I have a new cat. His name is Zathras, and he's fine orange neutered male, a friendly soul. And boy do I wish he were not mine.

The reason Zathras joined my house is that I lost another friend. In December I lost Ted. On Friday I served as pallbearer for Helen. And now Tom is dead.

Tom Newton had been my friend for 22 years. We we're roommates, played in a garage band together. When I needed a favor, Tom came. When he needed a catsitter for Zathras, I came.

It is difficult to sum up long term friendships in few words. Tom was quiet man, a bit shy, who worked to live but really wanted to be an artist. He went to business school because his parents wanted him to eat. He studied jazz guitar. For a while, I was his Mac guru, then he got started and became mine. He was one of the first people doing digital transfers of art images, but because he wasn't one of the money men, he didn't make it with the business.

Tom hardly ever dated. It wasn't that he didn't like girls. Partly it was becasue he was shy. Partly it was because of guilt. HIs father died from congenital polycystic kidney disease when Tom was in high school. The death was slow and agonizing, and affected my friend deeply. Years later he would only date self-destructive women, the kind you don't bring home to mother though he was a big believer in family. He told me once, and only once, that he didn't want to put any woman through that. You see, Tom had the disease as well.

That was like him. He didn't complain. He just helped people, laughed and made them feel good. I was stunned when his family shared some of the nice things he'd said about me.

So now I have Zathras to join Boris and Virgil. He's a good cat, and I'll give him a good home. But it won't be better than the one he left.

Day-log a.k.a. Bigmouth strikes again

This is very much a true story, dating back well over half a year now – but I don’t think it would have been safe to node back then, and even with hindsight I’m dubious. Either way, this is an account of a set of the most important events in my social life to date. Names are disguised for obvious purposes. No exact dates are given either, because I don’t know them.

A Friday evening in mid-Autumn 2002.
I was going round to John’s house – his parents were away for the weekend and he was having a few mates round to stay over. Of course, the atmosphere was going to suck though – he and his girlfriend of nearly two years (who happened to be one of my best friends – and without realising I was probably in love with her aswell) had had quite a fall out. Unfortunately, due to a communication lapse somewhere, John had assumed the relationship was over – and Anna was quite adamant that it was far from it. Of course, however, I had not spoke to Anna since they started arguing so I figured they’d split up – I also gathered they had split up as John was being encouraged very easily by our other friends that evening to phone up a girl called Jenny that he liked from his Geography class and invite her round – to no avail however, as her phone was off. The night went on, but as a general no-one had a nice word to say about Anna – even though she was meant to be very close friends with 2 of them – Paul, and my best friend since nursery, Rob – who were being particularly disgraceful by their standards. I did not speak up though – I felt part of a minority for even thinking about how unnecessary it was.

The next morning.
The night had passed in a fairly rough manner, including rather unnecessary attempted pranks on my sleeping carcass, which I can laugh about now. Either way, on the walk home, I send a txt message to Anna asking how she was that morning, considering whatever had happened in the preceding week. I got a reply just minutes later however saying something along the lines of,

‘I don’t know what to do… I can’t wait around for him to decide whether he wants me or not.’

Erm, woah… from what I understand, he doesn’t – the first time I saw the breakdown in communication as being obvious. That, of course, followed by an unprecedented,

‘Did he say anything about me last night?’

Crap. I can’t lie. But I can bend the truth nicely to keep me as neutral as possible, right? I followed up with,

‘Er, not really, no-one really seemed that bothered or sympathetic about the situation though.’

That evening.
Yeah, so that didn’t work. I’d gotten a fair number of messages throughout the day asking me to specify what sort of unsympathetic things had been said and by whom. I did not want to out-and-out lie to her, but in hindsight I probably ought to have. I just said I couldn’t think of anything specific (even though I could have probably reeled about 10 phrases off the top of my head) but she asked to meet up with me later because she needed to talk about it, and I really had to oblige.
So I did meet up with her, and even then I couldn’t bring myself to grass in my friends totally – especially as I had been friends with Rob for my entire life – but the others not so long, and Rob was really the only person I would judge my relationship as being more important than my relationship with Anna of my friends that were there the previous day. But she did start to blurt out names and asked me to say if they’d said anything nasty about her. And I didn’t lie – I just used the, ‘unsympathetic about the situation’ phrase many times to signify the literal translation of, ‘they said you were a slut’.
She was distraught though – a complete contrast to John, who seemingly didn’t even care. She cried in my arms and asked me never to be a bastard and such like. I had to leave though, I was supposed to be going out and I was late as it was. The following week. At some point, John and Anna must have sorted things out during the week with some sort of face to face conflict – this cleared things up though between them, they knew where they both stood and they had agreed to still date but take it slower instead.
(Note: During this quarrel, Anna had managed to say something along the lines of, ‘I know what you were saying on Friday’. That’s fine... but it becomes very important later on.)

