Today's free writing project

Numbered precision marks every surface, perfect in line with no thought of disorder. But one rogue clock stands out of sync forever trailing and calling out the wrong time. Time to go, time to live, and I'm on the street.

Streets of Boston, bean town, no friends, no neighbor and no family. Here I swim in brick and mortar buildings full of tales to tell a youngster. Am I still young? Perhaps among bricks generations older than I. But what does that mean? What can history tell me about myself? Nothing beyond the fact that this has happened before.

Patterns upon outlines, shadows of things before me and events to come. How many times has my soul sat here, waiting and watching for a sign? A change in my perception, as I wonder, which is crooked, the universe or only my thoughts?

Slanted writing and crooked letters as we begin anew, synapses break and rejoin as pen rekindles love of paper, ink flowing and thoughts recording themselves only as fast as the hand can move.

And now another blank slate awaits. Shattered by the mark of words like blood spilled on freshly fallen snow, Melting into pink and passionate rivers. Carrying life and love on a never ending path of road blocks and obstacles. And all I can do is watch. Watch as the world is torn down and rebuilt as my soul is unwrapped and set free to fly.

What am I scared of? Perhaps that my soul will leave without me, lost until life spans have passed before i can find it again. Lost. And then we wait and wait for new thoughts and new energy, for the brilliant flash that will tell all. Some magnificent streak of lightning, for an instant revealing that which remains unseen. The silhouette of a far gone lover too close for comfort, the shadow of a demon hidden under the mattress, the slimy tongue of some serpentine beast unshackled and released to play on my fears.

"How did I get here" he asks and it shoots to my brain. My thoughts ripen into ideas and theories, each shot down with the startling efficiency of a sniper or assassin, preying upon its target, its next meal. The thought police at my door and when I open it I realize it's only myself.

Everybody wish LX a happy birthday!! He turned 21 today January 16, 2003 at 2:10 AM - that would be in Swedish time!

LX introduced me to E2 so I have him to thank, thank you.

One of my monthly tasks is printing a mainframe report (that's right, mainframe...) that consists of 2500 or so sheets of paper. I merely give the order to print and baby sit the printer; I neither create the report nor do I use it. However, I have done some tracking and I know for a fact that only half of that gets used (looked at) and the other half goes straight into the trash.

The remaining half is sectioned off and distributed to the people who are interested in the information. Perhaps it is an itemized list, the only token of relevance, a total at the bottom. I'd say less than a tenth of the original report is actually filed and the rest ends up in the trash. What a wonderful paperless society we've created for ourselves.

This is only an example of one report in one office. I did some conservative calculations and found my 6000 co-workers and I use around five million sheets of paper every month. Even if half of these sheets were actually needed, we are still wasting 30 million sheets of paper every year or in bean counting terms $130,000. (I went to the supply office and asked about our paper consumption and how much a box, 5000 sheets of 20 lb. paper, costs. Of course, I lied about why I wanted the information).

Back to this mainframe report; it is something I was assigned when I first started here and have not been unable to shuck the reasonability on to anyone else. The mainframe is kept up even after is utter obsolescence because of laziness for all I can gather. Reports like this one and several other mission critical reports are all done on the mainframe because that's how it was set up 20 years ago. No one has bothered to move these tasks to more reliable and modern systems. However, no one knows how to program them anymore. There are a few people who are clever enough to make new reports from old report (copy/paste code) but I've been told that there is no way to break this 2500 page report into manageable sections before it goes to the printer.

My actual job, when I'm not printing out mainframe reports, is web development. So I know how easy (relatively) it would be to reinvent these mainframe systems and put them on a web page. "Oh, but that's so expensive, do you know what web developers make now-a-days?" It's nothing compared to the millions we hand Microsoft every year. Or the brand new web server we just got. The sad thing is, there is actually a RIF about to happen. I'm not going to be affected by it, but lots of people will lose there jobs, because there isn't the money to pay them...

