With hindsight, I was more than blind
Lost without a clue
Thought I was getting carat gold, and what I got
was you
Stuck inside the circumstances, lonely at the top
I've always been an introvert
Happily bleeding.
-Placebo

You call, out of nowhere, just when I remember you were missing. The thought of you does nothing for me. Is just a passing daydream, like so many others that cross my mind. I feel nothing for you, though you almost make me. I listen for hours. Your voice is soft and enchanting. Your words are a pretty dance that tickle the empty corners of my mind. So close to blooming with fire, you touch a spot that sparks, but nothing more. The embers sizzle, then die, once your voice fades. I do not mean to keep you dancing. To make you think I could really make your dream come true. You lull me into your wishes. They feel soft and warm, a blanket gently, easily smothering my true desires. Your voice, your words, your need for me. They trickle through me like hot coffee on the coldest of mornings. I feel appreciated, comfortable, content. Secure. It is easy to say I could be with you. It would be easy to be with you. But it isn't right. I don't want to take the easy way out. I don't want to feel content and secure. I don't want you.
You'll pull me in again. The soothing of your voice will remind me you're good. All is good.
Until it fades.
And I, again, know the truth.
You aren't what I need.
You can't make me happy.
Let me go.

A few days ago, I checked my inbox and found the following e-mail had been forwarded to me by a friend:


You have been invited to join the.mob_stirs, Birmingham's first flash mob.

The movement has begun in New York, it’s spreading across other cities in the USA; now it will begin in the UK. Here’s what we’re about:

The internet provides us with the ability to connect a network of disparate individuals together and then mobilise them as one; moving in unison for a common cause. The ‘mob’ appears without warning and dissipates as swiftly as it arrived. A flash mob is a group who synchronise there movements and convene momentarily, to become a startling intervention in the life of a city.

We want to bring people together to have fun. We want to inject more quirkiness into people’s lives. We want to be altruistic.

There are mob groups beginning all over the world and an upcoming London mob.

Visit our web site at http://mobstirs.no-ip.org to learn more and join the smart mob collective.

If you still need to be convinced of the beauty of ‘flash mobs’, read the latest news about other mob events at the following sites. Check the content of the events to get a feel for the type of activism that has been occurring, there are more on the web site.

  1. recent BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3065685.stm
  2. general mob coverage, regular updates: http://www.cheesebikini.com/blog/archives/cat_flash_mobs.html
  3. web log with mob news: http://biroco.com/2003_07.htm#jul21
  4. web log for ‘Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution’ by Howard Rheingold: http://www.smartmobs.com/index.html
  5. resource for organizers: http://www.flocksmart.com/
  6. yahoo group for San Francisco mob: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the_mob_project/
  7. article from WIRED magazine: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,59518,00.html

Following in the footsteps of the groups acting in the USA, mob_stir events will be apolitical, respectful and brief. It only takes a few seconds to leave an impact. Instructions for the participation in the mob will be passed out by e-mail to all those who choose to join the collective. They will be based somewhere in Birmingham city centre. Once we have achieved a critical mass for a successful intervention, a date will be set and instructions to all members will be issued.

To join the collective reply to this address or visit http://mobstirs.no-ip.org and subscribe from there.

Please copy this e-mail to friends you think will be interested and help us make the.mob_stirs grow.

-------------------------------------

the.mob_stirs@hushmail.com

http://mobstirs.no-ip.org


As ever, the e2 mega-brain came to my rescue as I discovered a flash mob node had already been mounted.

I’ve joined up. It looks like a lot of fun and the sublime power of networked communication, frankly, turns me on. Why do you think I mooch about at e2? We are the first flash mob – we appear from nowhere, create events to inspire new ideas and move on (even if it is only as far as ebay to exorcise our consumer demons). Thanks to the links on the node I’ve been able to follow the latest news about flash mobs over the last couple of weeks. It’s exploded. Every day, half a dozen new cities start a mob group. Here in the UK, there are groups in Sheffield, Manchester, London and Birmingham – the source of the e-mail I was sent.

