I walked around the French Quarter tonight for the first time in ages. Part of me wanted to see how the last month's events have impacted the tourism down there. As usual, I drove round and round until I found a parking spot, then took off to meander. I usually stick to Decatur Street, because it's where most of the bars/restaurants I frequent are located. I toyed with the idea of looking through all the piercings at Rings of Desire, but they were closed. My dream is to get a pair of 2 gauge glass tubes, the kind where the ends are wider than the middle so I won't need gaskets. But they are always more expensive than I can afford.

I guess I wanted to see if much had changed. There are all these new developments going up on Canal, new hotels and bars where once there was just another abandoned building. Abandoned buildings in the Quarter are so, well, seen, that evetually someone will scoop them up. I even weaved down Bourbon for a few blocks, noting that there were a few booms strung high in the air with huge lights illuminating what would typically be a dim area of the street. They were filming something, but since the street wasn't roped off, it was hard to say what. I heard R&B, a club with, well, old school R&B, and like others walking around, I bopped to the beats. They really do have some catchy music on Bourbon. I frowned up the corner where once stood the Old Absinthe Bar, established in 1808. The sign's still up there, but now it's a daquiri bar.

I circled around back to Decatur, where I planned to have a burger at Coop's, which has one of the best. I looked up as I walked, looking at the un-covered windows of thousands of snug little apartments, some tastefully decorated in silks and chandeliers, other mirroring the mere flicker of an unseen television. I even passed by a ground floor apartment whose door was wide open to the street and the dweller was passed out on a couch a mere yard away from where I was walking. Balconies with diners. Horse-drawn buggies and vampire tours. Tarot card readers in Jackson Square. The usual.

And I thought about the gathinering I'm having here in a few weeks. All these people I have never met. I feel a combination of fear and excitement. As I walked back to my car, I thought, you noders are gonna love it here. I can't wait to show you my home.

Today's seemingly dull, grey overcast sky, which promised so much inherent crap and boring times, has surprisingly lead to a pleasant afternoon.

But let me start earlier. The ride into the city this morning, was fun. I ride a ZX-6 (Ninja, 1996 model) and I looked at the speedo, just as it went to 97,000 kms! kewl! 3,000 more kms, and I've clocked the thing! - I've never clocked anything in my life before, so I'm pretty impressed with that... also the fact that my 'bike will have done 100,000 kms with only minimal services, and _lots_ of accidents :)

By the time I got to work I was fully enthused and expecting to be chewed out by my boss. I have been setting up NFS systems between Linux redhat and sunOS systems, and it had failed to work all yesterday. I left it in a terrible state of uselessness last night, which is why I expected to be in trouble. You can imagine my surprise this morning to be greeted with, "Goodjob!" as I waltzed through the door... Boss was pleased. *shrug*

I sat around and read nodes for about 2 hours, unhindered, and then chatted to fellow work comrades about stuff - what they planned for the weekend, the usual crap. When I went for lunch the lady under charged me, and my lunch cost about half what it usually did. hooray!

Hmmm maybe the afternoon is looking to good at the moment, I might have just jinxed myself, D'oh! I'm going to go hide in the computer room, and look busy, but be bored now

I can't sleep.

I've been worrying about all the stupid things that one has to worry about; specifically, the utter mess that my life—if you can call a collection of studies and responsibilities a life—has descended into over the last few weeks. I can't seem to do anything i need to do at the time i need to do it. Whenever i try to attend to my duties, my mind wanders. I get tired. I get sick to my stomach. I can't concentrate. I experience a generally phobic reaction to anything resembling work.

Where to start? How about homework?

Homework. I am only taking 12 credits, three classes, this term, after dropping Portuguese and Existentialism and replacing them with only Urban Studies. Despite this, i am behind. I currently have two journals outstanding for Urban Studies, one of which i simply am not going to get done, and the other, i haven't finished the reading for. I need to get on the reading and journal for our next class on Monday night. In German, i have not done a worksheet on relative pronouns to do that would be incredibly easy, and a nice little 2-page essay on a couple of articles—short articles which i've really only skimmed. And i really need to read over these articles, plus a couple others, for a test we're having tomorrow. Cartography/GIS really isn't so bad, and i haven't checked out a GPS receiver to do a little 15 minute project, but other than that i'm pretty much on track. In general, my homework situation is not really very dire, but it is only rectifiable given a great improvement in my capacity for schoolwork.

