This is cool, I'm on vacation.

Two years of hardcore work at the agency, now I have a week off before starting my new job. It's Monday morning, I've slept late, the mid-morning sun is warming this side of the house. My endorphin levels are right up, I feel so free and liberated not working there any more (at least, not on staff. I'm doing some consulting work with support and projects from time to time).

Peter came down from Sydney yesterday on the train. We collected him at midday, introduced him to our new puppy Paddy (he's an old friend of Molly's, you see), and took off to Kingston for a nice long boozy Sunday lunch. Collecting some more wine on the way back home, Peter and I launched into his latest make-money plan, a kind of portal on the 'net (the concept for which will remain secret for now). Except what he was describing was interactive TV, not the web at it's current state of evolution. A few hours and dozens of sheets of butcher's paper later he was clearer on the content requirements for his plan (oops! forgot all about content!). I dropped into bed at around mid-night, Gemma and the dogs stayed up late..

The household CD ripping project is almost done. Some 650 CDs and two months later, I'm down to the last short stack of shiny silver thingies. All lovingly committed to our home server at 192 bits. Must run that cable out to the stereo this week...

My new job is a 10 minute bike ride away, and I fully intend to ride every day except in foul weather. Also, new job resolutions include (a) go to the gym regularly (b) take up Japanese lessons (c) get back into a fencing club (d) cook more challenging dishes at home.

Okay, now into the day.

Another weekend of sunny hell. Spent the past two days
sitting in a bar on the beach, staring at the Gulf of
Mexico, drinking cheap beer with money I should be
saving to get out of this place. Copied more of my
crappy poetry into THE BOOK, wrote nothing new.
Talked with Windigo, yesterday, a mutliple of
of times since my cell hates working inside. We seem to
have both gotten what was needed off our chests, right
honey? Looking forward to tearing up Baltimore ;)
As it all comes to a head, the saying of goodbyes, the
final tying of loose ends, the packing, I find myself
morbidly awaiting some sort of climax, some final
ending to my stay down here. At the very least, someone
could say "PHUCK YOU, GO HOME". I wonder if they will
bother.
I find myself almost unwilling to talk to anyone new
as it seems everyone new wants to talk to me. I just
out of this place, these people, apathetic aquantiances
and slow-ass ederly drivers. Florida is hell.
It's 5am and the day hasn't even properly gotten started yet. I'm feeling the urge to node anyway. Need a theraputic outlet.

Woke at the familiar, unsolicited time of 3:17am, adrenalin super-charging my brain, burning emotional rubber. No specific fear, I think. Made redundant from my titsup.com at the end of last month and starting my new job at dull.co.uk at the start of next month. It's a fat pay rise and plenty security but a small, respected gland deep in my brain is twitching away like a mad thing.

It's not so much the potential dullness of the task set, the suspected insipidness of the workmates or the soul-decaying anonymity of working in dilbertsville that scares me ('tho they do -- bigtime). No, it's the feeling that day by day, month by month and year by year, I'm pissing my life away. That I'm looking for bigger bucks, more status and nicer things when what I really want is to get a feeling several times a day that what I'm doing is worthwhile and has made something a little better. I guess I'm talking job satisfaction, even life satisfaction.

Having time to think freely really messes me up.

File under "left hand doesn't know what right hand is doing":

There are two letters on my desk from Franklin Township Municipal Court of New Jersey. One reads:

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT AS A RESULT OF AN UNANSWERED TRAFFIC SUMMONS HAS BEEN ISSUED. IT HAS BEEN FORWARDED FOR ACTION TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT SHOWN ABOVE.
The other reads:
MR DANIEL DRUCKER:

WE ARE IN RECEIPT OF YOUR LETTER DATED APRIL 18 2001. YOUR COURT DATE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED FOR RESCHEDULING.
They're both dated April 26.

I wasn't entirely sure which to believe, since each of the four times I phoned the court, they put me on hold for about 30 minutes before hanging up on me. Last night, though, I found out...

File under "spooky":

I'm on Route 31 in Warren County around midnight, and it suddenly occurs to me that I haven't checked my lights recently. I know my headlights and brakelights work, but I haven't checked my signals or parking lamps lately. Less than a minute after having this thought, I'm being pulled over for having my license plate light out. I explain carefully to the cop my situation with Franklin Township. He calls in my information. I sit in the car, wondering whether I'm going to be arrested.

He comes back and informs me that Franklin Township not only doesn't seem to have a warrant for my arrest, but in fact doesn't seem to have any record of me whatsoever. He gives me a warning for my light and lets me go.

Rhapsody in Screwed :: Part I

finally out of school for a few days, i plan to go to a drunken medievalist festival in the woods with a few of my brothers and a whole bunch of our friends. one brother bails to go to pennsylvania. *shrug* these things, they happen... i can cope. i've got to meet the other brother at the airport on friday, or so i thought until this afternoon. somehow, the brother in NC, who already had tickets and time off can't make it. just doesn't have the time for family and girls simultaneously, i suppose. which leaves me, the oldest brother, and the largest brother. oh well, three can wreak as much havoc as five, especially considering the other two are the 'responsible' ones. mmm, another year, another four days in the woods with the drunken scotsmen.

and that's the coherent part of the week. the rest seems like an experiment in Gonzo journalism...

