Interesting day today, I'm still a little in shock. I just finished installing $60,000 worth of Microsoft software on my work machine. I am still having problems grasping how much that is. I keep trying to tell my self I could buy two nice cars for that amount. Or how about 10 vacations to Europe. Or 1200 copies of GTA Vice City. Or 400 years on my EverQuest account. And God only know how many starving people it could feed. Yet, to my employers, this is only a drop in the multimillion dollar bucket we hand to Microsoft every year.

Why don't we just change to Linux, you say? Oh no, that would be far too expensive. At least that's what they keep telling me. Everything I installed has a comparable Linux solution, which would take a bit more time to install and configure including extra time for coding exactly what we want, but is FREE! But almost 10 years ago someone made an arbitrary decision to use Microsoft servers that sent us into this fiscal downward spiral.

People have been trained and certified in all sorts of Microsoft products. Retraining them would be costly. Only a select few are well acquainted with Linux and it's potential. Most have the idea that if it's free it must be crap. Occasionally, some rouge will inflate his testicular regions long enough to attempt an assault against the pom-pom waving hordes screaming "Ra, Ra, Microsoft!" only to be squashed by the standard rhetoric, that's the way it's always been done. Still, the longer we continue down this path the more costly it will be to change in the future.

And this sixty g's isn't even money well spent. All of this software is only for one function, designing web application in C#, something I can already do in PHP! Ok, I know the whole bashing Microsoft thing has been way over done, so sorry about all that, but I really needed to vent a bit. Thank you, drive threw.

First a little background? Perhaps herein can be found not only the simple explanation of a writeup's origination but also the thought process involved in its development.

It's really not a very interesting story save perhaps to amateur psychologists and those who are of the same obsessive type who encounter similar situations. Or, maybe, just maybe, she's the universal factor to create interest. She has made it quite clear that I am not the first to feel this way about her... but I think I am the first she has felt the same about.

Excuse the digression.

So, anyway, I have been finding myself missing her immensely the last few days. For a rather obvious reason... she is off on a trip with family. Not a big deal save that ever since that first fateful not quite date we have spoken all day every day.

And once again I digress.

So I miss her. I miss her like I've never missed anyone, imagine that. And as such I've been looking for her or memories of her or anything of her to fill this emptiness inside me. And so I come to everything2. It really did not take much looking to find considering she's only shown me it once. And I figure I'll make an account and write a writeup to add to the pile or reading that has originated in me for her to enjoy when she gets home.

Did I mention she gets home today?

I already have an idea in mind. A real description of missing someone. I'll keep the clichès to a minimum and start with her own idea of what really missing someone is all about. That's it! I'll start it with a description of how I missed her before she even left. Of how I knew I'd miss her so much I warned people away from me for fear of the mood I'd be in. And then I'd go on and incorporate all that I've been feeling in such a way that she'd really understand. And, more importantly, a way that she'd know I understand she feels the same. I'll refer the writing I've done for her and to how I've thought about her every single waking moment she's been away.

When did I start back into her? Wasn't I discussing everything2?

So I come to everything2 and make my account and read all the help on linking to nodes and not creating nodes when there's a node on the general topic already and linking to nodes in cooler ways and how html works here and once I think I've maybe got it down I go and search for "missing someone." Obviously I'm not the first person ever to miss someone, I'm not even the first person to miss her. In fact, what I'm feeling probably isn't even all that unique. Or so I think as I search. And there is no "Missing Someone." In fact, there isn't even really anything especially close. There're specific descriptions of missing people, but none really fit. In fact, none are even very close and there really are not very many.

Is this digression onto the wrong topic entirely?

And so I wonder, "Is missing someone really a feeling that is unique to the experience? Can it be that no one has ever missed someone the way that I miss her?" And as I wonder this my writeup develops further. I mean, not only can I describe how much I miss her and put it out for the world to see but I can write something really profound on the nature of these feelings and maybe someone will "cool" it or at least it will connect on another level... maybe. And I formulate my plan. Not so much an outline as a line of attack. Or, I try anyway. But then I realize that I cannot stop thinking about her. That, literally, I cannot write a paragraph without "her" being in it. That I cannot even focus enough to put together the thoughts about these feelings that are racing through my mind just out of reach. And maybe that's the profound part. Maybe that's what someone will understand. But it really doesn't matter because that's all I have.

