Sydney is still burning.

My own disaster was narrowly averted a few days ago, but many other people are still fighting for their homes. So far more than 40 houses have been lost and that number will almost certainly rise over the next few weeks.

Yesterday we awoke to a surreal scene - the smoke from distant fires and backburning operations had blanketed the whole of Sydney in a dense fog, which at times was so thick that visibility was reduced to a few metres. Aerial photography showed the entire city smothered and invisible beneath the smoke. The air pollution index (calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency) was apparently so high that it was unmeasurable, leading to health warnings being issued for anyone with respiratory disease. Even for apparently healthy people such as myself the smoke acted as a potent irritant, causing painful and ongoing inflammation of nose and throat mucosa.

Today I am safely ensconced in the air-conditioned and smoke-free comfort of my office, wading interminably through data and statistics for an article I'm helping to write. The incongruity between desperately fighting for my parent's house just a few days ago and my current quiet, academic solitude is striking. I appreciate the discord, however - sometimes I need the sudden violence of action to be able to better appreciate the value of peace.

My first day log. Everyone else is doing it, and I want to be cool, right? Might as well give it a try.

Monday. I hate Mondays, especially since I've had an extra class added to my Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. I'm an English teacher in South Korea. I now teach 6 back-to-back hour-long classes on those days. I'm also the head foreign teacher at the school, which means I have to do level tests and conduct meetings. On the other hand, I also get paid an extra 200,000 Won a month, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm currently "teaching" my last class of the day. Only two students in the class, both exceptionally brilliant, and one is absent today. I gave the other one, Fred, some questions to research on the Internet. He's sitting beside me now, and I'm answering the occasional question while writing this. I feel like a big brother to him. He says I've inspired him to want to study physics like I did. Best compliment I've ever received from a student. What a kid.

I fell in love yesterday. My love life is so complicated these days. Some background: I've been having a relationship with a 36 year old divorced Korean woman with two kids. I'm 23 years old. Obviously, this relationship cannot last forever. I never intended to get involved with her, it just kind of happened.

She was the supervisor at my school. She got fired because of our relationship. I didn't, due to the double standard. Now she's moved back to Daejeon, while I'm still working here in Suncheon. I go visit her once in a while, and we continue the physical side of our relationship when I do. This might have to end soon.

I've been kind of seeing this girl, Eun Jeong, who works at a bar called Parthenon. Nothing has happened between us, but she seems to like me, and yesterday, I was walking home and thinking about her, and suddenly became aware of the characteristic tingle that means I'm falling in love with someone.

Meanwhile, this other girl, Mi Young, asked me out last week, and we had our first date on Saturday. It never rains, but it pours. She also seems nice, but since I suddenly realised I'm starting to feel something for Eun Jeong, I think things will probably remain Platonic between me and her.

Two working weeks until I get to go back to Canada for my Christmas vacation. Aside from my mother coming to Korea to visit me last February and my friend Eric visiting me a couple of months later, I haven't seen any of my friends or family in nearly a year and a half. Needless to say, I'm very excited about this trip.

20 minutes left in the class. Fred is using Google to find out how geysers are formed. When class is over and he's gone, I'll log on to IGS for a few games of Go, and then back to my apartment. Thank God Monday is over. Tuesdays are much better than Mondays. Only 4 classes, and some of my favorite students.

Such a strange thing, is life. I'm still not entirely convinced solipsism isn't correct. I guess there's really no way to tell. I am traveling now, teaching in China for the moment, soon I may go to Kyrgyzstan to teach there. Everything seems great. But I guess I find traveling kind of lonely. I miss my friends. And well, I'm tired. I've been teaching for a while.

I just got an email from my best friend, we both suffer from being incredibly shy, and having bad luck with girls. We always fall for great girls who don't want anything more than friendship, c'est la vie. Here in China I'm teaching in a small town. No one speaks English really. It's hard to kiss a girl when you don't know how to ask her... anything. He's in Sweden now, he's found a beautiful girl. That's the nice trade, is that when we do find girls they're always wonderful people. So it's kind of nice.

