I'm scared.

The good days are getting few and far between. When my mother helped me out of bed this morning, I went to brush my hair as I always do. While she was making my bed, I looked in the mirror and picked up my favorite hairbrush.

Suddenly, my entire arm went numb, I lost my grip on the brush and dropped it. For about 15 seconds, I was unable to move my arm, hand or my fingers. Fortunately, it had fallen back on my dressing table, where I could pick it up myself when the feeling in my arm returned.

Lack of coordination is not uncommon for me, so when the brush hit the table, my mother just continued on with what she was doing. With her back turned, she didn't see my arm go limp. I didn't want her to. She would only worry about something she has no control over. She worries about me enough as it is. I see it in her eyes whenever she looks at me.

My right arm is my only functional appendage. The entire left side of my body is weak. In May of 1990, necrosis necessitated the amputation of my left leg just below the knee. Everything I do, I do with my right arm. I type my E2 nodes with my right hand.

Things like what happened this morning are to be expected. The doctors already warned me when I had my brain scan two years ago. The lack of coordination, short-term memory loss and slight confusion are no big surprise to me, but sometimes I'm afraid and frustrated.

I became a member of E2 in June of 2002. I turned 46 last month. There are so many things I've yet to do. Not the least of which is to remain an active member of this community that has become so important to me.

Yes. I'm scared, but I have a plan. My plan to fight any fears I have is to fight like hell.

It seems many things are heading to a cusp of decision.

The world hurtles towards major change with a would-be-king gleefully pushing ever harder for his way. Our political systems are fast coming to a critical mass the will have profound repercussions for generations to come.

When this reaction mass goes, what will become of it? Will it enter fusion and meld all parts into an entirely differing whole, or will it fission and split us into yet more rarefied and differing elements? I hope for the first and fear the second...

On my personal scale I feel a similar cusp, a nexus of events coming together to form a new path. I have an old acquaintance of mine and we've had a rather startling realization about each other. We've been around each other for years not making our interest in the other clear.

So we've been talking these past weeks and finding we are of much the same mind on a great many things and really enjoy the other's company immensely.

We are taking it slowly, although things could go very fast if we wished. I want a slow pace so that I can safely rule out the rebound effect as the cause of our attraction and happiness. I need to be sure. I want to cause no harm.

The funeral was today...

I've lived to tell about it, and hope this is the last 'downer' post I will ever have to share here but I think it belongs here. I'm sharing the story while it's still fresh in my mind because after this I'd like to do what I can to get it off my mind for a while. It's been a very long overwhelming week and I'm thankful for it to be over.

The morning as I suspected was stressful and took forever. By the time I left for the funeral I'd had several anxiety attacks. The weather here was like a spring day - bitter cold wind but beautiful and sunny. I arrived at the funeral a few minutes late (actually it apparently started a few minutes early) and all the family had already been seated and my cousin Steve was speaking so I stood off to the side for the duration of the service. I didn't know it was going to be an open casket, I"m glad I suppose I didn't know that but I also wasn't prepared for it and it was difficult to have him there laying in that casket not breathing - not smiling - unable to hear anything. After Steve's touching tribute a succession of family members and friends got up and spoke briefly.

I've been terrified for days as to how well I'd handle all of this with my depression / anxiety issues etc and I was handling things well I thought until Billy got up to speak. Billy is Bill's oldest son and he and I have been extremely close for the past 20+ years... he got up to speak and he couldn't speak... his pain was too much for me and I went to pieces then and doubted I'd be able to handle the rest of this funeral emotionally. But after Billy spoke (or rather didn't speak ... he couldn't speak but that spoke volumes) after he left the podium a preacher got up and began a long speech. During his speech I had time to calm down which was good I guess, it was pretty unbearable at that point.

After his speech my cousin Paul got up and started to play a movie, a series of snapshots that chronicled Bill's life. My son was seated on the other side of the church and when they showed a picture of Bill holding my son as a baby my son started to cry... this of course was too much for me I couldn't hug him or comfort him or visa versa. I wanted to leave the church then but I didn't. The snapshots continued on until his very last few days, my Uncle Bill looked in his last days like a Holocaust survivor and with each shot they showed of his touching last visit with someone more people in the church began to cry. It was then that I started to feel like I was going to explode - anyone who's had anxiety attacks can relate to this moment. This was beautiful and touching though for everyone to get to see their last moments with him. The last moment of the film was Stevie's daughter hugging him and written on the screen was Sweet Dreams Grampa, I love you - her last words to him. A few moments of 'silence' - or moments of everyone crying... Then they started a procession to walk by his casket, this was hard for me because I was already to close where I stood - perhaps 30 feet away. I didn't really know what to do but in the end I went out of the church - I couldn't handle how I was feeling as it was I didn't need it to get worse, I said my goodbyes to him when he was alive, I couldn't handle saying goodbye to a lifeless body.

