Every man is the center of a circle,
whose fatal circumference he cannot pass.

-John James Ingalls. January 1882


It's inevitable (the exploding plastic inevitable daylog perhaps) that I would come on back and mention that after the unnerving sad events of morning, I went home breathing in heavy deep gulps of air, aware of the mistake I’d made by scheduling such an event early in the day. Walked in, saw wife, couldn’t speak much because of the amphibians in my throat. Just wanted to tell her, it's OK, but next time remind me to do this in the afternoon so a stiff drink will be appropriate.


*


Entropy, fuck off. These are my people.
Said the man on the Clapham Omnibus
Unable to resist the taste of his own spit
He is mostly bile (not guile)
Full of the vinegar that the wine
Of thwarted expectations becomes
And two left shoes for two left feet in addition
So out of lockstep is he with a world
That sails, Horatio, by rising up
Against a sea of troubles
And in doing so, ends them.


*


Crap day, actually. I usually agree with Ham Jordan’s post-cancer assessment of No such thing as a bad day but I am conferring an allowance for this done Monday.

What I will remember most fondly, strangely, is sitting on the hard tile floor of the examination room as the initial anesthetic quietly slumped down her body to sleeping and as it did talking to our vet. She was giving me some time, and Moo also, and within the sadness of what had been and was to come, we slowly outlined how we each stood on euthanasia for ourselves, not for dogs or cats or voles, nor other humans, but just each of us. She talked of her fear of a body that outlasted her mind. That her Assisted Living Insurance Plan was a small cabin that she would live in on the tundra. When she was too disoriented to know better then by accident and through the door she would head out onto the ice for a final shuffle. I'm going out I may be some time I said in gallows humor as upon the gallows we sat. No, she said, this American lady on a New Jersey floor, Oates knew full well what he was doing. That would be a different matter entirely.

And that led us to Iris Murdoch, one of the great minds of her (or any) generation who lapsed (fell?) into alzheimer's and descended a mental staircase from pinnacle to exit door. I said she must read John Bayley's short, sweet memoir of his wife of 50 years, Elegy for Iris, and then Moo was asleep, breathing easily. And then we killed her, a needle's point just quietly into a left leg vein and as it slowly entered, like the pure heroin I saw kill too many friends so long ago, Moo's chest slowed to its final stop.

Went out into the snowy traffic, face all wet and cold. Breathing deep, hoping not to meet any of the many I know in this town, not ready for the small talk of it all.

Went home to a quiet house, grateful to my dog and my vet. Ordered the Iris book and had it sent to the clinic. Ordered a steak dinner for myself (pasghetti for the kid and salmon for his mother). Threw the bones away.


I haven't written a daylog since September 7, 2006, and before that I really didn't do it often anyway. But I've been coming to E2 when I can, reading new nodes, interesting nodes, friends' nodes, and daylogs. The recent daylogs about people reflecting on E2 are pretty interesting.

oakling pointed out having been on E2 for five-something years and referred to that as a "ridiculously long time." I'm right there too--my homenode says 6.1 years. I've seen the changes and occasionally had an opinion on them. I've seen controversy over things like tits on a keyboard and Butterfinger McFlurry getting to stick around in the face of raising the bar, and I've tried to explain said things to people I dragged over here, along with earn your bullshit vs. um, try not to node bullshit at all.

I've done the neener-neener dance at people who claim that your first node always gets deleted when my first node is still around and got a C! for its trouble. (I actually listened to the Everything University and whatnot, intimidated by the promise of being eaten alive if I didn't, and nine of my first ten nodes--seventeen of my first twenty--now bear proud C!s.)

I was there during April Trolls Day, amused and confused, and had a piece of my own bullshit deleted by an editor whose wits were fried by dealing with the supposed hacker invasion. I own a shirt that displays the text of Butterfinger McFlurry. I've got an E2 poster emblazoned with nodes of real members. I have used the soy chant in real life. I've even taken a lesbian or two out of the shredder, and I've had both delightful discussions and idiotic arguments in the catbox and the E2 inbox. I understand the story behind the sumbit button. I've given 70 very selfish C!s and have mistakenly C!ed two people. I've made a couple friends. I've pissed off a few people. I've been pissed off by a few people.

I don't think I'm a well-known or popular noder, but I've got some longevity and I have some quality writeups. I'm in the Everything's Best Users top 10 by XP. I took on a mentee who became a successful noder in his own right and nodes more than I do now. (Points at artman2003 . . . sorry, everyone, he's my fault.) I've been to but one E2 gathering. I've noded very little besides books and recipes for years. And I owe E2 a lot more nodes in the future. I'm kind of a fringe member, but E2 is pretty important to me, and I'm willing to ride the wave no matter where it goes.

