I just read Anna and her Mother: spinning me in circles and wanted to upvote it, but I need 11 more writeups before I can vote. Maybe you can go read it (if you haven't yet), and upvote it (if you like it). I have a daughter named Anna, and two others. Jenna is 14 months old and this is my second attempt to write this because she successfully deleted the first one.

I thought maybe I should suggest that people be allowed to vote earlier, but then I realized something. If I do the work of typing out the most important things in my head each day, and send them to everything, it would do me a lot of good. Good point, E2, and thanks to the designers of E2 for the rules that lead me to this conclusion, whether or not it was intentional. I learned to entertain the possibility that I am wrong, especially when I perceive a flaw in someone else's design. Now I make less of a fool of myself and I'm a lot smarter.

The last time I daylogged, I got a bunch of XP from upvotes. I didn't think what I wrote was very good, so it would only be fair if I lost them because of this one. You decide - if you have advanced a level already.
Belch - excuse me.
I see my kids 2.25 out of every seven days - a lot less than when I was unemployed for two months. That ended a couple weeks ago. Julia is sick this weekend. She still insisted on joining the race up and down the stairs this morning when I suggested it to Anna who is three. The rain kept us in all weekend and Anna was going crazy. She's a real live wire. They're both asleep now.

Last night my dad was talking about how land ownership is really quite contrived because "how can you own a piece of land?" Well, I knew what he meant. I suggested that possession or ownership should be considered not a right to use or control, but rather the responsibility to ensure that the owned or posessed thing is put to its best use. "Stewardship" he said, "yes, that's good way to look at it."

The best part of my weekend was lying in bed with my wife talking about what we would do with the house we're in the process of buying. The worst part of my weekend was the middle of Friday night when I woke up to find a sleeping squirming Julia with a fever trying to use my head as a pillow. "She has a fever," I said to Kim. "Well what do you want me to do about it?" Kim snapped at me. "Maybe tell me if she had one last night too, or that she didn't. It'd be nice to know," I snapped back. It got better after that. Julia and I went and rested on the couch for while, then I laid on her bed with her til she said "you can go back to bed now, daddy." She started doing that lately - telling me I could leave. I used to wait until she was asleep. So every cloud has a silver lining.

Farewell to a friend

I didn't think that the front seat of a truck would be where we would have our last conversation, but that's how things go. I also know that you can't really hear what I'm saying as your hearing is mostly gone and your vision is shot too. The last few months you have naivigated around the house by memory and sense of smell. A lot of mornings now I hear you whining to come let you out and we both are embarassed when I don't come soon enough. That's over now.

I am grateful for all of these 15 years. I know it's longer for you, but I tried not to count. There have been many times you have listened to me when I had nothing meaningful to say and lots of nights I have let you sleep on the end of a bed for no reason at all. It's what friends do, and I don't regret a moment.

The good news is this. This is the last trip to the Vet for us both, and the last time I have to ask myself if more pain for you is worth less pain for me. That is behind me now; behind us both.

I know there are lush green pastures in front of you, and trees big enough for shade on the hottest days. Take care old friend. Run free.

Today I attended what I think will be my last anti-war demonstration for a while. It was a simple affair, a candlelight vigil for peace held at 20 different locations around Columbus, Ohio. I chose a spot near my home, grabbed a candle and took off.

The warm spring weather, so different from my last protest encouraged a turnout and the intersection was dotted with hundreds of little golden flames. Someone gave me a light, and cup to catch the wax, then I walked along hoping to find someone I knew.

Music is common at such rallies. Usually there is someone strumming a guitar and plinking out Country Joe and the Fish, Phil Ochs or some other protest music. There was and I walked onward looking for friends.

I came upon a slight man standing upon a wall, playing the violin. He was playing Brahms and playing it beautifully. I soon recognized him as Charles Weatherbee the concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I abandoned my search for friends and planted myself and my candle right there.

The violin is an instrument capable of extraordinary delicacy and emotion, and in the hands of a violinist of soloist quality, the sound was touching. We stood there listening to the beautiful music, lit by golden candlelight and passing headlights of cars as Weatherbee played sweet, sad music.

As we stand upon the doorstep to war it seemed appropriate. A violin is capable of great power, but it can also weep. Weatherbee was making it sing and cry. War is not a time for bravado, though there is much of it. It is a time for sad, sober reflection upon the path to be tread. As I felt the melodies run through me, I felt not as though I were at a protest, but a place of worship, sharing a moment of peace before the storm.

This moment will likely be brief. Unless a miracle occurs, I expect war will come with 48 hours. Soon the bombs will fall and the tanks will roll. And if we're very unlucky, clouds of poison gas will flow across the desert. Death will ride his pale horse.

I will put away my signs and candles when the war begins. I will root for the home team, not out of any conviction in our foreign policy but because I see swift victory as the best way to salvage something out of a bad hand. But my reflections will continue in front of the television or listening to the radio. I will follow the action and briefings closely, all the while longing for the sad, delicate tones of a single violin.

So it's been something of a difficult day. I'm going to skip most of it and just talk about what's been eating me today.

This morning an American woman was killed in the Gaza Strip. She died in the hospital after an Israeli military bulldozer drove over her. Early accounts suggest that after running her over, the operator shifted into reverse and ran over her again.

This woman was part of one of the groups organized to provide human shields for what they believe to be wrongful targets of Israeli military actions. She was blocking the home of of a Palestinian doctor in the Rafah refugee camp.

I got a pretty good start today when I opened an AP wire story about the event and saw that it was a girl I have known since elementary school. I sort of held out this slim hope that it might have been someone else, but CNN is running a photo.