Photos. I am photo editor for The Mac Weekly, the student newspaper at my school. This week, the "Features" editor had to go on a mad hunt to get the name of one person in a photo for a caption, because i had neglected to get her name. Worse, the text file describing some of the photos was very sparse and unclear, and ended up making the editor-in-chief put the subject of a photo as the photographer. Shit. Thus far in this paragraph, i've only been fucking up the things that i need to be doing, not actually not doing them. But i haven't contacted quite a number of potential contributors, notable a couple of very interested—and probably talented—candidates. Why not? I could just go to the phone and spend five minutes doing it. But i'm afraid of the phone. I'm afraid of fucking telephones.

My room is a mess. I forgot to do the recycling for my house last week. I forgot our common meal, and attended only by having the good luck to be here at the right time. I haven't visited my friends Sarah or Vanessa once this term; i haven't called my friend Jennifer since last spring. I haven't turned in my room and board contract, which should have gone in a week ago. I haven't sent my mom or my aunt Gretchen copies of the Weekly, copies which were supposed to have gone out last Saturday. I have showered once, maybe twice this week. I rarely node. I haven't written postcards that i promised two weeks ago. I haven't selected a new adviser, something i should have done a month ago. And so on and so forth &c. und so weiter bla bla blaaa.

I was lying in bed thinking about all this, partially lamenting the situation, partially telling myself that it really doesn't matter a frog's belly button. See, i already know that life is essentially meaningless and truly absurd. I know that morality is a myth. I know that human rights are a myth,2 while we're on the subject of myths. I know that hurting myself with my own incompetence really doesn't have to matter if i don't want it to, and even hurting others with my own incompetence doesn't have to. (Though i don't want to let that slide, as i like to be nice and not mess up others' lives. Anyhow, i tend to be pretty good at keeping up my extracurricular duties, even if i'm slipping in my classes. I always figured that extracurricular duties were more crucial than classwork, as i really don't want to fuck1 other people when i could fuck myself instead.) I know that German essays don't pay the bills, and i'd like to at least pay the food bills, 'cause i'm rather fond of life.

My understanding of things holds that the universe is meaningless and chaotic and completely absurd, that there is no essential truth, that nothing really matters. I have no essential purpose. Most people find people like me depressing and silly. Most people associate existentialism and the like with alienation, anguish, and despair. Me? I find it liberating. See, if nothing matters, and i have no purpose, then i can do whatever i want and not feel bad, right? I can enjoy what i want to, ignore what i want to, care about what i want to, believe what i want to. Without a purpose fallen out of the sky special for me, i have chosen a purpose: to have fun.3

Somehow, though, this isn't translating into my life. When i don't do my homework or mess up something with the newspaper or even have a stupid messy room, i feel bad. I almost feel guilt. And then i dwell on it. Why? What's the point? If nothing matters, why am i worrying about this shit when i could be riding my bike, or noding, or eating good food, or visiting with friends, or taking a stroll through the impending change of weather that seems so beautiful and miraculous to me? For that matter, why am i not getting these tasks done so i can do all i just listed above with impunity? Yes, my homework doesn't really matter, but in the end i really would like to do at least a good portion of it, cause i do learn from it sometimes, and i think that learning is fun. Plus, that "degree" thing might be helpful if i want to eat, which is an activity i enjoy. So, you know what? I'm gonna do it and just get it out of the way.

After all this rambling and some other thoughts that have been running little circles through my head, i have come to a conclusion. I need to abstract myself from life in order to live more fully. I need to remove myself from these petty little worries that some call "life", and move to the surface. I need to immerse myself in the wonder and beauty of the things that surround me, not in duties and morals and paperwork. Moping gets me nowhere. Idleness is boring. I need to bring the plane close down to the ground. I remember moments of nothing but awe, living not on the world but in it, feeling the air and gravity and myself, hearing the wind and the blood rushing through my ears, seeing the colors, realizing my connection with the infinite. Those moments are rarer now, and that's silly of me.



