.

I’m having really extreme sugar cravings today. Yesterday was fine, but today’s been bad. I want dessert more than I have in a long, long time. I’m sure it’s because my body has less sugar than it’s used to, but it’s kind of unpleasant. mcc went looking for sugar-free fudge pops for me, but couldn’t find them at the local store so I’m stuck with gum instead. This is feeling a bit stressful right now, but supposedly the acute cravings go away within a week or so.

It’s amazing how carb oriented our culture really is. I went out for lunch today and ordered a salad. Which they served with bread. Everywhere I go, bread comes to the table, or tortilla chips. Most side dishes to meals are potatoes or pasta or rice. Another thing that’s surprised me is that for all the diet soda on the market, restaurants have very few. (I’ve had to switch over in the past days due to this whole damnable no sugar thing). I’ve found ONE place in town so far that has diet Sprite. Sprite is pretty much a staple drink anywhere one goes, why not have the diet too? Seems the only diet soda anyone has is diet Coke. At all. Anywhere. This is annoying me somewhat.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it. I’ve never been fantastic in the willpower department. I think if I make it past this week, or at least the first two week hard phase I’ll be OK, but that’s going to be difficult for me. Carbs are some of my favorite things to eat. The no fruit rule is going to be horrible as well. That’ll be the first thing I add back.

Oh well. Here goes…

I graduated high school this past June. Soon after, I moved out on my own, to Allston, just outside of Boston. After a $500ish help-get-started from my Dad (which I intend to pay back, and now can), I was able to get my own sublet, along with a job doing some student reserach at MIT.

I can now proudly say that at the tender age of 18, I have a job that pays well enough to pay the rent, grocery bill, and all the other stuff I need to spend cash on. Especially Espresso Royale.

It's a minimal accomplishment, maybe, but it's fun as hell.

However, I doubt my $8.75/hr salary will be able to pay my full Harvard tuition. My new job, however, should help defray living expenses. Having just taken the SAT less than a year and a half ago, I am now an SAT test prep teacher for The Princeton Review. There's got to be some irony in there somewhere, I can just smell it.

But in the end, having grown up in drive-your-SUV-to-go-two-blocks Long Island, then moving to the city and commuting to school on mass transit, and finally paying my rent on my sublet with my check has been an exhilirating climb from complete dependence to almost complete independence.

My advice to people graduating high school? Get a job. Get your own place. It'll feel awesome. Then go to college.

There's too much chaos out there. I want to bring order to it.

I went out on campus in the office golf cart yesterday morning to take some photos for the office website. After spending most the past eight months around the same ten people or so (friends, family, and co-workers) during my illness flare and surgery recovery period, I was overwhelmed by all the activity going on around me. Random people were zig-zagging around, talking, walking, dashing, and moving about in all different directions at once with not a shred of order to it all. It was pure chaos and, to me, it was maddening. I couldn't take it; there was too much unpredictable movement and noise. It's as though I wanted to get everyone's attention and order them to get organized and quiet down. I wanted them to move quietly, at a decent pace, and in straight lines.

I'll get used to living among the chaos soon enough. Eventually. I hope.

Total confusion greeted me upon waking up this morning. My foot shook at a man's grip and the first thing my eyes encountered was my half-naked ex-girlfriend. Her beautiful body reminded of our good times. Those times emaciated with the constant fights. Our relationship consisted of passion. Raw, unfiltered energy from withtin held us together as long as we let it. But Bobby needed a ride to work, that's who woke me shaking my leg. I went by AutoZone on the way home. I drive a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis these days. You'll see me on the roads in a doo doo brown tank. The Flashback defies all automobiles, she pimps. At AutoZone I bought the parts for a standard tune up; spark plugs, distributor cap, air filter, fuel filter, breather valve, oil accessories, and PCV valve.

