Being a typical Australian, i enjoy a good BBQ. Pretty much doesn't matter what type of BBQ it is, ill like it. Beach BBQ, BBQ with mates, BBQ in the pouring rain, BBQ and drinking copious amounts of beer with mates, in the rain AND on the beach. You name it, im bound to enjoy it. I know many people like this.

However, there is one type i do not enjoy. That is, the dreaded family BBQ. I am (unfortunately?) gifted with having a complete family who also enjoys a good BBQ. Maybe not to the extremes i take it, but they like them nonetheless. However, this also happens to mean that just about every single family gathering is in the form of a BBQ. Christmas? "Whats on the BBQ today?", Easter? "Fire up that BBQ son, we are gonna make us some grub!". Non holiday gathering? "Cmon mate, fill up that barbie, we got a mob to feed". I swear to god, someone died and at the wake, we had fucking BBQ hamburgers.

Anyway, yesterday we had one of the non holiday BBQ gatherings. Now normally, these occur when i am (luckily) working, so i miss them. However, my parents plotted against me and had this one BEFORE i had to work. Now this might just be my family, but they seem to have this thing for telling stories when a BBQ is held. Not recent stories either. Its full on nostalgia at my place. They also forget parts of the story, and this is the precise reason that i hate this type of BBQ. My dad, grandpa AND uncle all tell stories, and each one of them get stuck on totally irrelevant parts.

You remember that time down at belair when we were kids? we were talking too...uhhhhh...now what was his name? Jimmy? Wait no no it wasnt him. Darn now what was his name? Do you remember dad? Darn, anyway we were talking and...god what was his name??? (5 minutes later...), ANYWAY, we were talking to him and then this car DROVE OFF A CLIFF AND KILLED EVERYONE INSIDE JUST TWO FEET AWAY FROM US...now, what was his name again? i cant think of it...

Thats the kind of thing im talking about, getting stuck on the most irrelevant part of the story, which should take 2 minutes to tell, but ends up being a 30 minute discussion of a name they cant remember of a guy that meant nothing to them. Thankfully, this is when an alarm in my head went off, reminding me i had to get to work 3 hours early yesterday.

Remind me to NEVER see family again at a BBQ.

Ack! It's Palm Sunday! Er...I mean, HOORAY!

I can't believe I forgot. I mean, missing church on Palm Sunday is one thing, but not even remembering what day it is? Criminy. But on the other hand, I'm not sure where I would have gone anyway. I no longer feel any connection to the two churches I've attended since we moved back to San Diego, and part of the joy of going to church on one of the great feast days is to share the event with others. I know, technically I would have been sharing it with others; just not anybody I actually know. That would probably have just made me feel depressed. Gladness or penitence I can get behind, but depression when everyone else is singing hosannas just ain't my cup of tea. So maybe my staying home was for the best.

Uh-oh. This means Easter is just over the hill. And Easter Sunday last year was, for entirely personal reasons, like a train wreck in slow motion. Most merciful God, please, please don't let this Easter be like last year's. Yes, I know today was Palm Sunday and I wasn't in church. My bad. Won't happen again. To recap, Easter--not like last year's. Thanks. Amen.

Hey, remember that chapter of Neon Blood I was working on, on Thursday? I took off from writing on Friday to spend the day with Angela, meant to write on Saturday but didn't because I let myself get obsessed with all that Network Solutions nonsense, but finally got back to it today. In fact, right before I took a break to run errands and node this, I wrote the scene's climax which occurs in a line of dialogue it must have taken half an hour to write. Geez, I hope it doesn't read like a line that took half an hour to write! I also hope that the chapter, almost all of which consists of two people talking, isn't a snoozer. Hmm. Maybe they can take a break halfway through and have a gunfight.

Borged

I am a veteran computer consultant1.  My time is sold in blocks of time ranging from 15 minutes to several consecutive months of burn rate coding.  I am well compensated for this effort.  I'm even the last to go when staff reductions take place, because in many cases I'm the only one who knows how to keep the website running.  So far the offshore coders in Bollywood haven't found a way to steal my clients.

Despite all of this, almost everything I do for my clients today will be so routine and mechanical that I am essentially filling the role of a bot most of the time.  In fact, there's probably a case to be made that I AM a bot in some senses.  Perhaps the Turing Test had it backwards, and the critical tipping point for human - computer convergence isn't when they can fool us, but when we can finally fool them.  