I'm happy for him. But it makes me a little sad. Before I knew that there was someone else who had the same problem as me. Now I'm just some strange loner.

I've been thinking about college more and more. It's hard. I think, if I go to college for 4 years what will I have? A piece of paper? And if I just continue traveling and try to make it as a writer, maybe that will work? But if it doesn't... I guess that's useless thought though. Even with a degree I could wash out. It's hard. Four years is a long time. Then I think if I keep on moving, what's to say I ever have enough time to meet a nice girl. That's the nice thing about college, instant social circle. It can be hard to find the good ol' boys without the college years.

I could become a doctor in Cuba. 6 years and I'm a doctor, and it's free. I'm young, I won't lie, I'm only 20, but I feel like every minute is a long time. 6 years? Maybe I just don't like the idea of staying in one place. Maybe I'm depressed. Maybe I have a personality disorder. Maybe I'm just confused.

Life can be really hard to think about sometimes.

since my last trip to New York I've been talking on and off with Kwaku about doing something web-based with my art. He seemed to get all excited when I told him I did an underground comic, and got more excited when I sent him some JPG's of my art. I'm not really sure what he has in mind, but I'm thinking it's going to be something like Broken Saints. This is interesting, mostly because I've never worked in this medium at all, but I can already see how much fun it can be.

He called me last week in a huff, and excitedly told me that he had registered the site www.masterofassassins.com for our project. The funny thing about this is that we, to that point, had not talked about the content or subject matter of this project at all. This got me to brainstorming ideas though, about what the story would be about. We've come up with a rough idea, and I wrote out this intro the other night. I think while it may be a little cliche it fits the feeling that we want.

MasterOf Assassins

Opening sequence



Setting: New York City. Winter. Night. A four star restaurant. The dining room is eloquent. Very top brass. Every seat in the place is filled with aged white men of immeasurable power, their beautifully surgically altered wives, and a vast assortment of bodyguards. The camera pans across the room and rests at the largest table.

Seated at the table is Carlos Mundos, head of a powerful drug cartel. Through the narration we find out that he has ties to the local and federal government, and that the justice department is unable to touch him. He is the kind of man that flaunts this, and he’s currently telling a story to the people at the table about how he kicked DEA agents out of his house while his men loaded millions of dollars worth of heroin out the back door. Everyone laughs. A waiter comes over to deliver their food, and Carlos goes off on him about something really inconsequential (something that only an old rich person would complain about). The camera follows the waiter, who’s taking Carlos’s plate back to the kitchen and muttering under his breath. The camera stops at the door and pans up to the vent in the wall above it. A thin green mist begins to billow out, filling the room. Everyone in the dining room falls asleep, their faces falling into their food. The waiter returns through the door to the kitchen, and falls over unconscious in the doorway. We can see past him to the kitchen, where all the staff has also fallen over.

Through the thick green fog a form emerges. He walks silently past the tables of sleeping millionaires and drooling women. It’s our character, his scarf wrapped around his face. Silently he scans the room and walks over to Mundos’ table. Reaching into the breast of his jacket, he produces a stethoscope. He places it on his ears. He stands behind Mundos, lifting the man’s head out of his soup. He tilts Carlos’s head slightly back, slightly to the left, and then with surgical precision he snaps his neck. He places the stethoscope on the victim’s chest, and we can hear the heartbeat fade to a stop. Our character looks at his watch, and speaking into the microphones inside the scarf he says “ Time of death, 9:45 PM. Dispatch secondary ops.”

A voice comes out through the scarf. “Roger that. Good work. I think you’ve broken the record. You better get out of there, the gas should wear off in thirty seconds.”

As quiet as when he arrived, our character disappears through the mist. The title of the series appears in the background, and as he fades into the fog it comes to the foreground.