A little background on my return to e2. I live in Comfort, Texas now. I lived in Austin for eight years until my near demise almost a year ago. Read some of my old writeups to understand where I was. I moved to the hill country in order to leave bad influences that we'll call, "cocaine." Life got simpler and more confusing at the same time. I fell in love, and someone loved the non drug using person I am. So like the Rolling Stones' "Torn and Frayed," I am exactly that. So I find myself in a place I haven't been since I was 16 years old. I currently don't drink or use any illegal drugs. Now don't read too deeply into me having a message, this is just a perspective of where I am. Everyone should do what they want. I believe in self-medication, this world is fucked up.....do what it takes to turn the volume up or down. But things have happened in the last nine months.... due to a family member I now fully respect mental health, I became an alcoholic, I beat a cocaine addiction, I fell in love, and I unbecame an alcoholic. I have a lot to node. Watch Out Now!

Yesterday I got the first statement on my refinanced mortgage. What a relief it feels to see the numbers on this piece of paper.

Two years ago, I bought my house two years ago this month. I financed about $100,000 worth of the house. At that time, I was able to get a 30 year FHA loan at approximately a 7 percent interest rate. The payment every month was bearable even though I was going to have to pay the additional mortgage insurace because I didn't have enough equity in the house yet. When I signed the closing papers, one piece of paper sticks out in my mind. This is the paper that tells you how much you've financed, and how much the interest payments are going to be. The amount of interest I would pay over the next 30 years was going to be $140,000. In economics this is called getting owned by The Man.

Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve allowed me to fight The Man by having slashed interest rates in the last couple of years. Mortgage rates plummeted very far, so far in fact that this June, the 15 year conventional mortgage rate went to 4.6 percent. I called my mortgage company and said "I want to refinance with a 15 year note," and they set me up. The refinance charge (translation: ripoff) was $2000, but they of course rolled that back into the loan.

The closing papers this time are much better. Not only did my monthly note go up by only $50, but the amount of interest I will pay over the next 15 years is down to $40,000. That's, um, $100,000 saved. Wow. Holy shit. That's, um, a whole fucking lot less interest. Thank you Mr. Greenspan!!!

I've been reading Language and the Internet by David Crystal(1), which has been a fairly informative experience overall. I wanted to basically copy down some characteristics of written versus spoken language that he identifies. His central thesis in this section of the book is that computer-mediated communication blends these two modes to a large extent. The following is pretty much verbatim from his book, pages 26-28

  • Speech is time bound, dynamic and transient. It is part of an interaction in which both participants are usually present, and the speaker has a particular addressee(s) in mind.
  • Writing is space-bound, static and permanent. It is the result of a situation in which the writer is usually distant from the reader and often does not know who the reader is.

  • In speech, there is not a specific lag between production and reception, barring recording of course. Most speech moves so quickly and spontaneously that it is difficult to engage in complex advance planning. The pressure to think while talking promotes looser construction, repretition, rephrasing and comments clauses. Intonation and pauses divide long utterances up into chunks, but sentence boundaries are often unclear.
  • In writing, there is always a time-lag between production and reception. Writers must anticipate effects of this lag, as well as the effects of writing to a potentially diverse audience. Writing allows for repeat readings and close analysis, and promotes the development of careful organization and compact expression, with often intricate sentence structure. Units of discourse are usually easy to identify through punctuation and layout.

  • (Speech) Because participants are typically in face-to-face interaction, they can rely on such extralinguistic cues as facial expressions and gesture to aid meaning (and provide feedback). In fact, the ability to hide those cues is a fairly rare skill, as most poker players will tell you. The lexicon of speech is often characteristically vague, using words which refer directly to the situation. (This one, or that one).
  • (Writing) Lack of visual contact means that participants cannot rely on context to make their meanings clear; nor is there any immediate feedback. Most writing tends to avoid deictic expressions, which are likely to be ambiguous.

