Today, a strange and mysterious package was found inside a strange and mysterious car which was parked outside the police station in my home town, also the home town of size_of_a_p'nut, Mustard n Custard, my sister icefire, and the ever popular non-noder, Deejah. It was treated as a bomb, and the bomb squad was called in from Melbourne.

I was woken up at 6:45 in the morning by my aunt, who'd heard the news over the fire radio. Most of the main street and surrounding area (which includes the major highway from Melbourne to Adelaide) was blocked off for most of the morning. We found it difficult to get to the primary school where I am currently doing Work Experience.

At 9:15 the choppers came.

Apparently, every single one was a news helicopter, coming to investigate the mystery surrounding the package. Their blades kept whirring until about 10:15. I have heard enough choppers to last me for the rest of the year.

Which is only a month and a half away, so no biggie.

They reopened the highway around the same time as the choppers left. They reopened the entire main street at around lunch time, as soon as everyone had ascertained that no-one was hurt and there was no danger. It is the biggest excitement our sleepy town has had in some time.

Pity that Deejah is in Melbourne for his work experience. He's always said that he'd like to see some action in this hole.

For another perspective, see November 12, 2005 by size_of_a_p'nut.


UPDATE: To make matters worse, I saw the footage that they put on the news on our Channel Nine (the WIN Network).

Fully two seconds.

All those annoying, nerve-wracking, f@#$ing choppers for TWO FUCKING SECONDS?!?!?

It really gets my goat. It really does.


ANOTHER UPDATE: I have now heard several rumours about this car. One (very interesting) theory proposes that a note was posted somewhere - maybe under the door of the police station - reading "This car is a bomb, please sell it" or something to that effect. I have also heard that there were wires coming from the dashboard. I do not confirm the accuracy of these stories, and I still reckon that those fucking choppers wasted their time.

The new baby is beautiful. My sister is happy. We are all tired.


Sometimes it's tempting to think of daylogs as a private journal. They aren't. Nothing on the web is private. And I posted something earlier that was very personal. And damned if it didn't get smacked down.

And now I think it's time I started keeping the important things to myself.

See, I had the mistaken idea that Everything 2 was a good place to vent my frustrations, share some funny stuff, work out some rough edges. But it isn't. Not anymore.

When I first came here in 2000, this place wasn't much more than an intarweb outpost, a gathering of writers who had found a virtual place to set a spell and visit a little bit. It was like a front porch in a sleepy Southern town. We cautiously shared our words, then our feelings. Then many of us moved on to deeper things. I made many actual friends through my words, then through my feelings. For that I'll be eternally grateful.

But it's a different world now than it was in 2000, isn't it? September 11, a world at war, an increasingly (desperately? reflexively? self-protectively?) ironic population. We're all so very jaded, so very worldly. So very wired. We've seen it all, done it all, felt it all - even if we've only done it virtually. Everything's been done, and no one is a beautiful and unique snowflake, thanks so much.

It's so easy to dismiss personal stories. It's so easy to look back on some of the early writeups here with condescension. I saw a derisive comment in the catbox not long ago about one of stand/alone/bitch's old nodes: How incredibly emo!

Well, yeah. And aren't you just the sophisticated one?

If there's one single thing I've learned in 36 years, it's this: I have nothing to offer but pieces of myself. That's it. Ta-DA! I'm not a fiction writer, I'm a lousy poet, and I'm far too lazy to research squat.

E2 used to be a place to deposit some of those pieces, sort of a lovely and glittering bank where the interest you drew on sharing your experiences included comradeship, compassion, and kindness.

And if there's one single thing I've learned about E2 over the past year, it's this: there was a time when personal stories - yeah, you heard me: the "emo" kind - were welcomed without the sting of irony and the false patina of unearned worldliness. And that time is over, just as surely as the world before September 11 is over.

I can't speak for all of us, the ones who have been here since close to the beginning. But I think the numbers speak for themselves. People - the people whose contributions touched lives and made some sort of difference - are simply leaving. They're doing it quietly, but they're picking up their toys and they're leaving this sandbox.

Some of the braver ones are posting fiction, or "fictionalized" parts of their lives. (Gotta keep things entertaining! Make 'em laugh!)

The ones who worship facts and figures have headed to Wiki. (That's really where the action is; let's not fool ourselves with the precious notion of "factuals".)

They're going to places like livejournal, where they can share their lives and experiences with people who don't require giant dollops of wit, self-conscious irony, or a small forest of footnotes to make the truth go down more smoothly. They're tired of having to be "on" all the time. They're tired of tap dancing, weary of having to don their writerly hat for every blessed thing they post here.