I haven't known Rachel well for many years now, but a couple years ago we had lunch together after discovering some mutual friends... shortly after that I moved to San Francisco and that was the last time I'd seen her.

The elementary school we attended was a public school, but a hippie-ish program in which students worked at their own pace and parents were required to spend a set number of hours each month working in the classrooms. People really got to know each other in that atmosphere. It's been probably near 2 decades now since I have seen Rachel's mom, and I had very little trouble recalling her face.

I'm pretty abstracted from the reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I've had a few Jewish friends who have spent time in Israel. That's about the extent of it. Certainly the last place I expected to find a personal connection there this morning was a quiet reserved girl from my small town childhood. On the front page of every major internet media outlet no less.

Rachel Corrie was the first foreign human shield killed in the defense of Palestinians. I hope with all my heart she's the last.

I voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. It wasn't entirely willing, but I liked the fact that the Texas Legislature hadn't been tearing itself apart with childish partisan displays lately, and I disliked Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and Ralph Nader for longstanding personal reasons. So I voted for Bush and felt not too bad about it. But since then, I've been having doubts.

I've started reading weblogs. Political weblogs. Anti-war weblogs. I didn't have much faith in Bush and his American Empire before, and I should be hitting the zero-faith point any day now. I've been forcing myself to wallow, on a daily basis, in the ongoing descent of America into lunacy and fascism. I've watched the goodwill that we had with the entire world after September 11 turn to ashes as the Bush administration went out of their way to insult and alienate our traditional allies for the supposed crime of refusing to rubberstamp everything we asked for. I've watched attorney general John Ashcroft make a good run at repealing large swaths of the Constitution with the Patriot Act and the Patriot Act II. I've watched the So-Called Liberal Media shamelessly lob easy, loving questions to the president and ignore absolutely vast nationwide and worldwide anti-war protests in order to protect their "access" to a chief executive who clearly holds them in utter contempt. I've listened to the hawks in the administration push an invasion that most of the world opposes and that will have little real effect beyond enriching Halliburton/Dick Cheney and making it easier for Osama bin Laden to recruit more terrorists. I've listened to more and more people, many of whom were vocal critics of the previous White House occupant, thuggishly insist that criticizing this president is anti-American and treasonous. I've watched our insane Congresscritters change the names of French toast and French fries and propose digging up the graves of American servicemen at Normandy, all because our country no longer wants allies, just yes-men. I've watched Bush ignore the threat posed by a lunatic with nuclear weapons in favor of smacking around a weakling with model-airplane drones. I've watched the administration lie about their economic plans, about their judicial appointees, about a dozen different reasons for invading Iraq, about their connections to Halliburton, Enron and California's energy crisis, and so much more. I've listened with a great deal of nervousness as George Bush sounds more and more like a howling end-times fundamentalist, eager to bring about Armageddon because he thinks he's been chosen by God.

And I wonder, how in a million hells could anyone in this administration expect, even with all of the political wizardry and dirty tricks Karl Rove has at his fingertips, to retain the White House in 2004. Does John Ashcroft not realize that eventually, there's going to be another Democrat elected to the presidency? And then that Evil, Evil Democrat is going to have access to all the goodies in the Patriot Act? Of course, the paranoid answer is that the Republicans don't intend for there to be anymore elections--that way, they'll never leave office and can continue to hold onto all that delicious power. But frankly, paranoia is rarely useful or accurate as a fortune-telling tool. The UN didn't take over the world while Clinton was president. The black helicopters didn't fly, the secret troops in the Utah salt mines didn't march out, all the guns weren't rounded up, and Americans weren't put into concentration camps.

But sometimes, I like to let the little paranoiac deep in my soul come out to play. How would Bush and Co. handle a coup? My shifty-eyed paranoid alter ego says they'd arrange a fake assassination attempt, either prior to the Iraqi invasion, to use as one final bit of justification for an invasion, or before the 2004 elections--to prevent the collapse of the government, the elections will need to be called off, just temporarily, you see, until we can make sure these terrorists are safely rounded up, and to make sure the investigation proceeds smoothly, we're sure all law-abiding citizens won't mind having a little talk with Rev. Ashcroft's Ministry of Truth, reporting the location of any dissenters and Democrats, and accepting this bar code tattoo on your forehead... But like I said, the paranoid view, while fun for a nice bit of dystopian sci-fi, reveals nothing and proves less.

But in case anything big happens, remember where you heard it first...

Recommended reading:
http://www.cursor.org
http://atrios.blogspot.com
http://counterspin.blogspot.com
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com
What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman
Blinded by the Right by David Brock
Silencing Political Dissent by Nancy Chang
Stupid White Men by Michael Moore

I am disturbed by two things. The first is the willingness of those protesting against the American policy towards Iraq to agree to be contained to areas and apply for permits to hold their protests. The second is the concession amongst many that if war comes, they will stop protesting and root for the home team.

What happened to civil disobedience? Your willingness to contain yourself and not overstep the boundaries your government has given you has made you a sideshow for the enjoyment of television nation. A permit to protest? Do you ask someone permission before punching them in the face after they groped your sister? This is why Supreme Commander Bush considers you to be a minor special interest group.

The real protest begins when war begins. You were marching and singing to stop this war from happening. Have you resigned yourself to failure? Have you decided they were right and now endorse their decision by joining television nation in watching things transpire, all with neat little graphics and "bomber cam" that helps you enjoy this like a movie instead of the horror that it really is? This is when the time comes to make yourself heard. You know what they'll be saying about you in the administration if you sit down once the fighting begins, don't you?

"They made their feelings known.
Now, we are all together in support of this war,
like good Americans pulling together for what is right."

