It's getting late. 8:90 pm Walnut Creek, California. Beatiful dark red sunset. The Sims Online is reaching it's final stages. We are supposed to be feature complete tonight. A dinner has been ordered. A buzz of activity spreads throughout the cubes. New code changes are being checked in to Perforce every few minutes. A new server build is on its way. I have been through this before with Sim City 3000 Unlimited but this is much more challenging and exciting at the same time.

I'm waiting for a new server to be up before checking in my code. Finally decided to come out of darkness and write something. I've been lurking at E2 for over a year now and so here I am. Even though I didn't contribute anything yet I feel very much a part of this community. I'm truly impressed with the level of support, friendship and knowledge everyone displays here. Greetings from a very busy and tired (not so)LazyProgrammer!

When I first read that Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon was thinking of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, one thing popped through my mind.

This is going to piss off the Americans.

Damned if I wasn't right.

I mean, this news comes right on the heels of Britain doing what Cauchon's thinking of doing, making the possession of pot an offence punishable by a fine. That's right, no worse than a parking ticket.

I mean, the Bush administration seem to be quite adamant about keeping this drug illegal. And when two of their staunchest allies decide to make a move toward legalization of a drug that most medical organizations agree is far less damaging than alcohol and tobacco, it doesn't exactly help their case. Especially when it's the next door neighbors.

"If you have lax marijuana policies right across the border, where possession of marijuana is not concidered criminal conduct, that invites U.S. citizens into Canada for marijuana uses and that will increase the likelihood that both U.S. citizens and Canadian citizens will bring back the Canadian marijuana across the border for distribution and sale," said Asa Hutchinson, director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Hmmmm... when do I remember this happening? Oh yeah, Canadian Whisky flowing across the border during Prohibition.

"We have great respect for Canada and Britain as well, and if they start shifting policies with regards to marijuana, it simply increases the rumblings in this country that we ought to re-examine our policy," said Hutchingson.

Rumblings!? Christ, the last time I checked, it was a democracy. If the rumblings mean that the people support legalization of this fairly harmless drug, as the polls seem to indicate, it's just stupid to keep wasting billions of dollars fighting it. Doing so isn't doing anything more than making criminals rich, while law enforcement has to waste their time chasing people down for it.

Hello?! Al Capone? Eliot Ness? Remember that?! People tried this before. It didn't work then, and it isn't working now.

I wonder if the Calgary Herald has an opening on their opinions page staff...

Her eyes, her mouth, her features. All that pokes out of the blanket is her face -- expressionless. Every now and then, she rolls over or scoots a little bit closer, puts her hand on my side -- her hot little hand. I can't sleep next to her, there's just something about sleeping so near to someone that means so much to you. Someone that you think is so beautiful that you can't close your eyes, not willingly. So I always lie awake, pretending to be asleep, so she can fall into her tiny coma. When she sleeps -- she for serious falls into her own little coma. While I've only known her for a short time, she seems like all I've ever known. Eventually, I slip into unconciousness, but I'm always the first to rise. I lie silent, and I watch. I wait untill the time says that I'm allowed to try to wake her. There's just something about that person, that person you know in your heart as being the object of your affection -- there's something about seeing that person rise, and knowing you're the first thing that person sees..

I lie silent. The imminent threat of responsibility and reality lurk. I lie silent -- watch her undress. I watch as she daintily pulls her hands through her hair. She hates waking up, so she'll take any opportunity to try to go back to sleep. If I let my guard down, and fall asleep, I'll wake up with her next to me, and it will be much harder to get her moving. She gathers her health and beauty accessories, and embarks on a showery morning adventure. Nothing is ever more exciting than watching her form -- moving about the room, doing the normal things she should be doing. I lie silent, and only watch as she re-enters the room.

