Reflections

I have thrice cooked truly wretched food.

The first time, I had just learned how to steam rice. Now, I believe I put too little water or put the heat too high or something. Whatever I did, it burned on the bottom. "No problem," you say, "just salvage the good parts."

What do you take me for, an imbecile? Of course I tried that. Problem is that the burnt bits got into the water and even the parts of the rice not actually burned may as well have been. And when you don't have a steamer that's a whole lot of work. Ultimately gross but unremarkable.

Now rice, rice isn't worth much money, and it's hard to do really bad. That's not the case with steak. That is definitely not the case with steak.

Have you ever had New England Clam Chower? I don't remember everything in it right now, but the main parts are the milk, cream, and clams. The milk and cream make a good base and the clams give it its distinctive flavor. Scallops work well in lieu of clams.

Steak does not.

My friend was over an afternoon. He and both I liked steak. He and I both liked clam chowder. Being genius logicians, we thus deduced we would like Steak Chowder. I didn't have clams anyway. But hey, we liked steak better than seafood.

Well, not in chowder. It was nearly flavorless. We stood over a pot for what must have been an hour, stirring, waiting for the soup to magically become delicious.

It yielded nothing more than a slight charcoal taste from the outside of the steak.

"I know!," I said, grabbing a container of bouillon. I plunked seven or ten in there.

I'm guessing they never melted because it didn't even take on a sickening salty taste.

Well, I pour us each a bowl. For half an hour, we take occasional spoonfuls, complimenting ourselves unenthusiastically with things like "It's okay" and "It's pretty good." Otherwise, we are wordless. The only flavor either of us gets is a full cube of bouillon my friend gets. Guess they didn't melt after all.

You know when you're hanging around with several people and you're all bored, but no one says anything, then finally someone gets ready to leave and everyone parts? That same effect was at work here.

Finally I got up out of my seat, threw away my portion in disgust, and uttered something beautifully expressive like "Jesus Christ, this is so fucking nasty."

My friend gets up, throws away his, and asks "Why did we keep eating that?"

I didn't have an answer.

Apparently gluttons for punishment, a couple weeks later he was over in the evening and we decided that for dinner, before he had to leave, we'd make a Japanese steak recipe.

Now the basic idea was you had some vegetable, steak, and a marinade with sake and vinegar.

Well, we used tofu in place of this vegetable (I don't remember which, but trust me, it didn't at all resemble tofu).

We used marsala wine in place of sake.

We were supposed to marinate the steak 24 hours but we only had two, so we marinated it for 15 minutes. To compensate we soaked the tofu as well.

Now, maybe it was the nauseating contrast in texture between tofu and steak. Maybe it was the haphazard substitution of wine for sake. I definitely should have known better than to think I would have liked steak in vinegar.

Whatever the reason, it took one bite and the beginning of a chew before I began violently hacking, wheezing, and gagging. Just a little more and I think I would have vomited. I don't think I could have possibly swallowed it.

I made a beeline for the trash can and purged it from my mouth as quickly as I could. I frantically poured myself a Coke and took a swig.

I hate to waste food, but there was no way in hell I was eating that.

So profound was the effect of this dish on me that the next day when I tried to recount the tale to someone else, I began once again violently hacking, wheezing, and coughing. For several weeks the thought of it made me feel physically ill. I wish I were exaggerating.

Third time's the charm, though, as steamed steak (recipe herein) was delicious.

Today, I speak with a voice created in a cement mixer. I can feel the sand swirling around lungs, my throat, my mouth. Yesterday it felt better. Reading Paradise Lost in the voice of Satan makes it all seem more surreal. What I thought this past weekend surely meant an appendicitis has turned into an influenza-like squall in my upper chest.

At work, I force myself through book 29 of the "Left Behind: The Kids" series. And book 30. These books mean to instill a proper fear of God and his machinations in children as young as "grades 6-8." Each word printed in these books reeks of anger. Hatred. They preach of the love of a deity with one side of the mouth while they preach intolerance from the other. Each line makes me less and less interested in giving them the benefit of the doubt, instead of leaping to my own conclusions.