There's no reason to be silly when you don't want to. It's time to stop with that. Today, it begins. I will be as a child again. I will dash out into the world and play.











(1) Time to teach this word to the spell-checker!
(2) Human rights and civil rights may be myths, but that doesn't mean that i don't like them and am not going to fight for them. They make my life, and those of many others, better, and provide a certain amount of insurance from "bad" government. Generally, i think they're reasonable things for the global community to agree on that benefit everyone—and don't need any silly "principles" to be justified.
(3) Some people find this arrogant, uncaring, and, well, immoral. People might think that i'm ready to do whatever i feel like at the expense of anyone who might get in the way, that i'd just go around hurting people for fun. I'm not going to do that, however, because (a) i like making people happy, not sad, and (b) if i fuck with other people, they'll fuck with me, and i want to avoid that.
(Hey, I didn't know where else to put it besides in the day log!)

I HAVE AN IDEA!

Ok, ok, so maybe LOTS of people have ideas so it shouldn't be considered such a big thing. But, but... hear me out!

Here's the thing. For a while, the editors and gods here have been working to raise the bar. I understand the reasoning here - there is a lot of crap that really, nobody wants to read. There's also a lot of borderline stuff, that maybe a few people read, that is written more to be silly and have fun, which usually also gets fed to Klaproth. And of course, the edev team is actually writing the Everything software for a reason, and should they want to show it to a company or something, they surely don't want those people seeing MR.T ATE MY BALLS and the like all over the place. So it's not like I fault them.

But being silly, ranting and raving, commenting on in jokes and the like is FUN. And I don't know about other people, but one of the reasons I come to this place is for fun. I don't get paid for it, and while it does feel good to write something worthwhile that will educate people, or at least get them thinking, sometimes I want to just be goofy. But by raising the bar here, that's become frowned upon. I suspect my clashes with the staff are because I'm still trying to have that fun, and haven't adapted to the change in attitude very well yet. (Update: That's not quite true... some of the clashes seem to be due to people just plain having a personal dislike for me and doing everything they can to encourage me to leave. But I'm not going to.)

So... What about having TWO Everythings? Wait, keep reading before making judgement.

My idea is to have a second Everything. This second one would be very lax on what's allowed, a place where people could to the in jokes and the silliness and the debates and the GTKY and all that. So, what does this get us?

- First, they could really raise the bar on the current Everything. Eliminate eveyrthing questionable. Day Logs and Dream Logs could go to the new one, eliminating the debate over whether they belong. Noder poetry and random stories could go there also. If there's a second place for all this, they can afford to be picky.

- New noder training grounds. How many of you remember your first node? Was it very good? Probably not. I know I'm suprised my first one is still around. It takes time to adapt to the environment here, and some people may not exactly write the best. New noders can write whatever and get the practice of doing a lot of writing and noding, and improve themselves. (I know a year of noding here really helped my writing) They also won't be faced with getting large amounts of their writeups deleted quickly, and be discouraged, which does seem to be occuring here more than I think is necessary.

- Similarly, noder proving grounds. A noder that demonstrates being able to contribute at a level high enough to add worthwhile writeups can be invited/added to the main Everything. The staff can see your ability and feel better about what a noder can do.

- A place to vent and to HAVE FUN. Someone busy adding a lot of good information can go add some crap to the Toy Everything, goof around, be silly, relax, and enjoy themselves. They'll be less likely to burn out, to feel drained, and so on.

- If done right, anything written on the Toy Everything should be easy to transfer over to the serious one, so that no content will be lost just because it's added to the wrong one.

Now, I know there are some issues -

- The resources might not be there. I don't know a lot about the workings of E2 and what it takes to run it. Perhaps it requires another computer, which isn't cheap, and may not be readily accessible. Or more hard drive space (though I promise a donation of $40 for a new hard drive if this idea is being done).