"What?" she asks, as if she's doing something wrong. I say nothing, because nothing is wrong. There goes a certain process of her getting ready for work, for school, for the day ahead: Lotion on the arms, legs, and the beautiful tatoo on her thigh -- deoderant on the under-arms, possibly a spritz of perfume, pull back the hair, but no make-up, no lipstick. She doesn't wear makup, but accessories galore. Earrings, and a necklace, but they've got to match. So she fumbles with compairing the right earrings with the right necklace (she is so proud she can wear a necklace now that her neck peircing has healed), but once she finds the right earrings/necklace, the shirt that she's laid out is all wrong... this might go on for ten or fifteen minutes.

Sexy, is something people with her beauty don't have to try to be.

She slips into her undergarments. On fall her clothes. "It's time to go, honey."

*sigh* -- So it is.

I'm feeling hostile today. The pain isn't all that bad, but I am uncomfortable.

No pain killers. No pills of any kind. I need a clear head today. I must stay focused. So much to do. I must be prepared and must stay prepared.

I didn't fight to get this far to give in or give up now. Hell no.

I will fight and I will win.

It's real pain now. Time to get busy. Time to get to work. The best medicine for me is to concentrate.

My mind is the only thing I have control over.

Time to sign off for the night. I had to take the pills, but I did get some work done.

I love E2. It helps me. I love the place and the people I've met here are so helpful and so nice to me.

Goodnight E2.

A day of surrealism

I am not really sure what happened yesterday, but reflection is in order. I awoke at about 5:54 AM, Pacific Standard Time to the lull. No that is not right I awoke to drone off an alarm clock. Now I say I awoke at about 5:54 AM because though my alarm went of at said time, I am not really sure if I was ever awake yesterday, but that is neither here nor there but rather a topic for further inquiry later.

I started my morning ritual, my painstaking process of forcing through a morning pee, shower, and brushing of the hair and teeth. The warm water of the shower startled me as always fooling my conciseness into the belief of being alert and ready for the day. Admittedly I don't feel that well this day, I had quite a bit to drink the night before and far less to eat in the previous twenty-four hours than the average twenty-one year old male should eat. Come to think of it I haven't been eating much lately, it isn't that I am not hungry I have just been too lazy to get to the store and do some shopping. But I digress, the previous nights drinking had good points, it presented the ever-gleeful liquid courage that we have all come to love.

You see, I think we all know I am just about the largest wanker there is when it comes to people of the opposite sex. Some say my timing is just off, but I think I just fully suck at the whole affair. However, as of recent events I have met a rather nice girl that I am actually impressed by at the moment. I took her out the other day and it was a fun date, at least in my mind's eye, but for some reason I can't get over the feeling I buggered it up nicely. I can't recall saying much interesting, I never once tried to hold her hand or anything like that, didn't go for a goodnight kiss or even peck on the check and I don't even think I complimented her once. Now I am probably being over bearing but I don't think I made one date like move the entire night.

So you see, the previous night led to opportunities. I was at some friends' apartment and the girl in question lives above them. She eventually came down to just hang out, and being slightly intoxicated as I was I tried to show more interest than the previous night. This, however, as all things had it's good and it's bad. I think any that know me would say that I am a … well I guess the word is fool, when I am drunk. I tend to spit when I talk, belch loudly, say things without much thought, just a regular ass. To be earnest, I attempted my best "I'm not drunk" stunt ever. I did try to show this girl that I am not just some guy whom she went on a date with, but someone who was actually interested in her. I will let you be the judge of how I did, and just give you the facts.

I sat close to her most the night, engaged in the ever-present banter and other such conversation. I did the arm around her thing, held her hand a little bit and once she was standing in front of me facing away so I did the whole arms around her sort of hugging from behind thing, you know what I am talking about. She was responsive that night, holding my hand back and giggling and the other common response type things, but as I am always the pessimist I think I acted to boy-friendish seeing how we have only gone out to dinner the one time.