Today never seemed to end. It still hasn't. Maybe it never will--no rest for the wicked.

This node written in E-Prime

Dear Day Log,

Yesterday I happened to visit E2, and found a msg from someone whose name I can't remember, re my Sweet* write up. In a humourless tone the msg stated (I'm paraphrasing here) that it would be deleted (as it garnered a -5 rep), and that by now I should know better than to post stuff of such poor quality.

Now I didn't realize that E2 is policed by censorious killjoys reminiscent of Soviet-era Political Officers who used to go around ruining people's fun and throwing them into prison because they weren't serious enough and didn't toe the official line--but what do I know, eh? What I should make clear here is that I post write ups on topics I think are interesting or amusing and deserve a wider audience. I sure don't hang around or return later to study the rep stats, or cry myself to sleep if my write up gets a negative reaction. But hey, that's me! However, I should thank those people who cooled or commented on my recent Dead Air write up. Many thanks to them for taking the time to do so.

Well, I just thought I'd pop in and drop you a line on this, Day Log old buddy, cos it seemed kinda interesting like. Stay in touch, won't ya!

Love from,
Dorian
(your pal since January 21, 1999)


*The Sweet write up in full:
I recently caught an episode of Jamie Oliver's cooking series Pukka Tukka, in which the bloke must have exclaimed "Sweet!" at least twelve times and he wasn't referring to the dessert either. Pronounced Swee' (ie. with a glottal stop at the end), it's the English equivalent of "Cool", "Great", "Fantastic", "Whoa", "Nice one", "Fabbo" etc. In certain situations it can be used in place of "Thank you". See also Cheers.

This is exciting:

The Computer that is supposed to be the workhorse for my darling significant other is finally finished: an Athlon 1800XP with 256 MB's and some old hardware that I had in my cupboard. Cost?

  • 150 NZ Dollars for the Motherboard and the Processor,
  • 100 NZ Dollars for the Ram
  • 20 NZ Dollars for a 6 GB HD
  • 35 NZ Dollars for a Case with Keyboard.

Most of these items were ordered used from trademe so I only paid 305 Dollars = 100 Euro for a nice machine. I still had a vintage Trident TGUI 9660 on a pile of old hardware, so I don't even need a new graphic card. Unfortunately I was not clever enough to plug in all cables the right side, so I had to ask the local computer whiz to have a look at the machine and why it wasn't booting: turned out that the cable to the primary hd was the wrong way around. Duh!

Well, now it's booting up, and as I had a Knoppix CD in my luggage, everything was a doddle from there. I am still amazed that this distribution just works: you stick it into the cd-rom and that's it. No configuration needed. A blessing.

At this very moment the computer (as yet unnamed) is compiling the second stage of Gentoo, which I deceided to give a trial run. It's modular, fast and in the process of installing I learned plenty about Linux.

If I don't like the results or I get stuck, it's back to good old OpenBSD, as Theo and the guys just released version 3.5. Installing OpenBSD over the internet beats even Knoppix...

I feel so l33t ....


>

This is some chain mail a relative sent me. He was a Captain in Desert Storm.

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood. And now we even have woman over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.

Simpleton raised some excellent points. I agree.
875 coalition deaths to this point, May 7, 2004. This may not matter to you, but I'm the one that checks the list for people I know everyday.

“Get rid of him.”

“He’s more trouble than he’s worth.”

“You’ll be much better off without him”

“Get a nice sensible moggy”

Everywhere is kitten trouble

The Java-cat is causing friction. Tension, you might say. And funny smells in my study.

I’d always thought I was pretty ok at bringing up sober, well behaved cats. Ok, I made a few mistakes with my beloved (now sadly passed away) Diana, but I was around 12 when I got her, and she didn’t turn out too badly. And my little Saskia, once we got her spayed, has been a joy and a delight. She doesn’t jump on benches, doesn’t claw, bite or otherwise maim people. She is scrupulously clean, purrs decorously down the bottom of the bed (under the blanket but over the sheet) most of the night, and enjoys sitting at the very top of Woomeraouw (the cat run) taking the air and generally looking as if she owns the place. Which she does.