Dude Ex Machina2

For all intents and purposes, I'm symbiotically connected to this machine via a funky mechanical interface: the keyboard and mouse.  It's slow but effective, and I'm pretty adept with it. That vast collection of kludges and patches named Windows is my constant companion, and together, we can accomplish an impressive amount of work in a day.  I actually am just one component in the system, critical to it's operation, but not intrinsically more important than the others.  Unless every component is working, right down to the last letter on this battered keyboard in front of me, nothing much happens.

Approaching Asymptote 

For all intents and purposes, I get up in the morning, jack into the cyberspew and just push digital dirt around for a few hours every day.  In most cases, the rest of the machine is waiting on me cause it's way faster than I am.  At the moment, I've got 300 MB or so of database backup coming in prior to archiving on a CDROM, so there's a gap to chat.  

It reminds me of doing a big copying job on a good Xerox machine.  You fuss and tune the job so that you and the machine are in constant Zen motion, pushing the whole thing faster and faster until one of you screws up, or hits asymptote.  Like a mad monkey masturbating.  

Here's the odd thing; in my role as a component of the Borg, I'm sort of a poster boy Knowledge Worker.  My productivity is somewhere near 100% when I'm working (not when I'm noding tho ;-).  I consume almost no resources in doing my job beyond a healthy dose of electrons to power all the computers and the stereo.  

Together, the Borg and I provide a significant financial database resource for use by hundreds of thousands of users spread around the globe.  We're selling pure information.  We don't create any tangible goods, that consume resources and spew pollution of some sort or another. 

In the words of the farsighted Nicholas Negroponte, "Sell bytes not atoms." 

Even now, in the dark days following the Dot Bomb meltdown, we are economically viable.  

Reporting live from the belly of the Borg,

-Gomer

===================&===================

1 I enjoy reading daylogs but I still don't totally understand what's supposed to go in them yet, so here's an a priori mea culpa if this is misplaced...
2
  "The dude from the machine" Corrections welcome, I'm not a native Latin speaker... 

It's Palm Sunday, my favorite christian holiday - but it also is the big hint that we're pretty well into spring and soon it'll be summer!

Well we're finally in Ohio going to get 70 degrees for more than a day - but then there is rain being predicted for the end of the week.


A tribute to the holiday

Matthew 21:1-11 : New International Version

The Triumphal Entry 

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the
Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to
them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will
find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them
and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell
him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right
away." 
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the
prophet: 
    "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 
       'See, your king comes to you, 
   gentle and riding on a donkey, 
       on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' " 
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks 
on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread 
their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from 
the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that 
went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, 
   "Hosanna to the Son of David!" 
   "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" 
   "Hosanna in the highest!" 
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" 
The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." 
Well, I'm off to a preschool art show this afternoon, at my nephew's Montessori school, something that's bound to be a new experience.

I'm reminded of the one(?) and only time I ever tried to do something "creative" with an ink dispensing instrument. In first or second grade, for some reason I had to go to the room across the hall from my class. It was dark, I was alone, and I had to wait some ungodly amount of time for the teacher - a fairly tough character who probably felt like she had to prove that she didn't give preferential treatment to the token white kid.

While I was waiting, I took a marker and drew on the armrest of my desk. I was on autopilot, and I'm pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, I had a completed picture on the pale polished wood, and I allowed myself to see what it was. It was a spaceship (one of those sporty two-seater models), and I was convinced it was an absolute masterpiece.

It was so good, in fact, that I couldn't wait for the teacher to come back so I could show it off. I probably thought that they would keep the desk permanently on display in the principal's office. Instead, her reaction was a far more typical one, and after scrubbing the desk cleaner than I found it, I did go see the principal, but not for the accolades that were obviously in order.

I never did try to draw anything again after that, but I don't know if I should blame my own tendency to want to please people or an inherent lack of ability. At any rate, ghetto teachers in the eighties were probably under strict instructions to prevent any more graffiti writers. Montessori teachers, on the other hand, may be trying to churn out as many as possible, providing that they're instilled with a strong sense of social responsibility.

So here we are, well into the war on Iraq, the primary sources of resistance have been defeated and now the questions begin to well up. Was it worth it? What's next?