That all being said, I still feel pretty shitty through out my shower. Not anywhere close to puck, but just past headache and I don't won't to be up right now feeling. I end up taking a longer than usually shower, the kind where you keep making the water hotter right up until you get out. Something about that helps me feel mildly better, I think two Aspirin and a beagle would have done the trick better.

Get dressed, do the hair, put on some deodorant and off to work I am. I am going in at 7 instead of 6 today, so I get to deal with the wonders of city traffic and I still feel like shit. All I can think about is going home so I can fall asleep on the couch and it is only 6:20 in the morning.

The drive to work was uneventful thankfully, and I end up just sitting in my car listening to the radio for about ten minutes before actually going into the office. I wouldn't want to give them anymore of my time than they already get, I can't stand my job. I get into my desk and log in to my computer. Right now my password at work is "qazxswedc" because I have to change it every sixty days and didn't feel like thinking of anything last time. Not really secure but at least it isn't "qwertyuiop" or "password".

Well, now that I am on my computer in I should log in to the server where all of our real work takes place, but instead I think I will waste a little time checking out the Internet, another daily work ritual. Check out,,,, and that kills a little time and takes the edge off of being at work. I am now ready to start work.

Work. Work is really a bad word for what I do. I read all my email from the last two days, I am only part time and don't come in every day. I have about thirty to forty new emails and half of them I just get because I am on twenty or so team lists. So I delete a good portion of the emails having only read two lines of it. The rest actually mean something. My boss is out for the next two days, so inevitably she has left an agenda of things for me to do over the course of the next sixteen work hours. Unfortunately everything on the list will only take me about three hours to complete. The rest of my time will be spent waiting at my desk for somebody to either call or email the helpdesk.

The previous fact is very important. You see in order to get through next two days of work there is no way that I can finish all this in the next three hours. If I do I will literally have nothing to do because nothing in California every breaks anymore. Everything that breaks resides in Maryland and due to the 3000+ miles of land between here and there it happens to be impossible for me to fix it. So unless I want to be utterly bored, I space out the work I do. So at any time you see me, I have probably only been doing work for the last 15 minutes if that. The rest is spent trying hard to act like I am doing something very important. Fortunately writing a long text document happens to look important to most people.

The day goes by easily enough, a few things actually needed my attention and I almost feel like my being there that day was beneficial for the company. I was more than a "just in case" man today. The drive home is where the day really starts to take a turn to abnormal. My drive consists of 19.7 miles of freeway and about .2 miles of street driving between home and work in either direction.

So I am on the freeway about 2 miles into my drive when I notice something odd. The battery gauge in my dashboard is doing a swing motion. Usually it sits right at 13 volts, but right now it is swinging between 14 and 16. I am now keeping a close eye on that gauge. I roll up the windows to listen to the engine better and I notice that rather than the battery gauge dropping as it should when you pull a load from the electrical system it actually swings up a bit. As I let go of the window switch it jumps to eighteen volts and then comes back down to do it's little swing at 14 volts. Umm, okay that was a bit weird and being the ever inquisitive person I am I want to see it happen again. This time I hold down all four window switches at once and the oddest thing ever happens, my tachometer goes up to full, that's 7000 rpm reading. But my engine hasn't increased in actual rpm, I can tell because it would be about to blow up at 7000 rpm considering I redline at 5000 rpm and rarely take over 3000 rpm any more.

Now I am a little worried that the electric system in my car is about to catch fire and really want nothing more than to just get home. I get home without incident and the first thing I do is pop the hood. I turn off the ignition and get out of the car. I look at the car and my alarm starts going off, but in a quiet weird way. I try to turn it off but my remote control isn't doing anything. I get in the car to start the car again and when I turn the key nothing happens. But it is the wrong kind of nothing, you see my door is still open and right now the open door chime should be chiming and the interior light should be on, but it isn't. The power is completely cut from my car, I get out and look at the battery and alternator again. Frustrated I shut my hood and all of a sudden the alarm goes off full blast now which means I have power again. I start my car back up and expecting to see the swinging battery gauge it just sits right where it should.