Tonight the first London mob is due to take place. Around 500 people (according to the member count on their Yahoo group) will gather and disperse in the centre of London for no discernibly good reason. Instructions will be passed out to them when they arrive at prearranged bars, the 500 being split into manageable chunks by instructing them to arrive at a variety of bars dependent on their star sign. If all goes to plan they will then convene at a final destination to perform their task then swiftly melt into the background and go back to whatever they were doing.

It’s beautiful, it’s creative, it brings total strangers together to have fun and smile at each other; and it’s meaningless. It doesn’t require you to adopt the moral high ground, intellectualise the cultural significance or choose which side of the political fence to sit on. In time this will come; the flash mob will be adopted by campaigners and activists. All good ideas should evolve, but for now let’s just enjoy its cathartic emptiness. The Birmingham group are still taking members for their first event, they talk of the desire to be altruistic but there is no discussion of a specific cause. I hope they are interested in altruism for its own sake. I wonder if the people of Birmingham are prepared to give.

This was written as an attempt to expand on the discussion in the flash mob node (and deliver a positive view about their value), however I chose to submit it as a daylog in order to give all e2 Londoners a heads up for tonight. I’ll post a wu on the first Birmingham mob event when it occurs. Maybe I’ll see you there.

p.s – go easy on the downvotes, it’s my birthday today.

At http://www.speakerscorner.org.uk/index.html , there is a text box. If you type text into this box -- just a snippet, a few words -- and push the button below it, what you type will a few seconds later scroll (repeatedly) 15 meters across an LCD wrapped around a building in the center of Huddersfield, UK.

This is very cool. And it occured to me that since some nodeshells (and ex-nodeshells) are the greatest decontextualized snippets of language I've ever read and should by rights be in fortune cookies everywhere, it would be great to Cast them out into the real world to be seen by students and communters and homeless people as they walk by.

A long time ago I made a list of node titles I liked. It was a spur of the moment thing, so it's very incomplete, and it was a misty-mood thing, so it leans a bit toward the Overtly Emotional, but here they are:

I'm sure there are hundreds more that are just as good (some undoubtedly better suited to infringing on the mental space of unsuspecting English people than others). Type them in. Reach out and touch someone.

(If you want me to include them in this writeup, message me.)

Alone with the cats

Today is the first day that my girlfriend has been gone for a whole 24 hours since she moved in a week ago. She has spent a few days at my house, but it seems the psychology of her actually ‘living’ in the house makes the absences seem more substantive. Strange.

I worked till 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). I usually am at work at 8:30 am EST, so I put in 12 hours of work. It is standard in my career field. I usually put in 50 to 60 hours a week. Being salary, I do not get overtime. Hopefully, I am getting promoted soon.

I had enough time to stop by the range and squeeze off a few rounds. I have a ‘carry’ or concealed weapons permit and I like to keep my skill up to snuff. I find that weapon arts, like shooting or katana, are relaxing. Politics aside, I also feel safer with my significant other when we are out downtown, if I do have a firearm.

I bid you peace, stormcrow309

Its 3.27am and I'm cold. I looked for an oil heater for a while, but it looks like we threw them out when we got central heating. If I wasn't working nights, and slept when everyone else did, it wouldn't be a problem; I'd be warm in bed. I pulled out what looked like a heater, but turned out to be an evaporative cooler. Boy, my parents will think I'm strange when they see that in the morning.

Tonight I actually saw Elle! It seems like such a rare occurrence, although it tends to happen every other day. Not only that, but she seemed pleased to see me. Occasionally, I belive that I will eventually break down the walls around her and she might love me back.

After showing my friend the cuts from saturday night, he said nothing for some time. At about 2.30am last night, though, I got a message from him:

Don't try not to be so unhappy. Don't fight against the sorrow. Don't fear it. Embrace the emptiness and eventually it shall tell you what it needs to say, and what you need to hear. This i promise you: when it speaks, your heart, it shall not speak of death...

It has to be the most comforting thing anyone has ever said to me. It really made me think things will be okay. Maybe they will be.


Hey wow! My first ever write-up.