Let's start with "Was it worth it?" I don't think the United States took an extreme hit as far as world opinion is concerned. Of course there was not near as much support as one would like, but many countries aided in the coalition's effort and it's unlikely that anybody is terribly upset to see Saddam Hussein removed from power. Civil unrest reached its greatest heights since Vietnam, but the majority of American people supported the President's handling of the situation.

Many of those protesting the war felt that oil was the primary reason for the war. I doubt it. Certainly, I believe the US will exercise influence and end up cutting a pretty favorable deal to help defray the costs of war, and we will end up in a better position in future oil trading. But, do I think that our sole intention of going to war was to pirate the oil reserves of the Iraqi people? That seems a little fictional for me. Undoubtedly, there are possible scenarios that could be created to imply this fact, but I do genuinely believe that the elimination of a threat was just as big of a factor in this war. The question now is was the threat eliminated, or was it simply relocated to Syria.

Did the Iraqi people gain anything from this war? There is no doubt that the potential for a much better quality of life exists without Saddam Hussein in the picture. Was this increase in possibility worth the bloodshed of some civilian casualties? Instances were portrayed of tragedies where some civilians were harmed and killed, but how does one measure the death of a few against the liberation of an entire country of people. And will the liberated be able to take control of their own futures without drowning in complete anarchy?

I guess all this rambling has lead to the following conclusions on my part. I don't think the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq. I don't think oil was the primary reason for the war, but I do believe that it was a definite factor. I think the sacrifice of a few civilian lives was worth it to rid a country of an oppressive and deadly regime. There is no way to completely eliminate the risk to a civilian population in an urban war, and I firmly believe that the regime intentionally endangered the Iraqi's with their tactics. The Iraqi people now have the potential to become a great nation, but that is by no means certain at this point. The most difficult part of this regime overthrow remains, and that is empowering a strong government that the people can trust and support.

Sometimes I'm strong.

Sometimes when I set my heart on a goal, I can achieve it, despite any or all adversity.

The past week has not been such a week. I have had one primary objective: ask out Kate. This has been my objective for several weeks now, but this week in particular.

My success rate is, amazingly enough, 0%. I fear I am entering the Friend Zone.

On Monday I didn't see her.

On Tuesday I spent hours with her. Everytime I was going to ask her out, we started discussing religion, love, sex, literature, relationships, or music and I couldn't bring myself to ruin the moment by doing something as foolish as ask her out.

On Wednesday I smiled as we passed eachother in the halls rushing to class.

On Thursday I didn't see her.

On Friday I spoke to her for 5 minutes as I was waiting for my friend Steve.

On Saturday I went to see the production of Hamlet at my school that she co-produced. I got to shake my fist at her in jest, and applaud her when she was called on stage at the end, and then she was off to the cast party or whatever and I came home.

Tuesday was my chance, and I blew it.

But you don't care.

Ok, I thought things were gonna be bad, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine them THIS bad.

My husband has turned me in to Social Services for child neglect, apparently with the aim of having them declare me an unfit mother and taking my children to live in Maryland with his sister.

Yes, my house is messy, abominably so, but my children are healthy and happy, they are well fed, they see the doctor regularly, eat a healthy diet, are clean and clothed... my husband doesn't see this, apparently. He didn't even talk to me about it, just took off with the kids this morning and the first thing I know, social services is knocking on my door with the sherriff and a state trooper, saying they've had a report of child neglect and, by the way, can they look through my car because it's been reported that I'm using drugs.

I don't see how this can get worse, but of course that's what I said last time...


April 11, 2003 April 27, 2003

Hworrlllllkrokkuhh!

I'm definitely turning out to be a writer. Promptly after waking up this morning, I raced to the bathroom, where I just as promptly threw up all over the sink. Now, a normal person would wonder, for instance, what has caused them to vomit, if they're sick, etc. My first thought, however, was:

Now, is that five l's, or six?

This turned out to be rather insignificant anyway, as I puked again shortly afterwards, allowing me to spell it the other way as well, should I so desire. I do:

Hworrllllllkrokkuhh!

I think one of the later images of the day sums it all up nicely, a few graying men at the back of the crowd snapping pictures with their digital cameras. Didn't notice them until after the first two dances, when I'd run out of partners and had to sit down. The five of us didn't think of that before we got there, 3 men and 2 women; the proper gender balance is of paramount importance in these things (unless you're a 10-year-old-girl dancing with her sisters).