The next Friday evening.
I had gone out once again, with the same crowd of mates, but this time to the cinema. However, the whole evening, everyone was acting very strangely – but moreso than anyone else was John, Paul and especially Rob. By this, I mean strange whispering – usually across me and what seemed to be deliberately loudly but in none of these instances did I even think to listen to what they had to say, basically because I didn’t suspect any problems at this point. However the mood was becoming very outlandish and quickly – but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
We walked home that evening – which we usually would, as even though it was dark there was a fair number of us so we felt nice and safe. On the way home though, everything came together. It was so simple. Paul and Rob were making comments to which John would respond to and general dialogue went something along the following,

‘John, don’t let Anna know you had Jenny round on Sunday – she’ll kill you!’

‘Yeah, I know, just shut up will ya?

‘Did you get anything? You get head?’

‘… yeah, just a bit.’

Now, it’s hard to make obvious what the point is here simply by writing out text. So to put it plainly – my friends, who were all in on the show, were trying to make me believe that John had had Jenny from his Geography class round to his house on the Sunday evening and ‘done stuff’ with her. This is course was utter codswallop – if you had seen the acting, you would have screamed. The way in which they tried to put across a point would have made an episode of Sunset Beach look like a potential Oscar winning performance. The theory behind this was that I was going to go running to Anna shouting ‘Guess what John did!’ – And perhaps I may have, had it not been so obviously fake. As soon as it clicked in my head what was going on, I tried to avoid hearing what they were saying by talking to a different friend about something totally off subject – which increased their desperation which led to raised voices and talking to me directly to get the message across.
See, I was the outsider of the group. I don’t even know why. My theory (and it is still a theory, I’ve never confronted anyone since to even find out the validity of what I have just claimed) is that they between them deduced Anna’s comment about ‘knowing what was said’ as me telling her and therefore the congregated round at Rob’s house and devised a fool-proof plan to get me running to Anna and grassing them in… catch me in the act.
I went home very angry. I couldn’t believe people I was supposed to be good friends with would even try and do this to me – surely one of them could have thought to face up and ask me straight if I’d been snitching on them. I didn’t sleep too well.

The following day.
I had to let Anna know. I wanted her to know what I knew though – not what my friends had wanted me to tell her. I was going to tell her exactly what had happened – in effect what they had wanted me to tell her, except I was going to include the small detail that she did not have to worry about John having cheated on her with Jenny because it was all part of the plan to catch me out. But surely if I had kept quiet then everything would have blown over and my friends may have felt they could trust me again? I wasn’t thinking THAT rationally though. I felt I had to get it off my chest because I was so damn angry.
I sent her a txt in the morning asking her if she was free to speak with me because I needed to speak with her – Anna’s phone was a little bit crippled however so she didn’t even receive the message until late evening, but she did phone me back. I wasn’t quite so angry by this time, but I did manage to tell everything.
I guess technically I was falling into the trap that I had unveiled quite clearly and stared into and had time to look at and browse a few times by doing this. But she promised me she wouldn’t go shouting at anyone as that was not why I had told her – I let her know purely for the intention that I had to get it off my chest. She was particularly annoyed at Rob however, knowing that he had chosen to side with his new friends over me by plotting against me as well as the way he acted to her face was very much compassionate and caring as opposed to what she had interpreted from what I had said.