Tomorrow I start a new semester. The last semester, and in May my undergraduate education should be complete. *find some wood to knock on real fast* Feels like a beginning but it's really an end. Get all the loose ends tied up and get the fuck out. Something tells me that it's not going to be as neat and easy as all that, but the point is that I shouldn't be looking that far ahead, I need to concentrate on the here and now and enjoy it. Enjoy every last second, because you're sure going to miss it when it's gone. And enjoy it because it's your life and it's the only one you've got. I remember a conversation, during another beginning of a vastly different nature, a promise or a wish not to spend this last year here wallowing in depression/self-pity. So far, so good.

Another reason to enjoy every last second...is that there's nothing to worry about. Whatever choices I have to make in the upcoming months, it's all going to be okay, and I'm going to be happy with whatever comes up...eventually. Sure, I haven't made many serious choices in my lifetime, but nothing so far has led me to say, "If only I hadn't done this..." No regrets...well, only one. 21 years and one regret...not bad. One regret that in a few more years I won't even remember even...well, I should remember, if only to know not to behave that way in the future...never to look at myself in a mirror, knowing that I'm weak, so weak, and about to break in two, then leaving the mirror to go back to waiting arms/talons. I used to say no regrets, not ever, for everything I have experienced makes me into who I am, but for that...well, I would not have gained anything by missing out on this, and would have saved myself a whole lot a emotional pain. I would have kept a lot more dignity. But that is the past, and I digress.

This brings me back again to what I have always believed about the illusory nature of free will. Even looking back at one thing that I would LOVE to do over again, I can't see myself playing it out any other way. Whatever happens happens, and I'm a smart resourceful girl sez the people in my life who know and love me. Also, let us not forget that no decision is permanent, and you can always go back and pick up the pieces.

On a somewhat related tangent (though the relation is only visible in my own mind), I've managed to keep my one and only new year's resolution thus far. Which was, excuse my french, "To get my fucking head on straight about food." I figured it might be nice to try to live like a normal person for once. Still, I find myself wanting to lose weight. Why? Well, who doesn't want to? Cognitively, I'm happy with my body, I'm a babe, I know this logically. (She's modest too, isn't she?) Logic and emotions don't always coincide though, and one minute I'm thinking, "Yeah, I look pretty good," and a day later I'm standing in front of a mirror wanting to cry my eyes out about what I see. What changed in less than 24 hours? Not my actual physical body, that's for damn sure. And as I'm writing this, I see this as actually no justification for wanting to lose weight, it's clear that the problem is in my head and not related to my body at all. *sigh* So basically, I'm going to try to lose weight...like a normal person. Healthily, no starving, no binge/purge routines, no marathon treadmill sessions. I'm going to eat more of those fruits and veggies that keep a person healthy, and have *gasp* three meals a day, albiet small ones. I'm also going to take my own advice and throw away the scale, metaphorically. My goal won't be a number, but to fit into the smallest jeans I own currently that I now can barely zip into. I feel a little more hopeless as I write this, hopeless that I'll never feel good about my body. But at least I can look good feeling bad about it. C'est la vie.

Today I wrote my first-ever letter to the Age. Well actually, that's not quite true but my first letter just bagged out an article written by my Headmaster and I didn't actually expect it to get published. Anyway, my letter is in reply to this other guy so I shall post his here, followed by mine.
Pax Americana

Age letter writers who seek to remind the US of how finite its global world power may be by reference to the demise of the Roman Empire might also care to recall that the latter spanned some 500 years.

If the US "empire" is dated from 1945, that could still leave some 450 years to go, with its only forseeable rival appearing to be China as a regional rather than a global power.

Why not accept the fact of US world dominance and capitalise on Australia's role as an ally?

- Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne


My reply:

Thomas Hogg (16/01) misses the point. Irrespective of how durable the Pax Americana may prove to be, it will continue to be opposed by those who wish for a more just world.