We were at the Carcasonne community center in Eastern Kentucky, near Whitesburg, for the first square dance of the summer season. Lisa had driven up the mountain, past Old Regular Baptist churches and outhouses -- a winding road, with no room for two cars to pass, we had to run off the road in our minivan few times to get around people coming down. We were as far into rural America as you can get, and stereotypes sometimes held true but more often not. Those digital cameras represented that for me, you could notice pictures printed out on inkjet printers posted around the ancient building, once a schoolhouse.

We started out the day with fusion of another sort, I suppose: Scott and Jenny, Lisa's friends, cursing like sailors and serving up breakfast bowls of rice, spinach, eggs and Vietnamese chili sauce, in a cozy hollow next to a creek, down the street from Jenny's three sisters. Sisterville, they called it. Jenny spent the morning reading Scooby Doo in the world's most unaffected voice to their 3-year-old son; I wonder how old he'll be when he notices the Penises of the Animal World chart in their bathroom.

Morning spent with various organizations we're interning with this summer. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth are, from what I can tell basically two amazing grassroots organizers who organize against the environmental, health, and economic impact of coal mining. The Center for Rural Strategies organized the campaign against CBS' Real Beverly Hillbillies show, far thinking strategists with whom I'll be working, though they're hung up on using me only for computer work -- that'll change fast, I'm sure. Appalshop, is the paradigm of a community media organization, they do amazing work and lots of it. Every last person though, an amazing organizer, brilliant, and left as all get-out, another great surprise.

Lunch at Ramey's Diner, one of three places to eat in the area besides fast food -- though the third depending on whom you listen to, is owned by an evil oil baron who only pays minimum wage. After lunch we head up the side of a mountain, off-roading in our rental minivan, to visit a strip mine. I'm no great descriptive writer, but imagine Mount St. Helens without trees growing back, or the Moon, sprayed over with water until it becomes muddy and sparsely dotted with bits of sprayed-on topsoil and grass seed, with drainage ditches running through the whole thing. And that's what it means for an area to be returned to its natural state after the mining company has left. If you live in Florida, this is what Tampa Electric Company has wrought. We all took souvenir pieces of coal -- there was so much left after the mining. Headed back to the Super 8, one of two places to stay in the area. Marina and I went down to the local Food City, bought watermelon, cheese, that cheap, airy Italian white bread that supermarkets sell for $0.99 a loaf, and something called an Oreo Delight which looked simply too fattening not to be good. Passed on the numerous cheese logs though, after explaining what they were. We made a mental note to bring Tahini.


As mentioned, I'm going to be living with 3 other amazing kids in Whitesburg, KY for the summer. Any noders in the area? We'd love to meet up with you sometime over the summer, msg me if you're interested.

bindlenix and I have just gotten back from seeing Marcel Marceau at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Following is a review of the performance (spoilers) and some digressions.

I have no experience of the performance art of mime. I can identify the tropes: the painted face, the high waisted pants, the window wall, pulling rope. I have some inkling that it is a type of Parisian street entertainment, like Punch & Judy or the Harlequinade.

In the performaning arts I am not a hero-worshipper. I have found that in the area of musical performance age is not any guarantee of those elusive qualities that create a transcendent performance. To put it quite baldly, I was quite unsure as to whether or not this 80 year old man would be capable of a good show. Further, one the discernment of such I might not be capable. But if should never have seen him, I would have only the slightest idea of what expression the performance tradition he represents is capable. I would be in the position of Averroes, confounded in an attempt to understand Aristotle's descriptions of tragedy and comedy as storytelling without any example by which to imagine.

Each pantomime was opened by a title placard mounted on a scroll, held by one of Mr Marceau's proteges. The first was "The Creation of the World". The music for this piece seemed to be from a slow movement of one of the Mozart Horn Concerti. As the light came up on Mr Marceau, I had the thought that one without foreknowledge of the Christian creation myths, one might not have any conception of the intent of the sign-language-dance-like movements depicted. Like Haydn's oratorio The Creation, the Adam and Eve story brought the pantomime to a close. I was amused by the interaction between the snake and Eve, Eve and Adam, but suspicious at the comic nature of the interaction, and unsure if the expulsion from the Garden was tragic enough.