Some of the best ones have even branched out to "real" writing: plays, journalism, novels. Reaching for the brass ring of Publication, God bless 'em all.

And some of them, like me, have just gone back to the way things were before this bizarre internet thing ever happened - to private clothbound journals, to an audience of one. We never had "literary aspirations" beyond simply sharing ourselves, and we're tired of being slapped around the playground for not having the newest, shiniest toys.

Again, I can't speak for all of the departed, the fled, the gone. I can only speak for myself, and I can only say this: I won't stop visiting, but E2 has become to me what New York City always was. It's a place to visit - only a place to visit - not a place to put down roots. It's become callous and unfriendly to new noders, to old noders, to stories which were always, always GTKY and which were what brought most of us here in the first place.

First I felt banished to the daylogs. I felt ashamed, as though the things I had to write about - my own life, my own memories and experiences - were simply not important enough or good enough to pollute the precious nodegel. I settled into this little ghetto of daylogs - these tiny, infinitely precious, undervalued snippets of actual lives and actual people.

But god damn, people. It's so hard to write something that comes from your guts, something ugly and visceral and important to you - and have it "voted on" - negatively! - by a pack of strangers.

Listen: it isn't your fault that you're strangers. A bare few of you aren't. But most of the people who have shared an actual meal with me, who have talked me through an agonizing night on IRC or the telephone, who know me in ways less abstract than through this glass box...most of those people are gone.

Some have outgrown this place. Others, like myself, have felt crowded out by the clamor for facts and snark, felt worn down by level grinding, felt like hamsters on a treadmill going nowhere at all. And I'm questioning the wisdom of sharing things with people who will not count them precious.

Many of us - look back now and you'll find so many of us - tried to share ourselves, to bare ourselves, to touch and be touched in this strange and wonderful place called E2. But through no fault of its own, it's changed. The waters are deeper and colder, its inhabitants more predatory than friendly. Underlying all of it is a sick sort of popularity contest that I won't even get into.

Everything changes. And Everything 2 changes. Change is the only constant; it's the way of the world, which itself is changing more rapidly than I can fathom.

I need peace and a place to write, and I need a kind reader. This is no longer the place to find any of those things.

Good night and good luck. I love a lot of you, and you know who you are. It's important to me to say a soft goodbye, because closure is good and I've had damned little of it in my life lately. Every important relationship deserves either meaningful communication or compassionate closure, and E2 has been very important to me for a long time now.

So. I'm not gonna asamoth or migrate to livejournal or huff around like some kind of princess. I'm just telling you why I'm withdrawing my emotional deposit here. Maybe it's of interest to a few of you.

Many, many of you touched me. If you did, I guarantee you that you didn't do it with factuals. I could give two shits about some string of footnoted facts I can find on google in .02 seconds flat. Sorry.

Nope. You did it by uncovering something of yourself and sharing it with me. With all of us. You did it with something small or something cataclysmic, with a paragraph or a manifesto - but you did it with truth and grit and a solid adherence to the one good thing about being a writer: you embedded yourself in your words. Some of you - the ones who are hardier than I am - are still doing it. This fallen comrade salutes you wearily from her shield.

You won't ever get rid of me entirely, not until you pry my bandwidth from my cold, dead fingers. I'll lurk, I'll vote, I'll snark in the catbox every now and then. Maybe I'll even pop in occasionally with a "factual" or two. It's always a kick to research something random and post it somewhere.

And don't worry your pointy little head, malicious softlinker-to-be! I won't let the door hit my ass on the way out! But it's just too sucky and painful to have bits and shards of my actual life downvoted, criticized, and judged. It hurts too much, and I've had a year full of enough booboos for a lifetime. As one of my (fled) friends here puts it: no more stupid, i am full.

I'm just not strong enough to keep swimming in this particular ocean.

It's time for me to see if I can scare up another audience. Cheers.

Huh. I have today just found out that I will have a 70-80% increased chance of developing some form of arthritis in my knee due to my 'ascapade 'with a frisbee (see October 18, 2005 for full details).

Oh well, shit happens.......

At approximately 4.30pm today, Tony Blair's government is going to ask the House of Commons to vote on a bill that could, amongst other things, permit the detention of suspected terrorists for upto 90 days without charge. This is a bill that is facing serious opposition, and it is possible that the current Labour government could lose its first Commons vote since coming to power in 1997.

The prospect of the bill failing is significant enough for Gordon Brown to have been recalled from Israel — within minutes of landing — by the Chief Whip. Jack Straw has also curtailed an official visit, returning from Russia so that he might support the government.