Is that what you want to become of you? Is that what you've gone out in support of? After all your willingness to stand up for what you believe in, do you want to fall victim to the latest propaganda, that protesting during a war is inherently wrong and shows a lack of respect for our men and women in uniform?

It doesn't.

The mistakes of the anti-war protest during the Vietnam Era was a disrespect for the men and women fighting that war. They were doing what they were told. Some thought they were right. Some thought they were wrong. Some felt they were in the armed forces to do the will of their government and they had no right to challenge that. People in the military are not all that different than those of us who are not. They have lives, they have people they love, they have family, they have friends. They want to live and be happy. Never disrespect a soldier for doing his or her job. I have friends and family in the military and they know I am strongly against this war. I have friends who served in Vietnam. They are doing the job they agreed to do and are paid to do.

You dare to spit on a soldier returning from this shit, I will personally take it upon myself to break your jaw. What am I saying? These people are going into the heart of the chaos and they are taking the bullets and anything else that comes their way because they took a vow and made a promise. This is not the issue. There are people sitting comfortably in their offices making seven figure salaries deciding what becomes of these young men and women. Those are the people who are your targets. They are making decisions they have to live with, but others are suffering the consequences. I have a friend whose wife has a son by a previous marriage. He was in the infantry in the first Gulf War. Now no hair grows on his body. He is more than thirty years old and sits in a corner of their home shaking and making clay jewelry boxes while smiling and saying "I'm making nice jewelry box for my mommy." The government claims nothing unusual happened during his tour of duty and he wasn't exposed to anything out of the ordinary. This is a kid that graduated with honors out of high school.

Don't become a sideshow. Focus. Know what you are dealing with and make yourselves known. This is not a sideshow for the media to handle like a free series of episodes of reality television. You have to make yourselves heard. Don't back down. Don't apologize. Read the facts and know what you are talking about. The media loves to interview idiots who say ridiculous things because they make nice soundbites for the evening news. Be someone.

Chaos is coming.

I played football the other day. We lost 3 -1.

No, that's not what I want to write about at all. That's standard daylog stuff.

I want to be pretentious and write about a great man I never knew. This is for all us newbies.

Well, I've only been a user since December sometime and am on an exponential learning curve here. Give me a break. Anyway - sensei. I came way too late to ever talk to this man, but I know many others did and gained from the experience. sensei deservedly appears everywhere on this site. That is the type of legacy that can never die. But you know this, right?

Well, that's not what I wanted to say either, I'm afraid. Now I want to talk about this. The phrase "/me misses sensei" has become a rally, a cry from those influenced by his works, a simple statement that says "we need more like him", or even just "I miss him, cos he was great". You didn't need me to tell you that, I know.

I am just astounded/glad/touched/something that one man has had such a profound effect on this place and on so many people, including myself, of course. I do not aspire to be him. I wouldn't say I worshipped him, per se, but...well, it's hard to put into words, isn't it? He came, he saw, he conquered. That kinda works.

But now he's gone. We should face up to this fact and carry on, not as if he were never here, but as a reminder of what can be achieved - and that there really are genuinely great people both here and out there. Somewhere.

Oh yeah, this was for all us newbies, right, sorry. The message is: read sensei's stuff before you get stuck in. Yes, go through the University, read all the faqs etc, but look at sensei's work (well, this anyway) if only to get a feel for the community that this place can offer. It's there: just take it. That's why sensei is so important; it's about the community aspect, of making friends, helping each other out and all the rest.

Phew, I think we got there in the end.


PS: I'm sorry if this sounds wrong coming from a newbie like me. I'm sorry if that was all just pretentious bullshit. It's just how I feel about sensei and E2. This is what daylogs are for, right?

It would probably be even worse to end with you-know-what. But what the hell, it's the truth. It really is. I'm sure the E2 experience is vastly different without someone like sensei around. There is still a great deal of fantastic writers roundabouts here though, as everyone knows, and I'm not trying to say sensei was better than everybody, because in that respect he wasn't. sensei teaches about the community, a large part of many noders lives, and for any newbie to learn about this quickly is definitely A Good Thing. Anyway, I'm going on a bit. There is just one thing left to say:

/me misses sensei

Do you?

Oh, and if this has been done before, I didn't know. Honest.

The Definitive Project Messiah aftermath writeup.

Yes, yesterday Project Messiah actually happened, and can be judged a sucess. I suggest you check out the original node for a contrast between the plans and what actually happened....

Who?
In no especially good order,

Where?
Well, Winchester obviously, but we moved around quite a lot, taking in a fair amount of both scenery and alcohol. Winchester College, where the Messiah concert actually took place was understandably an attraction, but Winchester Castle was also an interesting visit. We didn't go in the cathedral, but passed by it on our way to places such as The Eclipse Inn and The Old Vine. Unfortunately myself and Hamsterman also spent rather a lot of time running in between these locations and the train station.

So what actually happened?
After a rushed lunch at my nearby house I went into Winchester, to find Hamsterman, BaronWR and the Birmingham 3 (which sounds rather criminal) lunching in The Eclipse Inn, a rather traditionally generic British Pub.

After a tentative start we were thrown right into a complex discussion, no element of which was understood by three or more people. There were many conspiratorial looks, especially when Hamsterman presented a scar faery with a gift box, which I accused of containing crack. After dodo37's arrival, and the proud display of the "node cup" (ideal for holding Node Soup!) we left to more fully explore the town.

Oddly enough, despite having gone to school there for three years few of the E2 Wykhamists had ever seen the castle, so after a brief tour of the college we headed back into town. The castle was pretty impressive, but perhaps the most unusual feature was a piece of lichen-y wall, with a perspex covering. Theories suggest that this may have been the original instance of the colour green, grass until that point having been yellow! The arthurian round table was suitably large and round, but to everyone's consternation one of the knight's names appeared to be Sir Wikiwiki.