I think part of the reason there's so much weirdness going on what with E2 changing and some people fighting the change while others welcome it and still others point out exactly how much it HASN'T changed . . . is that there is both a purpose and a culture to this site. The core members of E2 at one time were a particular type of people who if they did not see eye-to-eye, they at least understood and tolerated each other. A lot of silliness erupted, and a lot of people got pissed about the silliness because they felt it gave the site a "feel" of nonsense when it was supposed to be an informative site.

I think it's kind of like the phenomenon where it's said geeks like science fiction. Not all geeks like science fiction, and not all science fiction readers are geeks. But a lot of the time, if you get a bunch of science fiction fans in a room and one of them is a typical popular frat boy type or something, chances are he's going to feel that the other fans are being cold to him and the other fans are going to feel uncomfortable in his presence, and neither of those reactions is caused by any of their attitudes toward science fiction. It's all about the supposed science fiction culture.

E2 is different things to different people, and to some it is the writing itself that is important to the soul of the group who writes it. To others it is the people doing the writing no matter what it is they write. As far as CRAP goes, I think that crap has a time and a place, and if it wasn't amusing and interesting to many folks on this site, a controversial node wouldn't be on an E2 tee shirt that I now own. And most of us can tell the difference between crap that's meant to be crap and crap that is nothing but a waste of space. That said, it's not as if E2 has turned into Wikipedia just because the bar was raised. We still node poetry, fiction, how-to guides, songs, opinion pieces, and philosophy. And silliness still sneaks in. We still put our tits on the keyboard every once in a while.

I love it all, from the perfect node to the occasional dick in the mashed potatoes.

I like to think I'm part of that soul of E2, and I'm staying.

My Fascinatingly Detailed Editor Angst Bullshit Day Log

1

Several years ago, I stumbled onto a site called Everything. I read it, now and then. I enjoyed much of what I read, and thought about joining, but always reconsidered. Too many half-assed factuals. Too many in-jokes that were inaccessible. Signs of cliquey factionalism, real and imagined.

Some of what older noders recall as the good ol' days kept me from the site—- although, having no access to the catbox, I could not see the same site they were seeing.

About four years ago, I was recovering from an invasive medical procedure, and looking for other places to try my fledgling Timeshredder identity. I returned to an E2 that seemed a little more critical of itself-- or perhaps I just saw it with more perceptive eyes. Accepting, certainly, of well-written folly, but eager to encourage writing intrinsically worth reading. I concede myself an odd match for the site. When I joined, I was older than most of the old-time users. I did not plan to remain for any length of time. I misunderstood several aspects of the site’s workings.

I was on pain medication.

2

Years ago, I belonged to a writers’ group. We moved on; none of us live in the same city anymore, except for the pair who married. Virtually all of our members have gone on to publish work; some have achieved a measure of fame. This place became my new writers' group. It wasn't the same as meeting in the park and at people's apartments, but the 'Net has its allure, too.

The internet is writer's cocaine. One may not make money, but an audience will find you. Response will be swift. At e2, that response amounts to more than say, the "I feel your pain" Oprahcity that marks so many blog sites and boards.

Raising the bar has had many beneficial effects. It has helped eliminate the bad factual: urban legends masquerading as fact, half-remembered accounts by writers too lazy to research. It has helped encourage good writing. Certainly, the site changed, but every day sees odd and original and bright contributions. And anyone too insensitive to put their writing before the noders of e2 has little chance with publishers or live audiences.

We have problems; we will always have problems. They are being and will be addressed, though (humans being what we are) never to everyone's satisfaction. But this bar-raised E2 has attracted writers such as bewilderbeast, Excalibre, hapax, kerawall, paraclete, and rootbeer277. I think I can live with that.

I already knew a number of writers; now I know more. The fact that I have a jazz musician, an astronaut, and a guy who has lived in Antarctica among my e-mail contacts I owe this site. At midlife, this almost counts as cool worth caring about.

Of, course it consumes time, and I may find some day that I, too, need to move on.

3

Communities experience movement, pendulum swings. Too much goofiness? Promote serious, factual work. Too much seriousness? Complain about the lack of fun.

Things not like they were in the good ol' days? Yeah, that’s a novel complaint. No other community has gone down that road before.

Some people, as others have noted, will move on, changed. Some have simply become someone other than the person who first logged onto the site. Some will confuse their personal changes with ones occuring at e2.

Others will remain for years, fascinating people, people like I met in the old writer’s group, but more of them, from more places. They may become friends. And, if I leave at some future date, I suspect I'll experience greater difficulty quitting them. And my feelings aren't unusual. A noder who recently chose to publicize his departure expresses great excitement at the prospect of a forthcoming nodermeet.