That is all just too weird. But, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I am going inside to relax in front of the make me stupid and lazy tube, also known as a TV with satellite connection. I fall asleep. The phone rings and I rush up to get it, but it stops after just one ring. Only thing is that I am so groggy I can't remember if it actually rang or if I just dreamed that it rang. I fall back asleep with the phone next to me. The phone rings again and this time I pick up to hear Kyle on the other end letting me know how he got to his car just in time to avoid a ticket. That is all he had to say and he has to go to work, he will talk to me later he says. I fall back asleep. The phone rings again, please note on the average day the phone in my house might ring twice, now it has rang three times in thirty minutes this is ridiculous. It is Billy, he can tell I have been sleeping and apologizes for waking me. No problem, he is now telling me how he cleaned up his closet and as two three-foot stacks of video games and wanted to know if Zach or I would like any. Umm, I will let Zach know, thanks Billy. Back to sleep I go but this time in my bed, the couch is getting hot and sticky a serious disadvantage to pleather.

I sleep well for the next three and a half-hours in my bed. I awake to the phone once again ringing. This time it is Jason. He tells me he hears I am macking it. Funny though, because I am the farthest thing from a mac. He wants to do something, he always wants to do something but like all of us never knows what this thing is that he wants to do. He is talking about going to Dave and Busters, sounds fun enough and I am nice and rested. My roommate says something about me getting mono because I am always sleeping.

Wait, I do have sore throat and appetite has been off. Jason says I should get tested. I call Conrad for advice. He has had mono. He says it sounds about like how his went except I am not really tired if I am out doing something. He said he was always tired. I should get tested but it will have to wait for Monday to the least, I have no time. I joke with Zach that he should drive because my car will die on us. But I still drive because I want to see if it acts funny again. Necessity is the mother of all fuck-ups and I need to know if my car is going to be reliable to get me to work tomorrow.

We get to Jason's and shoot the shit for a bit. He asks me about my previous date that has been explained in all the detail needed for this and we prepare to leave. But wait, Jason can't go anywhere his sort of kind of girl, no just girl that he goes on dates with sometimes is coming over. This is a common occurrence in our circle of friends. We make one plan but really it is more of a back up plan, like sure I'll do this with you I have nothing better to do. But, something better comes along and we want to do that. Having already made the previous plans we feel obligated and aren't big enough assholes to break plans so we end up doing the backup plan. Usually we have fun anyway, so it doesn't really make a difference. But still is odd how often it happens.

The night rolls by quickly and it is about time for us to leave. We are going to go get Posta for dinner, and if Posta must be explained to you than you probably shouldn't be reading this. I use my keyless entry to open my car doors, Zach and I both get in buckle up, I turn the key to the ignition, and it all goes black. But it is the wrong kind of black, the radio should still be on and now the alarm is going off but very quietly. My car is possessed. I am right out in front of Jason's house but I am lazy and have free minutes so I call him on his cell phone and tell him to come look at my fuct up car. He comes right out, he can't resist looking at a problem and trying to fix it anymore than I can.

We pop the hood, look at all the electrical wires and alternator again. Everything looks fine, so we start with the speculation. It seems alarm related but no alarm would turn off the power to itself that is just stupid. One of the battery cables is new, did I mess up when I made it, no it looks good. Just the way it should be. We get the bright idea to test if the battery is dead, it better not be it is brand new, by connecting jumper cables and then touching them together to make some sparks. This fails, the battery is dead. That is impossible though, I mean the lights came on strong and then just turned off. It can't be the battery. I try the spark test again, this time while putting on the positive cable the battery sparks, except the positive cable is the only one touching and it is impossible to spark if you aren't touching something else. What is going on, now my lights on my car are on too and the car even starts up fine. But wait, when I started the car my Zach and Jason both jump and say they saw sparks from under the hood. That shouldn't happen. I look for myself but see nothing, I have Jason turn off the motor and start it again so I can see, but the power dies again.