The second pantomime, "The Public Garden", took a lighter tone. Starting as a statue in a Parisian garden, Mr Marceau depicts the many visitors that can be observed in such a venue. A dandy, an elderly couple, a child with a ball, a man with an ice cream cart, a balloon salesman, a woman with a perambulator, a grandmother with many children, a street sweeper. The series of amusing studies ends with the statue again, creating a round formal structure out of what was a series of variations.

The third tableaux was titled "The Bird Keeper". It was one that I felt had a great deal of pathos even though it had comic moments. The action begins with Mr Marceau circling a spotlight, defining the bars of a large aviary. Having given us most of the setting, he opens a window towards the audience. Now the story begins. One by one, the bird keeper tempts a bird out of the aviary, and tosses them out the window. The first bird flies away without incident. The second bird, it is demonstrated, comes back, then is thrown out again and the window slammed shut. The third refuses to be tempted out of the cage. The bird keeper must enter the cage to catch it, whereupon he discovers himself locked inside. He circles the inside of the aviary, a signal of closure, retreats from the foreground, and begins to flap his hands and arms, himself becoming a bird. This tableaux comes to formal resolution, however the action of the end is uncertain. The bird keeper could have gone mad from isolation, might have metamorphosized into a bird, or may be dreaming of the same escape he offered the birds.

A courtroom drama was the topic of the fourth pantomime. Mr Marceau played the parts of the prosecutor, the attorney for the defense, the judge, and the accused, taking the part of the court bailiff to break between roles. I found it rather long, except for one moment in which the prosecutor relays the crime, a story inside a story, in mime.

The fifth pantomime was "Youth, Maturity, Old Age, and Death", which, according to the program note is a particularly famous etude of Mr Marceau's. As Mr Marceau walks in place, his posture proceeds through these ages of man. Between each era, his left hand rose and drew a curtain from above his forehead. As the lights dimmed on the death of the time traveler, somewhere in the audience behind me a small child lost his attention and cried. While unintended by the performer, it made a compelling suggestion of rebirth.

The second half began with three pantomimes as the comic character Bip: "Bip as a Lion Tamer", "Bip as a Street Musician", and "Bip and the Dating Service". After the first half, I found these pantomimes amusing, but I really could have foregone them in favor of more serious works. It's a personal failing, I know.

The finale was (I'm told by the program note, another celebrated tableaux) "The Mask Maker". In this tableaux, Mr Marceau changes facial expressions as he mimes the placement and removal of various masks. It culminates in quick changes between the masks of 'tragedy' and 'comedy', however the joyous mask becomes stuck. Attempts to pull it off do not work, after some sobbing (while wearing the opposite expression), a hammer and chisel are employed. Eventually the mask breaks and the stagelights dim.

Having eaten dinner, returned home, and put my thoughts together on the matinee, I am deeply impressed. I feel as though I have experienced a means of thick communication altogether new to me. I am amazed at both the structure of story and the depth of pathos that can be communicated in a performance tradition that has such origins in comedy and light entertainment.

yesterdaytomorrow

The Very Strange Ordeal of Baron von Pajamapants

Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Secuity Task Force

I'm writing this at 3:04 a.m. (Daylight Savings Time), sipping a gin and tonic with a lime wedge as thick as the drink is deep, waiting for a frozen pizza to bake in my oven. What hath brought me to these depths? Well, good reader, sit back, make yourself a G&T, and I'll tell you the story.

A little after 8:30 last night (I had just finished watching The Simpsons), I went upstairs to gather my notes. I'm working on a group project for my Business Communications class, and although that may sound like a joke of a class, it's more work than I put into any of my "real" classes (it's work mainly because in graded speeches, construct counts more than content, so everything needs to be "just so"). We were all four of us to get together to put together our information on Powerpoint slides (yuck!). I got an IM from my friend Kyle asking if I was up for hanging out. I wasn't able to do so, since I had to meet the rest of the group at 9:00. I told Kyle this; he suggested that we do something later.