Saturday
12:00 :: frater shinma leaves for pennsylvania amidst very tired, muttered protests from myself. i just want to roll over and die. i have a sinus infection the likes of which god has never seen, and i can't bear the thought of spending the next three weeks without playing video games with my little brother. or waking up in the middle of the night because he's talking in his sleep about the evil peruvian banana merchants again...
13:00 :: i finally manage to get out of bed, despite the crippling dizziness.it's not just a sinus infection, it's an ear infection too...overcoming the vertigo and nausea, i stumble down to the kitchen like a hallucinating grizzly bear, and attempt to wash dishes. bad scene. i eat some cornflakes out of the box because there are no clean dishes, and try to read a book. i am surprisingly successful.
15:00 :: after a gruesome procedure, which i will not describe here, because it is so gruesome, i manage to clean the house a little bit. the fumes from the toilet cleaner make me very ... silly... i have a synaesthetic seizure on the bathroom floor, and dfor a while everything is a bubbly pink and purple with plinky noises like hawaiian guitar. unfortunately, this is impossible to enjoy, since everything i touch feels like sandpaper...including my clothes and the floor.
20:00 :: after laying down a bit, i start chatting with my admin out in san jose, and she tells me she's dj'ing an outdoor rave that night. i wish her lots of luck & kisses & things. and then i start building a very fast 486. why? because i have the parts and they're in my way.

Sunday
03:00 :: i finally give up on the goddamn 486. i think either one slot on the board is jumpy, or the video card is going bad. i'm betting on the slot, because it couldn't find the hard drive with the controller on that slot. i resign myself to going to sleep.
08:00 :: "did i wake you?" "mutter mutter..." "we don't know where your mom is." "you lost mom? what?" "do you have your uncle paul's number? we think she might be there..." "of course she's at paul's. she said she'd be at paul's. you scared the hell out of me!" "well, we still can't reach her." "i don't have the number either. i never call anyone. you know that." (the conversation proceeds for another 45 minutes with my aunt apologising for waking me up every three sentences, but still not letting me off the phone)
13:00 :: i get out of bed and repeat yesterday's gruesome procedure. i'm a little less dizzy, so i wash dishes. mmm...clean dishes, no food. i ignore this fact for several hours and ...damn. i can't remember. i think i laid on the couch and hallucinated.
18:00 :: i go grocery shopping, on foot, and buy more than i can carry. i don't figure it out until two blocks later. i wind up asking this random girl who is sitting in her driveway if she can drive me to my house, which is about 1.5 miles away. sure enough, her friend will do it. i don't know who you are, man, but if you're reading this, thanks again!
20:00 :: make split pea soup. chop and freeze veggies. tidy up the kitchen.
23:00 :: eat, for the first time since yesterday's cornflakes. wallow in the joy of having food. ignore the fact that i should have been cleaning. get delerious again.

i have to go to work in the morning, but i feel like a giant slug on lsd. maybe i'd feel better if i really was on acid.

10:55

Woke up reluctantly. I'm alive, though... =)

I had fun in the MUCKs last night.

Today's events: I got a copy of GNU Keyring, a nifty piece of software that hopefully remembers some passwords for me on my Palm. I hope it's cool. I never got used to gpasman...

Time to see how some things Work and how the Product Development continues.

16:35

I did the Cow of Doom's amazing nodetrack thing, and this is what it gave to me today (included here for posterity):

E2 USER INFO: updated at Mon May 21 09:36:34 2001
-----------------------------------------------------------------
nodes:   1063        xp:      7810        cools:     133       
max rep: 37          min rep: -3          total rep: 5954      
node-fu: 7.35       WNF:     7.85       coolratio: 12.51%
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Number of nodes per reputation:

Nodes      Rep
1          -3
4          -2
16         -1
132        0
166        1
145        2
130        3
66         4
51         5
43         6
28         7       (Hmm, a long empty space here.
26         8         *** Get your ad here! ***
28         9       /msg me! Only € 500/month!
17         10      95% of that will go to
18         11      Donation Box! Or what the
24         12      heck, just donate it directly
19         13      and /msg me that you sent the
19         14      money...)
16         15
24         16
16         17
14         18
13         19
8          20
6          21
6          22
4          23
9          24 
3          25
1          26
2          27
2          28
1          29
1          33
3          34
1          37

mean rep: 5.60   median rep: 3   rep mode: 1

Pathetic Cool Ratio, but hey, I'm not noding funny stuff, just more or less (usually "less") useful drivel on various subjects.

17:36

Nodes I Would C! Again And Vote Up Once More If That Would Be Possible: You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake by loothi. Deep, deep wisdom. =)

Speaking of that, I really should node about Objective Poetry...

18:25

So, Microsoft was busy saying that Linux == Communism... but...

In communistic systems, it was important that information remained classified (keeping source code secret), centralized government that couldn't be criticized (closed development process), one big single provider of goods (monopolistic corporation) and surveillance of citizens (severe, recurring breaches of privacy of the individual users). And once you notice that in this globalized society, the role of central government of the communistic systems have been taken by a multinational corporate giant, the analogy is complete.

- from Tietokone magazine website

Well, that's one viewpoint too - one must always remember that idea of "communism" and reality of "communism" have, through the history, been quite different ... =)

22:15

Sort of out of ideas... =(


Other day logs o' mine...

Noded today by y.t.: NPR NPRQuake Mudder's Rhapsody

It doesn't seem like the proper season for rain here in California. But it's drizzling outside right now. And it's a really good sort of rain, too. It's not the kind that would make you miserable and soggy if you stood in it for a while. Instead there's just enough rain for you to know it's there. When I stand on my patio the gentle gusts of wind that blow by are refreshing because they carry a light mist of water.

The rain makes me love her more. And I feel sad that she can't be here to experience it with me. Just a few moments standing on the patio with me, with me wrapping my arms around her as we feel the refreshing gusts of wind... It would just be so wonderful to be able to share such things with her constantly.