4

Four years have passed. I still don’t have a really good idea of how XP and merit work, and I’m not that motivated to care. I remain interested in reading and writing here.

You want a clear, more-or-less accurate, objective factual? Wikipedia’s doing well. You want to read or write unedited, grammatically-challenged rambling? Check out Myspace or livejournal. You want material written by people whose heads are so far up their asses they're probably viewing the world out their own mouths? Place any controversial topic into Google and follow the trails of text.

You want writing on anything and everything, writing that has passed some kind of standard, survived the consideration of dedicated editors and a community of informed readers? Do you want your writing to receive that kind of scrutiny and feedback? This place remains vital.

Sunday morning, sometime around 7:15, our ferret Robbie died. I thought I’d get that out of the way first thing.

In 2001, our first ferret, Davey, died and by summer, we were ready to bring another little friend into our happy household. It was to that end that we stood in a pet shop in Richardson—six pairs of eyes examined us, twelve tiny perfect jewels behind six little bandit masks. They were the biggest ferret kits I’d ever seen at the time, bigger in fact than Davey had been when he was full grown. The big baby ferrets were the colour of lightly burnt toast, with little pink noses that twitched adorably as they sniffed our hands to try to locate treats.

One of the ferrets, a gregarious male, had an unusual white blaze on his head, shaped very much like a sword. As we had recently enjoyed Liam Neeson’s turn as the eponymous Scots hero in Rob Roy (for about the fifth time), the name seemed ideal for a huge, charismatic rogue*. That little sword really cinched it.

The word ferret derives from roots meaning 'thief.' You can see vestiges of the Indo-European root (meaning 'to carry') in such words as pilfer and filch—it’s appropriate, because ferrets will make off with just about any damned thing in the house.

Robbie started his career in a big way—he started with our hearts.

*In the event that my estimable reader saw, and did not enjoy, this film, he or she is cheerfully invited to pretend that I am talking about the 1953 classic, Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue (starring a Michael Gough, who was apparently young at one point).


There is an axiom among the aficionados of small, domesticated mustalids that the "perfect number of ferrets is always one more." The old-timers call it 'ferret math'—that tendency to keep adding one more ferret to the household. We have never succumbed to the lure of four or five ferrets running all over the house—two is a pretty good number for us. Robbie had a chocolate-brown playmate named Indiana (named for Indiana Jones, of course) and later, a little scamp of a ferret girl named Ayumi Tanukiko.

Rob grew big—really big. Until I saw some ferrets who had been crossbred with polecats, I had never seen a ferret as big or fit as Robbie. Turns out Rob Roy was indeed a good name for him, even though his little sword faded into a tiny pinstripe over time.

The word that comes to mind when I think of my little mustalid friend Rob is affectionate—he was a gentle giant in the truest sense of the word. I never saw him bite anyone, unlike Davey, the juvenile delinquent who developed ridiculous nicknames like "Bitey McNibbles" and "Sir Bitesalot" ... or tiny Ayumi, for whom play-bites are her favourite way of saying "hello." Robbie’s preferred greeting was licking, nuzzling, and cuddling. He was hard not to love.

In the span of a ferret’s life, six years is a long time—there are some health problems that plague older ferrets.

Monday night, a week ago, Robbie became weak. Past midnight, my stalwart best friend and platonic life partner, Suzi and I had to race down unfamiar freeway to an emergency ferret vet many miles away.

The diagnosis was not particularly cheery: insulinoma. This disease is not rare in older ferrets, it is a type of pancreatic cancer. The insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells I think they’re called. I’m too worn out to go look it up.) grow out of control, flooding the body with too much of the sugar-regulating hormone and leading to a blood sugar crash. It is treatable, but not curable.

Robbie seemed better for a few days, but this was a lot of strain for his little body to go through. Saturday night, he was very weak. We've had enough pets to know that this could be the end, we hoped not, but we tried to be realistic.

I’d love to leave this on an optimistic note, or say something clever and creative, but I really don’t feel like it. I’m a little numb. At least it was a quick end, something I guess most of us hope for. At least he had a good long life (six years is not a world record or anything, but it is pretty good for a ferret and the longest any of our four have made it so far). At least ... at least ... at least ...

As with so many pets (and humans too), who have 'gone before,' he is gone from this life, but Robbie lives on forever in our hearts.

I close with a quote from a distant acquaintance years ago:

"You don’t own pets. You just pay rent on them until it is time to give them back to god."



If you want to see some pictures of Robbie, this journal is reproduced (with some tweaks) on my blog at http://junkill.blogspot.com/

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