But we were concerned that she was getting bored. Bengals are an active breed, and we both work all day. What’s a frisky kit to do all alone for 8 hours a day? So we decided to get her a friend.

Enter Java.

I’d been looking for kittens of a suitable temperament, beauty and age for a few weeks. Nearing the end of the kitten season, they were all too placid, or too aggressive, or too longhaired, or very sweet but with a face like the back end of a leprous hyena.

Then I saw the ad for Java – a six month old male spayed Bengal with impeccable pedigree (lots of them were the same cat, even) whose owner couldn’t cope with two Bengals and a Maine Coon to boot, and wanted a loving home for her little boy. I persuaded my boyfriend to come along “just to have a look” – and of course, he was absolutely besotted. So Java came home. That was just on two weeks ago.

Now I know, two weeks is not much time to give a kit to settle into a new home. Especially a home with a resident cat. But as far as relations with Sass goes – he’s fine. They spend a large amount of the day racing round the house mauling each other, and a lot of their spare time curled up on my bed, snoozing in a big heap of leopard spotted fur. It gets hard to figure out which paws belong to which kitty. The problem is the massive list of “issues”.

He’s dopey. Really, really slow to learn. He’s learnt how to get out of the cat flap, but not back in (same principle…) and so cries out in Woomeraouw for long periods of time.

He hasn’t quite settled down to cat litter. He thinks if he can bury something in it, that it’s ok as a toilet. Note to self, do not leave suit jacket on the floor again.

He’s not an enlivening bedtime companion. He walks on our faces, purrs extremely loudly right near our ears, kneads ferociously (with claws unsheathed) and compulsively licks his thigh. “Slup. Slup. Slupslupslupslup. PURRRRRRRRRRslup.” Not easy to sleep through.

He jumps on benches. On tables. On the bar (farewell, cut crystal sherry glass. I’ll miss you).

He chews fabric covered electrical cables. Both our irons have such cables. I’m in the market for a new one, as horrid mental pictures too much to bear.

He’s unco-ordinated. He descends from the highest perch of Woomeraouw not by climbing down the exceedingly useful stairs, but by falling down them – managing to hit each one but not get his footing. Definitely a worry.

He’s the messiest eater I’ve ever seen. Imagine Edward Scissorhands trying to eat spag. bol. with chopsticks, and you’ll come close to the scene at Java’s dinner bowl each night.

Certainly not least, he lacks a proper respect for guests. His West Side Story impression is not appreciated when it involves leaping up and clinging, not to wire fences, but to my sister’s upper arm.

BUT – he’s loving and attentive and will sit on my lap while I node (with only minor onslaughts at the keyboard). He’s been great for Sasky – she’s so much happier now that she has something to do during the day. He’s a lovely, affectionate little cat and I feel bad that his behaviour is making people think we should give up on him.

I’m trying. The leaping on benches is being targeted (heh) with a vicious onslaught with a water pistol whenever I catch him at it, and my entire kitchen is swathed in aluminium foil (please pardon Australian spelling) as cats don’t like it underfoot. I’ve got one of those funky closed in cat litter trays on order, and his accustomed cat litter will go into it as soon as it arrives.

I’m working on keeping cats sleeping on top of the bedclothes, down the foot of the bed. Hard on Saskit, as she’s a wonderful sleep-mate. I put the iron away instead of leaving it sitting on the ironing board, plugged in, ready to go. I can live with the messy eating, as Sass has always subscribed to the belief that humans love the crunch of cat litter underfoot, so the laundry needs frequent sweeping anyway.

Sigh. His previous owners would have him back. Like a shot. I just don’t believe on giving up on pets like that once you’ve committed to them. Guess I’ve got to convince my boyfriend to keep trying.

Everywhere is kitten trouble.