I never imagined that I might end up like everybody else. Real life can be a bitch sometimes. Mediocre and mundane were words to describe someone else, not me. I was destined for greatness. Call me narcissistic but doesn’t everyone assume success. And in that big book lies the answer I know I need and inadvertently search for. I never thought of myself as anything less than extraordinary. I had semi-conscious ideas and dreams about so much better and that this was temporary; the calm before the storm of prestige. That’s probably why I always feel so transitional; I’m still waiting for significance. But while I wait, my ideas turn up from another and this town is killing me.

I swear there’s something about the air or water. Maybe it’s just me and the chemicals inside. It all boils down to chemicals really: what kills us, saves us, makes us feel pleasure or pain and I’ve added several bizarre chemicals to this test tube called body. But do chemicals affect the soul? I think some are caustic enough to eat away at innocence. I think I’ve stripped some of the enamel away from that inner glow that we recognize in a child’s smile. But even a priest has trouble with humility and laughing.

I never thought of myself as anything less than good. Bad was what other people did and were and I was not. Good was the default and seemed like the easiest choice. But if you dance with the devil, he always leads and sooner or later, you fall in step. And soon you’ll dance without the devil. What doesn’t turn you off, can (eventually) turn you on. Fascination and curiosity turn a grape-juice soul into wine. And after a while it becomes vinegar which no man drinks.

I always thought I had it in me to do that chance and take that step but they sent me back and I think I’m pickling my soul. I know that life has taken more out of me than I have out of life. I know that big, blue book can save me. But am I ready or worth saving or is bad the only thing I’m good at?

Note from the Author: This is just a piece that I wrote about 14-16 months ago. I thought that it would be interesting. I suggest that student's use it to write about and assess greed, conscience, and the like from it. I wrote it to display those themes. Enjoy!!

-LerrisofRecluse

Darkness Rising

Prologue

A shadow slipped over the walls into the sleeping Shipping Quarter of Sorrows End. Was it a shadow or a man? the gate guard thought sleepily. He couldn’t tell and so resumed his watch. Moments later another shadow moved past, close enough for him to feel the air moving beside him, and catch the scent of the passing figure. The smell of death filled his lungs, burning out all the other information his senses could detect. Then it was gone, and everything was as it had been. A clatter on the other side of the wall had him turning to look over the edge. As he confirmed his suspicions that nothing was there, something hit him in the neck. He reached back but did not need to feel the small needle in his spine to confirm his thoughts. In moments the poison was making his blood burn like fire. Then he was tumbling over the side of the wall and down the three hundred foot drop. He opened his mouth to scream but his warning was stifled by five feet of paving stones.

The first shadow leaped from the wall and landed on the ground below, already bounding off toward the merchant houses before the second had even hit the ground. Both shadows stopped outside the gates of the heavily guarded estate of Drukan, the merchant.

Drukan, with his vast wealth and shipping empire, had hired the best guards that could be found this side of the Tomani Sea. They were burly, large and squarely built, and could outmatch anyone in a hundred miles for strength. But as the saying goes, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall.’ And that is certainly true in this case. On both sides of the estate, two guards died before they hit the stone ramparts. Then two shadows slipped across the dimly lit courtyard and into the small mansion. Two windows opened, each on the 5th floor, two hundred feet up, and both formerly one of the most secure windows in the town of Sorrows End. Two shadows slipped towards the room of Drukan, the merchant. The second, there only moments before the first, opened the door to witness fifty bowstrings being released, almost in unison. The first heard the twangs from five feet away and hid behind a tapestry. The second stumbled back against the wall on the opposite side of the hall and slumped down against it, looking more like a pincushion than a former assassin. “He is dead, Lord Drukan,” said Bellows, the Captain of the Guard.

He moved out to unmask the figure but as his fingers reached the face, he grasped nothing but air. The figure became a gray, hazy shape and then faded into a black mist. “What in the Nine Hells?” the Captain said.

The rest of the guards moved out into the hall to examine the arrows, which had nothing but a black substance on the tips that crumbled to the touch. Lieutenant Jedd noticed a tapestry move as if by the wind. Not really worried, but not taking any chances, he struck it with his scimitar, but succeeding only in dulling his blade, and cutting the tapestry in two. “What are you doing, lad?” asked the captain.