The following Wednesday.
Nothing was said; everything appeared to run smoothly. Anna and John were coping together once again.
I was in the college canteen, and I sat down the table where Paul and John were, where they were constructing poster with the words ‘Looking for a good time – male/female’ on it, using a passport photo of Rob’s they had found or been given, or something, and specified details such as address and phone number – a nice simple prank poster.
Anna came into the dining room shortly after they had placed the poster on the notice board, and John showed it to her. She laughed, and called over her friends to look at it. Her friends’ reactions in general were along the lines of,

‘Oh… that’s really nasty!

‘I don’t care,’ she replied, ‘it serves him right for being such a two-faced bastard.’

Paul and John stared at each other in almost a state of shock. They said something too but I was too far away to hear. Oh fantastic. Bigmouth strikes again.

That evening.
I was quietly browsing the internet, when suddenly I’m being quite brutally verbally abused via MSN Messenger – making comments that I’d been telling on them and asking me what I’d said – followed by them trying to dictate what I had said. Once again they had congregated round at Rob’s and discussed the events of the day so as to see whether or not they had sufficient evidence in order to persecute me further – of course Anna shouting about Rob being two-faced was sufficient and then some. I didn’t respond to the chat box – but I did pay attention because I wanted to know what they thought had happened as opposed to what had actually happened (I think they thought I’d fell for the lies on the way home from the cinema, the main reason why I didn’t block the window). Last place I wanted a full-scale argument though was over MSN Messenger.

I went away to Belgium that Friday, thank goodness, and luckily did not bump into any of the usual crowd around college before then. Everyone had time to cool off. When I got back, I did not by any means make an attempt to talk to anyone – but Paul made an effort to talk to me and didn’t even mention what’d happened, which I thought was fair, and so did John the next day. I was still angry as I am sure they were but we didn’t talk about it.
Rob however, my best friend since the age of 2, still hasn’t spoken to me since then. I haven’t spoken to him either so it’s mutual I guess.
Also I don’t see them outside of college any more to go to the cinema or round to their houses or anything else for that matter.
And I was stunned to find how seemingly meaningless my troubles were to Anna – not once has she ever accepted a responsibility for causing me to lose a best friend (I can accept I made some rash decisions and that I am in fact very responsible too) but she still talks to me as if I’m dirt. And she is still going out with John.
If I ever did feel in love with her, that’s gone now. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know why I bother.

Roughly this time last month, I graduated from the University of Kansas with my shiny new BS in Computer Science. I still can't believe they actually gave me a degree, really. This puts me squarely in the ranks of the unemployable, unless I take the diploma off of my resume and apply for food service work, or maybe sitting behind the counter at a gas station. In any case, 2003 has the worst environment for college graduate employment in the past forty years, at least according to some piece of journalism that my mother read. So much fun.

In any case, I have to find something before the next four or five months are up, and the student loan bastards start wanting payment. So, myself and my girlfriend have devised A Big Plan. Instead of hanging around Kansas some more, which we have done for the past twenty years and are sick of, we are going to San Diego to live in beachfront paradise for a while. Responsible, yes? On the rational side, it has an order of magnitude more CS jobs than the Kansas City area, at least as reported by monster.com. But besides that (and on the list of completely irrational reasons to move), it has better clubs, nicer temperatures, and a far more laid-back attitude toward reality. Plus, Christina is thinking about going to graduate school there, and I might end up on that path myself.

In any case, it will be an adventure. I figure that if I fail miserably out there, I can still pack up the exact same carload of crap I took back into the car, and bail back to my mom's house like the other 60% of 2003's college graduates. Moreover, if I even marginally succeed, even in the forty hours a week at Super Target sort of way, even in the ramen and potatoes every day sort of way, then I've still done something far more interesting with The Actual Beginning Of My Adult Life than a lot of people in my graduating class. Best of all, if the cards fall down right, and I succeed in the $40k to start, entry level research and development job sort of way, I get the self-satisfaction of having made good for myself without the rich father or good connections or scholarship bonanza or trust fund bonus that most "successful" people seem to start with.