At present, the maximum period for which a suspected terrorist can be detained without charge is 14 days. Other countries in Europe that have also suffered terrorist attacks, for example Spain, do not have laws allowing for detention without charge for upto 90 days.

Tony Blair has accused those who oppose his terrorism bill of complacency.
Liberty, the civil liberties group, has likened the proposal to internment, and labelled it a gross attack on civil liberties.
I've heard people on BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Radio 2 speak in support of the bill, believing that it will protect them from attack, and therefore it protects their civil liberties: 'Good people have nothing to fear.'
Opposition leaders have suggested that the plans will alienate ethnic minority groups.
Some police chiefs have requested the 90 day proposal because of the complex nature of terrorism cases.

When South Africa imposed lengthy detention without trial, one of the international voices of opposition was Jack Straw.

The agency that I am using to find me supply teaching work has been taking rather a long time to process my paperwork. I called them yesterday, to offer a subtle prod. I was told that someone would return my call. You don't need a recollection of the entire conversation: here is the interesting bit.

Agent: 'I see that you've spent time in Israel. How long have you spent there?'
DEB: 'It's difficult to say exactly, I've been there on numerous occasions.'
Agent: 'Have you spent over a year there in any one visit?'
DEB: 'No, the longest single period that I have spent there is six months.'
Agent: 'Right. Well, because you've visited the Middle East, we need to have a letter of recommendation from someone.'
DEB: 'I don't understand, you already have my Criminal Records Disclosure, and my references. What more can you need?'
Agent: 'We're very thorough here.'
DEB: 'Is this to ensure that I'm not involved in terrorism?'
Agent: 'We have to be very careful.'

I've just finished my teacher training: my university checked my credentials, I have a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure, I've been working in schools since November 2004, I have references. We have to protect society. I'm just not sure how I present a threat to anyone because I have visited the Middle East, or how a letter of recommendation is going to assure anyone of my character.



All that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.


I'm not sure what doing something or doing nothing is anymore.




The bill was defeated, 322 : 291 votes.

Haven't been here for a while, unfortunately, but I've been a little busy and am now forced to play catch up. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

First and foremost, I got a new job!!! Finally, after reams of resumes and scads of interviews, a great company that likes me as much as I like them hired me. Terrific benefits, a substantial jump in pay, intellectually rigorous and satisfying work, a defined career and skill development path as well as smart and hilarious people with whom to work -- it's a dream come true.

For the first few weeks, I sang a song during my morning commute.

Going to my new job
Going to my new job --
Oh yeah!
Oh yeah!

As I pulled in to the parking lot, it changed to

Parking in the parking lot
Of my new job --
Oh yeah!
Oh yeah!

I sang similar songs throughout the day. One for my desk, the chair, the coffee maker and my co-workers. These, of course, I kept in my head. I didn't even hum.

It's been over two months now and I'm still singing. The learning curve has been steep, but a couple of weeks ago a lightbulb went off, and I started to embrace the flow of the many applications we must navigate through on any given day in any given situation. I'm still asking a lot of questions, but everyone says that's normal. No one, the conventional wisdom says, actually "gets it" until about six months on the job.

In any case, my boss thinks I'm doing great and has already discussed with me my upward path through the company -- where I want to go (developer support) and what I need to get there. This is the first job I've had in a long time where my boss actually wants me to succeed and progress and is taking steps to ensure that happens.

Hooray!!

Also, I've finally started running again. After the misery of last year and the slow rehab of this one, I have managed to work my way up to a daily 84 minutes of walking and running -- three minutes walking, three minutes running. It works out to about a 11:30 per mile pace, which for basically starting over is plenty fast for me. Once I'm up to 2 hours a day, I might start cutting back on the walking to increase the running, ever mindful of the little signals my feet and knees send me.

The only signal they seem to be sending me via the telegraph of my soul is

Keep going

which I'm trying to do every day.

I have found with the rhythm of getting out the door every morning and steadily placing one foot in front of the other that my body is flourishing. In almost unnoticeable increments I am getting stronger and faster. Because I run by time rather than miles -- an hour is an hour no matter how fast I go -- increases in distance are products of speed and strength, both of which are coming naturally by the way of a gentle daily run.

Note to self: Perhaps this model can be applied to other things as well.

Also, I've built a web site. After writing sites for company intranets and rebuilding the GUI for a web app, I figured I'd make something for myself. It is certainly not fancy or interactive, but then neither am I. A lot of the content is shamelessly lifted from here.

The whole process took longer than I thought. Of course, I wasn't spending several hours a day pecking away at it, but instead tried to squeeze a few minutes of precious computer time between dinner time, picking up from soccer practice time, checking homework time and tucking in time. Besides, I gotta get up early to run.