  • (Speech) Many words and constructions are characteristic of (especially informal) speech, such as contractions. Length co-ordinate sentences are normal, and are often of considerable complexity. People are more likely to use nonsense vocabulary, profanity and slang in speaking than in writing.
  • (Writing) Some words and constructions are characteristic of writing, such as multiple instances of subordination in the same sentence, elaborately balanced synctactic patterns, and the long sentences found in some legal documents. Certain items of vocabularly are more likely to appear in writing than in speech, especially longer terms.

  • Speech is very suited to social or 'phatic' functions, such as passing the time day, or any situation where casual and unplanned discourse is desirable. It is also good at expressing social relationships, and personal opinions and attitudes, due to a range of nuances which can be expressed by the prosody and accompanying nonverbal features.
  • Writing is suited to the recording of facts and the communication of ideas, and to tasks of memory and learning. Written records are easier to keep and scan, tables demonstrate relationships between things, notes and lists provide mnemonic and text can be read at speeds which suit a person's ability to learn.

  • (Speech) There is an opportunity to rethink an utterance while the other person is listening (starting again, adding a qualification). However, errors once spoken cannot be withdrawn; the speaker must live with the consequences. Interruptions and overlapping speech are normal and highly audible.
  • (Writing) Errors are other perceived inadequacies in writing are often reduced through drafts without the reader being aware they ever existed. Multiple authors can also be involved with a final draft, where only one person is responsible for a spoken utterance.

  • Unique features of speech include most of the prosody. They many nuances of intonation, as well as contrasts of loudness, tempo, rhythm, pause and other tones of down cannot be written down with much efficiency. Crystal doesn't explicitly say it, but other clues hear would be the identity of speakers cues, as in race of speaker, gender, age and so forth that all provide context for utterances.
  • Unique features of writing include pages, lines, capitalization, spatial organization and aspects of punctuation. Severy written genres, such as tables, cannot be read aloud meaningfully.

It's pretty easy to find traditional examples of both forms on the Web, since a lot of the content of the Internet is transcribed from other formats. What's interesting is this genre of communication that's been going on for a good bit of time now that is mixed-modal, blending elements of written and spoken language. The genres most affected by the mixed modality seem to include email, instant messaging and posts in newsgroup type spaces. This is obviously not a complete set, since MUDs and MMORPGs also fall under this rubric.

Still, there are an interesting mix of constraints that inhabit online communication. Where overlapping speech in f2f is usually seamless and productive, even in quick online chats it becomes quickly confusing. Messages cannot really overlap, since they are sent one at a time, no matter how quickly. Feedback is delayed, and typing is slower than speaking for all but a very small percentage of users. It might be helpful, or simply divergent, to consider the origins of speech and writing as tools. We tend to think of them as the same thing in different media, but really they were developed for very different reasons, as I understand the history at least. Speech was used for small group coordination, getting hunting parties to all create a shared understanding of an immediate experience. Probably not just hunting parties, but definitely mostly in small groups. Even when verbal language crossed groups, it was often through weak ties between groups rather than the conglomeration of larger groups.

Writing was developed to deal with scale. Coinciding with the development of cities, writing was used to tally supplies, and coordinate massive, removed bodies of people. This seems to lead to some of the differences that Crystal talks about, and at root is that these methods of communication are very much different in their purpose.

The question remaining is whether CMC is a mix of these two previous modalities, or a whole new form that we don't yet understand well. Since we use the tools of a previous method (i.e. alphabet), it seems like a derivation, or a subset of writing. However, the ability to architect environments for genres of communication indicate that internet communication may secede from the writing union and take on it's own form. I need to think more on this...

(1) http://www.davidcrystal.com/

I've realized, not just now but a while back, that I don't enjoy most other English majors. There are really only four types:

1. The laid-back kind of people who have maybe one or two English-major friends. These people have friends of various disciplines, but many tend to be science-minded. They are the most social of the four types. They enjoy human interaction...cherish it, because they often have to isolate themselves to bury their noses in books.