I had a beautiful weekend watching her laugh and smile over and over again as I told her silly things and entertained her. And I never feel better than when she's asleep beside me curling up and hugging her pillow so sweetly as she writhes around blissfully having dreams. And when she said she loved me too, it might have been because I said it first and because she was a little buzzed thus making it seem expected of her to say so. But I'd like to think otherwise. I'd like to think she does love me as much as I love her. And I'd like to think that some day soon things will work so she can accept my offer to move in and live with me.

Then the next time that I go outside and discover that it's raining, I'll be able to share it with her. And I'll get yet another chance to see her laugh and smile.

Home
My flatmate and I are suffering because the clothes dryer/tumbler in our flat has broken down - it still spins but doesn't heat. We have communicated this problem to the property manager's office but there has been no reply so far, as though we had been triaged at category 5. It's sad - I've had to resort to third-world-like drying of clothes the old fashioned way - by hanging them up to dry. The thing that makes it worse is that we are not supposed to hang any clothes out to dry within sight of the main road, as stated by the strata rules of this building.... grrr ....

Work
Work today in the surgical ward was hohum. I had so much free time, at one point I was following a physiotherapist around. I even had time to insert an intravenous cannula for someone on one of the other teams. My surgical registrar jokingly told me later "don't start any new trends now".

Finance
The rise in the price of gold continues to surprise me, especially in the timing thereof. My call options in Normandy mining which were going to expire worthless this coming Thursday, suddenly became quite valuable. Today I called my futures broker again for what must be the second time this year. Times are a-changin'. My online stock broker has got to be happy with me though - they have made quite a fair bit in brokerage from me these past few years and especially this year.


Financial topic of discussion today - the US Dollar. The latest trade figures show the US ran another record trade deficit, running at close to US$1 billion per day. Put this together with consecutive cuts in interest rates from Alan Greenspan, a slowing economy and not entirely a good outlook for the near to medium future for corporations and you have a very curious situation. If the US were any other country, the combination of rising trade deficits, lower interest rates and a slowing economy (the trifecta, as it were) would lead anyone to believe that that country's currency would have to fall to reflect what was happening.

Instead, in the good old U.S. of A, rising trade deficits and a slowing economy are taken as good signs - it must obviously mean that consumers are buying more (from overseas, presumably) and that the worst must soon be over (the bottom is in, the bottom is in).

This state of affairs cannot last, just as Dutch tulips and South Seas shares were overvalued some centuries ago, gold was undervalued in September 1999, oil was underpriced at under US$10/barrel not so long ago and as the NASDAQ bubble was broken above 5000 around March 2000, the world will come to realize that the US Dollar has been in its own little bubble mania and will punish it accordingly.

The problem with this, of course, are that the US$ is the world's reserve currency and that financial bubbles tend to burst rather than deflate slowly. It's not going to be a pretty sight.

Got gold?

________________________________________________________________________________

International Hearald Tribune (www.iht.com)
________________________________________________________________________________

Sharon Air Raids Criticized in Israel
In the aftermath of Israel's use of American-supplied F-16 fighter jets in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the first real domestic criticism of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has surged with questions about whether his government has any plan beyond the next retaliation.

NEWS ANALYSIS Carnage in Mideast Shakes Many Assumptions
Two pillars of conventional wisdom in the Middle East have been shaken by the recent carnage here. One is that Arabs and Jews had reached a broad consensus that guns, bombs and bloodshed could never resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

U.S. Cools to Ban on Germ War Weapons
A confidential Bush administration review has recommended that the United States not accept a draft agreement to enforce a 1972 treaty banning germ weapons, according to American officials.

Mischievous Species Capitalize on Globalization
Globalization is dramatically increasing the opportunities for plants and animals to get from where they form a normal part of the flora and fauna to other places where they can become destructive pests, weeds and parasites.

Deciphering Jet Lag: Or, Some Might Ask, Where's the Rest of Me?
A new study suggests that people who undergo repeated, frequent episodes of jet lag may develop impairment of visual memory and may even suffer some shrinkage of an important part of the brain.
________________________________________________________________________________

BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/)
________________________________________________________________________________

Israel attacks despite talks push
Two Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire, hours before the publication of the Mitchell Commission report aimed at ending the current violence.

Tax and spend battle rages
The UK election battleground shifts onto the economy as the parties trade blows over business policies and tax.

Fears over fresh disease cluster
Farmers are warned to remain vigilant following a spate of cases of foot-and-mouth disease in North Yorkshire.

Megawati puts pressure on Wahid
Indonesia's vice-president says the country risks becoming the sick man of Asia, in a speech seen as a veiled attack on President Wahid.
________________________________________________________________________________

NY Times (www.nytimes.com)
________________________________________________________________________________

Powell Expected to Present Plan to End Mideast Violence
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is planning to intensify American diplomatic involvement in the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When a Test Fails the Schools, Careers and Reputations Suffer
Even though school districts lack the ability to uncover errors in the scoring of standardized tests, school officials have had to bear the brunt of criticism over seemingly poor results.

Bush Pushes Private Sector Role in Aiding Poor
In a commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, President Bush called on the private sector to become involved with the war on poverty.

General in Balkan War Says Pentagon Hampered NATO
Wesley K. Clark, NATO's commander during the war with Yugoslavia, asserts in a new memoir that the Pentagon discouraged steps that might have made the fighting unnecessary.

Old Rivalry Still Boils
Business competitors Steven P. Jobs and Michael S. Dell seem to harbor a personal grudge.
________________________________________________________________________________

Panapress (www.panapress.com/english)
________________________________________________________________________________

Police says Kenya is major transit for drugs
Nairobi, Kenya - Kenya has been named as the chief transit country for hard drugs and other narcotics destined for the lucrative European and North American markets.


No improvement in US-Sudanese relations soon
Khartoum, Sudan- A US policy document to end the war in southern Sudan which was prepared by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is considered by Sudan as the most controversial document issued by the US administration in the past two decades.