Then all heard the twang of a bowstring followed by the groan of their lord, Drukan, and the thump of a body hitting the floor. They all rushed into the room, Bellows at the head, to see a dark figure with glowing red eyes jump through the window. Drukan lay at Bellows’ feet, eyes wide in terror and shock. They rushed to the window but saw no figure anywhere in sight. Moments, later the alarm sounded in the compound, and the guards rushed down the stairs leaving Bellows standing there with nothing but his dead Lord at his feet, and the wind whistling through the window.


I

Careful planning

“So,” said Hennet, “This time it was Drukan. How very interesting. The targets all seem to have some supposed political value. But why strike at them? So far there has been no gain in these attacks.”

Hennet, the sorcerer/paladin, paced through his room in the Red Dragon Inn. Jaque, like his close friend, shared the sorcerer/paladin’s thoughts. However one small thing itched at the back of his mind. If these people were in some kind of danger, why didn’t they just ask the king for help?

“Undoubtedly, they knew something that they didn’t want the king to know.” Said Hennet as if reading his mind. “They could have been involved in some conspiracy to overthrow the king, and they merely spoke of it where an ear heard it that wasn’t supposed to. They probably were killed as a reward for keeping their lips flapping.”

“Yes but something still tickles the back of my mind. If one of these characters knew too much, and was killed for leaking his information, then who had them killed? There is a character here. Someone who is just out of sight, who is just out of the corner of my mind, but I can’t figure out who it is,” said Jaque concernedly. “Who could hire men that could disappear into thin air?”

“Not men that can disappear,” Hennet said dryly. “Demons.”

Meanwhile in a distant quarter of the city, a figure in dark browns and greens strode the street just outside his apartment. The sky was dark and sullen, the streets wet, the smell of decay and unwashed bodies everywhere. Another glorious day in the town of Sorrows End. “Hello,” said Garett happily, to everyone he saw. Most stared back with blank expressions, and sideway glances at the cloak that billowed outward behind him. His cloak was a darker shade of black than any seen by a mortal, and the eyelike stones that hung around it were something that somehow caught the light, even when there was none. Everyone suspected that the cloak had magical powers, but no one knew what they might be.

As he passed a man sitting in tattered rags, with a dank and dirty blanket, the man grasped at his cloak. Garett brushed the man away but the man grasped at it again, saying “Please good lord, just spare me a coin.”

“I can spare nothing, not that I am sorry for one like you.”’ Said Garret angrily. The man rose, staring Garret eye to eye. His fetid breath burned Garrets nostrils, as he dryly stated, “Give me a damned coin!” Garret shoved him down into the muddy street. “You make your own fate you wretch.” Garret sneered, contempt filling his voice. “If you have no coins, it is your own fault and no concern of mine. Be gone you muck sucking, filth-ridden, worm feast!”

“Please sir, you do not know what Hextor would think if you did not,” said the man rising out of the blanket and beginning to shift his form. The mans skin ripped and out of it came a demon that made Garret, who was tall by local standards, seem like a dwarf. Garret merely watched this happen, and as the many hands of the creature revealed many weapons, his own hand retreated into his apparently empty cloak. The creature began to swing, and as it did, Garret jumped above all six blades, and cut the lesser devil at its unprotected throat with his own secret blade. The blood gushed out of the creature’s neck and would have eaten through any normal blade but Garret’s falchion seemed to take no damage. His blade, forged to kill demons, glowed with a dark light, almost as if it radiated shadow. The creature hit the ground and a dark puddle formed around it, sizzling and hissing at the ground as it ate away at the paving stones. As the demon began to fade into the inter-planar mists, Garret grimly stated, “This may be Sorrows End, but you can tell your master that for all of you, this is only sorrows beginning!”

By the time the creature had fully disappeared and it’s acidic blood had done all the damage it could, Garret was already walking away, whistling the tune, Dance with the dead, the once in-pressing crowd now pressing to make a clearing around him.