After the service we went to the gravesite where he had Full Military Honors which was touching, things got really tough again as members of the family each grabbed a handful of dirt to place as they lowered the casket. There was a really tough point when the men who had done the military salute went back to their van and were laughing, I really wished they were not doing that at a time like this. I felt bad for them because I don't think they realized that they could be heard, or at least I hope they didn't know that. I imagine their comrade who noticed it and looked back at them will tell them, and I feel bad about how that might make them feel.

As they lowered the casket many cried, but for me I just noted what an incredibly beautiful spot someone could be buried. He has alot of family that will be visiting his grave often, and his grave overlooks on one side a beautiful park across the river, something you'd see in postcards. On another side his grave overlooks the mountains that are white peeked all year round. I can't imagine a more peaceful setting for someone to sit and talk to him or think of their memories of him. For some reason thinking about this brought me some calm and peace inside. Now when I think about him, I'll be able to think about him having one of the nicest 'resting' places anyone could have.

William Hoover Alsept, Sr.
April 25, 1935 - February 12, 2003
Rest in Peace

Why must my parents constantly nag me about doing my homework?

Every day, they ask me, at least once, when I am going to do my homework. It's not like I'm not capable of setting a schedule for myself (something I was forced to learn in sixth grade). It's not as if my grades show me doing poorly, or not studying nearly enough (except for that B in French, which is, undoubtably, my worst subject).

I do many after-school activities, and my parents let me. Sometimes they do so reluctantly, because they think that I will not have enough time to study, but it is obvious that I am not negatively affected by these. I keep up my good grades, despite the fact that I feel grades cannot accurately measure how one does in any class. I do this because, no matter how much I do not believe in grades, they are the most important number (besides the SATs) to get me into college.

I have gone so far as to stop talking to my parents for an entire day (which is quite hard for me, since I tend to ask them a great many things, and I cannot yet drive), but still, they nag me about doing my homework early. When I do it late, however, I have less distractions and I get it done in half the time. But they still nag me about doing it early.

When will they learn? When I become a second-semester senior (though I doubt that I will stop learning, since the courses I will be taking will be what I want to take, opposed to the school curriculum's drivel)? When I go to college? Or will they still e-mail me or call me every day at college to make sure that I have done my work in a "timely fashion"? This thought haunts me, because then I would have to screen my calls and block my parent's e-mail addresses, which I would hate to do.

This has been a rant by non sequitur.

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has /msged me in the past day with well-wishes and support. I appreciate the outpouring of support and cannot express how great it is to know I have so many friends and supporters among E2. Some of you even offered to pitch in with my homework! If you know how to calculate Mutual Information in the field of Information Theory, let me know ;-) . Some people have asked about next week's medical test. It's a small bowel follow-through in which I'll drink several cups of barium and then will be x-rayed over the course of several hours as it moves through my digestive tract. This will take several hours. In 1994 it took six hours to complete, in 1996 it took sixteen because my bowels were completely swollen shut. In 2001 it only took four hours, however, so I'm hoping it'll only take about as long this time. The surgery that I mentioned is a stricturoplasty in which surgeons will slice into specific places in my intestine and squeeze the closed areas open. Hopefully they won't have to remove anything. Healing time for this procedure is four to six months.

I also thought I'd post a little update on how I'm doing. I got my new nausea medicine, Compazine, and it works wonders although it puts me to sleep for a few hours. Combined with my pain medicine I'm feeling a little better. Unfortunately because both of these send me to bed, I can't go to work or class. It's another day at home in bed for me, which in the long run is probably for the best. And speaking of bed, it's time to go there now. G'night, E2.

Tears

Before I start let it be said I don't care what you think or say about me after this. I don't care if you down vote me to hell. Go ahead. Just proves my point later on in this day log.

I suffer from severe depression. You can see it in my eyes. They are heavy with dark spots beneath them. I walk around slowly, my legs just going from point A to point B. I don't talk much anymore, and when I do it's filled with sadness. I have no voice anymore. I hear it but it isn't mine. I am quiet. I can't be noticed when I'm quiet. If I'm quiet, I can't be hurt further. I don't smile anymore either. I can't remember the last time that I did. It requires so much effort, not to mention something to smile about, to get a smile out of me.