Schneider Electric Company to expand its market in Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Schneider Electric Company (SEC), one of the three largest electrical equipment companies in the world, plans to expand its market in Ethiopia and Sudan where there is a high consumer demand for electrical equipment, official sources said.

Zuma acclaims visit to Mexico, Columbia
Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma who returned home Sunday from a week-long trip to Mexico and Colombia, said his trip was a great success and demonstrated the important role South Africa played in the international arena.
________________________________________________________________________________
China Daily (http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/news/index.html) ________________________________________________________________________________
Dick Cheney: EP-3 in bad shape, won't fly home
The damaged U.S. spy plane that made an emergency landing in China last month will probably not be able to fly home and will have to be shipped out in crates, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday.

China Telecom faces further reform
China Telecom may soon be split into several parts to help sharpen the competition in the nation's telecom industry, according to published reports and sources close to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII).

Italian director Nanni Moretti won the Cannes film festival's coveted Palme d'Or award on Sunday for "The Son's Room", the tragic story of a family torn apart by the death of a child.

Patten says China's WTO entry a top EU priority

Beijing confident of a good Games if selected


________________________________________________________________________________
The Moscow Times (www.themoscowtimes.com/)
________________________________________________________________________________

Gazprom Assets A Family Affair
Gazprom executives have transferred to their relatives assets potentially worth billions of dollars.

Revamp of UES Gets Green Light
The government over the weekend approved a sweeping overhaul of Unified Energy Systems.

Memo: Bush, Schroeder to Halt Aid
Two German magazines quoted confidential talks between leaders Schroeder and Bush regarding Russia.

Dutch Mammoet Hired to Lift Kursk
Russia signed a deal with Dutch firm Mammoet on Friday to raise the Kursk submarine, which plunged to the bottom of the Barents Sea last year killing all 118 sailors on board.

Ivanov Wins Early Putin-Bush Summit
Foreign Minister Ivanov reaffirmed Moscow's willingness to reach agreement with the U.S. on arms
________________________________________________________________________________

News of the Weird (www.newsoftheweird.com)
________________________________________________________________________________

West Hempstead, N.Y., high school guidance counselor David D'Amato, 39, was convicted in April of e-mail-disabling mischief against three universities, crimes motivated by revenge when certain male students at those schools tried to break off their association with D'Amato. Their relationships consisted of D'Amato's paying them each hundreds of dollars over the years for their making videotapes of themselves being tied up and tickled, for D'Amato's viewing pleasure. D'Amato, who was known as "territickle" in his online community, was not charged with sex crimes because the boys were at all times clothed and their activity limited to tickling. (Newsday, 4-7-01)

Crime Pays: Federal and most states' laws require that prisoners be furnished adequate medical care, but Larry Causey has sought benefits of the laws more deliberately than most previous inmates. He pled guilty in March, after being arrested in his car outside the post office in West Monroe, La., which he had just held up, apparently for the sole purpose of being incarcerated so that he would get treatment for his cancer. Upon being jailed, Causey was immediately prescribed three drugs and scheduled for a colonoscopy. (Associated Press, 4-19-01)

Latest High Tech: Researchers at Northwestern University reported recently that they have developed a light-seeking machine that is operated solely by signals from the extracted brain of an eel-like lamprey, which is preserved in an oxygenated saline solution; the technology could be used to develop sophisticated prostheses. And the Office of Naval Research reported in April that the Marines are developing a 4-pound, hawk-sized, unmanned aerial vehicle that can be assembled and launched anywhere and cruise quietly for about 6 miles at 45 miles an hour to transmit video back to, and return to, a hand-held ground station. (Washington Post, 4-17-01) United Press International, 4-20-01)
________________________________________________________________________________


And A Happy Birthday to
WolfDaddy

I hate going home. My mother is really good with that whole Catholic guilt thing, especially since she's got my son, and so she connived me into coming home for a week.

Good lord, a whole week without sex? uhm, I mean....*gryn*

So I went home last Friday, which was miserable in and of itself. The weekend of Mother's Day is always busy for us. Lots of people like to buy flowers and stuff for their family, or start their planting.

did I mention I grew up on a farm and we sell flowers in the spring and fruit/vegetables in the summer?

So we were frantically busy all weekend, and needless to say, I was exhausted and miserable. Retail for 10-12 hours a day and chasing a two-year-old will do that to you. By Monday night, i was missing Chris terribly.

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

On Tuesday morning, at 8 am, the phone rang. It was my sweetie. Now I knew something was wrong, because he's usually on his way out by this time, when he's up this early. As it turned out, there was. His grandfather had died. (See Chris-O's writeup on May 15, 2001 if you missed it and want to know.)

what a way to start the day.

I was distraught, because I had come to care deeply for the man. And I was somewhat shocked, as it was rather sudden. But mostly, I felt awful because I couldn't be there for my love when I knew he really needed me. And this was only the beginning of my day.

If I could've gotten up on the other side of the bed that day, would it have been different?

So I went to work, and proceeded to be chastised, reprimanded, and berated for everything i did or didn't do, as it were. Great. And I'm already miserable. I've got to smile through all of this? I'd rather break their heads open.

Mom, can't you see I'm clinically depressed? The violent mood swings, the unwillingness to talk, the deliberate failure to do anything right? Not to mention that my fiance's grandfather's DEAD, and you totally missed that.

Later on in the day, my dad offered to let me go to the funeral. I love my dad. He's not the easiest to get started talking to, but he's really understanding and knows when to say something and when not to.

Thanks, Dad. I never say it, but thanks.

Oh, I skipped a part. My sister asked me, out of the blue, if I had any weed. I told her I was in the market, and she says, "I'll make a phone call." Well, shit! That helped. So when she brought me up to my apartment, we took a detour, and she picked me up a quarter-ounce. Out of the blue.