Thankyou to all the people who have assured me that he'll work out just fine. I'll try to use your nice msgs to convince my boyfriend to keep Java on for a while.

Update 2006: God, I can't believe it's almost 2 years we've had the little guy. He's fine. Just fine. Almost all the issues are sorted out, and we couldn't survive without him.

Update later 2006....I spoke too soon. Gods grant me patience..

Woke up this morning with a sore head, the taste of stale lager in my mouth.. and a huge bald patch on the side of my head.

After a few minutes of confusion I remembered to my horror that in a moment of divine inspiration last night that it would be good to administer unto myself a hair cut with my flatmate's beard trimmer. Mostly it turned out OK I guess except for the fact that the hair on one side of my head is longer than the other, and the back is about seven different lengths. The top looks grand though.

Luckily I don't have to see my parents for another couple of weeks and university has mostly broken up for the summer. Now I just need to hope the baldness has grown out by the time I go with my girlfriend (who thinks I'm a plonker for doing this) to see her parents...

I understand the importance of advertising. As much as I hate breaks in my favorite TV shows, I can live with the fact that these TV shows are played on channels owned by companies. I am well aware that these companies need to make some cents to pay their peons as well as millions for their CEOs. As much as I don't like it, I can live with that. However, it's gone too far.

No, I'm not another kid bitching about pop-ups for cameras or spam for a larger hoohah. I'm talking about baseball. When they put Coke bottles around a light pole over the Green Monster in Fenway Park, I first was upset, then remembered how a part of Fenway the Citgo sign was. So I felt I couldn't complain that much. I didn't mind when they extended the scoreboard so they could put ads on either side. That was fine. I also didn't care about the giant, neon JOHN HANCOCK over the digital scoreboard. That too, was fine.

However, appearing in several major league ballparks in June, just in time for Summer Movie Season, will be new bases. Yeap, fuck the white bases, we don't need the old school. We know nothing is sacred, that's why in June, the bases, as well as the pitching rubber will be replaced with new bases, each promoting Spiderman 2: Attack of the return of the Dawn of the Day of the Evening of the Clones!

Call me a purist, but I like my bases white, and unadvertised. This is baseball, people. This isn't Nascar. I have no problem with the cars in nascar being plastered with advertisements. I have just begun to respect it as a sport, and actually enjoy all the ads. Usually, the cars are painted around such themes. For a while, I know there was a car painted as if giant M&M's were all over it. That's cool. Webbed bases, no.

But what's next? In the two "opening season" games this season in Japan, players from both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had Ricoh patches on their sleeves as well as their batting helmets. There has been talk of this happening in a full season near you soon! In the Kentucky Derby, the most sacred of all horse races, Jockeys will be allowed to be advertised upon. I fear that there will be no end in the near future.

Conspiracy theorists, anarchists and other loony people will tell you of the horrors of the modern corporation. How politicians eat out of their pockets and the Uber-Mega-ConglomeroCorp runs everything around you, like the Illuminati. Do people really need to riot outside their main offices to get their attention? Or are we, as Americans, just complacent enough to let this go on by? I mean, we regular people happily have Abercrombie emblazoned on our asses, as well as Tommy Hilfigger on our breasts, if not a band, or sports team on our head.

Would a giant email campaign make anything happen? I don't think that's the real question. I think the real question is can one make enough of the American populace care? We didn't riot when our Presidential elections got fucked up. But Political tendencies aside, the state run by the candidate's brother was totally screwed up and allowed the canidate to take office after 8 different court rulings. Shit, all it took for Blacks to riot was a (I'm gonna get flack for this) relatively unimportant court ruling in the grand scheme of things. What those cops did was rediculous, yes, but all I'm saying is the verdict did not directly effect 280,000,000 people, let alone a large number of nuclear warheads, Iraqis, Afghanis, French, let alone everyone else in the world. Need I say more?

Where am I goin with this? I don't even know. I was just upset about bases. I didn't even think to talk about politics. I guess all I'm tryin to say is, Bud Selig is a bad, bad man who is ruining the sport I grew up with, the sport I love, and always will. I'd rather see him impeached than Bush.

