I have had the strangest fucking day of my life.

When I woke up today my housemate Ally was in tears downstairs, unable to say anything except "I can't" before completely botching the next word.

She's diabetic, so we thought that it may have something to do with that. We gave her the sugary drinks and so on, but to no effect.

Later on she progressed to saying "Where's the creaking croaking cracking?" before getting frustrated at not being able to remember a thing and breaking down in tears again. Apart from that she could function normally, walking around and so on.

We had to phone for an ambulance and I haven't seen her since. Apparently she's gotten better, and the doctors think that she may have had a minor stroke, but at her age it's unlikely, so they're keeping her in for more scans and so on until they can tell what's happened.

woohoo. i'm 21 today and stuff. it's happydance time. or something.

going to the beach with friends saturday for my birthday.
mcc's taking me to dinner sunday
had family birthday today.

my parents gave me a vaccum cleaner.
mom baked a chocolate cheesecake.
my grandmother gave me pajamas.
my brother gave me harry potter. Now all i need is a tv to watch it on.

which brings me to...

If you live within 3 hours or so of west lafayette, indiana, and wanna sell a tv, vcr, or dvd for a reasonable amount, message me. We'll talk, i'm serious. I want these things and can't afford store prices. I'll drive to pick it up. Swear.

Thanks.

This is the first day in almost a month that I have had completely to myself. Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to call, no clients to please... nothing that doesn't interest me and me alone.

God, I needed that. Sleep. If sleep could be defined as anything else, I'd say this: "Sleep is that state of recharging, like laying down in a giant, formless battery for the soul, body and mind." I am totally revitalized. Bring it on, world!

When I finally got around to waking up, the first thing I did was turn on my home computer system. I don't have Internet access at home anymore (why deal with the distraction and extra expense?), so it was real easy for me to focus on something I've been working on a lot lately. 3D design and animation. I'm taking baby steps with it now, but I'm slowly expanding my horizons. To wit, Bryce 4 and 3D Studio Max 4 are the only real 3D rendering programs my system can stand to run. I want Maya like nobody's business, but 1) it's expensive, and 2) Maya would take one glance at my system's hardware and laugh- mockingly. "You wanna put what? Where? Ha! Fat chance, geek boy."

The animations I've been doing lately is just really simple stuff. I've downloaded a truckload of Star Trek and Star Wars meshes (3D models). First I dicked around with just creating still images, to get the feel for texturing and lighting and camera angles. Today I did a full animation/scene rendering. It lasts only 8 seconds, but it's a start. It's rendering now, as I type this, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out. I've done minor animations with only one active model, but this one has two models in motion! Lordy-be! I'm moving up in the virtual world I've created for myself.

I've got to say that there is a lot to learn about 3D rendering and animation. Getting the backdrop correct, camera angles and motion, lighting, shadows, motion paths, collision physics... it's like being a director, artist, special effects chief, strategist, mathematician, physicist and architect all in one. I've only been at it for a month, but I shudder to imagine what else there is to learn. Will it be more of the same, only refining the process, or will there be stuff I haven't even thought of yet?

Well... there is the actual creation of original meshes, which is something I've never even tried to do. I've got to do some more research to see how that's done. I mean, it has to be possible- otherwise I wouldn't have been able to download those nifty models in the first place, right? Then comes model texturing and mapping, which is just as mindboggling as creating meshes...

How do people do this for a living and still stay sane? I guess they love it. After having done this for a short while, that's the only answer I can come up with because, let's face it, 3D modeling and animation is a labor of love.

My ultimate goal is to get good enough to create a movie-length animation on my computer. Perhaps I can, one day, animate the book I'm writing. Isn't that every sci-fi writer/geek's dream? "Not only did I write the damn thing, I made it into a movie on my computer!"

Heh. It's nice to dream.

Back to: Sunning at the Beach

Forward to: The city that never sleeps, part 2

I have been fascinated by New York from the moment I stepped out of the cab and onto the streets. The buildings, the people, the whole atmosphere amazes me. Being a Londoner I'm used to big cities but New York is more than just a city. It's a unique environment in a country of deserted downtowns and suburban cities New York remains a heaving mass of activity from Brooklyn to the Bronx.