If anybody reading this has any news or knowledge about the SD area they think would be relevant, I'd love to hear it. Any and all job offers or requests for resume also accepted ;-)

In other news, turned 23 on June 17th, which was yesterday in this time zone. Actually I thought this would suck quite a bit more than it did, and I have managed to stay almost completely free of I was supposed to be somebody by the age of 23 style angst and consternation. Not much to tell. I spent the day with my mother, and we went to the Greek restaurant which has been a family favorite for like a decade now. We also discussed getting a big plastic shed in which to put the subset of my belongings which wouldn't fit in a car bound for San Diego, along with some stuff she has in storage. Uneventful. Later that evening I visited Christina, who had baked me an entirely sumptuous strawberry rhubarb pie for my birthday. The crust had a lower case letter pi ( π ) and everything. Went out for dinner and drinks, and all-told had a great time. She promises presents when they arrive in a week also, even though I said that I didn't want/need anything. Yay!

Still need to get things all in order here before I can think too much about the move. One thing I need is a domain and a few email addresses to go with it, so my school and ISP email accounts can have something to forward to. Also, I need to pack. A lot. A friend is taking some old computers off of my hands, so I can be glad they're going to a good home. Not keeping any furniture, I don't think, besides two folding tables and some big industrial shelving that I love. Maybe a mattress too, as it has always been comfy. There's a used furniture dealer hereabouts, and I'm going to see if they will give me like $50 for the lot of the rest of it. Hope I can get some cash, or at the very least get it out of the house. Fat person clothes from when I weighed 80 lbs more also have to go, probably with a bunch of other crap to the Salvation Army.

On the keeper list is a metric fuckton of vinyl, along with the bulky stereo equipment to play it. Welcome to the one downside of owning speakers big enough to be buried in. Also, lets see, most of my clothing will go in the car, along with my desktop and laptop, because I'm a junkie. Three big footlocker-style containers can hold just about anything. Studio gear is already packed, except for the three largely worthless casio synthesizers I can't make myself toss out. Argh, lots of other crap too, but I just decided I don't want to think about it.

I'm really worried about keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances, while being 1500+ miles away from most of them. That's part of my wanting independent email and web presence, to help them get ahold of me, and give me a handy place to keep an (encrypted) copy of their contact information. Really, though, it's no substitute at all. Blah. My own little fears of abandonment make me loathe to do it to others.

If you've come back to see how I've been doing on My plan the answer is:


  • Weight: 249 lbs.

  • This is a 1 pound decrease from last week, but I'm not concerned, because weight loss is a slow process and my changes are not likely to show dramatic results in a week, one way or the other.

  • Exercise: 8 walks of 20 minutes each.

  • This is short of my goal of taking 14 walks, but I am pleased, because that is 8 walks more than I would have done otherwise.

  • Diet:

  • Monday through Friday my plan went very well. I had breakfast and dinner as I had planned.

    On the weekend I skipped breakfast both Saturday and Sunday. I also ate too much for dinner. It's hard for me, when I'm visiting at my Dad's house to eat the way I plan. Seems like those old patterns re-assert themselves very quickly, in that environment.

  • Changes:

  • A vague rule, like drink less caffinated beverages is a hard rule to follow. So, I've come up with a different rule instead:

    I will allow myself to drink as many caffinated drinks as I want, as long as I:
    1. Drink 64 oz. of water first.
    2. Don't drink any caffinated drinks after 4:00 pm.

    At the suggestion of another E2 noder, I told a few friends at work about my plan, to have somebody to encourage me and help me to feel a bit more accountable.

I, like many of you, work in an office. I sit at my computer for hours a day pounding away at the keys and staring into the void. It's called a job and it's what I'm supposed to be doing right now. It can wait. There is something inside me screaming - demanding that it be let out. This rage is born of months of frustration and anger, and its all directed at one particular collegue of mine - lets call him 'skeletor' - he looks a bit like this:

(sorry - there used to be some ascii 'art' here but although fairly accurate it was far to wide for the page...if anyone is interested (unlikely) /msg me for a copy)

Now, I wish I could tell you that my anger was justified - that this guy had done something really awful and therefore deserved my wrath, but I can't. He hasn't even said anything to me. Sure his standard of work is quite low and he is an alround jerk but its not that either... Oh no, the thing that really fires me up is that he has this thing, I'm not sure if you'd call it an impediment, that he does everytime he speaks to anyone. What could possibly so annoying? here's an example:

"In itself what version are you using?"
"Ahh well in itself version 2.74 had that feature disabled."
"Well In itself that will be fixed in the patch..." etc

(Please note that the phrase in question isn't even used in the correct context or place...this is an accurate simlulation of a real life conversation)

This might seem harmless enough but you can see that this occurs frequently, basically every sentence. He seems oblivious to the fact that he does it and no one has bothered to tell him (to save him the embarrasment of having this pointed out of course). More recently he has picked up the phrases "chances are" and "by all means" and thrown them into the mix. Try to imagine a sentence in which all three are used - hard isn't it? EACH SENTENCE, EVERY DAMNED ONE. I can hear him doing it right now...oh well - at least I'm better off than the poor shmuck on the other end of the line...