In any case, I must be doing something right since I have two businesses that want me to write sites for them -- content, design, markup, maintenance, da woiks.

So things are looking up. My friend Mabel said, "I know it's your year, Lovejoy. I've been saying blessings over you and I knew they were due to hit." Whether that's the reason or not, I don't know, and I'm not going to think about it. I'm just glad it's happening. It's about time.

Hello. It's a Wednesday like any other, and I'm wearing a skirt.

It's not a particularly interesting skirt. In fact, I deliberately chose the most plain skirt I could find when I went shopping for one. That is not to say that it's a homely skirt by any means, simply plain. It's straight, ankle-length, and completely black, so that it may be easier to match with the rest of my wardrobe. It was a bit too wide at the hips when I first bought it, so I took it to a tailor who modified it to my size, seeing how I'm not the kind of person who would have wide hips.

There is nothing about this skirt that could in any way be construed as feminine. That's deliberate too. It's simple and long. It has absolutely no decorations, though I do own another skirt from Thailand that is richly geometrical. There is no lace, no colour but black, no real shaping to speak of unless you want to count the modifications my tailor made in order to reduce the measurements around the hips. It's just as straight and narrow as I am.

So why am I wearing it? I suppose that at a very superficial level, I am exploiting the stereotype of the eccentric mathematician. Simply because I like to do mathematics, I'm allowed to be a deviant freak. It's perhaps a cheap method for attracting attention from people around me, although it's valid too, I suppose. Unsurprisingly, it's mostly males who give me any notice, though not exclusively. A couple of close male friends are allowed to make jokes about how I look like a sissy, or if I'm going to start wearing lipstick and high heels any time soon. I'm not, and I appreciate their jesting. It is, after all, a little silly that a Westerner male should wear a skirt for ordinary day-to-day affairs such as school is.

At another level, I do it because sometimes I just like to be a lawful troublemaker. After all, there is really nothing feminine about this skirt, and even if there were, there is no legal or moral forbiddance about men wearing skirts, except that most Westerners have certain unwritten societal norms about the proper attire for males and females. It has been quietly decreed that for public life men must wear fabric which clearly separates the two legs, and that anything else is simply not done. I revolt against quiet decrees, partly for fun, but partly out of a conviction of liberalism and in order to emphasise that I can do whatever I damn well please so long as nobody's put in harm's way by my actions.

Then there's the abstract ideological level at which I am wearing this skirt in the name of all the women who in the past, nary a century ago, wanted to wear trousers for numerous reasons. This is my retroactive celebration and recognition of those trailblazers who wanted to push the limits of fashion as a political statement. I know my situation is different, that I'm in the majority and that nobody is oppressing me by virtue of my sex, and that perhaps some may think that it is hypocritical of me to sympathise with a cause that's not my own by wearing a skirt as a symbol of camaraderie with such illustrious figures.

But let's not take anything too seriously. I am wearing this skirt because it's fun, because it's a little silly, but also because it's comfortable (c'mon, boys, try it out, wear a skirt, take a step, whoooosh! feel how the fabric moves the air around your legs, taste the freedom!), and damnit, because I look good in it. Yeah, hell, why not, I'll say it: my ass looks hot in a skirt. This accompanying dark forest green long-sleeved tee-shirt matches it nicely, plus black sandals don't look so bad with a black skirt, even if I'm wearing black socks and sandals in true mathematician fashion.

I like my skirt.

OK I have to do a daylog now, even though I don't really have the time. It's just too coincidental that I, too, have recently started a new job. And I have some comments on Mitzi's daylog I'd like to get off of my chest, too.

First of all, the entire story of me getting this new job can be found here and, a sorta related daylog can be found here. Anyway, congratulations, lovejoyman, I feel your pain of previously having a shitty job and feel your pleasure - no, elation - of having one that you love. It's almost freaky, how I can almost copy and paste exactly a paragraph from lovejoyman's entry and have it apply perfectly to my situation. Changes I've made are in parentheses:

"Finally, after reams of resumes and (one interview), a great company that likes me as much as I like them hired me. Terrific benefits, a substantial jump in pay, intellectually rigorous and satisfying work, a defined career and skill development path as well as smart and hilarious people with whom to work -- it's a dream come true.