What the hell, I am an intelligent guy that actually knows a little about cars and this is making no sense. I try the spark test while Jason goes in to get a screwdriver and crescent wrench. Now I notice that I am actually arcing between the top of the positive terminal and the left side of the battery cable connector. The cable isn't making a connection. That is the problem, so I disconnect the cable and clean the terminal and the connector and reconnect them and it works just like a car should. The only problem is that never looked dirty enough to have prevented a connecting only some of the time. It is all too weird but Zach and I are hungry and still want Posta, besides Jason has better things to do than sit outside scratching his head. There is a girl in his house.

Confused, stumped, tired, lost, I am all of these. The drive to Posta doesn't even seem real. What is going on today, nothing seemed like it should have happened and I am not even sure about anything from the day's events anymore. Had I woke up the next moment it wouldn't even have surprised me. In fact as I write this at 11:56 am the next morning, I am still waiting to awake from my dream to find my self in my bed wearing a pair of gray shorts and hearing the phone ring. That is what would make the most sense. Last night was surreal, I was crawling through life experiencing it as I never have before. It was like I was watching someone else's life last night and it really tripped me out.

I have never felt that way before; not drunk, not high, never. Am I going insane? What if every day is experienced as it was last night? Will I be able to function? I have never been so confused as last night and I feel that reflection is in order.

Today seems normal so far. Everything is as it should be, car acted normal the entire drive into work. Phone hasn't started ringing yet, but then again I havn't started my drive home yet. I don't feel tired at work, I probably don't have mono but rather am just a product of a society that encourages laziness. I mean part of my job is figuring out ways to get a machine to do a job that usually requires a person. I help develop ways to make it easier for society to be lazy, wouldn't you expect the laziness to have rubbed off on me.

Maybe the day wouldn't have been so out of place had I not been so tired earlier. Maybe all I need is more energy and activity. Less couch more running, lifting, and sports. So three hours and twelve pages later I leave you this, I need to get out more and the first thing I am going to do when I get home is see what new movies I have on Pay-Per-View. After all, it's Friday.

As long as hucksters have been selling snake oil to townies, there has been some organization like unto the soap mafia...Probably before that, too, but my history's not great today. And as long as there has been some soap mafia analogue, there has been a fight club analogue. of this i am certain.

Don't be fooled by the Hollywood disguise; don't start to think that just because it's in a movie, this crap doesn't happpen in real life. It's happening right now, in some little shithole town in Iowa. Three drunkards and an irritated DJ in a hotel room after a long day spent selling soap to people who don't care. Before sunup, one of these drunks has been fired after losing an ear in a fight he started in the room. Not my problem, I tell myself; 'lalalalalala', i put my hands over my ears and try to drown it all out.

But the DJ in question is one of my boys. It is my problem, whether i want to get dragged into it or not, because I can't help but worry; I can't help but care. I've got a boy in the field, losing the last of his innocence, and his ability to feel horror and revulsion. Everything's becoming too easy to justify; I can hear it in his voice on the other end of the phone. It isn't fair; his tattered innocence was my prize! It was mine to do with as I chose, and I had wanted to unwrap him from it slowly, and to relish the slivers of ice cold fear that would come with every shred I peeled away. But now it would be lifted off in huge smouldering swaths by the minions and peons of the soap rackets. Every night another star falls from the sky, and I can hear him screaming in his dreams. Fucking barbarians don't even have the wit to savour the pain...

Kim Deal can sing about going to the fair in the heat of summer and have it be a good song.

I hadn't known that the Breeders were doing anything until a few days ago, when I found out that not only do they have a new album, but that they were also playing the twin cities. I was excited; like everyone else on the planet, I'm in love with Kim Deal. The Breeders have a new lineup, again, making this their third or forth incarnation. Kim is the only one to play in all three incarnations, with Kelley the only other holdover from last time. The other three band members, all men, are unfamiliar to me. Apparently two of them are from Fear, and the other one is some East Los Angeles guy. Also, the Deal sisters have apparently moved to East LA, now that I am not living there, which figures.