Is there something wrong with open dialogue?

Perhaps the problem people have today is that too many of us become polarized in our viewpoints. We are so certain of our own righteousness that those who disagree with us become nothing more than annoying idiots who "don't get it." This happens in everyday life all the time, but it becomes more apparent in times when major world events call on us to "take a side." Yet, do they really call upon us to do that, or do they ask us to find a way to work together towards solutions and understandings?

War is the great polarizer of opinions and points of view, especially controversial wars fought for controversial reasons. Are any of them not controversial? Does it matter? What happens when we polarize our point of view to the point where we've finished listening to what people have to say who have opposing points of view? We start fighting our own war, because it is the nature of war to stand your ground and take down the enemy before he takes us down.

If you aren't going to bother listening to what people have to say unless they agree with you, then you might as well stop talking. Sit with the group of people who agree with you and jerk each other off, because that is all you are interested in. I'm not talking specifically about either side in the war of words that is happening everywhere in this country and the world at large. I'm not talking specifically about either "side" in the war of words that has been happening here. I'm talking about "both sides."

Polarization produces anger and hatred. It causes us to lash out and attack. "You're an asshole for supporting this war" is as useless as "You're an asshole for opposing this war." Why even bother? Nothing is accomplished by the systematic targeting of your "opponents" and bashing them. Nothing is resolved without open and honest dialogue. The willingness to listen without anger, hatred or an attack mentality is the only way to find resolution to problems and differences of opinion. When you attack someone for their beliefs and their point of view, nothing is achieved except further stirring of the cauldron of hatred.

I've listened to people who have made coherent presentations of why they support the present war and people who have made coherent presentations against it. I've also sat through people spitting venom senselessly, going on the attack to the point where they don't even realize what they are saying.

Both "sides" are guilty. Both "sides" are responsible. Perhaps they could both agree that sitting down for coffee, for lunch, for a few beers, or for whatever you like to enjoy while entertaining real dialogue, would be in their best interests. If they can't agree on that, then the real war has already been lost.

Why is anyone surprised by the abuse of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq? Wingnuts defend the abuse of prisoners saying, "This is no worse than a fraternity hazing". I agree that there is a connection, but I don't see it as an excuse.

After all, if New York police think sodomizing a handcuffed suspect with a broom handle is a proper interrogation technique, why should towelheads in a war zone expect better?

A certain sick segment of the American public loves police brutality, with the sort of ferocious intensity the Romans used to display for the slaughter of animals and slaves in the "circus". On COPS, the show devoted to police brutality as entertainment, they announce that "All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law". It reminds me of the sheriff of Maricopa County (where Phoenix, Arizona is located) who delights in torturing inmates in the County Jail. Consider: not everyone in "jail" (as opposed to a prison or penitentiary) is a convicted criminal. Jail is where pretrial detainees are held. So, by definition, a lot of inmates in a jail are innocent of any crime. But who cares, right? We love abuse just for the sake of abuse. After all, you know we all deserve it.

Calvinism has taught us that no one is truly innocent. Have you ever noticed how "Christian" stuff for little kids always seems to focus on Noah's Ark? Granted, the rainbow and the animals and stuff are cute, but ... the story? God decided to kill off every living creature on earth, except for Noah, his family and whatever beasties he could load on a boat. We begin to teach the depravity of humankind from an early age.

And then there is hazing. There is something about this sort of activity which requires pushing the boundaries of reason and prudence. Hazing inevitably becomes increasingly physically abusive, hazardous or degrading. It gets worse until someone dies. Recently (May 4, 2003) there was a hazing incident among Illinois high school students. It's been in the news, not because it's a rare or unique incident, but for the same reason the Rodney King beating was given so much media exposure: because someone videotaped it. Students were choked, assaulted and forced to eat pig intestines. Five students ended up in needing medical treatment, three for concussion, one laceration, another for fractures of the skull and tailbone. Now about a year later, three of the victims have sued the perpetrators and their parents. So what words of wisdom did one of these parents have for the world? One of the parents, Phyllis Gendelman, was quoted by the AP, saying:

"America is lawsuit crazy"

Yes, Mrs. Gendleman, America is certainly crazy, but I don't think lawsuits are the underlying problem here.