Enough nonsense, down to business. Upon arriving in New York on Friday we got a cab to the place we were staying, which was with an old work colleague and friend of my Dad in East 50th street. We arrived to find that they were about to have 11 people around for a dinner party so we wouldn't be able to set up the sofa bed till after that. No problem, it’s their house, so we joined in with the party and got thrown into to the deep end of Manhattan culture. We had our host's gay flat mate, another older gay guy, a loud Jewish woman, two Mexican Nationals (one of whom was without a Green card) and a sprinkling of other New York businessmen. Maybe Ann Coulter was right; maybe the US was being taken over by gay liberal Manhattan hot shots! Luckily I snapped out of it, time to put down Coulter's latest book, Slander, and tune back into reality.

Our host announced that he and his flat mate would both be away at the weekend so we would have the place to ourselves which was a relief. It was also pretty damn cool coming to New York and getting a free Manhattan apartment for a weekend.

The morning after the tiring evening we faffed around in the house in the morning and in the afternoon we decided to take a wander down in Little Italy and Chinatown. In the process of getting around by subway we managed to make every single mistake possible, wrong line, wrong direction, one stop to far, one stop short, express train instead of local, they just keep on coming. However after that first day of chaos we adapted and generally sussed out the system, and only messed up one or two more times.

On Friday evening we decided to go to a Jazz concert in Harlem that we had seen advertised in various places. We got the subway up there and found the Marcus Garvey Park, we found the bandstand within the park but there was no Jazz to be heard, only a group of youngish teenagers huddling under a doorway with their stereo playing singing and clapping along to their music. We trudged back to the subway in the persistent drizzle feeling dejected. After alighting back at 51st street station we stepped out into the heaviest rain I have ever been in. Thunder rolled and lightening crackled down from the sky now heavy and dark with clouds. After walking the three blocks back home we were drenched but the rain had actually managed to cheer us up, at last a change from the thick, humid heat of the last two weeks.

On Saturday we stirred ourselves earlier and headed off the Museum of Modern Art. The main site is currently undergoing renovation so it has been moved to a warehouse in Queens. We trundled off with our now well honed subway navigational skills and arrived at the Museum without a hitch. We gritted our teeth and paid the $8.50 student admission charge ($12 for adults!) and started to look around. We liked what we saw, a Pollock, a couple of Rothkos among them. After about 1 hour we reached a dead end and began to look for the next level or room, only to discover that we had seen the entire collection on view. We were both extremely disappointed and as we trailed up to the shop I mentioned this to one of their staff. He replied that they had had a large number of complaints and that if we asked for a refund we would get one. We went up and asked, got our refund and headed to the shop were we spent almost the entire $17 on their over priced postcards. The MoMA have obviously decided that they will make more money if they rip people off and gamble with refunds than if they charge people a fair price, disappointing profiteering.

On Saturday evening we headed off to Rich and Happy and Stoned: Noders Take The Stage!. We were treated to an evening of classic Sondheim songs all for a good cause. It was top to meet Infinite_burn and Sondheim, the only disappointment was that we missed kit lo, who has been the night before, and Chiisuta, who like many other NY noders was off at the Sparta gathering. We woosed out on going out with them afterwards as we were both pretty tired and had a bit of trek home.

On Sunday we did the Guggenheim Museum and the Frick Collection. The Guggenheim had a crappy photography and film exhibition on and so their permanent collection was only partially on display. The building is amazing though and worth the trip by itself. I was unable to take the Frick Collection seriously having just seen Austin Powers in Goldmember so I followed Stella around annoying here and playing with the audio guide.

On Sunday evening we headed off to the Empire State Building to go to the 86th floor observatory. It was quite a wait to get up there but it was definitely worth it. We marveled at the view of the still vibrating city below. After clambering down we returned home to find that the gay flat mate was away for one more night so we were able to steal his bed for one more night of comfort.

Oh yeah, New York really does never sleep.

If you are truly asking how I am and how I behave, I can say without a doubt that you won't be able to recognize me. The changes I have made for the past 9 months have been for the better - and this is without your help. I've come to realize that both of us didn't know any better. And it seems that although you changed your life by changing your associations with certain people, it still hasn't made enough of an impact to truly change you for the better.
Just keep looking at the past, for that is all you will know.
To a person that still owes me a load of money, I wish you the best of luck.

So I quit going to therapy. I have clinical depression and anxiety disorder, and my therapist was also trying to convince me that I have chronic pain syndrome and quite possibly an eating disorder. I am on Celexa for my problems, and I've really noticed that it's working, and on a relatively low dosage, too.