The world we live in and life in London

I am writing this here, in part because I know that certain people will read it. My brother, for one, now knows of my e2 identity (yo bro!) and other people back in Cape Town will read this. I will be back there over New Year, for which my feelings are less definite than for my last visit. I had been away 10 months then, and not much had changed. It's been almost 2 years now, and the bonds of friendship will have weakened, people moved on. It's true what someone said at first they come back every year, then every second year, and then ... already my mind is turning over the expense, and what I could do with the money next year. And London, London finally feels less foreign, more comfortable, and more homely. Cape Town is becoming the other.

The old friends, the Londoners-of-South-African-extraction that I was getting on badly with in June; I am now getting on with even worse. That role-playing games, goth noise music, look at me I'm so superficial I have to stick things in my face in a desperate attempt to make myself seem interesting scene leaves me cold, even more so because I've been there. I tease and poke at thier values, and friction results. I want to tell them to grow the fuck up. I want to annoy them. I have come to feel that if wearing a tie or not wearing a tie to work is a really important thing to you, then your priorities are wrong.

I've had comments from Brits about how "you South Africans" are judgemental, paranoid etc. ya well no fine. That may be so, but please understand that there are reasons for that - it is a valid, necessary adaptation to South African circumstance. England is different, but people adjust slowly.

Nice weather, isn't it.

When I last wrote a daylog, it was midsummer, and I said that summer was turning away. True, the days are not as long as they were, but yesterday was the official Hottest Day of the Year (well over 30 C, whoohoo) and the heat wave continues. I should savour it, as it will no doubt all be over in 3 weeks, back to rain and grey skies, but the office aircon has been malfunctioning, to everyone's annoyance. It seems fixed today, thankfully.

I feel I have reached a turning point in this job. I have been there for a year and I know the ropes, answer the new people's questions about the code that I inherited. I don't feel that it's the end of my career road though. I shall wait and see for the next few months.

Hardware

I was going to buy a PDA, but have put it off since the Palm Tungsten T2 doesn't have wi-fi, and that would be a cool, nay killer thing to have. Apparently there are new Palm models out in October, so I will wait for those. Instead the money may go on PC parts. I want to rebuild my home system, as it is increasingly unstable. It overheats, it crashes. Microsoft Outlook suddenly won't run at all, not that I use it for mail, but the address book was a sync/backup for my phone. I know that an Althlon pc should not overheat if you assembled it right, but hey, maybe I didn't. I'll have another crack at trashing a motherboard when I get a new one. And it will hopefully run half-life 2 well :).

So you're into the mobscene

I have just returned from London's first flash mob. I heard about it here on E2, and managed to dig the details out. I wanted to be there for the first one.

It was pleasingly silly, but surprisingly inconsequential, and at the climax, depressingly media-saturated, from blokes like me waving camera-phones all the way up to journalists with big fluffy mikes and kilos of camera gear. I got to the designated pub early, so I walked around, had a pint of Guiness. It looked pretty normal for a London pub at 6:10pm. Then I got the instruction card as specified at 6:17pm. By then I had ascertained that the dyed-hair, facially-pierced, t-shirted hipsters on the pub's bench next to me were part of the flash mob.

Anyway the instructions were to arrive at a sofa store at 6:30 exactly, admire the sofas without using the letter 'o', text a friend, reply to the friend's call with "I'm at London Flash mob #1" and leave at 6:40 exactly, after saying goodbye to a stranger.

I found the sofa shop by 6:28pm. For a minute I thought it was a fashion shoot being set up – lots of people hanging back expectantly, waving cameras, phones etc. So I walked past. At 6:30 exactly I turned around and headed back to the sofa shop. So did everyone else. The street was packed and the shop was closed. Two minutes later they opened the doors, and it took another five minutes for me to get inside. We left at 6:40 in a flurry of clapping, spontaneous self-congratulation. Interesting, but pretty vacuous. the press estimated 300 people were there.

I guess I will do the next one, provided that it too is within walking distance of work.