This is America: a place where someone has to watch you pee into a cup if you want to get a job. This is America: where "Christians" demonstrate the dignity of religion and show their "love" for "life" by screaming at women seeking medical treatment at a clinic, or by carrying signs that say "God Hates Fags" at the funeral of a young man killed for being gay. This is America: where, as a prank, you can call a fast food restaurant, impersonate a law enforcement officer, instruct the manager to strip search a customer, and they will do it!

So, people of Iraq, just keep in mind it's all in good fun, and you'll get your turn to humiliate and degrade someone else after you've been initiated into the club.

Here's the thing: when you put humans in any space, they're going to fight about shit.

Open dialogue is a fine and wonderful thing. So wonderful, in fact, that people defenestrate one another about it.

Any time someone uses a text medium to devote any rampant thought to any argument, something gets lost. When you're talking to someone, sharing an opinion, it's more automatic: you can just say either a) "You're a fuckhead," for example, or b) "Wow, I wholeheartedly agree with your couth, reasoned insights about social behaviour." Not even in real life debate have I seen people blow up this way, about any topic. With text, or maybe it's just forum-style websites specifically, you're dealing with a person's opinions and thoughts at the time. There is no arguing with the text. It stands, somewhat timeless, for all to see. And sure, words can piss you off.

So, instead of shitting in each other's pants, is it not simpler to calmly, with adult bearing, say, "Hey man, I disagree. Here's why, in twelve lengthy points. Profanity may be used."

I don't think it's a topical problem, so much as it is an environmental one, here in the house that Al Gore built. I mean, sure, yeah, okay, I like writing as much as the next aspiring author, but it makes little sense to get up in arms because of a debate of questionable relevance, in a forum for writing. Someone makes one small slip of the tongue (or, in this case, finger), and it's a conflagration of well-meaning nodes, argument-quelling, and otherwise impotent behaviours. You'll have a writeup, and then, someone else's take on it, discussion groups, discussions about other people's discussion...am I the only one who sees it this way? A little weird?

Maybe it's just me, but bitching about the most recent and most likely candidate for the oh-so-coveted Butterfinger McFlurry Award certainly takes time that I could've spent writing something wonderful.

And you've all got fingers of your own. Write me something wonderful. I promise, I'll keep my own opinions down to twelve points.

With as little profanity as I can muster.

Mother's Day is this weekend.

Miss Tess was kind of clingy when I dropped her off at day care this morning, and one of her teachers suggested she make me some art for Mother's Day.

I asked, is it this weekend? And he nodded, yes. I made a face.

I wonder how long I will have this love/hate relationship with the whole idea of Mother's Day. My original prejudice came from, surprise surprise, my own mother. She disdained Mother's Day, saying it was invented by florists, and after having spent six months in the TB hospital, also pretty much loathed breakfast in bed. But Kate and I used to get her silly five and dime jewelry, or make cards, or give her whatever the school art project of the week was.

Her death no longer agonizes me with the overwhelming rawness it once did. Now it is more like an old injury - bumping against it makes it ache. But it's like my oldest knee injury - probably the biggest emotional scar I carry, and sometimes it needs attention.

With the knee, it's fairly straighforward - when I do something physical, it gets inflamed, so I ice it. My old skiing buddies used to laugh when I stuffed snow down behind my knee pads, but it works. Stiff and achy? A little heat, and I also know the barametric pressure is dropping. (Everyone's joints are sensitive to pressure drops - mine are more so because of various hunks of metal - screws, staples, old jeep parts - still inside them. Ipso facto.)