Yep. I hear ya, lovejoy. Fuckin' eh. A dream come true indeed. Only difference is I only scored one interview, but one was, as it turns out, all I needed. There are so many things that this new company (Roundedcube) does right that my former company did wrong. My former company appears to have more clients, but it's quantity vs. quality here: my new company has bigger, more serious clients. Huge multinational corporations. They charge more than my former company, but offer their clients so much more. They fully integrate everybody into a Content Mangement System and have the manpower to do so. My former company started getting into CMS but only offered it as an extra charge to some clients, and then only some areas of the website were converted into CMS and one guy had to slave away at trying to program them all and got yelled at for not being able to finish it for four clients at once. Oh yeah and my current boss is so much nicer! And more reasonable.

Plus, this job is in a much nicer area, in a building that has central air and heating! (Not an old falling-apart warehouse with crumbling drab military green lead paint.) And it is in a much nicer area. No more getting my license plates and/or stickers ripped off (or the entire car!). Just in general, the business I work for now is much more serious and professional: they pay serious money and get more serious clients. However, in some ways it's not so serious. We have nerf basketball tournaments in the hallway! These people actually have fun. I'm no longer in a hostile environment! My old boss was a tightass who hardly ever wanted to invest some money and time into improving the technologies he worked with, the methods, and the people he worked with. Sometimes you have to operate in a deficit to get a better business in the end, something he didn't seem to understand. If he's ever going to compete with the company I work for now, he's going to have to get out of that shitty warehouse and pay more money to attract better and more employees and actually spend some money to improve technology and service. And then charge more, perhaps. Oh and he might want to reconsider cussing out clients on the phone, even if they might deserve it.

But enough about him. That place is in my past where I plan on keeping it. The place I'm with now offers me opportunities to grow, to learn more, spread my wings a little and work with unstifled creativity. My new boss actually is a web designer and understands the process. We actually have brainstorming sessions here! My old boss never had time for brainstorming, for employees sitting around talking with each other, bouncing ideas off of each other. It's just a wonderful feeling, isn't it, lovejoyman, to actually look forward to work, look forward to Mondays, not dread them? It's very motivating and creatively stimulating. My muse is no longer working overtime. I feel needed, wanted here; I may have been needed and wanted before but I just didn't feel like I was. I felt like I was unappreciated even though it may not have been the case.


All right, I could probably go on and on, but I'll stop there on that. Now, onto comments on Mitzi's entry today.

First of all, take a deep breath, Mitz. Chill a little. I understand that you were just noding what you feel and you can't say how somebody is feeling is right or wrong. I get that. But I felt like you were being overdramatic. I mean, I get some of the sentiments you expressed; this place can be cold and contemptual at times; there are cliques here just like in real life. They're inescapable, if you really think about it.

But I try to ignore the elitist assholes, the ones who sit in their sky-high thrones built on piles and piles of writeups and xp and look down at the rest of us through their noses. Just as much as I try to ignore the trolls. I cannot even believe that there are noders who feel that using emoticons in the catbox are somehow childish or immature, that standards of casual communication should be on par with factual nodes, that we should be able to accurately depict the emotional context of what we're saying with careful word choice. I'm sorry, I don't feel like doing research when I'm just trying to exchange friendly banter in the catbox, thank you! Emoticons are very useful to text-based communication to make up for the lack of voice inflection and body language you can use to read people in real life.

Sorry I got a little off track there with my mini rant on emoticons.

The point is, Mitzi, yes, sometimes this place can feel cold, especially if nodes on your life are downvoted; I appreciate how it can feel like they're downvoting your life. But, unless they're really, extremely good or clever or witty or written in such a away to where it can apply to any of our lives and we can all relate to it, keep them in a daylog. It's what daylogs are for! It is because we have daylogs that Getting to Know You - "GTKY" - nodes are frowned upon. Why should you feel so cast off or shunned because you should relegate those types of nodes to daylogs? You are acting like we're forcing you to some noder's dungeon or something. Daylogs are great. I love writing them. Sometimes I do have to repost gooofy and funny crap to a daylog that was eaten if it had enough fans. But a lot of them, like this one, are about my life and have no place in their own nodes.

Even though I can agree with some of the things they say, whenever I come upon any of these "This place sucks now, I'm leaving, it's no fun anymore!" nodes, I just kind of (sorry!) roll my eyes. This place is great! Granted, I've only been around since September of 2003, maybe it was a lot different before then, but, still, what's the big honkin' deal? There's still plenty of fun to be had here. There's still nodes that are funny that aren't eaten. Some of them are factuals, even. Factuals can be boring, depends on who's writing them. But they can also be compelling, funny, and witty. That is what makes this place, still, so much better than Wikipedia. And even poems can survive if they're good enough!

Again, I could go on and on and on, but I'll stop there. Just know that something terrible and disasterous would have to happen to this place before I'd ever leave.

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