I for one am saddened, though not surprised, that our government is supporting Bush's groundless war against Iraq in which yet more people will die in order to enrich a few oily billionaires. I am generally uncomfortable with Australia so meekly acquiescing to the wishes of a superpower which so readily usurps disobedient governments (Panama, Chile), massacres civilians (Cambodia, Vietnam), and which has a proven track record of supporting the most corrupt and bloodthirsty of dictators (Pinochet, Saddam Hussein).

Many, myself included, feel that to follow the US just because they have the bigger guns is cowardly. By “capitalising on (our) role as an ally” we are party to the murder of millions.

rougevert, Alphington


I can't tell if my letter is any good, really - is it the kind of thing I would nod my head in agreement with if I read it? Or would I think that I have the right intention but suffer from the sad disease of idiocy, resulting in something which manages to waffle in the course of one hundred words? You noder people could tell me, I suppose, but I don't know who to trust...

I realise after typing up Hogg's letter for this that my quote was incorrectly done. Hopefull they fix that up for me.

Anyway, I hope it gets published. It won't be tomorrow, definitely, since I sent it after the 6pm deadline, but maybe the Saturday?


Oh well, Friday's paper had some better replies, one of which used the Nazi analogy which I briefly considered but dropped as too obvious.
GOLLY GEE it was published. Hooray for me. It has been given the rather dull title of "Our cowardly stance on Iraq", and they didn't correct the quote error completely, so I look like a bit of a fool. I am rather pleased with myself nevertheless.

I was never contacted for verification, which I do find rather dodgy.

Sometimes you do the right thing.

When one flatmate bailed out in November, I did too. I thought about the third flatmate, who wanted to stay. I thought this reluctance to move on was just her inertia. She had a long commute, a boyfriend across town and nothing to enjoy in West Ham. I also though that this was just my rationale for a selfish act. I felt bad for her.

But I did move, and so did she. She had little trouble finding a new residence, and eventually managed to get all her stuff into storage and out again. And she is cheerful, and admits that her new environs are better than the old.

Sometimes you do the right thing.

Work.. what can I say about work. My code is being reviewed by a colleague, as per company policy. She says my code is beautiful, and I blush. The processes is as gruelling as driving all day at 5mph. She is slow. She gurgles hideously. She always leaves gummy prints on my monitor. Disliking her is not simple. I explain all, repeatedly. I am being paid to be patient. The design errors are however being shaken out. It will be done before I go on leave. It will.

The scene: CoE 0142, Computer Organization.

I sit in the lecture hall, listening to a somewhat unineteresting discussion on floating point representation schemes, when the topic of bit-shifting came up. My professor said something which, I believe, was not intended to come across as funny, but it had me in silent stitches.

Sometimes we want to. . .
Move it down . . .
Move it UP! . . .
. . . move it around.

And here I didn't know my professor was a member of an early 90s hip-hop gang.

Phone calls in Europe, and a (maybe) happy ending

So I bought a new cell phone today. I cancelled the other one not more than a week ago with the intent to never own another. But then I had to rush home to Hagerstown to see my grandfather and realized just how useful they are. I had to make a 20-minute trip to my mom’s from the hospital just to call Pantaliamon. Had I possessed my cell phone, I could have just called her from the hospital.

I decided to go with T-Mobile, the company that used to be Voicestream, but got bought by some Europeans and offers a more globally-oriented cell phone experience than U.S. companies. Although I have never been out of the continental United States except to visit Canada, I feel empowered that I can go anywhere in the world with my phone and be reached by people who want to talk to me. My phone even works in Uganda and Azerbaijan, two remote outposts of humanity easily accessible thanks to T-Mobile.

One of the first things I did after I got my phone was call my mother to check up on my grandfather. He’s had his artery-cleaning surgery, which apparently did the trick. Blood is now nourishing his brain again, and he’s stopped hallucinating.

Which means he’s going to be getting out of the hospital soon. My mom is terrified of that, so she threw a histrionic fit in front of my relatives, saying that she’s just a poor lonely widow, and she can’t possibly be expected to care for her ailing father-in-law all by herself. One of them, she said, should have the decency to take him into their homes (in Buffalo, NY, some 8 hours away), and give him the proper care and attention he needs.