Alas, pedrolio was stuck in his bedsit, suffering from a vile wasting disease, and we felt honour bound to greet him. Entry to the house was a rather less subtle affair than originally intended, as after climbing a rear perimeter wall Hamsterman and myself found it impossible to secure keys with which to enter. Thus, we found ourselves simply walking in through the front door, horribly paranoid of what the demonic "Sid" (no, not the noder) might say about there being actual females in his house. Thankfully he was nowhere to be seen, and after a brief stopover in pedrolio's bedsit (which he informed us is usually much tidier) we ran for it...

At this point everything got a little split up. purple curtain, so save me and a scar faery went to watch the final rehersal of the Messiah, with which Hamsterman was involved, and the rest of us went our seperate ways.

I spent the next hour or so wasting time as I usually do, and when the rehearsal had finished it was time to collect Tiefling and nine9 from the station, which was unfortunately distance. Being the glutton that I am I went to house supper, and thus had to run up the hill to the station, getting there just after the train did.

nine9's map of Winchester had the college in completely the wrong place, but thankfully it was good enough for him to find his hotel. The E2 WAP protocol deserves a far lesser amount of praise for being terminally unwieldly. Soon afterwards, and not entirely unexpectedly I found myself sitting in a pub. Of course just after I'd consumed my first pint I had to run all the way back up the hill to collect Oolong and diotina. After another quick drink we realised that the Messiah concert was much too soon, and having said farewell to the Birmingham noders we proceeded with all due speed to the venue.

Having a slight aversion to classical music in large quantities I declined to watch the Messiah concert, but those that did go seemed far from disappointed, which must indicate something considering the lenghts to which they went to attend. nine9 and diotina had even flown down from Edinburgh.

Unfortunately, by that point it was rather late, and Hamsterman had to accompany Oolong and diotina back to the station. Since it was about 9.45 I had to tell my housemaster a mild white lie in order to be allowed to go and search for food with Tiefling and nine9. After nine9 had turned his nose up at the first few options we ended up in an Ask Pizza and Pasta restaurant. Despite being an A level theology student some of the discussion at the dinner table went over my head, but when the topic turned to RPGs I managed to recruit nine9 as the newest member of RPGers.

I bid everyone farewell, and that should have been the end of it, apart from the fact that I got locked out of the school due to the codes on all the gates being changed, and it took two phone calls to get back inside.

I suppose I could wax apocalyptic about the probably-impending war against Iraq (or alternately, about the Hong Kong mystery pneumonia which may be a mutated strain of avian flu, and could well become a pandemic), but frankly there's quite enough of that already, both on E2 and everywhere else on the Internet. After all, we're only gonna die anyway. (Score one for cynicism.)

So instead, I'm going to talk about books. You see, I was reading the node for the book lotto thingie, and it occurred to me that I'm really not the kind of person to give books away (or even exchange them). Hell, I don't even like loaning them to people I know. It's not that I'm a stingy person; I'm just... I guess the best word is protective. Bibliophilia doesn't quite cover it. I mean, I can even tell you where I got most of my books. For instance:

  • My 1925 edition of Col. Ingersoll's 44 Complete Lectures came off eBay for about $7, from a woman who was selling off her late husband's belongings.
  • The Harrad Experiment was originally a book one of my parents owned that my sister swiped (I swiped it back).
  • My copy of The Dispossessed was sent to me by a friend on LiveJournal who didn't want to take it with her when she moved to Canada.
  • Gulliver's Fugitives, one of those Star Trek: The Next Generation novels, was a gift for my 14th birthday from a girl named Haley Winters.
  • Rollerball was sent to me by the owner of a secondhand book shoppe in Seattle, along with about a dozen books, only one of which (The Stars, Like Dust, a long out-of-print novel by Isaac Asimov) I had actually paid for. My guess is he couldn't sell them, so he figured he might as well give them to someone who might enjoy them.
Anyway, the point is, I wouldn't want to trade any of my books, even one that would be easy to obtain again, for an unknown.

Now, I do have a box with some books that I want to get rid of. But I figured it wouldn't be very sporting of me to trade those away to people; you're supposed to trade a book you like, and it's not anybody else's fault that I thoroughly disliked Beloved (which I had to read for a class last semester) or Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo (which was apparently a novel meant for juveniles). But this reminded me that I also have duplicate copies of some books.

So, long story short, I'm going to add a book to the pot. Probably Dune. With my luck, though, I'll probably wind up getting something like Left Behind or some Young-Earther's copy of Worlds In Collision. Oh well.

Today's Headlines

US News

Investigators Fly Elizabeth Smart Over Site
Investigators packed Elizabeth Smart into a police helicopter on Sunday, flying the girl over the Utah foothills where she was allegedly held captive for months. The investigators asked Elizabeth to point out the campsite where she was held, various trails used by her captors, and other landmarks from the first few weeks of her kidnapping, which began on June 5, 2002 when she was stolen from her home at knifepoint. Charges against her captor, Brian David Mitchell, were expected to be filed today.

Late Arrival Kerry Steals The Show
In a surprise move that delighted revelers on Sunday, a weakened Senator John Kerry showed up halfway through yesterday's St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Boston and poked fun at his root, his hair, and his prostate. Kerry had planned to skip the event due to his recent prostate surgery, but changed his mind suddenly and went to the breakfast anyway. The breakfast is seen as an important political event in terms of helping to build support among the Irish community in Boston, the support of which Kerry will need for an upcoming Presidential run in 2004.