But what about the emotional ache? It's much harder to ice a heart, as it were. I never know how to face a day I know is going to make me feel like all my emotions have been run through a grater. Tessie is a darling, and she usually does something wonderful for me on Mother's Day. Still, I find that generally what I want to do is hide under the covers all day: on Mother's Day (which was on May 14, 2000), on May 15, the day Helen died, and again on May 31. It's kind of like going to the dentist - I grit my teeth, know I will get through the day, but I don't have to LIKE it.

But still, there has to be a better way to face these days than grit your teeth or stay in bed. I've never been very good at setting time aside for being sad - what's the point? Sadness hits me at random times, and so why create extra time for it? I have several pagan and/or witchy friends who are all about rituals - full moon and new moon and Beltane and Samhain and what have you. Sometimes I enjoy this, and sometimes, when I'm not in the mood to talk about my emotions, it makes me rebellious, mouthy and bratty. Not my most becoming state.

So maybe this is a question. How do you all get through these types of days? I know I'm not the only one here who's lost a loved one, some quite a bit more recent than my own. But I still want to know. Are you the grit your teeth type, or do you find a way to mark this type of day? Thanks, in advance.

In the mean time, could you please pass the ice?
911 Words inspired by the Act of Sales Order Processing; May 6th, 14:45 Onwards

I do not view the affairs of nations through a moral lens. Some individual men and women have a moral sense, but organisations - particularly those as large and diverse as governments - do not. Morality is a subjective quality, each individual man and woman having their own interpretation and execution of morality. Diversity has many positive attributes, not merely sentimental but actual, concrete advantages, but morality cannot be one of them, for each individual has an individual moral sense. The mix of experiences and skills which allow a group to outperform an individual provide no advantage in the moral or emotional domain. A group does not magnify the morals of an individual, indeed the mixture of personal morality and ethical conditioning tends to produce an amoral group, one which does not have a moral sense. On a small scale, anyone who has ever been out drinking with their friends has experienced the amorality of group behaviour. Individuals who would never contemplate the assault or murder of another individual can perform such acts when brought together in groups, even without the addition of alcohol. A desire to appear tougher or more rational than the other group members, or simply collective group bravado, can lead to acts which individual group members would find morally unacceptable. I know this to be true. Governments, corporations, religions, followings, gangs are the same swirl in a coffee-cup, even those which employ ethics advisors. Only diversity can nullify the magnification inherent in commonality.

For this is the disadvantage of diversity. Whilst a diverse group is resistant to disease and possesses an expansive skill-set, diverse groups tend to erase subjective attributes, learned attributes, one being morality. There is no objective morality. Human beings find pleasure - both sexual and non-sexual - in the torture and murder of other human beings and of animals. One is possessed of the desire to protect oneself and one's family at the expense of others. The things which drive us are pain and pleasure, fear of the former, the desire to experience the latter either through sensual gratification or the domination and destruction of others, the desire to treat other men and women not as competitors but as toys or pets, objects to be used or cherished or destroyed. These are mankind's natural urges, there is no morality there. We instinctively despise the weak and seek to destroy them; we respect the strong, and seek to destroy them as well, so that we can wear their heads as hats.

In this respect therefore the amorality of large, diverse groups is positively moral, in that neutrality is less destructive than the natural state of disorder. For this reason we continue to tolerate the ineffectual paralysis of international organisations, for this paralysis is greatly preferable to the dynamic vigour of genocidal movements. We choose not to march to Olympus not because it is easy, but because it is hard, and whatever good we might achieve, it would easily be overshadowed by the evil we could so easily unleash. Whatever positive effect The Body Shop or Live Aid have had on the collective happiness of humanity, the constant tide of massacres cancel it and drive the balance so far into the red as to demand a new graph. The risks we face from evil are greater than the rewards we stand to gain from good, and thus we have chosen a constant state of nothingness. The checks and balances with which we bind ourselves to the sound of a bell-like victory. Charlie does not surf; he is my contact in China.