My mind... How messed up it is. My mind is always filled with past thoughts, present thoughts but not future ones. And when those future thoughts do appear, they only make my depression deepen. I hate memories. I have the worst kind of memory, photographic. I can remember things so well in so much detail. I can remember feelings, touch, even every word, every smile. I hate remembering. I wish the memories would go away.

I don't sleep well. I'm plagued by dreams and nightmares. I wake up in cold sweats. I wake up screaming in the night. No one hears me, my doors are closed. I fall back asleep in tears. I can remember my dreams. Some have someone special coming into my life, she is beautiful in my eyes. She is kind to me, she loves me, and I don't understand why. I've never seen her before in my life. Others are things that I'm doing around an apartment, my apartment, sometimes she's there. Sometimes not. But I don't own an apartment. I live in my parents house, finishing up high school right now. But it doesn't matter. It won't happen. I'm just fall back asleep. Waiting for the inevitable dawn. Dawn that's always there for me.

I am ugly. I don't think I'm attractive. No one else does either. I'm far from it. As ugly as sin. I'm so emotionally scared. Scared from so much hate towards me. So much hurt that's been inflicted upon me. So much rejection. It's scars run deep. Deep into my core. I don't blame people for not wanting to be around me. Why should I? Where would it get me?

You may think that depression has a bottom that you can hit and then crawl back up from.

You're wrong. Don't think that. It's bottomless. A void. A black hole that sucks everything in. Trust me, I feel it. Constantly. I live with it everyday.

I think that's what's there now instead of my heart. A black hole, a void. I don't feel anymore. I can't feel. I only feel pain but that only reminds me that I'm alive. It's the only thing that's real.

I've been told by my dearest friend that I don't live. I just exist. He doesn't know how true that is. I'm here. I get up at dawn, get ready for school, put my hours in there, come home (I can only do summer jobs), work out, eat dinner, shower, and go to bed, waiting for dawn the next day.

I hate myself. I am a monster. A terrible plague to those that know me. I distance myself anymore. I tried to be a part of society. (HA!) It didn't want me. No one wants me around. They find me repulsive after a time. They cower away from, seeing the dark cloak that I'm forced to wear, flowing behind me, rippling from the darkness within.

By now, most of you think that I'm suicidal. Been there, tried that a long time ago. I'd rather not shame my family or my self by dying that way. It's my sin. I'll live. I'll stay. As it was put, being a hermit, an outcast of society. I chose my path in life. I thought I could handle this path I took and be happy at the end of it. I thought I would smile, have a lot of friends, someone special in my life, do well in life. How wrong I was. I can't go back now. Too bad.

I'm sorry I wasted your time by having you read this. Many people are worse off than I. That's why I ask you to forgive me. I don't ask for more, just forgiveness.

Today's Headlines

US News

Antiwar Protests Fail to Sway Bush
In his first public comments about anti-war demonstrations by millions of people in the US and overseas, President Bush stated that his job was to "protect" the American people, and that that job may mean bucking public opinion. Bush said, "Size of protest - it's like deciding, well, I'm going to base policy based upon a focus group."

Influential Figures Defend Owner of E2 Nightclub
Looking to affix someone with responsibility in the deaths of 21 people in a Chicago, Illinois nightclub, the city has begun to focus on Dwain Kyles, the son of one of Chicago's most influential African-American families and owner of the club. A veritable who's-who of black Chicago are speaking in public defending Kyles, including Jesse Jackson, George Clements, and U.S. representative Danny Davis.

Carol Moseley-Braun To Run For President
Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun is announcing the creation of a presidential exploratory committee today for the Democratic nomination for president. Moseley-Braun is a long-time Democrat from Illinois and a former ambassador to New Zealand, and she plans on running as a "peace dove and a deficit hawk."

International News

First 9/11 Trial Near Verdict in Germany
Mounir el Motassadeq is charged with membership in a terrorist organization and more than three thousand counts of accessory to murder for providing logistical support to the Hamburg Al Qaeda cel that included Mohamed Atta, the pilot of one of the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. He faces up to fifteen years in prison, as a five-judge panel is set to deliver a verdict on Wednesday.

11 Palestinian Troops Dead in Latest Gun Battle
Last night, more than thirty Israeli tanks, backed up by helicopters and small units of well-armed troops, swept into the militant northern and eastern neighborhoods of Gaza City, resulting in several skirmishes with Palestinian troops in the region. This was the second Israeli raid on Gaza City since the Islamic militant group Hamas blew up an Israeli tank on Saturday.