Many War Protests Over The Weekend
With the possibility of war with Iraq drawing nearer, demonstrators hit the streets both to show support for peace as well as to support the US troops that may be involved in the conflict. A rally of about 10,000 anti-war protesters occurred in Chicago, while a protest of about 6,000 occurred near Philadelphia at Valley Forge, among other smaller antiwar protests. In Providence, Rhode Island and Mountain Home, Arkansas, people gathered to support troop units being deployed to the Middle East.

International News

Israeli Army Enters Gaza Strip Camp
At least six Palestinians are dead and 15 injured after Israeli troops entered a refugee camp in central Gaza this morning. The Israelis sent tanks and armored vehicles into Nusseirat camp early this morning, exchanging gunfire with Palestinians, who the Israelis claimed was harboring a man wanted by the Israeli secret police. Palestinian medical staff indicated that the man (Mohammed Saafin) was indeed killed in the attack, along with a two year old girl and a thirteen year old boy.

US Advises Weapons Inspectors To Leave Iraq
In the clearest sign yet that war with Iraq is imminent, the United States has advised United Nations weapons inspectors to begin pulling out of Baghdad. Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the advice was given late Sunday night both to his Vienna-based nuclear agency hunting for atomic weaponry and to the New York-based teams looking for biological and chemical weapons. In a statement to the IAEA's board of governors today, El Baradei said "Late last night ... I was advised by the U.S. government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad."

Pneumonia-Like Virus Originated In China
The deadly pneumonia-like illness that was the subject of a World Health Organization warning on Saturday originated in southern China in November and peaked a month ago, according to a report the Chinese government provided to WHO officials. The outbreak sparked months of panic buying of vinegar, herbal remedies and antibiotics in China. This outbreak is suspected to be the same one that has spread recently to the West. So far, there have been fewer than ten deaths outside of China due to the illness, but hundreds are seriously ill.

Business

Alan Greenspan Considering Another Interest Rate Cut
After a string of particularly ugly data in February, the idea that the federal funds rate could be cut to 1% or lower is gaining support in Washington. Although most Wall Street firms do not expect Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Board chairman, to actually reduce rates at the board meeting tomorrow, the idea is beginning to gain momentum on the board and may be considered strongly at their next meeting. A reduction would place the federal funds rate at 1% or lower, which would be the lowest rate ever. Most investors are comparing the current United States economy to that of Great Britain from 1986 to 1996, when their economy dealt with the bursting of a bubble from an overinflated housing market.

Asian Stocks End Lower on News of Imminent War
Asian financial markets finished lower Monday as the diplomatic deadlock over Iraq appeared to break in the direction of war. President Bush signaled Sunday that diplomatic efforts over disarming Iraq will end Monday, following a summit with Britain, Spain and Portugal in the remote Azores islands. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average ended 1.6% lower as investors digested the news. Despite the slide, investors were mainly taking a wait- and-see approach ahead of the U.N.'s response to Bush's ultimatum.

Oil Prices Climb On Threat of War
Oil prices jumped Monday on the imminent threat of war on the world's seventh largest oil exporter Iraq after the United States offered just one more day of United Nations talks to sanction the use of force. International benchmark Brent crude oil surged up $1.52 at one point before trimming gains to stand 41 cents up at $30.54 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were 50 cents higher at $35.88 a barrel, some $5 short of their peak during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis. Crude oil futures have risen 40 percent in four months as President Bush has stepped up his rhetoric against Iraq.

Science & Technology

Tablet PCs Proving Popular
Through the end of December, Hewlett-Packard had a slight lead over Fujitsu in worldwide shipments of Tablet PCs, according to research released Monday by IDC. Around 72,000 units total had been sold through December, which greatly exceeded early estimates of 50,000 sold by the end of 2002. Tablet PC vendors launched their devices on November 7, 2002, in conjunction with Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition launch the same day; thus, the sales numbers are total for only seven weeks of release.

Texas Student Found In Cracking Scheme
Christopher Andrew Phillips, a 20 year old computer science major from Houston at the University of Texas, is charged with unauthorized access to a protected computer and using someone else's identification with intent to commit a federal crime. Phillips told Secret Service agents on March 5 that he had written and executed a computer program that could access a university Web site and its database, which would distribute 36,000 to 72,000 randomly generated Social Security numbers a minute against the site and collect any information returned from these accesses.

SAP Co-Founder Steps Down
SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner is stepping down from day-to-day control of the German business software giant in a move that is being described by the company as a "step up" to SAP's advisory board. In the move, Plattner will relinquish control of the company to his current co-chief executive, Henning Kagermann, who will become sole chief executive. "Today we have the right organisation in place to capitalise on the next technology wave," said Plattner in a statement. "We are executing extremely well and gaining market share in a tough market. That makes this the right time for me to hand over the day-to-day business entirely to Henning Kagermann."

Health

Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Lipobay Banned
The cholesterol-lowering drug Lipobay, which was earlier withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer, has been officially banned in Thailand as of February 22, 2003. Bayer Co. voluntarily suspended marketing and distribution of Lipobay in August 2001 after reports of severe muscle contraction problems with potentially lethal consequences were widely reported. The US FDA had received reports of 31 deaths among people who have used the drug. The deaths resulted from severe rhabdomyolysis, a condition that results in muscle cell breakdown. Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscle pain, fever, dark urine, nausea and vomiting.

World's Obese Calculated To Number 1.7 Billion
Medical experts called for a new assessment of how weight-related health risks in Asians are measured which could push up the number of overweight and obese people worldwide to 1.7 billion. The new figure, which would be 50 percent higher than current estimate, is based on recommendations to lower the threshold for Asians because of their special vulnerability to weight-related disorders. Professor Philip James, the chairman of the London-based International Obesity TaskForce (IOTF), said the global standard for measuring overweight/obesity, the Body Mass Index (BMI), is based on western criteria and needs to be adjusted for Asians. Regardless, there is serious indication of a worldwide obesity crisis.