- Logistical issues. Will the Toy Everything pull too much away from the main one? Should the Chatterbox overlap between the two? How will people access them individually?

- Staff issues. It might stretch the editors/gods/staff too thin to try and maintain the two of them, though I suspect there are people willing to help volunteer if necessary.

I just ask that this idea be considered as I really think it could darn well improve things overall, for both the users, and for E2.

I wrote this up with the best interestes of E2 and the noders in mind, not to be complaining/whining/troublemaking.

I didn't drive today and it feels weird!

My girlfriend drove today instead after having rented the most "non-car" one could ever drive. The Toyota Echo was underpowered and slow by my taste. I require something faster and more agile. But amazingly enough, the car's lack of performance doesn't phase her. While in the car, I mention how odd my Focus ZX3 behaves when it forgoes a day without me having driven it. The tire seems to flatspot to a minute degree and the engine stays cold and stale a little longer than usual.
For her, it was a time to finally learn the driving route I go through everyday. A switch in roles is kind of nice, though my clutch foot, my steering arm and shifting hand remains twitchy, even as I write this. So instead of putting her face on in preparing for work while I drive, she takes directions from my backseat driving.
Being a dreary and rainy day, it doesn't make things easier. The highway wasn't as crowded as other days and she handled everything very well. I am still somewhat weary by her driving and her full-faced lane-changes as opposed to a more proper quick-glance-to-see-if-there's-a-car-in-my-blind-spot. Nonetheless, it was a peaceful ride and I remain intact of all my body parts and sanity.

I felt rather insignificant today as I attended my physics lecture. We were discussing dark matter and the effects it had on gravitational forces within the universe. One might feel insignificant when sized up against "small" galaxies orbiting around even larger galaxies elsewhere in space.

This, however, was not on my mind. Instead, through random discussions, the class began talking about the expansion of the universe. The universe is expanding without bound. No one knows for sure, but there seems to be no end to the universe, implying it is infinite.

Assuming the universe is infinite, and infinity is an idea rather than a physical construct, does that mean the universe is merely an idea.
Supposing the universe is an idea, and we are part of the universe, do we actually exist or is nothing real?

This is my first daylog entry and I didn't think that I'd ever write in here, but I feel that I need to express myself with the hope that I'll work things out.

Yesterday a child was hit by a car about 50 meters down my street. I drove past the incident and saw what happened and I wasn't phased at all. I saw a dead child, a twisted bike and a dented white car, but nothing really happened in my head. Actually, I think that I thought to myself that the kid deserved it for not looking both ways.

And then, a few hours later, my best friend asked me to do him a favor and try to feel some sympathy. When he did that I realised that I didn't really care!

I child who had lived for less than 10% of the average person's life died and I couldn't care less! There's something not right here! I should be feeling something!!

Or perhaps I am just becoming a heartless barstard

Good times: reading the prize list for a "Win a Total Life Makeover!" contest and realizing.. "hey, I don't want any of this. I am really happy with my life the way it is."

aw bjyeah. that's pretty sweet.

I am a big fat smartypants and I got the top mark in the class on my chemistry midterm. I'm hoping this will magically affect my mark on the math midterm I took yesterday. It was on pink paper, which is bad, but in the end I got an answer for every question, which was better than my panicky self envisioned as I looked at the list of questions, some involving trig functions which I last reviewed in the pre-cambrian era.

Kids are so smily. I got waved at yesterday by a soccer team in a school bus, a convoy of tricyclin' toddlers at the daycare at school, I got smiled at by a little girl on the bus, and I got drooled at by a baby on the elevator. Whee! The tricycle gang looked like they had life totally figured out. I bet they do. Kids are just as smart as me, I just have a better database. Or a bigger database, anyhow. It's so easy to think kids and seniors are stupid. I vow now to try my best (uh oh.. Brownie flashback!) to not. Think that.

Leelee! I'm out of fruit! Help!

This morning, so early it is almost blasphemous, my phone rang.

I mumbled a scratchy hello, and was confronted with an agitated-sounding woman demanding to talk to Harold.

Hmm? I'm not Harold . . . wait a minute . . .