Riots Over South Korean Subway Fire
Grieving relatives of victims of the subway fire yesterday in South Korea clashed with police in a skirmish this morning as a result of growing anger over apparent major lapses in safety. At least 125 people died in the arson attack yesterday, in which two trains in the city of Daegu, South Korea aught fire after a flammable liquid was set on fire. Kim Dae-hwan, a local man with a history of mental illness, has confessed to starting the fire.

Business

Intel To Spend $2 Billion To Upgrade Plant in Arizona
Intel plans to spend $2 billion to upgrade its manufacturing plant in Chandler, Arizona, to bring the plant to the cutting edge of wafer manufacturing. According to Intel, the conversion of the plant will begin in 2004 and end in 2005 and will result in a doubling of manufacturing capacity while lowering costs.

Barrett Bullish on IT Recovery
Intel's CEO Craig Barrett is confident in an increase in IT spending in the coming year with one caveat - no war with Iraq. During his opening address yesterday at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, California, Barrett cited Microsoft's decision to stop supporting Windows 95 and Windows 98, the huge leaps in broadband availability, and the global move to use of digital media will cause an increase in spending.

Bargain Hunting on Wall Street Boosts Markets
Due to several factors, the bargain hunters were out on Wall Street, buying significant numbers of stocks and bringing the Dow Jones Industrial Average up to 8,041.15, an increase of 132.35 points. Belief that a war in Iraq is not imminent after all in conjunction with strong reports from many companies including Wal-Mart caused the buying spree, analysts said.

Science & Technology

Mungo Man Actually 22,000 Years Younger Than Previously Thought
A new set of tests on the remains of 'Mungo Man,' a skeleton found in southeastern Australia in 1974, show that he died only 40,000 years ago, much more recently than the previous claims of 62,000 years. This matches evidence of a tribe in the region from about 40,000 years ago, evidenced by artifacts and the presence of a female skeleton of that age, called 'Mungo Woman.' Details will be published by scientists from Melbourne University in the February 20, 2003 issue of Nature.

Cellular Phone Cameras Experience Technical Difficulties
Due to several problems, including the inability to work across networks, poorly-executed design, and lack of access to users without service, cell phone cameras have yet to reach a significant level of market penetration. Mobile industry leaders are meeting at the 3GSM conference in Cannes, France to try to solve these problems today.

XML Security Standard Ratified By OASIS
The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) announced on Tuesday that they had approved XACML (Extensible Access Control Markup Language) as a standard. XACML is a standard for expressing security policy in XML form. The next major hurdle for XACML is to get full W3C support for the emerging standard.

Health

Duke University Botches Heart-Lung Transplant
17-year-old Jessica Santillan was in critical condition early this morning at Duke University Hospital after accidentally being given organs that did not match her type 0-positive blood. Hospital officials do not know how the mistake happened, but Dr. William Fulkerson, the chief executive officer at Duke University, says the hospital is investigating the mistake and will determine if any discipline is necessary.

Alzheimer's Disease May Be Treated By Fats, Not Affected By Antioxidants
A study at Columbia University reveals that antioxidants may not have the strong positive effect on Alzheimer's disease that was previously reported, and that some dietary fats help the condition, while others fail it. The summary of the results is that a heart-healthy diet may also help to treat Alzheimer's.

Sports

Lakers Defeat Rockets in Double Overtime
Kobe Bryant scored 52 points, in his sixth straight game with more than 40 points, as the Shaq-less Lakers defeated the Rockets 106-99 in two overtimes. O'Neal is out with toe and knee injuries. Yao Ming led the Rockets with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

Juventus Must Play At Manchester United
The UEFA has decided that the flu-struck Juventus team must play Wednesday's Champions League match against rival Manchester United. Juventus requested a postponement after defender Lilian Thuram came down with a virus and was unable to play, making him the sixth player on the team to be unable to play. Several other Juventus players are also running high temperatures.

Entertainment

Joe Millionaire Hands Rupert Murdoch Ratings Victory
More than 40 million viewers tuned into the conclusion of Fox's Joe Millionaire on Monday evening, giving Rupert Murdoch's fledgling network its greatest ever ratings for a non-sports program. This caps a string of successful programs that have put Fox on top of the ratings in America.

Bono Named As Possible Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
Bono, frontman of the pop group U2, has been placed on the short list of potential winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. This list includes 150 organizations and individuals who have contributed greatly to peace causes in the past year, including French president Jacques Chirac and former Illinois governor George Ryan.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

As some of you may know, I am a Christian. I don't particularly like organized religion in terms of participating in services and other organizations, particularly those organizations that attempt to bridge the gap between religion and politics.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I have an Islamic friend who, from November 6, 2002 to December 5, 2002, fasted due to the practices for the holy month of Ramadan. At the time, I didn't really understand what the purpose of it was, so I asked him about it. He sat down with me one evening and explained the belief structure behind it, which I'm summarizing here (perhaps overly so, but read the writeup on Ramadan for more details):

1. The Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation from the God on the 24th day of Ramadan 570 C.E.
2. The Enjeel (Gospel) was reveled to Prophet Isah (Jesus) on the First day of Ramadan.
3. The Torah was reveled to Prophet Musa (Moses) on the 13th day of Ramadan.