Sports

NCAA Mens', Womens' College Basketball Tournament Brackets Released
The annual NCAA mens' and womens' college basketball tournament brackets were released yesterday evening. This years' tournament features Kentucky, Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma as the top seeds on the mens' side, while LSU, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Duke earned top seeds in the womens' bracket. The brackets may have to be altered, however, to place BYU elsewhere so they won't have to play on Sunday, which is outlawed by university and religious rules.

Graeme Smith Vows New Era In South African Cricket
With the appointment of Graeme Smith as the captain of the national cricket team, South Africa looks to shed the corruption of former team captain Hansie Cronje, who was discovered to have been involved in match fixing during his tenure as captain. Cronje's short-term replacement, Shaun Pollock, led the team to dismal World Cup failure and was also axed, paving the way for Smith to take the helm. At the press conference introducing him as national team captain, Smith said, "I never met (Cronje). I never played with or against him. We're starting afresh now; I've got no baggage from the Hansie Cronje era."

Entertainment

Natalie Maines Apologizes For Anti-Bush Comments
Dixie Chick Natalie Maines has apologized to President Bush for the negative comment she made about him while performing overseas last week. The trio performed a live show in London on Monday (March 10) where Maines told the crowd, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." On March 14, 2003, Maines released this statement: "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

James Gandolfini, HBO Continue Talks On The Sopranos
The Sopranos star James Gandolfini and HBO are considering a deal to drop their dueling lawsuits and proceed with contract negotiations, according to several published reports. Gandolfini, according to HBO sources, is seeking $25 million for a fifth season of the hit series which, if agreed upon, would be a record for an actor starring in a TV drama. Others, however, have said Gandolfini's asking price was closer to $16 million.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

When I was young, I was reasonably good at basketball. I played with a fervor throughout middle school and dreamed of perhaps one day actually being able to play college basketball, ideally at Tennessee or LSU. It was sincerely my dream for many years.

Then, one day I was playing pick-up basketball and out of nowhere, as I went for a layup, I was tackled from behind and I dropped to the floor like a ton of bricks. I couldn't move for a short while, and it was very difficult for me to walk for several weeks afterwards. In my desperate dream to keep playing, I tried to hide my back injury and kept playing, but it was pretty obvious that I could barely run more than two or three steps at a time.

So, I gave up playing for a while and discovered other interests. I became rather depressed for a while, but eventually I came out of that. I didn't play basketball at all for two years.

I finally gave it another try, and it took a fair amount of courage for me to pick up a ball again. I was able to run the length of the floor while dribbling, and I was ecstatic, but as soon as I did that four or five times, the back pain started again.

The dream was really over.

I think that is why the month of March is so amazing to me. I watch the college basketball tournaments with a fervent passion; some years, I even take the first two days of the tournament off of work to watch them.

The majesty of watching young people out there playing just for the joy of it, just for the chance to keep playing another day, fills my heart with a tremendous amount of joy.

It truly is March Madness.


Lent Diary, Day 13

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

My discipline met some severe challenges over the last several days.

I attended a conference, and the meal times were set up to make it very difficult to eat with others and still maintain my discipline. I usually went to the banquets and just neglected to eat or drink anything. People asked me about why I was doing this, and I would tell them it was for spiritual reasons, and this was usually met with an odd look.

After days of this, I began to realize that the state of spirituality in America is really in a sad state. The mere idea of spirituality or belief in a particular religion seems to strike most people as being stupid by default.

But I made it through. I tend to think that the negative reactions of others to my spiritual choices has been the hardest part.

Today is zero hour, the calm before the storm. The Bush administration sits poised to unleash a tremendous volume of destruction on Iraq, and after months of build up and tension, I find myself oddly calm. Outraged intellectually, but emotionally spent. All the polls on television claim that a majority of Americans supports the war, yet I don’t know a single flesh and blood human being who agrees with it. Who are these people, I wonder? Why hasn’t a pollster called my house to ask my opinion?

In my 28 years, I don’t think I’ve seen days as dark as these. I remember the Iran hostage crisis, the Cold War, Ronald Regan sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, telling America about the imminent Soviet nuclear threat. I remember the first Gulf War, Kosovo, Grenada, the Invasion of Panama, the Battle of Mogadishu, Afghanistan, 9/11.

How did we squander the goodwill of the world? How did we get to this point? In 1944, America invaded Fortress Europe, helped to overthrow the tyranny of the Nazi regime, while beating back the Japanese empire. We fought real evil in those days, and against the odds, we won. But the rest of the 20th Century is filled with so much embarrassment -- Vietnam, proxy wars, “The Third Way.” And yet it all pales compared to the second Gulf War, the war without reason.

The Muslim world despises the West and America in particular, and yet the Bush regime tells us that they will welcome the American military with open arms. The UN sanctions crippled Iraq in the 1990’s, inadvertently harming the civilian population while Saddam was largely unscathed. How will the Iraqis react when the rich Americans arrive with their billion dollar weapons, while they have starved for 10 years?

I look at Iraq, and I see another Vietnam.

And yet, the media can only talk about how great the President is -- they refer to him with an almost religious fervor, this man who wasn’t elected to office, who won the president by deceit and coercion and nepotism, without even a plurality of the popular vote. Everyone is lauding the “Great Leader” who they love for his honesty, his determination, his faith in God. All hail Big Brother, all hail George W. Bush. He knows what’s best for us. Any dissent is definitely “Double-plus ungood.” So much for an objective media, much less a mythical “liberal one.”