E2: the beatings will continue until morale improves

Ah yeah. A friend has warned me not to make too much of a fuss about the recent spate of lockouts here on E2. The majority of users of E2 are readers not noders, interested in well-written, informative factuals, and captivating creative writing. They don't care if WonkoDSane and all his writeups are gone. The majority of noders even don't mind that much. It's a function of when and where I came of age, but I feel that to be silent is to be complicit in something that I don't like. I want to stick my head up too. If it gets hit, so be it.

Them that pays the piper is them that calls the tune. You don't like the tune, go elsewhere. The management have said this several times. All fine and well, or at least true and actual, thus beyond argument. However acting on this suggestion will not endear you to E2 management, which seems paradoxical to me. Taking site decisions based on personal grievances is not a mature, rational approach.

I had a dream about my great grandmother last night, which prompted the following recollection.

The children in my immediate and extended family have an odd habit of naming their elders after their pets. My father's father was Grandpa Gomez to me for a while, despite the fact that his last name was Corwin. Gomez was the name of Grandpa's dog; when Gomez died, my dad encouraged me to call my grandfather "Grandpa Corwin". Grandpa Corwin eventually got a new dog, a chihuahua named Chiquita. My younger cousins started calling Grandpa "Grandpa Chickie". Then there was my father's grandmother, who I knew as "Grandma Topper" for the first few years of my life. She evolved into "Grandma Trinket" to my cousins (after old Topper's death), and eventually became "Grandma Puppy", after two of her other dogs had a large litter, none of which Grandma could bear to part with.

I have a weird family.

Grandma is now just Grandma, ninety years old but still taking care of her dogs and living alone in the house she raised her kids in. She and her husband (who died before I was born) acquired the house sometime in the forties, and as far as I can tell, the house became a time capsule sometime in the fifties. Her kitchen looked like a World's Fair exhibit; gleaming white round-edged appliances labeled in silver script. The living room carpeting was made entirely of wool, and I later learned that this carpet was the source of the peculiar yet oddly inviting smell of Grandma's house. The bedroom- turned-playroom was furnished in yellows and browns; cabinets built into the walls house hundred-year-old books. When I was very little I was drawn to the dolls and coloring books Grandma kept for us, but as I got older I became fascinated with the artifacts in her house. It was, and is, truly a museum.

It was always cool and eerie down in the basement; the effect was probably the closest thing to a time machine I'll ever experience. Grandma had arthritis; there came a point at which she decided she didn't want to go up and down the stairs anymore. So the fifties decor and furniture in the basement stayed there and somehow avoided decay. I've seen photographs of the past, but photographs fade and it is sometimes difficult to imagine that lush, bright colors even existed in the Fifties. Grandma had a very angular-looking couch in the basement; the cushions were bricks of foam encapsulated in vermillion, yellow, and navy-blue vinyl. There was a black coffee table on tapered silver legs. There was a massive wooden cabinet housing a black and white television with a tiny screen, a turntable, and a stack of 78 RPM records. The walls were panelled, and the floor was a clean white linoleum (real linoleum, not the plastic stuff on most kitchen floors today).

The couch, television, and coffee table were in the main sitting room of the basement. Adjacent to this room was the storage area, which looked more like your traditional idea of a cluttered cellar. The floor was grey and dusty; boxes of large-print Reader's Digests perched on a wobbly folding table. An old exercise bike stood by a rather fancy bench with a mechanism to make it feel like a porch-swing.

Grandma's house seemed to weave and sprawl underground far more than the upstairs floor would have allowed. Besides the storage area and the second living room in the basement, there was the ultimate treasure trove: the Bomb Shelter.

My first look at the Bomb Shelter was probably when I was seven years old. My father led me through a dark brick-lined corridor behind the exercise bike. It was utterly pitch black; my dad had to feel his way along the passage, looking for the sudden sharp turn. Abruptly, we stopped and my dad picked me up. He pulled a short string dangling from the ceiling, and all at once the room was bathed in white light. We were in a tiny, sterile- looking chamber, furnished only with an Army cot, a cabinet, and some sort of portable toilet (a seat atop a metal frame, with a plastic bag hanging down beneath it). We didn't stay there very long; I was wearing my church clothes and Dad didn't want me to get dirty. From then on, though, my brother and I would make a beeline for the basement whenever we went to Grandma's. It was a while before we could navigate our way to the Bomb Shelter without assistance, and even longer before we could reach the lightswitch in the little room. For several years my only impressions of the Bomb Shelter were that one brief image shared by my father and some dim glimpses my brother and I were able to catch with flashlights that always seemed to be running out of batteries.