At ten to nine, I started towards my designated meeting place, the computer lab in on of the campus's class buildings. My roommates gave me the obligatory you're-not-actually-going-to-do-work?! shpiel that occurs whenever I have such an appointment. (Apparently, as a Political Science major, I have less work than anybody they've ever even heard stories about.) Only one other person of the group, a girl named Hope, was already there. Well, I was a few minutes early--a personality quirk of mine is that if I don't show up at least ten minutes early for something, I'll be late. I excused myself to the bathroom, and when I returned, Amy, a pretty Asian girl, also part of my group, was also there. We got to work then, because the fourth member, Abbey, was apparently not going to show. Well, that worked out okay for me--Hope and Amy were lookers, and Abbey's actually kind of scary-looking, with a very freaky-looking square jaw and a perpetual mean look on her face (I don't actually know her well enough to judge her true personality, though, so I can only describe the impression she sets). My superficial maleness was finally being rewarded! Ironic, considering the subject we were covering was Liz Claiborne's domestic violence prevention programme (not that I'm a domestically violent kind of person, or so inclined to be, but it's definitely a female-centric topic). I got to ogle them a bit for about two hours. At around ten after eleven (a funny name for a time if you think about it), we finished up, and parted. Now, Hope and I happen to be seniors, and a perk of seniority is priority in housing; as it so happened, both of us have occupied specialty housing semi-off-campus for the past two years, next door to each other, although we never really got to know each other. Still, we were going the same direction, so we walked home together--I got to know more about her in that two-minute sojourn than in two years of living a hundred feet away. I should mention to the reader, however, that this is not to establish Hope as a potential romantic actor in this tale, but rather, simply to recount the events of the night.

I got home, and Kyle came up to the house to hang out. He had gotten me a copy of Julio Cortázar's short stories at a used-book sale, so he came by to drop it off. It was a cool gift--I had gotten him turned on to JC, having only read the original Spanish myself in high school (and thanks to a lucky find at a Barnes & Noble), but this one was translated. I'll read <<Continuidad de los parques>> first to see how good a translation it is. Now Kyle, being my best friend, and sharing many of the same tastes in movies, music, etc., spends a lot of time up here at my house, so you, the reader, may be suspecting, as my roommate Scott often chides me, that there is some homosexual attraction there. Put that out of your head immediately. We were only upstairs in my bedroom because Scott was downstairs studying. Well, after about an hour and a half, we decided to go to Wal-Mart: it was after midnight, we were college students, and I was hungry.

A few facts I've forgotten to mention so far, which may or not be red herrings (we'll find out by the end of this tale):

  1. Between my return and Kyle's arrival, I had changed my pants.
  2. My new pants were a looser, lighter pair of cotton pants that I often use as pajamas.
  3. Being mid-April, it was warm enough to walk to Wal-Mart, even in my light pants.
  4. Kyle's self-loathing about his weight--which is not really a problem, but he tends to be rather obsessive--contributed to our hoofing it.
  5. Kyle left his CD-player and my DVD copy of The Matrix that he was going to borrow in the house until we got back.

We went to Wal-Mart, about a twenty-minute walk one-way, rambling about the same type of bullshit we always discuss (at one point, I gave a dissertation on Esperanto grammar). Whilst there, I picked up some Ivory soap, contact lense solution, and a Tony's Frozen Pizza (plain, original crust--I'm a very boring person). Kyle remarked that he didn't know I wore contact lenses (the response was that I'm usually too poor to afford the lense-cleaning solution, so I end up unable to wear them for stretches at a time). I said that one thing I'd always wanted to do was to wear one contact lense and a monocle. He correctly surmised that in so doing, I would instantly become inquisitorially argumentative (in an obviously fake German accent: "Zo, Nicholaz, vat colour iz zis? Purple?! Surely you yest! Ze eye can plainly zee that it is marroon. Purple conzists of equal parts red unt blue, but zis has a dezidedly reddish tint to it!"). I used the automated self-checkout, since at 2:00 a.m. there aren't many registers open, and the few that were had queues. My change popped out, including the new Alabama-theme quarter. I remarked, "Oh, it's got some guy sitting in a chair," then upon closer inspection in better light, I realised that "some guy" was Hellen Keller. Oops. Well, I had to tell the old "how did Hellen Keller's parents punishe her?" joke, and we started home. The 2:00 a.m. traffic consisted of a very suspiciously slowly-moving police car, which we watched until it passed, just to be safe (we could have been jaywalking or some stupid shit like that) and my friend Jim, who offered us a ride home. We were content to walk, since it was finally warm enough to do so (the weather in western Pennsylvania is about as fucked-up as you'll find; I once, as a college tour guide, experienced three seasons in forty-five minutes: winter, autumn, and spring, in that order! Needless to say, that prospective student never registered for classes).