The band played stuff from all three incarnations of the Breeders, songs from the Amps, Kelley Deal 6000, and the opener from Gigantic, which Kim started playing after audience requests for Tony's Theme. She got a few lines in and then stopped, saying she didn't remember it, saying they weren't that band. This was like being shown a glimpse of heaven and then knowing that I was never going there, since the Pixies split up about the time I became obsessed with them. Despite the lack of Pixies songs, which is a pretty minor point especially when you consider that most bands have never had any affiliation with the Pixies at all, the Breeders put on a damn fine show, so no more about the Pixies here.

The band has a really great interaction with the crowd. This is mostly Kim, but also Kelley and the guy I think is Richard Presley, talk to people and tell bad jokes (Kim: what's the difference between a blonde and a mosquito?). They talk about how long Kelley lived in St. Paul, make jokes about her drug problem. They ask who in the crowd is from Ohio, then call the people who raise their hands liars.

Listening to Kim's voice, and also to Kelley's, since they sound almost exactly the same, I'm glad I don't have an ex who sounds like them. They have the kind of sweet cracked voices that can break you over the phone years after the fact, the kind of voices that would haunt me when I was sleeping. There's something about the Deal sisters that's very appealing. Not in the same way as the drummer for Imperial Teen, the opening act, not in that normal hot chick way. They've got more of that relaxed hotness, the kind that you hang out and watch tv and drink beer with, telling bad jokes at the wrong times. I don't know what it is. What I know is that I need to get laid a lot worse than I did before I went to that show.

The show goes on. My ribcage is a sound system, my organs vibrating. There are points where I can't tell if they're shaking from the volume or the crushing feeling of falling in love. They play Tipp City, Hag, Cannonball, a bunch of new stuff. The opening to Gigantic, which is when I really feel like something in my chest is going to beat its way out. Pacer, Hellbound, the theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Driving on 9, with Kelley on violin. They close with Divine Hammer and a bunch of cracks about Kelley's inlaws being in the audience. Kim and Kelley shake hands with people up by the stage. I get a shirt and walk out, not sure if I feel changed, exultant, or empty.

The day started like any other day. Woke up, showered, had my coffee, put on my lame uniform and caught a bus to work. I had just got back from a 10 day vacation so I was looking forward to working again.

I started my shift and noticed people were acting a bit funny around me all day. People acting funny and weird around me at work isn't really an odd thing, so I shugged it off. At around 12:45 the boss called me into the office for a talk. He sat me down and asked me why I didn't call in for the last three days. I pointed out that I was on vacation and that I had already cleared it with him. He made a stupid stunned face and looked at the vacation time off book like the words confused him. He fumbled with his words a bit and then asked me why I was 4 dollars short in my till. I said I had more than likey made a mistake, that wasn't good enough of a reason for him. He fired me on the spot and told me to take my things and leave out the back.

God bless the union.

Is it my impression, or has June 19 been a good day to a lot of folks? At least when it comes to getting in love? At least it was for me: picture this, it's the last day before an exam, I'm sitting with some friends in the study room, trying like hell to get some studying done, but it's completely hopeless. The day itself had been strange ever since the beginning. That morning, I felt some kind of "spider-sense" warning me:” get shaved today!” I did, unaware how this lifting up of personal appearance would be just one piece of a puzzle that would fit perfectly. Anyway, there I was trying to solve the damn exercise, when finally we gave up. We eventually decided to skip study at all, one of my buddies picks up his mobile and after a few minutes comes bursting in shouting about some place that's full of girls who just invited some friend of his, who just called him asking if we wanted to come. I remember so vividly what I felt that moment: strangely enough I didn't get so scared like I usually do, I actually thought "cooolll" and kinda smiled to myself. So there we went to the place, it was in walking distance from the college, well; everything is, really, since this is a small town. We entered through the door, the atmosphere was very nice, smokey and comfy, just the way I liked it. We headed to the 2nd floor, and then the girls acknowledged my buddy's friend. I sit down in some sort of couches, and started making conversation with a cute girl, amazingly I started having fun: instead of being always afraid of whether or not the conversation is going well or not, I actually start "having" a conversation with a girl. And having fun! It’s amazing. Anyway, fast-forward a bit: that girl has already left, but gave me her number, now I'm talking to another. Her. To the most incredible woman I've ever talked. She's intelligent, sensible; she's everything I've always wanted in a woman. And she's just like me. Later day night we went to a disco to dance, but I didn't try anything, my feelings for her are so strong they are scary.Is she the one? God, what a night.