It was not until I was perhaps fifteen that I thoroughly explored Grandma's little underground cavern of history. The cabinet held medical supplies; complete, perfectly preserved first-aid kits equipped with everything from gauze to smelling salts. There was also a quantity of alcohol; old bottles of wine and whiskey, which I imagine to this day have not been opened. Along the wall, there was a narrow shelf on which various objects were displayed. There was a can that I thought at first contained paint, but the label read "FAMILY EMERGENCY PROTEIN FOOD" and was illustrated with a smiling, very white family of four, presumably relaxing in their bomb shelter while the world above crumbled and burned.

In a plastic bag were about 10 copies of a magazine called Science Digest. These turned out to be a wonderful find; Science Digest was quite a well-written magazine, with many of the articles surprisingly relevant. There were rocketry pieces by Isaac Asimov, and attempts to popularize relativity. There was the pre-Moon Landing debate over whether it could be done. There was almost exclusive use of the male pronoun, but I guess that's just the way it was back then in science magazines.

There was a small carboard box next to the magazines; it was about the size of a deck of cards, and contained several vials of liquid. The Happy Nuclear Family illustrated the cover of this, too. The vials were supposed to, according to the instructions on the box, change color when radiation was in the air.

It was a good thing that the Bomb Shelter never actually had to be used. For one thing, it had no door, and I doubt that the mere fact of being in the basement would have meant anything in the case of nuclear cataclysm.

We visited the house again today, and the flooring was being installed. The builder also gave us some good news -- the house will be finished August 18, 2003, not late in August like they'd initially guessed.

We raced home, and I immediately called the lender to tell her I want to have the closing done by August 13, 2003, since our loan is apparently not quite traditional and the builder won't give us the damned key until the closing is done, recorded, funded, etc.

Y'know, these little hidden gotchas in home buying are really beginning to piss me off. It isn't enough that at closing we'll have put our signatures to hundreds of sheets of paper? It won't be enough that we've legally bound ourselves to the terms of a mortgage, and that escrow is closed and everybody involved (apart from the builder, apparently) is satisfied? Doesn't the mortgage lender have to lend us that money once the closing is completed?

It's not like I can get the house key, run off with the whole damned house, and disappear without the builder getting their damned money.

Anyway, true to form, the lender refuses to take this stuff as seriously as we have. Sure, she's got lots of other people to deal with, but it'd be nice to hear back from her, just a quick, ten-second phone call saying "be at the titling company's office at 2:00pm on August 13" or similar. But no. A full business day has passed since we left a message (conveniently, she's never in the office when I call these days), and we've heard nothing.

Oh well. I'll pester her tomorrow again.

There most definitely seems to be a "keeping borrowers in the dark" type of mentality in the mortgage lending world. Calls go unreturned, simple questions go unanswered (i.e. "did we actually get the loan or not?" and "have we satisfied the conditions you've set or not?"), and the overall process is never actually laid out in front of us to examine all at once. Fortunately, I'm not a complete idiot and I've had a pretty good idea what to expect from the beginning.

At this point, I can't possibly imagine what else is left. Closing should be a matter of signing paperwork that's already been printed (the lender called two days ago to tell me what our mortgage payment will be, and said the investor was there right at that moment to sign the loan lock, so that should be everything, shouldn't it?), and I can't imagine that would take more than an hour to prepare.

The good news is Sprint tells me DSL service is available at the new place (woohoo!), at the same speeds, and we'll be able to keep our phone number. Hurrah! Just for asking, they knocked ten bucks a month off the bill, too. I also ditched the static IP address that I've had for months but never needed.

So we've got a house with a south-facing view (not that this matters now; I can damned well bolt the dish to my roof if I wanted to), so satellite remains, and we keep our DSL service. Cox Communications can take their cable service and shove it.

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