And when we got to my apartment, which is in New Brunswick, Chris came and took me back to his house in Queens. He'd made it there in 40 minutes -- a miracle by any account. On the way home, I showed him the bag I had in my pocket.

He never liked my sister before that moment.

The funeral process was grueling. The viewing lasted a total of 6 hours. 6 hours in a room with a dead body. If anything can make you uncomfortable, that will. Things I remember:

  • the look he had on his face -- they'd had to fix it, and it still looked bad
  • seeing my lover really break down and cry for the first time in the 4 years we've been together
  • wanting desperately to be able to support the family that's become my own in the past year and a half or so
  • seeing the man's only granddaughter, who'd just turned 16 a few weeks ago, barely be able to walk into the room without tears in her eyes
  • wondering how his wife had made it through this long -- she finally broke down yesterday, I think
  • hearing Chris's bandmate and friend of 12 years ... praying?? Yeah, praying. Man, that was awkward.
  • feeling rather silly for crying over the loss of a man I barely knew ... though I will miss the chance to get to know him better.
  • knowing in my heart that a man who loved his great-grandson, as deeply as any of his family, never did and never will meet him
  • being overwhelmed by the suddenness of the event, and the grief filling the room, and all the people who came to pay their respects to the family -- there must have been hundreds
  • wanting to find a way to tell my own family how much I love them ... before it's too late for me to do so.
All that, for 6 hours.

Afterward, we went home and hung out (hanged out?) ... we did some weed with Chris's aforementioned bandmate. That relieved a lot of tension, and made getting to the next day bearable.

The funeral itself was short, but difficult. The priest was a good priest, but didn't know how to be comforting. That, and there was still an overbearing cloud of grief hovering over all of us.

Going home after the funeral was probably one of the hardest things I've done. Besides that it was 4 1/2 hours on 4 different trains, I really didn't want to leave Chris at a time like that. I'm glad he had someone to be with him when he went home.

When I went home, no one understood why I was still upset and quiet. And I didn't offer explanations. I forced myself to get through the next few days, until I could go home with my sweetie and not have to worry about how either of us are supposed to get through the night, alone, empty, and depressed.

There's something comforting about having someone next to you in bed, touching you gently or holding you throughout the night. I don't ever want to lose that, or be without it again.

except that I go home every other weekend.

Spent the weekend helping my housemate work on his retail space. For those of you who haven’t yet heard, said housemate is opening a game store in Oakland (a more formal announcement is forthcoming). I may have said this already, but, half the store was painted pink by the previous tenant. Bright pink. The acoustic tile ceiling was painted pink as well. “Pink,” dixit Aaron, “is anathema to your average wargamer.” So the weekend was spent masking the windows and protecting the carpet and swabbing the walls with tri-sodium phosphate and again with vinegar and finally painting the walls. During which I found out something that hints at the deeper meaning behind the universe, something I should have suspected all along: those paint can openers they give you at the hardware store? it also doubles as a church key.

For quite a while, I've had a webcam. It began as simply yet another gadget I just had to add to my collection. I pointed it at my face from atop my monitor and visitors to my website could see what I was doing. Boring, but at least I got to play with a nifty gadget.

In two years of owning a webcam, I've taken great care not to be caught naked by it. Last week, I moved into a new house with two of my friends. Yesterday, we set up our computer room and the webcam went on. Almost immediately, everyone but me went into this crazy fit of clothes-removal in front of the live public camera.

Normally, these people wouldn't be known to run around removing their clothing. But something about the webcam makes them yearn to be naked. What is it? Are these people freaks, or do webcams have this effect on everyone?

Cool jazz breezes through this cafe while my fingers dance the rhythm of the weekend. This cornershop of flat screens is my newfound mecca.

It was two nights ago that my gf and I stumbled upon the most curious bar in all of London. In a previous incarnation it was a public toilet underneath commercial street in east central London. Now refurbished, it is a space age watering hole. Almost transparent nets hold a projected image while DJ's purvey blippy electronica. I unthinkingly scrawled my email address on the form provided. Today I was suprised by an email from that place informing me that DJ fiend would be soon playing there.

Earlier we endured a dreary experience in Bar Solo, Camden Town. The food was pricey and the menu limited. The next day we enjoyed the magic of Alladin in Brick lane, the home of Indian cooking. It was our third time in that restaurant. The food is both tasty and cheap.

The highlight of the weekend was the Japanese festival which took place in Hyde park. There was taiko drumming and cheesy Japanese easy listening. One band was a quintet of cute Japanese women wrapped tightly in silver, oh and playing the violin. There was kendo and karaoke and ,most memorably, dragons. They curled their way across the stage breathing fire. The six human operators skillfully hid themselves to allow suspension of our collectives belief systems. Truly we were amazed.

I attempted to find a room today. The room was small but comfy. The back garden was well tended, evidently one of the tenants has greenfingers. I wondered how I would fit in with this ecofriendly lot. Would they be suspicious of my big science background?

The Blush Response search for a room continues.....

Can I get nothing accomplished in this city when it rains?

Went out and got a bite to eat with Satyr and Phyllis last night. They came home, drunk as skunks from Coconuts. It was 'Boy's Night', otherwise they wouldn't have been able to get in.

So, we went to feed our faces, and after the meal, Satyr gets up and walks to the bar. Phyllis takes that drunken opportunity to ask, "So, what do you think about Grrmly?"
What!?!?!
"I think he's amazing. Why?"
"Oh, just wondering. I think you'd be good for him, that's all."

Phyllis is the one person we wanted to keep everything under wraps with. And obviously he doesn't know the whole story, otherwise I would have gotten a ration of shit from him days ago. So, why this now? I don't know.