MASTER OF ASSASSINS
PART 1: BEGINNINGS



I shouldn't be doing this. With the Plastic Farm work I have lined up, and the other work I have to do outside of that there's like 250 plus pages of art to accomplish over the next two years. This is, of course, not taking into account that I don't do this for a living, meaning that I have to balance a full time job and trying to raise two kids. I see a multitude of sleepless nights in my future. Why couldn't I just collect stamps?

Monday afternoon, 2 PM. At work. Which sucks. They no longer have a "need" for me after January anyway, so I'm not putting any more passion into this job. Gotta find a new one somewhere else.

0 degrees outside. No not Fahrenheit, Celsius. One hour before I have to go, away from my disappointed manager, to a Linear Algebra lecture. No, haven't put a lot of energy into my courses either. Gotta revise. Well, maybe when the Christmas holidays is here.

Another year gone by. The sky is gray, snow will fall soon. I would have never thought I'd be somewhere like here 10 years ago. Heh, I'm only 21 anyway. But some 11000 km away from home.

But I can leave here and walk 15-20 minutes and I'll be home.

There's this girl. She lives where I live. Yeah, she's interesting. Or is it just because she's the only one I've met, in quite a long time? I don't think she's interested in me though. Like I said, I'm from 11000 km away, and I feel that minimizes my chances. Whatever the reality, I feel that way.

But I'm not letting myself be worried about that too much (at least not all the time), let's just take it easy and see where it will get me. A new job and exams to pass are more important at the moment.

Well this is the end of this daylog. I hope am sure your next click will reveal something more profound and insightful than my (currently) banal life.

See bariatrics and my previous daylog for details. Today is my first day back at work. I had lost 23 pounds one week after the surgery. I can now start eating things like yogurt(artificially sweetened) and scrambled eggs. Soft, low fat cheeses are also permitted. Refried beans are okay. Sugar is a definite no-no. If I were to take a bite of something sweetened with sugar, it would rapidly pass through my system into my small intestine, causing my insulin glands to go into overdrive and drop my blood sugar level to zero. It's called "dumping," and apparently it sucks. I might even pass out. I'm pretty cautious about that one. I move slow. I have occasional sharp pains on the incisions when I bend over or move akwardly, so I look like an old man moving right now. But I'm happy with how things are going so far.

I just realized something.

When I was a child, I only became sad. It wasn't until I grew up that I could actually be depressed.

And yet, in either age, I could always be happy.

What's up with that?

Today in the papers and on the cable news networks all I hear the talk about is this 13,000 page document that Saddam Hussein and his crew released to the UN. Am I the only one who wonders about how quick he had 13,000 pages ready? Or am I just misunderstanding something. I also keep hearing to the cd-roms that were included in the material, I wonder what they used to make those?

At work today it seems like the day is flying by, barely able to catch a break and node, so I'm finishing this up on my lunch break before I dive back into work. This morning I spent a majority of the time on the phone either on the phone or making sure a line was up so a tech could get in and update one of the systems. (Note: On the core banking system we use here, the company dials in and does 90% of the maintance work on the system.)

So life is good, heading out after on normal Monday night activities. Monday's have been for about 6 months "guys night out" which we get together and play some DnD and swap stories and whine about work. A time away from wifes and fiancees. Tonight is the second night of the City of the Spider Queen module. Its pretty good, well thought out so maybe I'll node it here when I get done, have to avoid too many spoilers.

Well, lunch is over, back to work....

Sunday, a headline in the Louisville Courier Journal said "Detective shot man handcuffed behind back." These are the facts as reported by local press. Two uniformed Louisville Police entered the 50 year old man's home after a disturbance was reported. The man, named James Taylor, was allegedly intoxicated. They handcuffed the man. Someone said that someone had a knife. They did not frisk the man because it was unclear who had the knife, and they wanted to make sure no one else had it. The manacled man took a knife, a 3 inch pocket knife, out of his back pocket and tried to attack the police with it. He never had the knife any higher than his hips because his hands were bound behind him. After several attempts to subdue the man, one shot was fired at him by one of the officers. The man did not stop. The cops then shot him eleven more times. This volley killed him.