II

Shadows of the Future

Hennet stood at the outermost wall of Sorrows End, facing the forest, and praying to his god, Heironous. The sorcerer turned paladin neither heard nor saw nor felt anything around him, though the birds in the forest sang loudly into the waning light, not fifty feet away. Now sitting, Hennet lit ten candles and placed them around him to form a circle. He then stood and sprinkled Sorcerer’s sand around the circle, and sat again waiting for full night to come. As the sun set behind the looming shadow of the far off mountain peaks, he chanted a few magic incantations of protection and began the ritual he had used only once before.

Some hours later, though how long he did not know, Hennet was ready to cast his spell, the Eye of the Fates. He chanted the last magic word and felt a planar wind rush over him, and yet through him, though the trees in the forest did not stir in the least. His view blurred, and Hennet struggled to grasp to consciousness. Then he was standing on the towns’ wall, watching at a distant hill, and seeing nothing but a gray mist, A light appeared in the mists. Nothing happened for several seconds and then figures began to appear from the misty wall; dark figures, rolling over the hills, some man-like, others beast-like. The gates opened below him and a great army of men roiled out and, as if in a dream, though slower, he saw both groups draw swords and rush out at each other. He watched as the men and demon figures clashed together, swords ringing, as if in a dance. Then everything blurred and the stone below him became grass.

He stood on the hill of the battle. Hennet began to walk and felt the grass wet under his feet. He stuck his hand down to cool himself with the dew, but when he brought it back up it was red with blood. He then saw the bodies everywhere around him. Some of them he recognized as men of Sorrows End, and others, he did not wish he recognized as human at all. Twisted, bloated bodies of men, or what had been men, parts of them anyway, lay scattered haphazardly around the ground. Creatures that he had never seen before, some man-like, some shadow, sometimes both, gnawed on carcasses. Then a flicker of light against the smoky sky caught his eye.

He looked around behind him and saw Sorrows End in ruins. Fires leaped up all around the city, especially at the docks. The walls were cracked and shattered, some collapsed in places. A burning fireball tore down from the gray haze around the city. One, and then another slammed into the tall towers of the Demon-dread castle. Most collapsed. Others burned, their wooden guts aflame with the burning pitch-like meteors. He could almost hear the screams of the women and children as they were killed were they stood, in the streets.

Everything blurred again and Hennet stood in the streets and saw the chaos around him. He witnessed the horrifying spectacle as the screaming children dropped to the ground, dead where they fell. He felt the rage boil up in him and died inside because he knew there was nothing that he could do. His blood boiled with rage as he tilted his head back and let out an inhuman scream.

In the town of Sorrows End, Hennet’s scream was heard louder than the thunderous pounding of the waves’ futile, yet never-ending attempts to tear the rocks down from their precarious perch. Those few that were in the streets stopped their work and just stood, hearing the sound that human ears were not meant to hear and human voices were not meant to produce. Jaque knew it was Hennet and rushed out of the gates, toward the sound. As he rushed out into the pre-dawn light, he saw Hennet standing about fifty feet away, the scream dying on his lips, surrounded by black shapes with red eyes. Not knowing what to do but fearing that they were the cause of Hennet’s scream, Jaque rushed toward them. They stepped back, and were gone. Not knowing what to make, but almost falling in his rush to get to Hennet, Jaque tore past their shifting shapes. Just nearing Hennet, he saw his face. It was twisted and contorted in a horrid rage and anguish, as of one who has seen more than anyone should be allowed. As he reached out toward Hennet, Jaque saw the man’s eyes roll up into his skull, and Hennet collapsed onto the dew soaked ground, as though death stricken.


III

Family

As he slept, Garett dreamed of many things. The monastery where he had lived his childhood, the guild where he had lived as a teen, and the strange and yet familiar house that he had always guessed was his, were among the many things he dreamt of. He saw many people and creatures as he floated in the empty void of nothingness that was his subconscious.

After a long and restless sleep, he awoke to find a dark shape looming above his bed, red glowing eyes glaring down at him. “What is it this time Rauen? I told you, I’m out of that business.”

“How long would you stay free if I were to tell someone your secret?” asked the figure, in a deep voice.

“If you dare…I’ll…” growled Garret, rising from his bed, the scars of many a vicious battle crawling across his bare torso.