"Who?"

"CAN I TALK TO HAROLD PLEASE!!"

"Sorry . . . " (wrestling with dream fog) "I don't know any Harold . . . "

"THIS IS HIS WIFE!"

"Uh . . . I'm sorry, I don't know Harold--"

"WELL HE WORKS AT HABITAT!"

(things click in my head) "Ohh. This isn't the number for Habitat for Humanity. For some reason I get their calls all the time, I think my number was posted as theirs somewhere because it's such a common mistake."

"OH, OKAY, SORRY!" (not sounding like she is)

"I think if you switch the last two digits of my number, you'll get Habitat."

"OKAY, THANK YOU."

Click.

Rolling over, going back to sleep, I think, Jeez, this number has been the same for over six years. Isn't it about time for those people to realize this isn't Habitat for Humanity?

About twice a month, I get random calls like this, or strange messages on my voicemail asking me to pick up the couches or to have Susan call Tricia. I'd found out that apparently the real Habitat for Humanity's phone number is mine with the last two digits reversed, though I don't know if I got in a phone book or an informational listing or just a very well distributed flyer, or what, but it's been a somewhat regular thing since I went to college five and a half years ago, and it was my roommates' number before that.

Pondering this this morning, I wasn't given the time to go back to sleep, because the phone rang again.

(scratchy voice) "Hello . . . ?"

"OH. SORRY."

Oh shit, not her again. "Uh, that's okay . . . " No it isn't, quit waking me up, I went to bed three hours ago!

"WHEN YOU SAID THE LAST TWO NUMBERS WERE SWITCHED, WHAT DID YOU MEAN?"

This isn't that difficult. "I mean the last two digits of the phone number."

"SO WHAT'S THE NUMBER?"

Jeez, not only rude but stupid . . . "My number's 373-5726, so their number would be 373-5762."

"OKAY. THANK YOU."

Click.

(mumbling to self) "If she calls again I'm not answering."

She called again. I didn't answer. Just tuned out the phone and let the voicemail get it.

I also managed to tune out my alarm clock, thanks to her.

And when I got up, there were messages on my voicemail.

You have THREE unheard messages.

"Shit!"

First message.  Sent TODAY at 6:01 AM.  

(Muffled crackling noise and distorted speech as if cell phone isn't working, obvious annoyed and urgent voice, unintelligible.)

End of message.  To repeat message, press 1--

(Delete)

Next message.  Sent TODAY at 6:21 AM.

Click.

End of message.  To repeat message, press 1.  To save it in the archives, press 2--

"Why the hell would I save a hangup?"

(Delete)

Next message.  Sent TODAY at 7:23 AM.

"HELLO. I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO HAROLD. THIS IS HIS WIFE. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT."

End of message.  To repeat--

(Delete)

Goddamn it all to hell--you'd think if she was his wife, she'd know his damn work number. There is no excuse for stupidity like this, especially after I gave her the right number. I should note my answering machine does not say anything about Habitat for Humanity on it, and is actually rather goofy and urges you to leave nice messages only or the answering machine won't let me know you called. You'd think people would quit ignoring what other people say and actually listen. But no. She was determined to call me five times before 8:00 and cause me to sleep through my alarm. There is no freaking excuse for this. I am pissed.

In other news, they made a mistake on my paycheck, and I'm not gonna tell them it's there because it made me get more money--they put me in for vacation pay for one more day than I was actually supposed to get. :) Aww, it'd be so tough to fix, so bollocks to them.

Following is my reply to an e-mail I received from a Level 1 noder. His concerns were with my original proposal of changing the Level Advancement system. The noder feared that his writeups on a less-popular topic would hurt him more than it would do him good. As a result, he would possibly not post these writeups, and it would alter his noding behavior. I am sharing my reply in the hope to remove some of the questions and doubts that some noders may have.

Hi [Name witheld]:

Thank you for your comments. I understand that I have stirred up quite a bit of commotion with the initial proposal. On the other hand, this has given me a lot of feedback: suggestions and comments on what people want to see, and how to arrive to a fair and relatively simple Level Advancement system.