She loves to play the widow card. Uses it against me all the time to great effect. It worked just as well with my relations. And to think, I was the one planning a histrionic fit -- I intended to give them my great Shakespearean monologue tomorrow, blasting them with guilt (and playing the widow card myself, in support of relinquishing my mother of her caregiver duties). But my mom beat me to the punch.

She whispered happily into the phone that they gave in to her demands -- they’re going to take him back to New York with them. His pastor, who despises me and my mother because he doesn’t think we do enough, thought it was a great idea. Only John C. and his family dissented -- arguing that they love him and think they should care for him. I’m not sure what to make of that -- perhaps they really are after his meager estate?

In any event, this hasn’t been completely resolved, but it looks like things are going to work out for the best. Surprisingly, I’m a little saddened that this might have been the last Christmas and Thanksgiving I’ll ever spend with my grandfather. He’s not going to be living in his little house on the hill anymore, never again will I drive up his gravel driveway to see him, the car perched at a 90-degree angle. It’s an odd feeling. But I’m happy -- happy that my mom is free of him. Happy that the family has finally stepped up to their responsibilities.

Still, things aren’t completely hammered out. Someone might muck it up, but there’s a happy ending in sight.

Today, in AP European, we did the most least interesting thing so far this year.

We had been building up for it all year -- it was hyped from day one, by our teacher, and previous students. It was Napoleon Day. We went outside, all 15 of us, into the cold snow (or lack of it -- read more later), and re-enacted Napoleon's battles against the Russians in the winter of the early 1800s.

If you know any history, Napoleon attacked Russia, and they continually fell back until Napoleon reached Moscow. However by that time it was winter, and they were too far away from supplies and stuck in summer clothing... so they got killed, both by the winter and the Russian armies. Hitler did the same thing. Of the 700,000 French troops that entered Russia, only 20,000 came back.

We didn't re-enact the battles exactly (of course we couldn't; no one was going to get killed). We didn't expect to. But what was supposed to be the most fun day of the year turned out to be a big flop. There was almost no snow on the ground, and what little was there didn't pack well either -- so there were no snowball fights. Also, we were only outside for 10 minutes or so... we were expecting a full period of snowy fun.

So much for expectations.

He fell through the ice yesterday evening at about 6:30 PM. Snowmobiling with friends on the Red River and all three of them decided to turn around under the bridge; only two made it. Two turned around to find a hole in the ice and their friend going into the water.

They went for help and ten minutes later, emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Divers went into the icy water, but the current was too strong, and they had to abandon the search for the evening. They recovered the snowmobile, but there was no sign of the young man. It was around 9:30 PM when the police publicly stated that it didn't look good. Then the phone calls started.

The media broadcasted that a teenager had gone through the ice, but did not release a name. Frantic teens and parents began searching for their friends and their children. When his identity was released, the shock and disbelief set in quickly.

Students and teachers arrived at school the next morning, some just learning of the tragedy. An eerie silence broken by sobs permeated the halls. There were meetings to attend, reporters to attempt to ignore, and finals to take.

Still we wait, praying for some news. We feel helpless and lost. How can we begin grieving when there has been no closure? So we do what we have to. We breathe in and out, put one foot in front of the other, and try to offer comfort to those around us while we seek the same. We wait. We are still waiting.

My ex-girlfriend left for college today. I went to her house before she left so that I could say goodbye. It wasn't just any goodbye, not like, "Goodbye, have a good trip, I'll see you online." It was a goodbye for good, with the possibility of never seeing/communicating with her again. I asked her not to send me any e-mail or instant messages. I have to try to forget her, because it hurts so much every time I think about her and how she doesn't have the same feelings for me that I have for her. We tried being "just friends", and I think it was working okay for her, but it wasn't working for me. I think I did a pretty good job of hiding it, but I couldn't handle that for much longer. I hope that eventually I can forget how much I loved her, so that I can be friends with her again.

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