Honestly, I am very much sitting on the fence about everything. I want things to be like they were supposed to be, but I don't feel like bargaining. I think it's so beyond that point, it's a mute point. I'm supposed to fit my life around three hours on weekday evenings and around weekends when I obviously work. I don't go to bed at nine in the evening. If I'm lucky, I get off work about that time. I'm not changing my mind, necessarily, I am complaining about life passing us by due to limitations and bedtimes. Did I say this was really bad timing? No? Well, it is.

I couldn't get the film run today because of time, rain, and the black and white processing. So, I guess tonight is off unless I can think of something.

What do I want? What do I want.......and Griff's supposed to come up in June.....and, ugh.....how convenient do I feel like being? This is no way to fix things, I am already frustrated with bargaining and no explanations. Hearts don't disappear for months at a time with no explanation of why they were so goddamn fickle. What reason do I have for coming back....all the way? Fear, laziness, boredom, desperation......and I've come to the conclusion; There is no such thing as true love.....only good love.

So what do I do now? I do need action, I do need proof. If this is what burning is, where the hell is the fire?

No, no, no.
NO.

Something does smell fishy here.....and I aim to find out what it is.

The Friday before we were to go camping I got very sick. There was a bloody undertone to my throat and I could not get my environment to fit around me in a comfortable way. I fought my clothing, the chair, the taste of my food, the feel of water on my skin and my back felt like it was twisted around. I was cranky. My son got it. Katie got it. Jay got on Saturday and turned into a meanie. I get him a strawberry Halls cough drop and he spits it into his hand and then says, “I hate these cough drops!” In a way suggesting perhaps I had mixed the batch myself and then sneaked them maliciously into his mouth. I told him I was only trying to be helpful, knowing full well that he would be intolerable if he really got it. The next day was Mother’s Day and I did not want him to have any reason to forget to help Katie make me a macaroni necklace. We spend the first day of vacation lazing about, all feeling better, putting off camping. I knew it was Mother’s Day because Jay got me a card and some azaleas and Katie picked some dandelions and clover which she brought to me with a grin, “Happy Mudders’s Day, Mommy.”

This really helps me. I have always had a weird emotional thing about a day where all the nice-mommy images are all around us, mothers making big ‘ol biscuits or sweeping the hair from the fevered head of her babe. Mothers in cashmere twin sets, spinning in new kitchens with armloads of orchids, or pushing children on a swing, always very lovey eyed and wholesome looking. It is an even stranger thing to be one of those women now, without having seen how it should be done except for these ridiculous media images that manage to create all the right guilt feelings. I do not send my mother a card for mother’s day. I can not seem to bring myself to do it. I am justified. If it were possible to pour out the whole strange reasoning and backlog of how we got ourselves to this point of not speaking to one another, you would believe me when I say that going to the store to find a card that sums up my feelings for my mother is almost impossible. She taught me this. She would have the same thoughts regarding her mother, year after year a sadness would creep in around this time as she would search for something to say to her own mother. She would stand in the aisle and shake her head, scoffing at the flowery generic gratitude, unable to find a card that was not a lie.

You have always been there for me…You are my best friend…Thank you mom, for all he sacrifices you have made for me…I am sorry for every bad thing I ever did…Thank you for bringing me life…You are a dear, dear treasure…

But never…

Hey Ma, thanks for fucking.

I am afraid that I am teaching my children to some day stand in the aisle and shake their heads, searching for a nice thing to say because it says on the calendar and all over the grocery store that this day is is meant for mothers and that we are all lucky and need to say thank you. I think about this all the time. I am torn. My mother hates her mother. My feelings for my own mother border on hate, but I will not come right out and say so because I would not want to incur the wrath of those who have great Mom’s, or those who have made up with their parents. I can not make up with my mother. My therapist tells me that I do not have to. My friends who have met my mother agree that she is one of the irritating people they have ever met. My husband bristles when I mention her. Usually mellow and forgiving, when it comes to my mother he has a slew of violent comments. I have that same bitter anger, made worse by all these perfect mom images used to sell biscuits and soap and greeting cards. As a mother myself I am all for Mother’s Day. I deserve a special day. I try SO HARD, to make up for all the things I did not get. I listen to my kids very closely to drown out the stupid things my mother said to me…You have been a thorn in my ass for twenty years…TALK TALK TALK, don’t you ever shut up…God, are you retarded or something…That was stupid…Don’t you know anything?…How would you like my foot in your ass?…Fuck you…He did not rape you, you liked it…How could you embarrass me like that…

It is so hard for some people to understand that some things are unforgivable. Even if I can manage to put my Mother’s whole shitty life into perspective, to peer into her psyche and focus on the few nice things she said to me and the good times we did have and my earlier tendency to defend her, to acknowledge that she was born to screwy parents, to make excuses for her drunken stupor, her non-stop inappropriate commentary, the foot permanently lodged in her mouth…Even then I can not just forgive. And for this I have felt an uncomfortable guilt that would have driven me crazy by now if not for the validation of my sister who was there, who saw, who remembers all the crazy shit we went through, who remembers finding out we were not like other kids because we did not have a regular Mom. Other kids moms said things like, I love you, thank you, I am proud of you, you are my sunshine, let’s go play with water balloons and then I will read you Charlotte’s Web again. I want to hear what you think. You are valuable.