We finally got back to my house, and as I reached into my pocket, I realised that my keys were not in there. They had been in my other pants, looped around my belt (due to an unfortunate incident a year ago where a crazy chick was stalking me, waiting for me to drop my keys so she could steal them, but that's another story, I always keep them tied to my person, but this time I had accidentally foregone the pants they had been attached to). When I changed pants, I left the keys on the desk, not expecting to leave the house again that night. Well, never fear, surely Scott, who being pre-med, spends most of his time awake and studying while drinking "forties" of malt liquour, was still awake! The lights being on attested to this mistaken conclusion. I knocked on the door, and rang the doorbell, but there was no answer. I looked inside, peeking in through the window; the lights were on but no one was home (a fitting metaphor for my life). A couple more rings of the bell; still no answer. Plan B: I had Kyle hoist me to a broken window by the stairs, maybe I could call in for someone's attention! "Scott!? Aaron!?" I yelled, head inside, to either of my roommates who might be home to hear me. No response. Those sons-of-bitches were actually sleeping? Then it hit me: what about Christian? My third roommate, who spends many nights with his fiancée, often in her house next door, might be able to come to my aid. I had Kyle let me down, and banging my head in the process, knocked the left lense out of my glasses. It was kind of like the monocle I'd always wanted! Ironic. I went over next door, looking to see if any lights were on before I bothered anyone there. There weren't any such indications, but there was an emergency call box on the wall. I used it to phone my own house, hoping that maybe Scott was actually upstairs studying, and would answer the phone. Maybe he just didn't hear the doorbell? It rang until I got the fucking answering machine--taunted by the sound of my own voice! (I really sound like that? Damn. Maybe I should do people a favour and just not say anything.) Kyle and I debated other semi-lawful entry techniques while I took out my wallet to get my emergency eyeglass screwdriver. At least I'd be able to see. Options considered included going in through the kitchen window (which turned out locked), using the back door (also locked), and forcing open the door (the top looked ready to give, but I couldn't forcibly push open the lock mechanism). Even less compelling was the option of going on the roof and enterring through Scott's window (it wasn't that I was concerned with awakening Scott, as Kyle was; I actually know this would have worked, but we had no roof access from the ground).

At this point Kyle suggested getting the college security personnel to let us in. They would have a key, and make regular rounds, so I figurred I'd just wait around until someone came by. At this point, I discovered that it was about 2:20 a.m. I didn't have a watch; I had to ask Kyle. I really didn't want to bother security, however. A few weeks ago, my friend Thom and I had a little incident that resulted in him losing his position as a Resident Assistant and both of us nearly getting arrested. It seems we were the only people ever caught stealing road signs and barrels. Let that be a lesson: forties and gin and tonics don't mix. As a result, I've been trying to keep a low profile from security lately, especially from the actual police officers on the security staff. However, the low-level grunts who go on rounds I'm still in good with, and I wasn't in the least bit tired, so I was content to wait for one of them to show up. Kyle, however, now wanted to get some sleep, and ever the nice guy that he is, wouldn't let me stay on my porch alone. Reluctantly, after fighting this proposal for about fifteen minutes, I started down the road with Kyle towards the security office. I made sure to take the route I knew my security allies would likely come by in the opposite direction (but had no such luck).

As we approached the security office, Kyle suddenly left me to my own devices, parting ways towards his room. The security office is located in one of the college buildings that are always open. Students go in there at all hours to study, or use the computer lab, so I thought maybe Scott was actually in here (he often goes there about this time of night, and has actually had sex in said building). I went inside first, since if he had his key and was around I wouldn't have to bother with security, but he wasn't anywhere to be found. There was a strange cult of students huddled around a computer, eyeing me up suspiciosly as I walked past, but none of them was Scott. I sadly made my way to the office. I went in, and luckily, the officers I was cool with were the only ones on duty. I told my story, and they gave me a lift up the hill, where one of them let me in. I picked up my bag from Wal-Mart that I had left on the porch, and went to the kitchen to fire up the pizza and mix a gin and tonic. That brings us to 5:07 a.m., two hours later, and I'm now going to get some sleep. Maybe.

Oh, yeah--Kyle's radio is still here. I'll have to get that to him tomorrow/today.

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