Wow! I actually feel better now...thanks E2 for letting me vent my frustrations without resorting to gratuitous violence.
I can now breath deeply and go on about my work as normal. Vote this downby all means - this isn't really a problem in itself,
but chances are I won't like it very much.

/me frags skeletor with his own stupidity
This is mainly here so that my roommate can see it since I know that she reads this site:

Happy Birthday Cydnie!

This, of course, was the big event of the day. Another big event of the day was that I took a bath.

I rarely take baths, mainly because I have trouble managing to fit all of my lengthy leg in the tub, Usually 3/4 of my legs are above the water just so that my feet can get soaked. Furthermore, I hate dealing with the constant "drip, drip" of a leaky faucet or the slow draining of a drain that doesn't completely seal.

However, today while I was at work, I decided to take a bubble bath when I got home. Only, when I got home, I disovered that there was no bubble bath to be found. Instead I had bath salts and bath oil beads, neither of which came with instructions.

When I don't know how to do something, I turn to the only source available to answer all of my "how to" questions, Everything. I quickly found the node "The right way to take a bath". There, one poster suggested that bathing of this sort should be accompanied by Bossa Nova music and a good trashy romance novel. However, I was slightly disappointed to find that while there were plenty of dictionary definitions, as well as a few recipes for the aformentioned bathing additives, there were still no instructions for their use. I didn't know whether to use one bead or more. This is still a question in my mind, and if you have the answer, please message me with it.

So, if you plan to take a bubble bath soon, mark her words: Bossa Nova!

There are no screens on my windows. (This might explain a write up or two of mine.) But that isn't to say insects can just come and go as they please. I have a 'pet' spider. I don't bother him and he doesn't bother me and we have a nice symbiotic relationship. Every day or two he builds the most beautiful web in my bedroom window, catches something yummy to eat overnight and then (in the next day or two) dismantles it.

I don't normally get to see him do the construction or the deconstruction. Yesterday afternoon I got home at that time of day right between late afternoon and early night (dusk?) and he was there building his web. This leads me to believe he takes it apart right around dawn, but when isn't so much important.

Last night though, I sat and watched him build it, or at least I was pretty sure I watched him build it. I couldn't see it at all. I was just watching a funny little spider making funny little circles in the air. Sometimes, especially in the morning when the sun catches it, the web is so clear, so beautiful and shining. Sometimes I can't see it at all, but I know its there because I see the little spider hovering in its center, floating in space.

This morning I woke up and was still thinking about the spider and his web, because that's pretty much all I do. Now, lately I've been stressing a lot about the good things in life. I think about God a lot. I know he has a plan, for me as well as for everyone else. It's just that sometimes I really feel I need to see it to be able to cope, and I just can't. Other times, it's all so straightforward and laid out in front of me. I don't pretend to have lofty insights into the nature of the world, it's more like when the plan is clear it's come down to my level, simple enough to be glimpsed and appreciated, in its simple beauty.

The spiderweb made sense to me this morning. Even as I watched it being built, I couldn't glimpse a strand no matter how hard I squinted or stared, no matter at which angle I approached it. The only time I get to see the web is when the whole world turns around and the sun shines clear upon it. Sometimes, even though I know it is happening, it just isn't there before my eyes, even when I know I could stick out my finger and mess it all up. I know I would feel the gentle destruction. That's life too. I know where I am now, I could act to destroy what I cannot yet see. It reminds me that the whole pattern is still there. It's comforting.