“You’ll what Garret? Tell me I’m bad? We’ve had this discussion before. You know that there is know way that you can defeat me. After all, the blood of a thousand years of vampiric glory flows in my veins. The strength of all of my demonic ancestors makes your human strength seems like nothing more than a rodent’s measly squeal. If you feel like challenging me, do not be surprised if you find yourself without a limb when we’re done. So, know do you see how accepting my proposal can keep you in business longer? I really would hate to lose my best partner. What is is what must be Garret. If events warrant it…” said Rauen, the lack of emotion painful to hear.

“All right,” said Garret, reluctantly. “Tell me who it is that you want taken care of.”

“There is a man in this very city, a sorcerer turned paladin, who has, in recent months, become a pebble in my shoe. A pebble that I cannot seem to get rid of. If you would be so kind as to eliminate this pebble, I would be most grateful. I might even tell you something of the family you so dearly long for.”

“What do you know of my family?” shouted Garret, anger once again rising in his voice.

“If you do what I ask, then you’ll see what I know. For now, just do what I tell you to and everything will be as it should. You know that the gods made those like me to prey on the weak, such as you, You may be strong Garret, but strength isn’t everything. In time, you may see what the gods have planned for you. Until then, listen well.” Said Rauen flatly.

“I ask again, what it is that you wish of me,” Garret barked at Rauen. “I have much to do and little time to waste. If what you have is important enough, then it will be priority. If not, then do it yourself!”

Rauen jumped upward. He lifted his hand as he did, Garret rising with him. They became intangible, and floated through the many floors of the inn, and through the roof, and into the sky until they were some distance into the air. Rauen lifted his other hand and began fingering a most powerful enchantment. Within moments, the sky was dark, and the thunder began to rumble in the distance. The rain fell all around Garret, and ran, almost hurriedly, down his sides. The same rain fell all around Rauen, but he did not seem to be touched by a drop of it. Nor did the wind, which nearly ripped the cloak from Garrets shoulders and the hair from his head, even stir the necrotic vampires cloak. It hung unnaturally still, as though the elements of the mortal realm could not touch its dead black glory. “Now that none will hear us, I may tell you of your most important mission, ever!” Rauen whispered, his voice somehow still audible over the raging winds, falling rain, and roaring thunder. “Your assignment is to kill a man who has poisoned our… my operations for years. He has stumbled onto our balance of power and tipped the scales in the wrong direction. Without him, we would control this damned isle and all the inhabitants with him. But now, with him, we control only a few underground cities and mountain fortresses, in the most barren lands of this world. If you kill him, the rewards will be great. If you fail, however… lets just say that before I’m done with you, you will be begging me to end your life.”

“Why must I kill this so powerful man? Why can all of your warriors not kill this paladin of justice? Why should I risk my life for something that you cannot do yourselves? What would his death mean to you?” Garret asked, thinking he had caught Rauen in his own web.

“DO NOT QUESTION MY ORDERS!” Rauen shouted, thunder crashing with his voice. Garret screamed as Rauen’s rumbling demand filled his head, threatening to break his skull. “What I have you do, I do for a reason, and that reason is mine, and mine alone. Do as you are told, and you shall live. Question me and you shall die. That is all there is to it.”

Garret and Rauen suddenly fell, and then were in Garret’s room. Everything was very still. Garret finally broke the silence and said, sadly, “As you command, so it shall be done.”

“Good, now let him mock me, call me swine. For in the end, his life will be mine.” Rauen said, his deep rumbles of cruel, sadistic laughter nearly shaking the inn.

As Rauen strode to the window, and stepped onto the ledge, Garret grimly spoke. “Farewell Rauen. May the fates make it that I never see you again.”

Rauen simply nodded and jumped away, into the air. As he lifted into the already lightning sky, Rauen murmured, in almost a whisper, “Farewell…Brother.”

The first week of the Spring 2003 semester at my college is over now and I think it'll be a good term. I have four classes; two challenging and two that are not. The jury is still out about the quality of my professors - it's too early for me to form opinions about any of them - but one particular instructor instills me with a lot of confidence.