In Everything Statistics - September 29, 2001 (2) I have implemented some changes, to address several serious issues that were brought up. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to get feedback from lower-level noders... I understand the fear of "repercussion": like almost everyone on E2, I was facing these challenges when I started noding. But I do encourage you to give me your feedback on the Level Advancement system, especially after the modifications that I have made.

My goal has never been to change "noding behavior". I became motivated to bring some positive changes to the Level Advancement system after looking at all the XP/reputation statistics. Like you said: you reach "XP-Nirvana"; it becomes a pointless criterion to use for leveling up.

As a result: after reaching Level 2, the only thing holding you back from leveling up is writeups. This is where some noders will begin to wonder: do I spend 5 hours on writing a great factual node on, for instance The Fall of the Roman Empire, or do I spent that time on 20 writeups with the lyrics of Favorite Rock Band? The former will receive 10+ upvotes, one or more C!s; the latter perhaps 3 upvotes, and certainly a few downvotes. But gaining XP is never the issue...

I am NOT judging either type of contributions. I believe there is place for a huge diversity of writeups. There is a place for a huge variety of writers; archivers, novelists, factual content writers, poets... you name it. But the current Level-Up system does not treat everyone equally; if the barrier to level up is ONLY the number of writeups, it does not encourage quality factual writing.

It is not fair to those who DO put in the extra effort, and do so consistently. Take a look at riverrun's writeups, or junkpile, sneff... take a look at your mentor's writeups. I ALWAYS read these people's work, since I know that it will be worth the time. They spent the extra time making a thoughtful writeup, and they should be rewarded for it.

I understand that implementing a punishment/reward system would severely alter the rules of the "game". Based on the many comments, I decided to move away from that proposal. What I propose now is a reward-only system. The BASIC rules of the game don't change. You still level up with the same number of writeups and XP as in the present system. But there is a reward system (what I called the Honor Roll). People who continuously write well will be rewarded. They have to write fewer writeups in order to level up.

In the current proposal, NO ONE will drop a level; NO ONE is forced to change their noding habits in order to level up at the same rate they do now. Voting on nodes is still encouraged, because the XP requirements remain in place.

Bottom line: feel free to add those [topic name witheld] nodes you had planned. In fact, being a chemical engineer, I'll be looking forward reading them! It will not damage your progress on E2 in any way; on the other hand, you're highly encouraged to turn those nodes into masterpieces of craftmanship, and have the chance to level up sooner.

Feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions.
Best Regards,

Professor Pi

We were cruising downtown in the Outreach minivan, looking for "our" kids in the dim glow of streetlights, or under the fluorescents of the bus stops. I was getting better at spotting them, although it was my first night out. Something about the stance, the wariness, just jumped out at me after a while. It reminded me of the way you can sometimes tell a dancer just by the way they place their feet when they walk.

I lost track of how many kids I talked to, but I remember thinking at one point that I hadn't realized how hard it would be: I mean, I'm just walking around and hanging out, right? But I know it's going to take me weeks to get used to knowing what's really going on in the streets when all the "good kids" are home watching tv and doing homework. Knowing that the shy 15 year old girl with the sweet smile wasn't pushing her little sister in that baby carriage; knowing that the nervous 14 year old boy was packing heat because you can see the bulge under his jacket, but he can't get rid of it because he needs it for his job running drugs; knowing that the ones who take one panicked look at our Covenant House jackets and beat feet the other way are the ones who need help the worst and will probably not get it in time; knowing that the predators will get too many of these kids in the next month.

And yet, it was the best night I'd had in years. For every kid that took off when they saw us for fear of their pimp, there was a bunch who knew us and said hi. For all the kids that we can't get to in time, at least we can get to some. It feels like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, but hell, if we don't start bailing now, it's sure never going to get emptier.

I think I'm going to like my new job.

Last night, I missed a booty call.

This morning, I found out about it. She called me up again and said, "I don't have to be at work until one today, it's a shame you weren't home last night."

D'Oh!

I was home last night, dammit, I was just out for a burger for a few minutes when she called.

shit.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.