In today’s society, it’s hard to know what is accepted and what is not. So many people live on the thoughts and ideas of others, they feed from the knowledge and advice of the untrained friend. Who’s to say your friend’s advice is correct, there his thoughts and dreams, why can’t you have your own? Trust in your own judgement, you will live with yourself forever, you’re friend will live with himself forever. What will you do in 5 years time if your friend in gone? Shut down? Not think, not do, not live? Hibernate instead of ‘putting your foot in it’, die in a restless sleep instead of breathing the air, smelling the flowers, expressing your dreams – they count too. Don’t feed off the words of others, feed off the knowledge they provide. It’s good to listen to your friends but you also need to listen to yourself, what do you want?

Expression, to each it’s own. Not everyone will agree with your thoughts, but wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everyone did. It can be frustrating listening to people go on an on about things you think they don’t understand, listen, you may learn something new or hear something in a totally different light. ‘Knowledge is power’, the power to enable you to talk to other people about the knowledge you have gained. Don’t be afraid to disagree, your knowledge can help other people. Don’t fight, discuss. This is real life, not the rehearsal! So, it’s your choice ‘to be or not to be!’

I'm back from Israel, as of Sunday. I managed not to sleep for 48 hours, between 10 cups of coffee on my El-Al flight, and saying goodbye to my friends, and being excited about being home. By the way, Song airlines (Delta's cheap flights branch) was pretty cool, even though the flight to Atlanta was delayed for 1/2 an hour. Instead of an inflight video, we got game boy advance systems, and we were kept informed about exactly how late we were, and why.

I just discovered something really cool: Since I'm taking summer classes at Georgia State University, and I have a laptop with a network card, I can Node during class! As I hear a lecture about determinism, I can be noding about my Macro-Economics Notes, or Vice-Versa. This is good. Of course, It probably means that my grades will plummet, and that is bad. Short term good vs. Long term bad, so clearly I should choose...

But here I am noding anyways.

In other news, my parent's cat peed on my suitcase. This is the cat that started peeing when I got my kitten, and continued even after my parents decided that the greater good was to give my kitten away. Not that I'm bitter. Not at all incredibly bitter. I didn't even say I told you so. (That waits until the next time I see my parents, and tell them that my $150 peice of luggage was ruined.)

When we are young, we are sure that love is easy. We select someone because they amuse us, or they captivate us, or they make us woozy with longing and delight. We convince ourselves that we will always beguile our partner: we are young and optimistic. Some are fortunate enough to have true beauty and freshness that youth allows. They often think that they are a gift to their partner, and that they will never tire of opening the wrappings. A cinematic future looms ahead, in glorious colors: romance, children, cooperation, deepening love and understanding, and a slow motion procession to a golden age of companionship and relaxation. Then life happens.

To increase the probability of a successful marriage, love needs to be extremely mutual.

I see this fact in retrospect, after realizing that the love was largely one sided in my marriage. In the back of my mind, I knew this was the case, but didn't want to acknowledge it because I loved her so. I knew something was wrong, but was not prepared to handle the fact that she ultimately did not love me (to the degree I consider necessary in order to spend the rest of your life with someone). I did my best and hoped she would come around. Hoped that I could in some way convince her that I was someone worthy of her love. I believe I in fact succeeded at this, which is why it went on as long as it did, but ultimately I learned, you can't make someone love you, they either do or they don't. No matter what kind of person you are.

Love is hard. Daily lives lack the swelling soundtrack we embed in our dreams. The woman men romp with will not look as arresting with rice cereal in her hair. The men women romanticize will have a hard time deciding if he can leave the lazy boy to help bring in the groceries. Healthy lust for a partner can erode into a healthy desire for sleep, for peace, for the person you once were ... before you gave your self up for marriage. The person who glowed at the end of the aisle develops a patina with age and with reality.

Some people only admire copper when it is shiny and aglow with polish. Wise people, however, develop great affection for the warm verdigris that develops with time. They can appreciate the intrinsic value of the metal without devoting a life to cosmetic polishing. Revising the list of what is important is the basis of marital longevity. There is no guarantee that even this will work, but without evolution, marriage is doomed.

I'd like to be with someone, and I date fairly frequently, but I have not met anyone special...and sometimes doubt I ever will. But that's OK if that's how it works out. I have come to believe that shit happens for a reason. It may not be immediately apparent, but it seems it is usually to teach us some valuable lesson.

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