This particular class has only met twice so far. On the first day the professor was making an example about supply and demand and said that she spent the morning of December 7, 1992 standing in line to buy a Nintendo 64. Nice story, but it can't be true because the Nintendo 64 wasn't released until 1996. She also couldn't be talking about the Super NES because that was released in 1991. Now of course this date error is trivial and doesn't effect the point of her example, but if this example was minorly flawed, who's to say future ones won't be as well? How do I know this professor is a capable professional? Perhaps her entire lecture is loaded with gaffes and glitches! Ah, but I tell myself I am nitpicking, set aside the error, and focus on the rest of the lecture.

On the second day of the class the professor took her floppy disk full of Powerpoint slides and crammed it into the CD-ROM drive, having mistaken it for the actual floppy drive. It's going to be a long semester.

My first weekend back in Suncheon, South Korea. I only got out of bed at 1:30 this afternoon, and have been slowly recovering from a hangover. I've played a couple of games of Go on the Internet and won both. Aside from that, the only productive thing I've done all day is buy myself a pair of glasses to replace the ones that I lost during my Christmas vacation in Canada. I still marvel at how cheap glasses are in Korea. I paid 100,000 Won for mine, probably about 75$ US, although I don't know the exact exchange rate, and the Koreans are all surprised because that seems awfully expensive to them. Most pairs run for 50,000-60,000 Won. I have no idea why glasses of all things are so cheap, given that most things are similar in price to what you'd pay back in North America.

Last night was good. I went out with my friend 2-Pac (nicknamed thus, because his name is Mr. Pak) and had some ori bulgogi (barbequed duck) and oship seju (a 50-50 mix of soju (Korean vodka-equivalent) and bek seju (Korean ginseng wine)). We then met up with my friend/girlfriend Eun Jung (we're sort of in that in-between stage... more on that later) and a few others and went to Elvis, our favorite bar, just two blocks away from the duck restaurant.

Four or five pints of Korean beer later, we decided to leave the bar and go back to my apartment, where I have a bottle of good Cuban rum that I brought back from Canada. After we'd worked our way through two-thirds of that and some maeshil-ju (plum wine), I was good and loaded, as was 2-Pac. The rest of them were only a bit drunk, because they hadn't had the oship seju that we had with dinner. Amazingly, Eun Jung never seems to mind if I get really drunk around her, which is good, since I met her while she was working in a bar, and I was getting wasted there.

It seems that Eun Jung and I are moving in the direction of a relationship. No one there last night, except 2-Pac, had met her before, so of course everyone who showed up immediately asked, "Is she your girlfriend?" I shrugged, and finally, after being asked for about the fourth time, said, "Molayo (I don't know). Ask her." She said, "Na do molayo." (I don't know either). Since Korean girls will usually tell you emphatically that they just want to be friends even if they're really interested in you (they want to be chased... Korean men have to be persistent and not take no for an answer), her answering in the uncertain means that she also thinks we're headed that way. Later in the evening, back at my apartment, I brushed my hand up against hers, trying to make it seem accidental, to gauge her response, and she immediately took it and held it. That's first base in Korean terms. Because of Korean attitude towards physical affection and relationships, the equivalents to the Western first base-second base-third base-home run system is first base: holding hands, second base: arm around the girl, third base: kissing, home run: sex. If you get as far as kissing a Korean girl, it's virtually guaranteed that she'd sleep with you or marry you, depending on whether she's one of the promiscuous ones, or one of the conservative ones. Speaking of which, that worried me last night. Eun Jung's younger sister got engaged in early December, and she told me last night that now her older sister is engaged, too. That leaves her. Knowing Korean girls, she's probably already worried about being forever unmarried, and looking to get hitched with whatever guy seems most likely... which would be me, in this case. I suppose all things are possible, but I wouldn't be considering marriage until at least a couple years into the relationship.

Gosh, gosh, gosh.

A veritable treasure trove of monkeys!

Much belated node stuff to do:
1. Yes, I know she's a woman, dammit. I'll fix it soon.
2. Go through messagebox and fix errors.
3. Write this daylog.


Things I have to do for School:
  • Read about European History. Page one is about Jacob Fugger!
  • Read about Calculus, specifically, how do we find the volume of some crazy solid.
  • Read about Chemistry and do problems involving Liquids and Solids. Exciting stuff!
  • Read about Economics, har har.