But my therapist made me nervous. She didn't talk very much, and she always wanted to hear what I thought...and I spent a great deal of my time there trying to convince her that I KNOW I'M CRAZY. I would tell her how I was afraid of the moon cracking in half, how that kept me awake at night with no sleep, and then I'd immediately follow that up with "I realize that's a stupid fear," and she wouldn't say anything. When I told her that I am constantly working to make people like me and working to make people happy, she said that I had a heart of gold. Of course, I don't believe her. She's a therapist, being paid, by me. She HAS to say I have a heart of gold. She can't say I'm a doormat twit.

My theory on therapists and doctors in general is that they are like prostitutes. If I don't have the money to pay her to care...she doesn't care. If I have a panic attack at 1:00 in the morning, will my therapist comfort me? I doubt it. If I get fired and I don't have the $130 an hour to pay her, will she care if I'm depressed or not? I doubt it.

I've come to these harsh realizations: People who are insulting you are usually being honest, and people who are complimenting you are usually being polite. If I love others enough, it really doesn't matter if I love myself. and I am not very important in the grand scheme of things. In my opinion, that is all I need to know.

I needed someone to help me cut the lock off my bike, so I called David. He'd had been in Europe for about a month -- a theater trip, in Greece, and then a week or two traveling solo around the continent. (We had talked about it excitedly before he left: "It doesn't matter if you have nothing to do, you'll be in Paris. You can just sit at a cafe` all day and write in a journal.") In any case, I called him; I couldn't remember if it had been 5 weeks since he'd left, but that seemed the general sort of time frame.

His mom answered; there was an emotion in her voice that I hadn't heard before. David was in a Parisian psychiatric hospital; he had been picked up off the street, dirty, severely dehydrated, covered with cuts and bruises, catatonic.

I didn't get the full story at the time; I was told that he was injured and homesick, and that maybe I could bring something over to their house for them to send to remind him of home (she suggested a picture of myself, which set warning lights flashing that I tried to ignore). Later that day I found out the gist of what had happened (and much later David himself told me the rest, or what he could remember); the next afternoon his mom Fed Exed the picture to the hospital along with a bit of writing I thought he'd get a kick out of (one of my daylogs, actually), pictures other friends of his had provided, mix CDs of his favorite music, teddy bears.

David had been in Amsterdam, and he'd been smoking lots of marijuana -- lots, lots, a shitload. More totally stoned than he'd ever been in his life (and he'd been totally stoned plenty of times), he'd taken shrooms and then a stimulant-laced joint that he thought was unadultrated; an extraordinarily bad trip ensured. In a familiar setting, surrounded by friends, things probably would have turned out fine; alone in a strange city, unable to understand what anyone was saying, they didn't. He sent a rambling, fairly incoherent stream-of-consciousness email to his parents about being in a bad situation with bad people and set out for France. (He doesn't remember much of the trip (almost nothing after getting to Paris), but says it was similar in tone to Victor's Europe vacation montage from The Rules of Attraction.)

I noded this daylog a couple days later, in a cool little format built around the CDs that were playing while I wrote. A bit long, a bit self-absorbed, but it was a nice piece of nonfiction, interwoven with itself, holding together like a plate of spaghetti, with all (or most) of the strands coming together at the end to make an implicit point: David, one hell of a talented actor and screenwriter (not to mention a good friend) might never be the same (or even be conscious), and doesn't that suck? Shortly thereafter, I felt bad about semi-publicly speculating about the situation (even if I didn't use his real name) -- after all, most of his friends still thought he'd been hit on the head, and there's a stigma attatched to mental illness -- so I excised all references to his condition, leaving only a large pile of loose strands that was occaisionally downvoted. But he's fully recovered now, as far as I can tell (and has been for months) so no ethical qualms remain.

Update: Apparently not totally recovered. Here's a public service announcement, kids: Don't keep doing psychadelics after you have a psychotic episode. Jesus Christ.

For those of you following my recent posts, my own little soap opera of a life, the never ending search for a full time job is now over. Thats right, the search for a job I could never find, is now offically over. I have found a job and better yet, they offered me the position. Starting Monday, I will be officaly employed with a full time. No longer will I be a part of the masses that lives without benifits, without a fixed schedule and without a sustained lifestyle. I will now be able to pay off my student loans and my car loan as well. Life is good.

I would like to thank this place for letting me vent my frustrations and allowing daylogs as a place for journal writing not journalism.