The part of this that really shocked me was the second one; part of the motivation for celebrating Ramadan is a celebration of the day that the Gospel was revealed to Jesus, which is an essential and pivotal point in my own religious beliefs. Prior to this, I had basically viewed Islam as being vastly different from my own beliefs, but it's not. After that, I began to read the Qur'an for a second time, trying to understand the meaning of what is being said.

But I kept coming back to the practices that my friend followed during the month. Here's what he did:

1. He did not consume any drink or food during daylight hours. Instead, he began the day with a light meal before dawn, and then ate a light meal at dusk, sometimes drinking some broth before bed as well. He broke the fast in the evening with three dates and a glass of water.
2. He attended special prayers (called the Taraweeh) that occurred late in the evening every night, in addition to his normal praying practices.
3. He increased his time spent each day studying the Qur'an.
4. He also volunteered extra time to feed the disadvantaged, working in a soup kitchen on the weekends.

My friend does not read this site, so he may never know the amount of time I've spent really considering this. In fact, observing his actions during Ramadan made me realize that the cultural and spiritual divide between us isn't that great after all. He reads and believes in the words of a holy book, which contains messages on how to live a better life. He believes that Jesus, if not the son of God, was at least an extremely important prophet. And he strives to improve his life daily.

Inspired by this, I have decided to take up a discipline during Lent that mirrors his practices during Ramadan. First, before I diatribe on this, let me explain what I plan to do:

1. I will not consume any drink or food during daylight hours. Instead, I will begin each day with a light meal before dawn, and then eat a light meal at dusk and drink broth before bed. I will break the fast in the evening with three dates and a glass of water.
2. I will double the length of my evening and morning meditations. I meditate for 20 minutes each day, both in the morning and in the evening, on my life and the world around me.
3. I will double the time spent each day studying the Bible (from fifteen minutes to thirty) and add an additional 15 minutes of daily study of the Qur'an.
4. I will volunteer for some social work each weekend.

What do I want to get out of this? First of all, the practice will help me to understand my own religion better. I can understand, at least in part, the suffering that Jesus went through in the last part of his life. This practice will also help me get into better touch with my spiritual side (through meditation), my religious studies (through more reading), and my social responsibilities. Beyond this, I can begin to understand, at least in part, some of the practices of my Islamic friends in the world.

Our nation is about to head down a path that will likely lead to a holy war of a sort between Muslims and Christians. I feel that all war and all hatred are signs of evil, and the best thing I can do to fight against this is to try to understand the people on both sides better, and through my actions perhaps help others to consider the same. I guess part of this practice is my own protest against the seemingly inevitable war, as I refuse to take up arms but I want to make others carefully reconsider what we are doing in the Middle East.

Cats VS. Buttered Toast, An Epic Battle.

I wish to present a new twist to the "cat with buttered toast tied to it's back" theory.

As you have probably all heard before, cats ALWAYS land on their feet, and toast ALWAYS lands buttered side down. So what would happen if you were to tie a piece of buttered toast to a cat's back, with the buttered side facing up, and proceed to drop both cat and toast? Some speculate that both the toast and the cat would levitate above the ground.

My theory is simple. The cat will eventually land on it's feet. Simply because while the cat is levitating, it will begin to grow hungry. Sooner or later, the cat will discover the tasty treat that has been strapped to it's back, and in it's state of extreme hunger, will quickly devour the toast. Being as limber as cats are, it will have little trouble attaining this goal. When the toast is no longer a factor, the cat will fall back to Earth, and land safely on its feet.

Although I do not believe in tormenting cats, it would be an interesting experiment to carry out.

Untitled
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Bronze-hued leaves
Skate away from auburn trees
And puddle down to greener ground,
Honey-like and out of sound;

Leaf to leaf
Fall through vacuums of belief,
And, plucked from wetness, hue and care
Are lost to life, discarded, bare.

Love and zeal
Sigh and pass from thoughts unreal
Into the real. Shadows fall
Beyond the passion lust enthrals

To ecstasy,
And lead the heart to tenancy
Of custom, practice, task and duty;
Love of habit, not in beauty.

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