Individuals are capable of great evil. Groups are not capable of evil. They may perform and allow evil acts, but the intention is not evil, it is instead political. There is no emotion, and morality cannot exist without emotion. We tend to assume that such individuals must have been damaged or conditioned by their upbringing to be evil, and that those who spread love and happiness either through their acts or because they are attractive are such because they have not been damaged. Yet these people have also spent their lives being conditioned. Other people want them, and are apt to express this with compliments, reinforcing the enlightened with a sense of value. Furthermore, observers are more likely to express a positive opinion of the subject to others, thus increasing society's positive perception of these individuals. Only the anonymous man is free from judgement. The non-participant, the silent majority, the observer. This man is the moral man, for only he can perceive the extremes of morality. The ugly man and the handsome man are alike too close to the subject, their lens in macro mode. Only the plain man, of average build, can judge, can hold the rifle, can drive the blade.

If the individuals who make up an organisation could be added together and divided by their quantity, the result would be a figure, an average man, a moral man. Yet this moral man is spread thin, and morality can only exist in concentration. Thus the organisation is amoral, despite its moral average. I conclude therefore that the amorality of the machine derives from its nature as a collection of components rather than a whole. The peas on my plate are nonetheless capable of evil, for they are a collection of the same components, indeed they are elements of pod, many different ones.

The thin man is not a moral man. He is a liability.

This afternoon, I breakfasted. The fish sandwich was good, and the conversation was decent. Unfortunately, I had a class to attend, so had to cut lunch short.

As I began walking towards my physics lecture with my good friend Steve, we saw a cute little sight. At the very edge of the road, in the gutter, was a large duck being followed by about ten little ducklings. By the time we had glanced towards Family Duck, they were ready to climb the curb and proceed marching down the sidewalk. The mother (or father—I didn't check) duck successfully scaled the road's curb, but, as she got to the sidewalk, terror struck!

Before I go on, allow me to flesh out the environment. This afternoon was a gloomy one. Rain was expected to begin dropping soon. Perhaps this was proper weather for the proceeding events. Perhaps not. The road I was on was not unusual, and had a curb around half a foot high. The problem: the ducklings were significantly shorter.

Terror continued to strike! The ducklings were struggling to scale the curb, but to little success. Almost immediately, a couple of the stronger ones made it. Their limbs were flailing, but they persevered. When they got to the sidewalk, they happily waddled towards their mother, ready to continue the journey. Others were significantly less successful. They tried just as hard as their more elevated siblings, but, try as they might, were unable to get out of the gutter. Oh, how they struggled! I could see the determination on their tiny little faces as they vainly attempted to catch up to the leaders of Family Duck.

During this ordeal, the mother continued on her path, leaving behind her brood.

"Egads!" I could hear them scream. Their eyes turned steely cold as they tried to close the gap. They, after realizing the futility of their actions, gave up scaling the curb and turned to walking along the curb, in a path parallel to the sidewalk dwellers. However, they failed to notice the looming danger. They had unknowingly stumbled onto a sewer drain! Bravely, they marched forward, trying to navigate around the gaps in the drain. Just as bravely, they failed to navigate around the gaps in the drain. One by one, the tiny, helpless ducklings started plummeting to the bottom of the sewer. A few fought gravity as they tried to grab onto the sewer and hoist themselves back up to safety. This was not an activity that their wings were designed for. The most proficient of those on the sewer was only able to hold on for a couple seconds, and even he was doomed to fail from the very start.

Only a few seconds after reaching the drain, Family Duck's member count was halved. I was merely thankful that I could not hear the cries of the fallen ducks, who had no way out of the sewer. A few students crowded around and looked into the sewer, but quickly dissipated after realizing that there was little way to help and that they had classes that needed attending. In less than thirty seconds, what had started out as a cute family walk had turned into a harrowing meeting with death.

I'm sure the Fallen are still in the sewer, huddled together and losing body heat quickly. Maybe they found a few scraps of food that had been dropped, but the scraps could not have lasted long. One can imagine their lonely thoughts. Being gifted with breath in their chests only a few days ago, their hearts will soon cease to beat, and their eyes will cease to inquire.

I wish you better luck in the future, Family Duck.

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