I hate traffic, and living in Miami, that's all I get. Today I had to go somewhere which usually takes about 15 minutes to get to. How long did it take during today's ridiculous traffic? Over an hour. No lie. I found out why too.

It seems that for a few days, the city is going to close down a major highway to shoot a scene for a movie. I checked it out in the newspaper, and yes, the highway is actually closed. They are filming Bad Boys 2. Well, thanks to that movie, traffic is going to be held up for a few days. I guess I'm just going to have to find an alternate route.

Well, some family members recently arrived from completing an Umrah (something similar to a Hajj, but not exactly). They brought back some Zamzam, which is always a good thing. They also brought back a bunch of other stuff, such as itr (a sort of alcohol-free perfume or cologne), some tasbeeh (a sort of string with 100 beads attached to it), and I think some clothes as well.

I just finished drinking the most delicious tea coupled with some awesome shortbread cookies. I'm sorry, but I'm not much of a coffee person. To me, coffee just tastes horrible. For me, it's tea or nothing. But then again, that's probably just my Pakistani background talking.

Some great news was broken to me today. My friend, who is the biggest No Doubt fan you can find anywhere, just informed me that they are going to play at the National Car Rental Center on October 29, 2002. No Doubt barely ever plays here in South Florida, probabnly because driving down here is such a hassle. You literally to go out of your way to get here (you have to drive all the way down Florida and then all the way back up). My friend is going to go for sure. I'm gonna try and go. Let's just hope the traffic clears up by then.

Hmmm... lots of day-loggage today. Must add.

The headaches from the accident have finally subsided totally; they weren't killer headaches, just nagging ones that whispered pain a bit too often for this softy. Other than that, most other traces of the event have been healed, except for the bruised ribs, which will take a few more weeks apparently to be whole again.

I gave my notice to my employers that I would be be either cutting down my hours or quitting completely come September. I'll be teaching full-time at the high school, so there's no way I can keep working the hours there, as few as they are. I might stay on for Friday nights, just for the extra pocket money to keep me from plunging any further into debt.

But what made me decide to day-log today is the realization I came to when typing my notice in Lotus Notes today. I work for a blood collection agency. I do some basic computer work - data entry, help desk, etc. But the majority of my work here is telerecruitment. No, not telemarketing. I'm not trying to sell you anything. I call people and let them know where blood donor clinics are happening and try and beg them to come out and donate blood.

I get hung up on, cursed, and made fun of. I also get stories about loved ones going into surgery, and the weeping that follows. Many make promises of "I will donate soon." In Canada we don't pay for blood donations; you get a cookie and a juice/coffee after you donate, and that's it. So it's tough to get people out to donate blood.

Our ad campaigns state that when you donate blood, you are offering blood products that can save up to 4 lives. So I did a little math today. Due to my travel in the United Kingdom, I can no longer donate blood, mad cow disease scare and all. But I book, on average, 30 appointments a night. Apparently I have an 20% no-show rate (which means that people book an appointment, but can't make it for whatever reason), so that puts me at 24 donation appointments sucessfully fulfilled. Multiply that by 4 nights a week. Then again for the 10 months I have been working at CBS.

960 donations due to my calling, possibly saving 3840 lives in less than a year.

Now I know (as I've been told) that it isn't all about me. But damn, that makes me feel somewhat better today. It's slightly better than losing the headaches.


Go donate blood if you can, ASAP.

a very diverse day

weill in japan: day 35

Today was a sad day, a happy day, a tolerable day, an overwhelmingly hot day, and a relaxing day.

never forget

On this day in 1945, U.S. forces dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan. The city of Hiroshima suffered massive casualties, as did Nagasaki when it was bombed two days later. Today, Hiroshima has long since rebuilt from the ashes of World War II, and now serves as a beacon of peace. There are still many Japanese people that harbor negative feelings towards Americans for their actions in World War II, but the message that was sent today in Hiroshima was that we must work together to combat this form of escalation.

Even though I was born some 35 years after World War II ended, it was difficult for me to watch the memorial today on the news. In addition to Hiroshima residents of all ages, many children from India and Pakistan were in attendance. Those two nations are allegedly developing nuclear weapons technology to use against each other, which would have devastating effects on both nations. The obligatory reference to the September 11 terrorist attacks was made as a cautionary note that the world is not at peace. Seeing the somber, silent faces of all ages was sobering to say the least.

more festivals

Despite the sad, quiet nature of the Hiroshima memorial ceremony, today was business as usual throughout Japan. After dinner, I attended the Asagaya Tanabata Festival, one of many such festivals going on around the country. The festival is traditionally characterized by small sheets of paper on which people write their wishes and then hang from plants. This particular festival seems to have been absorbed into the general festival theme, with merchants loudly peddling food, drinks and merchandise to the general public. This traditional one-day festival has been stretched into a five-day capitalistic binge. There were a lot of people drinking themselves stupid on a Tuesday night, too.