So, now I am an official grown up. Two lovely children. Married my best friend of twelve years. I am writing a book about motherhood and birth. I have friends who are charming, talented, sincere and genuine, I am comfortable with most of the choices I have made, I can see the good parts of having grown up the way I did, where much insight and strength has come from. I have love and respect and a million creative projects, I have been pronounced sane despite my best efforts…but still. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat, dreaming of my mother. She is there with her mad face on. Or worse, she wants sympathy. She needs me to tell her that I love her and forgive her. She wants forgiveness for all the wrong things. She does not listen when I tell her what my needs are. She goes on pretending that we have made up properly, trying to act familiar with me via comments like, “Wow. You sure are fertile. All you have to do is smell sperm and you will get pregnant.” She said this to me when I told her I was expecting my second child, a happy general announcement she happened to be around to overhear. I nearly turned myself inside out with revulsion. I want to be nothing like her, now or ever. At the same time I yearn for her to be the kind of mom she has never been. To actually listen. To be funny but not at my expense, to love me as myself. To be proud of me without competing with me.

And I freak out because I wonder how to resolve this without having her in my life. Let’s face it, some people are toxic. When the toxic person is your mother pointing it out taints you. You are subjected to the general social rule that anyone can criticize a mother and the choices she made except the child of said mother. So if you have a relationship like I have had with my parent, you suffer the additional sorrow of A) not living up the standards of your parents and B) Not living up the standards of society. You find that you have to pay someone to listen to your problems. It is a heavy weight, you are expected not to burden anyone else with it, and you are also expected to do it right by your own children. It boils down to me trying to be nothing at all like my mother, and trying to balance this alongside the unrealistic myth of the perfect mother. If I straddle both can I one day have an adult relationship with my kids, where they see me as a real person, and acknowledge my good and bad parts and are well adjusted and able to forgive me my own transgressions? Or am I teaching them too much about bitterness and wallowing? Or am I teaching them to ignore their true feelings based on what is socially acceptable? And will it be too late to guide them once there is a recognizable pattern? And how much shaping is really expected of me to fulfill my good mother mission? How much of their growth is dependent on letting go, and how much depends on learning to hold on?

I can not ever really escape my own mama drama conflict because I have children. They are sweet and separate and very smart. They think thoughts. They make kind gestures. They are funny and easy to get lost in. The last thing I want to teach them is how to hate their mother, the way my mother taught me. I can remember each mother’s day being about my mom getting drunk and telling my how much it hurt that her mom could not see her or hear her or understand her. How her mother sat around complaining about her own mom, and how powerless it made her feel. And then she would do that same thing to me. And though she should not have been expected to stifle this pain, I wish she had found a better counselor than me, just a kid, trying to wade through my unpredictable time. I feel like I am supposed to make it right for me, my kids, and my husband. That for those who know my toxic mom I am supposed to shield the blow if I need mention her. Or make it sound like I really like her for the new acquaintances who don’t get it. Who have never seen me turn green and throw up because of her presence. Because hating your mother that much is not socially acceptable. It almost seems easier to pretend that I love my mom when someone asks me how I will honor her on Mother’s Day. It is nicer for them if I pretend to have a pot of azaleas and a box of candy and some poignant card waiting in the wings. There are plenty of people who have patched up their familial relationships and will love to tell you how you need to do the same. They evangelize forgiveness with the fervor of the newly born again, slinging the arrows of guilt, implying that I should be ashamed of myself for bearing this grudge. Ignoring the verbal abuse of this woman I am to forgive, or downplaying it, sometimes accusing me of making it up for sympathy. But I tell you I am not making it up. In fact I am leaving out the most painful chunks because if you are already poised to condemn me for my honesty, you would really flip if I gave you a bigger truth.

This is where Mother’s Day leaves me, every time. Thinking that maybe I do need to forgive, that some way I can fix it so my mom can see me for who I really am and my kids will love me from who they really are. That somehow I can deny her all credit for how well I have turned out, and still receive praise for how well my kids have turned out.

Who said motherhood was easy must never have met a mother.

Many people will tell you that dating your best friend is not a good idea. Heck, a year ago I would have told someone the same thing. Chances are that you'll just end up in a messy break up, a lot of tears, and no best friend, right? That's what I thought until I dated my best friend.

My friend and I had figured out a while before that we liked each other. We were good enough of friends to be able to figure out who the other liked. When he asked me out, there was none of that weird awkward conversation. He just asked me one day and we both knew I was going to say yes.

Dating, itself, was also nice. I already was totally confortable around him. We had been the kind of friends that we also together, always knew everything about the other. Now that we were dating, that didn't change, we simple had different feelings for each other. Those couple months that we dated I learned so much about him.

The other nice thing was that he already knew how far I had been, and how far I was willing to go. He knew my standards and morals and knew that I stuck to them. He knew enough about me already to know not to test them.

I also know that not all good things last. We did end up breaking up. It was the end of the school year and we didn't see each other till school started. I wasn't sad we broke up either. We had both come to realize that we had liked being friends better. The reasons are of little importance. When we saw each other the next September in school, we were still best friends. Nothing had changed, except that we had gained a better insight to each other and memories that will last a life time.

I saw the TV show Dark Angel the other night for the first time. I was prepared for the show to be blatant, but I wasn't prepared for it to be as bad as it was. The main star, who made it a point to strip down to clingy clothes as often as possible, and much more often than neccessary actually went INTO HEAT. God...how obvious can you get? I had heard that the show was written for young testosterone overloaded boys, but this was just ridiculous. The rest of the show was about her friend, equally appealing, trying to keep the heated one from attacking random and multiple men. sheesh.

I guess I'm not very normal. I like there to be room for thought and interpretation in my entertainment. I love old movies, because if the movie was showing sadness, it didn't hit you over the head with it. If you were to hate someone, it was more subtle than in newer movies. It's eerily reminiscent of the 2 minute hate in Brave New World, which I'm rereading.

Well, for me at least, yesterday and today marked the closing time for one part of my life. But as the song goes, it is also a new beginning. Yesterday, after four years, I graduated from high school.