2. The quiet, intelligent types who are truly thinkers. These are the English-major stereotypes. They like to read (or write). A lot. And their opinions must be sought for or read about. In social settings, they are the people-watchers. Their eyes quickly dart from person to person, while keeping an ear to the conversation. They talk slowly and deliberately, making sure no ums and likes slip into their sentences, always searching their built-in thesaurus for more accurate words. Good people, these.

3. The "specialized" snobs who only major in English to read every book in one genre. They like to refer to themselves as "buffs." They cannot be bothered with any other kind of literature other than what they came to study. They tend to allow the vocabulary of their interest to creep into their own vernacular. Sci-Fi buffs cannot grok why the post-modern British guys only snog with the 19th century British girls, who, like the characters in their preferred books are just looking to get married and settle down.

4. The pretentious, opinionated, loud English majors. They enjoy name-dropping. When listening to a conversation one often thinks that the speakers are in competition. Who's read which book, and oh, I've read that too, but have you read his essays?? They quote often and then scold the listener if the quote isn't picked up. They use the major's jargon in daily speech. They mutter about synecdoche and are eager to place their readings into their clearly divided -isms.

ugh. I'm tired. That's enough.
The processing of your application for assistance has stopped, due to a restriction on your application. This restriction must be reviewed by staff in the Student Services Branch. A letter regarding your status will be mailed to you.

shit.
fuck.
son of a gun.

I don't know what this means. What I think it means is that my student loan will not be here in time for me to pay tuiton, which isn't that big a deal, since I do have a credit card.

What I am afraid that it means is that I've maxed out my lifetime allowance of student-loan money, or they figured out that my father does indeed exist. I told them that he doesn't, because by their math, he makes enough to put me through school twice before he has to cut back on his own living expenses. By his own math, my father figures that I should pay for my own school, and rent, and everything, since university is a waste of money anyway. My mother has a degree and a lousy job because she took time off for her children. My father dropped out two months into first year and now he can afford to put me through school twice, but won't.

I have just written a large deposit cheque to my new roommate. I am moving in four days. I am working, but not nearly enough. If that loan money doesn't show, I am fucked. F-U-K, fucked. My job is dependant on my being a student, my sanity is dependant on me being a student, my medical coverage is dependant on me being a student. My loan is dependant on me being a student. My studentdom is dependant on the loan.

The processing of your application for assistance has stopped, due to a restriction on your application. This restriction must be reviewed by staff in the Student Services Branch. A letter regarding your status will be mailed to you.
I seem to have so little time, I waste it I suppose. Well, for posterity, since I don't seem to be keeping any other records about my life at the moment. I have been workin in Germany now for almost a year. On the 1st of September it will be a year! I seem to be becoming settled here, learning the language, seeing a German girl.

Two days ago I had a tooth removed. Right molar bottom jaw. It seems that I have three wisdom teeth that are growing horizontally. The pressure on my lower jaw caused a couple of my molars to crack in two. Until now (aged 29) I've not been able to afford proper dental care. Heath insurance here in Germany is amazing, the quality of care is outstanding, shame that I have such a mess in my mouth to take care of. There is a large hole in my gum, it bleeds continously, but at a fairly low rate. I expect it to heal quickly but for the moment I am still adapting to the new geography of my mouth. A dental appointment must be met tomorrow, 8am, its 2am now, four hours of sleep to look forward to if i stop writing now.

Holidays in Germany are generous, 30 days minimum, I work a half day tomorrow, then 2 weeks hoilday. I will be away for my one year working anniversary, not to worry. To France I go, to climb. Ceuse and Verdon are waiting. Two months ago i ripped a tendon, snapped it clean through, in one of my fingers. I hope that it will be useable, or else my two weks will be spent swilling wine and scoffing cheese.

my new computer is wonderful, the first personal computer that i have ever owned. it is a macintosh powerbook.

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