Despite the fact that I've "finished" my shopping, I'm always finding more things to buy and more people to buy them for. Stop me before I buy again.

game plan

I return to New York on Saturday, August 17, on a flight that leaves Narita Airport at 12:00 PM local time. That means that I'll need to leave the house before 8:00 AM that day to get to the airport and check in. I took the train from the airport to get here on a Wednesday, so I figured that I could just go in the opposite direction on the 17th. Bad idea. Despite the fact that I'm heading towards Tokyo on a Saturday, there are still large crowds of people heading into work in the morning. This leaves me with a few options, as I discussed with my host mother today.

option 1: take the train all the way to narita

Doable, but a bad idea given all the luggage that I'll be carrying. Because of all the gifts that I've bought, I will likely have four bags versus the three that I brought with me. Given the dangerous congestion on trains already, I don't think I could get in and out of the cars alive.

option 2: be driven to shinjuku, take train to narita

This saves a transfer, although I will still need to bring my luggage through the busy and massive station to the Narita Express. The morning rush hour traffic is pretty hectic on Saturday as well as weekdays, so we will need to leave pretty early to catch an early train. My host mother said it was okay for her to drive me to Shinjuku, but didn't commit to that option yet.

option 3: be driven to shinjuku, take bus to narita

The "Limousine Bus" costs the same as the train and takes about the same time, but I won't have to lug my bags through a busy train station to get on the bus. Again, because of the morning rush hour, I will likely need to allow even more time for the bus than for the train. Unlike in Pittsburgh, there is no dedicated highway just for buses to bypass traffic to the airport.

another game plan

A couple of classmates and I were talking about going to a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome before heading for home. What I didn't realize was how fast the games sell out. Tickets for games go on sale the preceding month, so all August game tickets could be purchased starting on June 29. As a result, only general admission tickets are available for the coming series against Hiroshima and Yakult. I might go anyway, if only for the experience. One annoyance: these tickets can't be bought at convenience stores like reserved seats. I have to go all the way to the Tokyo Dome to buy the tickets in person.

class moves forward

As part of a newfound commitment to not suck, the class today started with a series of impromptu one-minute "presentations" on any topic that we wanted. I talked about how Japanese bakeries overuse wrapping paper for single items, despite a supposed commitment to the environment. Other topics in class today included a session with Japanese speakers and small skits on how to do various things. This topic was likely taken directly from class suggestions solicited last week, since one of the common complaints was that we're not learning enough material that we can use in everyday life. The skits were mostly centered around bad acting and the whole class laughing hysterically at said bad acting, but at least they were fun.

I didn't do as bad on the midterm as I thought I had. Solid B all the way.

heat keeps climbing

The record temperature in Japan today was 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) and temperatures were only slightly lower in Tokyo. The heat keeps climbing, as does the risk for heat stroke. Vending machines are pulling in insane amounts of money.

Japan is located at about the same latitude as the southern U.S., although it is slightly cooler due to its proximity to the ocean all across the islands. The weather isn't too much hotter than a typical New York summer, but that doesn't keep me and everyone else in the program from complaining.

tidbits

Stupid moment number 1: The word "kohibito" completely confused me this weekend. At the Todakoen festival, one of the more attractive ladies in our group asked me if I had a "kohibito," and I responded by asking what the word meant. She just laughed. None of the four dictionaries I checked had anything for the word at all, even after looking up potentially alternate pronunciations. Eventually, I asked one of the program assistants today. She replied that it means "lover." That cute girl on Saturday was asking if I have a girlfriend. I don't. D'oh.

Stupid moment number 2: Apparently I forgot to close the zippered pocket on my camera case which holds my extra batteries. Four batteries fell out of that pocket at the festival this evening, but I only managed to find three. Since rechargeable batteries only come in packs of two and four, and since my camera takes two batteries at a time, I now only have one extra set of batteries. D'oh.

Surprisingly little homework has meant more time for fun stuff like laundry and festivals. It's been a good Tuesday.

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