10:00 am:

Started out the day by going to brunch with my family and grandparents. We ate at a nice little restaurant downtown. It was a nice meal, and I got a few gifts, which was certainly nice.
12:00 pm:
Arrived at Will Roger's Coliseum, put on my cap and gown, and got ready to wait. They have everyone show up an hour early so that everyone will be there on time, so those of us who show up when expected get to wait around. However, it wasn't too bad, and before long we were filing into the auditorium as HS students for the last time. The national anthem was played, and then there was a prayer, and a few speeches. Then, they began reading the names...
Around 1:30 or so...
My name is called. I walk across the stage, shake the principal's hand, and take my diploma. From this moment forward, I am no longer a high school student, and am instead a high school graduate. It's a nice feeling; four years of school, all building toward this final moment, all coming to this conclusion.
2:00 pm:
The ceremony is over. I stand around in front of the building for a while, chatting, taking pictures, etc. Eventually, we all generally disperse and go our seperate ways. We have to get ready, mentally and physically, for the party tonight.
10:30 pm:
We leave my friend's house for the Project Graduation party tonight. This is an all-night party, funded by various fundraisers the senior class puts on throughout the year. It really was a great party; I played some basketball, gambled with fake money a lot, and watched a hypnotist hypnotize several of my friends. Whether or not they were faking I may never know, but it was a fun show anyway. The party concluded with the showing of the Senior Video, a video with pictures of all of the senior class put to music. After the video, every student (or should I say former student?) gets a gift depending on what number they draw from a hat. These range from fridges and TVs to gift certificates. I got $60 in gift certificates to a local mall.
6:15 am:
I walk outside with this girl, who I'm kind of afraid I won't get to see again, now that we're no longer in school. We talk for a while as the sun tries to rise through the clouds, and very light rain is falling. We talk for a while, and before I left, I managed to get her new phone number. Perhaps I will see her again after all...
6:45 am:
I drop my car off at a mechanic. Hopefully, they can make the air conditioner work, as not having one of those during the summer in Texas is kind of uncomfortable, to say the least. Perhaps he can even make it stop smelling like gasoline, too. After I drop it off, my dad takes me home and I get some much needed sleep.
2:30 pm:.
My dad calls. Apparently the mechanic still doesn't know why freon leaks out of my car, but he did fix the smell. Apparently, one of my fuel injectors was leaking. Good thing that's fixed, I wouldn't have wanted to blow up while in my car. Another day without a car...sigh.
Movie night at Casa Del Angel. I picked up The Importance of being Earnest, American Psycho, and Virtuosity - a little something for everyone who lives in my head. Accompanied by a Wendy's double cheeseburger and a spicy chicken sandwich, a six of Cider Jack, and a box of chocolate chip cookies.
1. 'Earnest - a play by Oscar Wilde (if you didn't know) - very clever. (How's that working for you?) It reminded me of Hofstadter's contrived, yet engaging, Achilles/Tortoise exemplifications of paradoxical regress. In other ways, it reminded me of Shakespeare. And yet again, it was even more slapstick than Shakespeare, almost shading into Marx Brothers verbal comedy. I've never read any Oscar Wilde, being a fan of neither British plays in general nor the literary period, but now I just might give him a go.
2. 'Psycho - As with Less Than Zero, I'm afraid I just didn't get it. I found it positively hilarious, and there was a lot of beautiful cinematography, but the story... er, what story? Maybe I need to watch it again, and I'd love to, but I, uh, don't feel like it. An archetypical lawyer/serial killer who preys on prostitutes and other dregs of society - hilarious? Well, really, you can't identify with Our Psycho, er, Hero. Nor are his victims particularly sympathetic (well, maybe the blonde streetwalker, and the animals). He's so much a serial-killer wannabe that he's pathetic and laughable. Maybe that was the point. Darkly comedic, brightly polished, insensitive, but not especially "chilling". The soundtrack of 80's Greatest Pop Hits was perfect, too.
3. Virtuosity - (When I picked it off the shelf, I had this weird feeling that I'd seen it before, and yet I couldn't recall anything about it. My first fiance insisted that I had seen some movie with her when we rented it (purportedly the second time around) when I would have sworn I'd never seen it. We had a long argument about it, one instance of many in which I would come to question my own memory and sanity in that relationship. It turns out I had indeed seen Virtuosity before.) Russell Crowe in the steal-the-show cyborg villain role, blatantly assimilating (by which I mean, ripping off) premises and attitudes from The Lawnmower Man and Terminator (shelve with: Hardware). Nice effects, though. I still think Russell Crowe couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.
During the afternoon of May 21, 2001, I watched (Insert Flashy Music HERE) WZZM TV 13's 'on target' weather report. The TV buzzed, "The winds are really strong out here! There is a Tornado Warning in effect for Kent County (East of Holland).

I live between Kent County and Holland... I stood up, looked out the window, to see the sun coming out of the clouds.

I looked back at the TV and the current anchor says, "And it can only get worse. It's scary out there. Be Careful."

I looked outside again thinking: Where the hell is this storm??

Again I hear the reporter, "A Tornado just took down this Best Buy building. and we're here with the Sales Manager." Cue camera to turn to a seventeen year old who looked like he had cut school to work that day. "James. You were inside when this happened? Tell me about it."
James looked at the reporter, "Well, we heard a lot of wind and then came outside and we saw that the shingles on the edge of the roof had been torn." He paused trying to think of ANYTHING to say.

"Would you say this was a scary moment in your life?"

What the fuck? This is stupid! Talk about trying to make news out of Nothing!

"I guess," James returned.

"Back to you in the Booth..."

...And people wonder why the truth gets twisted when it's getting exchanged through the hands of the media?

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