On Saturday, I marched in the “emergency” peace protest in Washington. At one point, the huge crowd was making its way down 14th Street, heading towards the Washington monument. We marched down a slight incline, past the National Press Building and an enormous cheer erupted from the crowd. My voice joined, as did Pantaliamon’s, our friend Brian’s. The roar was incredible, exhilarating. All these people of disparate political beliefs -- radical leftists, moderates, even some Republicans -- united in their opposition to the war. It was 60 degrees, San Francisco weather. The sun shown down brightly from the sky, and I found myself believing that the world was watching. It was rare a moment of sublime beauty, I felt contented.

And then it was over. And now I sit in my office, numb about the war. Numb about everything. A strange disease is killing people in Asia, unemployment is almost at 6%, and the economy is a wreck. The American century with all its hope and promise is over. Now the 21st Century, the century of uncertainty has begun.

I wish it were still 1998. I wish it could always be 1998.

"Naturally, the common people don't want war. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Herman Goering, Reichsmarschall of the Third Reich

Creepy huh? I think this pretty much sums it up.
We all know that every once in a while the weather suits your mood completely. For me today is one of those days. When I woke up this morning looking out over the valley that makes up Golden, Colorado, seeing the grey clouds and greeny wetness, the spring weather (soon snow they say) suited me just fine, and still does. Why you ask? Mainly that after several weeks of happiness and sunshine I am alone again, not as before of course, it's only a small time of loneliness, while my girlfriend is away in Paris. I miss her very much, but of course as we said last night when we had to say goodbye for a week, it will only make us stronger.

"Whatever Doesn't Kill You Only Makes You Stronger."

So it's not like I'm all that depressed, more so like I'm just sad. My life really is very good right now, why should I be depressed? I'm just fairly alone for a while, and I really just want this week to go away, away evil week so I can talk to my girlfriend again!!

The war on Iraq seems to be dominating the day logs, and personally I'm fairly concerned over it, but somehow it seems very far away. Though I do believe Bush's stupidity and macho posturing will eventually bite him back. This strange American hatred of the French and anyone else who is tring to stand in our way is however kind of scary. We aparently think that it's okay to stomp on anyone who says nay to our violence.
My friend has been saying all kinds of very bad things about the French, he's aparently bought all the charicatures and stupidity that the majority of mass media has been throwing at him. All of this is slightly disturbing, aparently Bush can convince us all that war is good and that we can act without any thought of the rest of the world. This kind of macho stupidity I metioned earlier is extremely scary, as you never know what they will do.

I have a feeling that America will become a dangerous place to live, once we piss off enough people. America isn't an island, and it isn't a fortress, no matter if the government may try to make us one. We have to realise that we are a part of the world and we should act as such. So in the end more power to the French, America will still go to war, but at least someone is trying to stop us.

How would you escape?

I am sitting in my cave-like office in Washington, D.C. I have two lava lamps bubbling. Slow orange globs bump into each other like blood cells. My window faces an alley and I am for once happy about this. My back is to the section of the building from which you can see the White House. I turn down my computer speakers because NPR is stressing me out. We will be attacking Iraq soon. I put myself in the shoes of someone who lives in Baghdad. Are they thinking they could die tomorrow? Are they making plans? I don’t keep my car in the city. This makes family members who live safely away from Washington ask, "How would you escape?" The question used to shock me. Escape? Why would I do that? This is my home. I am a girl from the suburbs who ached for the freedom of the city, but I am starting to think that I picked the wrong one to nestle into. How would I escape? Why do I get to feel relatively safe in a world capitol, but the people around the world do not. I do not deserve this freedom anymore than anyone else. I never fought for it and frankly I never would.

When I stand on my tip-toes in front of my apartment, I can see the top of the White House. The Washington Monument looms overhead, too, like a giant fence post. These images used to make me proud of myself for coming this far, for pushing my way out of the working class. But then I think about Baghdad, again.

I protested this war yesterday. My second protest of all time. I got to walk around my city feeling the cool breeze on my neck. Scoresby pointed out Moby and Natalie Portman in the crowd. I felt no fear. And that isn’t fair. I should have to be afraid. And now, out of respect for everyone in the world who is afraid of America, I will worry. I will think. I will not assume that I am safe because I am an American.

I fought in a war, and I didn't know where it would end
It stretched before me infinitely, I couldn't really think
Of the day beyond now, keep your head down pal
There's trouble plenty in this hour, this day
I can see hope I can see light

        -- Belle and Sebastian, "I Fought In A War"

A loose tooth has its drama. ''But it’ll hurt!'' even though it only hangs on by a limp strand of numb gum. A bit of floss tied to a door knob works for some. Daddy would tie mine to a post-tension anchor block, or a Brobdingnagian nut that went to a giant bolt from a bridge construction site somewhere. Triborough, Manhattan, Tappan Zee. My tooth was pulled by the Triborough Bridge.
***

Midnight? Too late, at least, for little girls to be up. We would drive home from a day spent with Aunties and Uncles and swirling constellations of kids in two age groups and it would be dark. We would be asleep less than a mile from hide-and-seek and dinner at the kiddie table. Mom and Daddy were in the front; silent lest they wake the children. Children piled safe in the back seat of the thrumming car, getting funny lines on their faces from the upholstery. Daddy was driving, and the New Jersey Turnpike would be deserted, and the asphalt would be smooth beneath the tires because he asked it to be so. I would wake up on the turn for our street and pretend to be asleep. I knew just when to brace a little for the turn-bump as the car pulled into the driveway. But if I kept my eyes closed, Daddy would carry me up to bed. Just me, the baby of the family. I’ve never asked him if he knew.
***