How sick and wrong is this? I challenge anyone to tell me how an inebriated 50 year old with both hands bound behind his back could be a sufficient threat to two able-bodied police officers to justify 12 gunshot wounds. For Pete’s sake, punch him! Hit him with your night stick. Mace or pepper spray him! Why fill him full of lead?

I went to the police station at noon today with some other activists to protest. There were about 150-200 of us. I wondered what would happen to us. Would they jail us? It was a question rooted in curiousity, not fear. I would have gone to jail had the protest turned ugly. But it was beautiful. All in all it was a very positive experience.

People sang, chanted, prayed, and held sign. People held hands. People shouted. The demonstration was peaceful and very uplifting. I got there a few minutes late because I was waiting for a friend. I was handed a sign by someone that read “LPD Shooting Range.” There was a target printed on the sign of a black figure with twelve bullet holes in it. Others held signs saying "Am I next?" The Rev. Louis Coleman led the group in prayer, and then others led chants. Dick Gregory came and said a few words. He said that this was not a protest against all cops -- just some bad ones. This was a protest to demand justice, others said. Then the leaders of the demonstration attempted to move into the Police Headquarters to hold a prayer in the lobby. They were restrained from doing so by uniformed officers. The group of leaders broke into song -- Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around -- and after a few minutes of trying to get in, the leadership stopped and began praying. Then the people moved into 7th Street and blocked traffic. More songs were sung, and the leaders led us in more prayers. For about 15 minutes or so we prayed and listened to speeches in the street. I fully expected the cops to disperse us, but they did not. In a way, I was proud to be an American at that moment, protesting police brutality, unsure if I was going to be receiving some, and then not having any trouble at all.

At 4:30 today there will be a demonstration in front of the Mayor Armstrong’s office. I won’t make that one, but I will be there tomorrow for the next lunchtime protest. Fred Shuttlesworth, who along with Ralph Abernathy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s here in the United States, will speak at tomorrow's protest.

I overheard an interesting conversation at school today between the headteacher and on of the underlings. It was just after school had finished and I was waiting for some friends in the art display area, but the wierd thing was that they since they were talking about the evil ones, which included me, they kept lowering their voices half way through a sentence in a pitiful attempt to make me think they hadn't noticed I was there. I decided to listen in just out of interest, while being "very interested" in something on the wall. I only picked occasional bits, but you can see what they were getting at...

..."Well, I've dealt with schools in very deprived areas, but this is something else"...

..."Yes, I think there is some sort of social code"...

..."Disgraceful, the litter"...

..."Lunchtime"...

..."Yes, Lunchtime"...

..."They just don't care"...

..."No Pride in their school"...

I love my teachers


Last Daylog * * * Next Daylog

Antarctic Diary: December 9, 2002

What have I done with my life?

Everybody asks me how's she's doing, "Has she really lost her mind?"I said, "I couldn't tell you, I've lost mine."You Pay For What You Get-Dave Matthews Band-

My wife dyed her hair. She told me by IM so I can only imagine.

The flight north was cancelled because the Herc never made it south. The Kiwis were flying. Weather delay, they said.

It was football weather up north and the All Blacks were playing a test match.

They're young, the Kiwi crews. Fuzzy dice hanging from the console in the plane. Postcards taped to the windows. I have the picture somewhere, I'll show you. Right here.

The roads are mud in McMurdo. They cut channels to make places for the melting snow to run. When the melt is over, they'll regrade the roads flat.

Then the ice fog rolls in. It gets colder. Things freeze.

The soil is volcanic ash.