I went to yoga class in the mirage heat, into the tiled basement of the Quaker house. Humid and dank, tiled in cool institutional tile like the floor of your gradeschool. Dark. There are windows the upper fourth of two walls, holding themselves upright, clean and parallel. Plants wave outside.

There were only seven people there. There was room around everyone; we manuvered around each other's edges. It was quiet and empty.

Outside, it was Art Fair, and the streets were filled with sticky tourists, all sticky no matter what kind of popsicle they may or may not have been licking down to the stick. Silly hats and huge sunglasses slipping down the nose. I just touched the perimeter on my way down, crossing against the edge of the closed street, sets of orange bars splintering from use and use.

My teacher's name is Martha. I wonder what she thinks of having such a name. I don't know that I would have liked it, but it suits her. She is little and compact, and is said to have an extensive dance and gymnastic background. This is easy to believe; she has gynmast's thighs, flips up from mat to feet easy with practice. She is wry in a calm, happy way. No one ever feels caught in a lens under her criticism. She comes over, matter of fact, to shift your ankle.

Midway through class we were doing a series of sun salutations that I personally find are very good although difficult. Sometimes we will have music for this type of action, repetitive motion with repetitive breath long inside you. Inhale up, exhale down to uttanasana. Knees, hands, feet. Again. We did several series, using the music to breathe in rhythm. No vocals. Then.

The last piece she put on did have vocals. "I like his voice; I hope it doesn't annoy any of you," said Martha. I don't think it annoyed any of us.

The voice, a male voice with some backing singers doing harmony, was very deep and round and resonant. It felt as if it had been carved from wood. It echoed off the room, off all our bodies, and the room was full. I felt like a drum, skin stretched over a tambour frame. Everything resonated; my arms came up overhead as if I were not even moving them, fingers vibrating to their very tips. I could feel all of my blood as I tipped forward, downfacing dog, and down, plank position.

The voice was singing hare krishna and hare rama over and over again: the exact mantra you would expect in a yoga class. I have not heard this often in a serious context. The most I have really heard is the Beatles' tinny repetition on My sweet lord. This was entirely different (not to disparage George or anything). The timbre of the voice seemed as important as the words. Here I am; I am calm; I am full. It was so strange and different to hear ritual words sung purposefully, with an actual sense of faith; they seemed physically full.

Up, down.

Then the backing instruments dropped out, and the words suddenly changed. Now it was Amazing grace. I have never liked this song. But here it was suddenly in a very different context, a different melody and harmony, sung with an awareness I had not felt before. I was upside down, flat, lunging forward, all with one set of fluid motions; I was listening to everything, and I could hear everything, and my head overflowed, and then I was upside down again, trying not to cry.


weill in japan: day 17

The second week of classes is over, and yesterday some friends and I commemorated that fact with a trip to the bustling commercial district of Shinjuku. Getting to Friday was quite a challenge, though.

Classes are still very boring, and a chore to get through. Several students have started to talk about skipping classes because of their whole pointless nature. Of course, that would prevent students from receiving the five to ten handouts we receive each day, many of them in annoying large-format A3 size. I have been keeping up on homework assignments, but I don't know how much longer I can hold up. There's still four full weeks to go, after all.