Mowing the lawn, making a swing, cleaning the pool, dismantling the old shed, tending the garden. He would show me how much sweat he could swipe off his well roasted forehead on a blinding summer’s day, with his shirt off and wearing those white socks and his sneakers. ''Look'' he’d say with a grin. ''My big brothers’ used to have a contest.'' Seventh of nine, he was the only one to live and work in the United States. One of only two to leave China. He worked in an office in The City. His suits would smell acrid and foreign as he stepped off the bus from walks on streets reeking of leaded gas and working with 4-packs-a-day. But he had been a farm boy, and that boy still peaks out now and then. He has a big shiny purple scar on his leg where he had fallen and cut open his boy’s shin on a plow blade. He could have bled to death. But he didn’t.
***

They HATCHED!!! A little phial of ''50'' silkworm eggs from my sister hatched unexpectedly soon one spring. The 100 or so resultant tiny dark grey crawlies were hungry and we had nothing for them. He tramped all over the neighborhood until he found a mulberry tree with enough new green to satisfy a hundred tiny eating machines. He was the one who showed me how to make them spin flat cocoons. He was also the one who figured out how to spin raw silk using the sewing machine.
***

The strong man. ''My dad can beat up your dad,'' I knew it to be true, even if I never felt the urge or need to say it. I remember being fascinated with his biceps. He would sometimes make a muscle for me to squeeze, and I could never dent it. And once, while he was lying on his back watching TV, with his arms stretched out, I decided to see what would happen if I pressed my foot onto his relaxed arm. I don’t know if he helped or not, but as I pressed down, his arm moved! I could make his forearm lift! Such power.
***

''Hsst! Look at this, I’m buying it. It’s not an antique, but they don’t make them anymore. She can’t do anything about it once it is home.'' An eager conspiratorial voice as we lagged behind Mom at the flea market. In his hand was a small perky ''bronze'' statue of a guardian lion with a tongue that moves. It’s currently in the dining room with the gong he and I picked out on a different trip.
***

He knows every route into and out of Manhattan Island. He can give perfect directions to Portland, Boston, Sandy Hook, Atlantic City, Norfolk, Washington, D.C., Tampa and the local mall. He is unbelievable with a map and has a perfect sense of direction. I have called him from Route 80 for directions.
***

His chair is the most comfortable; a big, squashy recliner in a direct line to the TV. Two people can sit on it if one is a small granddaughter or son. But the cat won’t share, and often he will sit on the couch rather than evict the cat. Sometimes he sits closer to the TV anyway, so he can hear it better.
***

He has collected all the deadwood in five acres. He has split hundreds of cords of firewood. He’s taken on a 1100 foot long driveway buried under several feet of snow for over a decade. Last summer he moved over a ton of rock by hand to build my mother a pond. He spent the entire summer sorting through the debris for edging stones. The woods are neat, the pond is beautiful, and he has bursitis in his left shoulder.
***

In his mid-70’s he is starting to move like an old man. He still has lots of energy and is very fit, but things are beginning to hurt; the old chronic back pain, bursitis in his shoulder, tendonitis in his elbow, repetitive stress injury in his wrist. He walks around the house having sprouted a tail. The heating pad strapped to his back or shoulder gets plugged in when he pauses for a snack, or watches TV. For an active man, this sedentary life is maddening. But, he’s split too much wood, shoveled too much snow, and shifted too many stones. He has to let it heal. So he reads a lot, and works on catching mistakes in the newspaper, and editing the newest edition of his 500 year old family genealogy. My own obsessions have cast a wide ripple effect and he is now reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time. He quite enjoys it. He finds similarities in it to Chinese epics, and it suits his idealism.
***

He was in a car accident on Friday. Either he didn’t yield at the stop sign or she was going too fast. Perhaps it was a bit of both. No one was much hurt, he sprained his wrist. The car is in bad shape. And his peace of mind is wrecked. He has flashbacks and can’t sleep. And he no longer trusts his driving.
***

Sometimes I’m embarrassed that I live at home with my parents. It just doesn’t fit with what is expected of women of my age and background in my tributary of society. But, occasional embarrassment is a small price to pay for being an adult with my parents. You know, I never knew my father had had tuberculosis as a young man until I took a class on disease in history and literature. It just sort of came out in conversation about The Magic Mountain and the current state of multiple drug resistant tuberculosis. I don’t suppose it is something you just randomly tell your kids, but what about the time we watched La Boheme on PBS, or Camille, or La Traviata? There is a young man somewhere in there that I have never known.
***

I lived for several years on my own before I moved back. And I moved back to help them out. But, I didn’t move back to help out. They went to my grandparents to help out and thought they’d be there for years. They wanted someone to take care of their house while they were away. They wanted a safe place to run to when living in someone else’s guest room got too much and family politics made them sick. They weren’t away for very long. In a shockingly short amount of time, my mother was an orphan, and they came home. And I stayed.
***

I don’t have anything to prove about independence any more. I don’t need to run away from my parents just to realize that I am a skewed reflection of them, or even because that is what I am. Somehow, it would be more socially understandable in my circle of acquaintances if my parents were old and decrepit and needed me to take care of them. But, quite the contrary, they have been spry and quite capable of taking care of me along with the menagerie I brought with me. I like spending time with them.
***

What I didn’t expect was this. This watching as little things start to go. And it isn’t so much that they go, but that he is scared, and frustrated, and angry as it snowballs to the point in which he cannot ignore it. She is scared too. For him, for herself.
***

I turned 33 last Tuesday. A day of significance biblically, which means it is a day of resonance literarily, which means that it is important to me no matter how pragmatic I choose to pretend to be. I didn’t expect that this would be my revelation though. I didn’t expect to grow up so soon.

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