The cook in the galley was once a chef at Lutece. Rumor has it he's had enough Antarctic adventure and wants to go home. That's why the potato leek soup was a little "off" yesterday.

Habituation is a terrible thing. Things that seem amazing from a distance become less so up close.

We have an astronaut here. She was on the space shuttle three times. She's picking up meteors. She wants to live in the space station. Thinks Antarctic meteors will get her there. Maybe Mars.

She has her hair done in tight braided rows. Little beads. Her name is Cady. She's as tall as my middle daughter. Kind of small. All those pilots are small.

We have a guy here who climbed Mount Everest without oxygen. He's a medic at a field camp up on the plateau.

We have a guy who's been digging tunnels under the ice at the south pole for years.

There's a guy who's close to winning a Nobel Prize in physics for discovering something fundamental. Some particle or another. He's building a huge detector near the south pole to detect neutrinos.

When he detects them he'll get the Nobel Prize for sure. So they think.

He blushes when you ask him about the prize. Demurs.

His name is John.

He's from the University of Wisconsin.

They invented Vitamin D Milk there. They have the patent.

The guy drilling the ice tunnels for the detector was my roommate last year. These holes will be four kilometers deep. They invented an ice drill to dig it.

When I was his roommate, I noticed he had a postcard from Hawaii on the wall. When I asked him who it was from, he said he couldn't remember. He just carried it around. It was his only decoration.

He's going to be the first man to drill a 4-kilometer hole in ice. After he does that, he's going to drill 79 more.

I had lunch with a woman who installed a detector 100-feet under water, beneath 30 feet of lake ice. Her name is "Maria". She's a professor at University of Tennessee.

Yesterday a guy named Rob rappelled down a 200-foot crevasse to see if they could fill it up with snow and drive Caterpillar D9 bulldozers over it.

I gave him one of my beers. His nickname is "Crash", because he crashed his biplane doing tricks near power lines a week before he came to the ice. Then he lived. So he got to come.

They're building a road from McMurdo to the south pole. My roommate is helping.

It's going to take three years. They don't care. They have time.

Barry is practicing helicopter autorotation emergency landings today. He had an extra dish of ice cream for added strength.

At dinner last night someone said, "Gee, you sure have an interesting life."

My wife dyed her hair.

Red.

Everybody asks me how she's doing, "Is she really all she said?"I said, "I couldn't tell you. I'm ok,"I'm ok. Okay?

I think I might be confused about one particular facet of daylogs. When I make a write up under the name December 9, 2002, I think it's supposed to be primarily about December 9, 2002, and therefore can not possibly be written until late on December 9, 2002 or early on December 10, 2002. From examining other day logs, perhaps December 9, 2002 is simply supposed to be written on December 9, 2002, and is therefore primarily about December 8, 2002. I'll keep doing it the right way, rather than the popular way. So there.

First day back from Thanksgiving in Florida, and then work in California. Not only is it cold, with snow on the ground, but there's most of two weeks of stuff that's piled up. Mail and bills, not to mention unpacking and the horrific state of clutter that we left the house in two weeks ago.

Making some changes to my extensions to the GNU textutils I realized there wasn't a write up on them, so I made one.

Got some CDs for Christmas at Thanksgiving, so I'm busy ripping them into iTunes so I can enjoy them. Then I'll discard the crystal boxes and archive the CDs. They include Beethoven's Wig, Brave Combo's Polkasonic and Christine Lavin's Absolutely Live, all of which you should go out and buy, preferably at amazon.com.

I got the some adjustable shelving put up in the office. We needed some small shelves for the paperback books that were taking up all the space on our larger shelves. The only tricky bit was finding the studs, as the lathe and plaster walls make a stud finder pretty much useless. I ended up using a coat hanger stuffed through one of the incorrect holes I made, to find where the stud actually was.

For dinner tonight my wife whipped up some very tasty baked chicken potato thing with parsley and chives. I think tomorrow it's time for me to make some of my infamous curry.

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