Another annoyance: teachers are supposed to give three breaks each day, from 9:20 to 9:30, 10:20 to 10:40, and 11:30 to 11:40. Every day, one of these breaks is given more than 10 minutes behind schedule or not at all. Result: planning activities with friends in other classes is very difficult. I tried to give my home number to a friend of mine during the 11:30 break, but we spent that time walking to the computer lab as a class. That effectively shot down my plans this weekend, although I will probably still go out solo Saturday and Sunday.

go for a ride

Today, I met up with three other Carnegie Mellon students to visit Shinjuku, Tokyo's booming business and shopping district. We spent much of the first hour there getting hopelessly lost in and around the mammoth Shinjuku train station. This station spans about four city blocks, and has connections to virtually every train and bus system imaginable. Like most big stations, this one has acres of shopping located just steps away. I went to a sporting goods store, but still couldn't find any affordable Japan soccer team merchandise, or any professional Japanese baseball merchandise at all. We did, however, find an arcade across the street.

Milestone: Today was the first time that I played Dance Dance Revolution while in Japan.

The game was DDRMax2 (Dance Dance Revolution 7th Mix), which was one that I had never played before. I was also about two months out of practice when I stepped up, struggled through one song, and failed a second. My friends got some good laughs and photos, though. Three "Light Mode" songs later, I was satisfied but not exactly willing to walk. The DDR machine, along with many other crowd-drawing games like Guitar Freaks, Beatmania, and Drummania, was located in a semi-enclosed ground floor with no air conditioning. Physically intensive games shouldn't be played in 90-degree heat and high humidity.

Because of the large crowds in Shinjuku, we happened to cross paths with a large anti-war protest with hundreds of people gathered to speak on a megaphone. We must have been offered flyers by about 20 different people. This was one of the events that American students were specifically warned about at the pre-departure orientation, and so we made our way through the proceedings as quickly as possible.

While in Shinjuku, we met up with another CMU student, a graduate student in Chemical Engineering. He was very familiar with the area, and showed us to the Tochu Tower (aka the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Tower). Like the Tokyo Tower, a famous tourist trap, the Tochu Tower allows visitors to see beautiful panoramic views of Tokyo. Unlike the Tokyo Tower, the Tochu Tower is free of charge and didn't have as many people visiting when we went. A vending machine, a small cafe, a (closed) souvenir stand and a Print Club photo sticker machine were the only ways to spend money while at the 45th floor observation deck.

The view of Tokyo from this tower was breathtaking. At 7:30 PM on a Friday night, the city was alive. Because of the city's proximity to Haneda International Airport, all of the buildings had bright red beacons on their roofs. Offices and apartment buildings were lit up, and the shopping district glowed brighter than anything else I've seen. In the clear evening sky, Mount Fuji was visible in the distance. I took a ton of pictures, but the quality won't be the best because it was night time. Maybe I'll go back during the day some time.

Dinner was at yet another small noodle place, this time in the basement of one of the department stores. The food was very good -- even though we only had noodles, soup, seasonings, and some gyoza dumplings, it was very satisfying.

Shinjuku has a lot of shopping, but I didn't get to check that out too much. Maybe another time. Our grad student friend pointed out that at the end of the day, a lot of food places in department stores and stations will deeply discount prices to avoid having stock left at closing time. This is true: as we made our way back to our respective homes, a lot of stores were practically disposing of goods, reducing prices by 60% to 80%.

Milestone: My train home was the most crowded I've ever been on, and the first one in Japan to close its doors on me.

Even though my evening ended fairly early, I was exhausted from dragging my full backpack through city streets for hours. I got some ice cream from the station, walked home, and did some laundry.

Like any day, Friday means that a lot of homework is assigned to be done over the weekend. I'll get it done, but I won't let it stop me from pursuing fun in nearby places like Kichijoji.

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