    Ladies and Gentlemen, some reflections:
    If God is omniscient, all knowing, and benevolent, then the writings he has commissioned contain a great deal of wisdom.

    We are not omniscient and all knowing, so we cannot know if God is omniscient and all knowing, except by blind faith.

    However, we know enough to know what we are.

    Therefore, if we read and analyze the writings he has commissioned, we should be able to determine if he is, in fact, God, or at least close enough to worship.
  • #22 and #0, game shot winners.
    My friend Sean #22, and I #0, were playing basketball in a league. The age group was 14-15, and we pulled up a 12 year old who stars on the Jr. High team. It’s not a terribly competitive league, but we like to win. My team this year is fairly good, and we got some good three point shooters. Unfortunately the league advisors screwed up and put my team together with someone else’s, and we can’t fix that. We thus have a large team. They also forgot to mention to us that our schedule which said we were playing at 10am was supposed to be at 9am. We missed the first quarter and a half of the second. When Sean and I arrived we were winning, barley. But before we were put in the lead dropped down, until we were losing. My squad went in, got the score back up and went out again. Then they lost more points and we were trailing by two. Sean and I had been in situations like this before, 1 minute and forty seconds left on the clock. Down the court and Holten, the Jr. High star, made one of two free throws. Down by one. Forty seven seconds left, “Give me the ball Holten!” He gave it to me, I gave it back, he gave it back to me again, a give and go, and I went through three people. Left dribble, right dribble, under, pump, bank. Two points, and we are up by one. “Good shot Steve.” Sean said. Going back on defense, and our opposing team had a “One man team player,” who attempted to single handedly make a drive to the basket, and lost control of the ball. Twenty three seconds left on the clock, the other team wanted a timeout and we had just thrown the ball in. The Referee still gave it to them. Heh. I told my team, “Throw the ball into Holten, he should shoot the free throws ‘they will foul’, if the get a steal, we lose.” As we were setting up Sean got himself fully open, they had double teamed Holten. Of course we passed it into Sean, who got fouled immediately. 16 seconds left. “Sean take your time.” The other team was making noise and being pansies. First shot in. “Good job Sean, now take your time.” More noise made, second shot in. “TIMEOUT!” The other team tried to get a play made, and failed miserably. With three seconds left they gave it to their “One man team player,” he faded away on the corner and threw up the ugliest thing you have ever seen. “Airrrrrrr ball!” Game is over, Sean and I had played well, and our team had won. The last points were made by him and me, and we felt proud. “Nice free throws Sean.” “Yep, just like the other come back on Nintendo last night.”

    Vaguely annoyed with myself as I always am when I'm hungover. It's pointless to self-flagellate now, of course, but even more pointless to beat myself up over beating myself up. So I find it's best to give in to the original whuppin' and be done with it.

    It was actually good to get out last night, stuck at home as I am most of the time with my beautiful little boy, 7 months-old thank you very much. My buddy Gary and I wound up at a place called the Stumbling Monk in Seattle, specializing in Belgian beer. (Read high alcohol content.) I'm not overly fond of the stuff, myself, and if I want a harder buzz I'd rather just drink harder liquor, but Gary's enamored of the place, so that's where we libated.

    The conversation ranged over a lot of topics, and most of it was hotheaded horseshit, as per usual, but we stumbled onto something as we argued about the current state of the union that I now feel is worth working back over. I made the point that it might as well be 1930 given how bad the current times are economically— that it almost seems like we're in a slow motion collapse compared to the beginning of the Great Depression. Gary thought this was specious, since given the speed with which information is processed now as opposed to then, if anything the collapse should be quicker. But here's the nub that I stumbled onto at the Stumbling Monk: I'm not so sure that ultra fast information processing leads to quicker action. If anything, the citizens of this country seem paralyzed to deal with the truths that stare them right in the every day face. I could offer countless examples, but they all seemed to be summed up with the image of the gargantuan SUV with a Greenpeace bumper sticker.

    Times are bad and will inevitably get worse, but it seems like most of us in the good ol' U. S. of A. are too busy processing heretofore unthinkably huge loads of information to actually act on any of it.

    A bit of a depressing conclusion, but jotting it out while eating a bowl of Cheerios has helped ease and clear my sodden head, so that's something, I guess.

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