Alright. Today, I had my meningitis shot. You need it in order to go to college, because apparently when you're living in dorms, there are more diseases going around.

Why meningitis is the one you get vaccinated for, and not the others, perplexes me.

Either way, it's important to note how I am utterly incredibly deathly morified of getting shots. It is just insane, I can't take them. But I need to go to college!

I've never liked shots, and I've never really enjoyed going to the doctor either. I feel that they are a hassle and that unless I'm sick, you shouldn't have to go and visit the doctor. Getting a shot is worse though, because they hurt you, and make you pay for it, and I've been afraid of needles since I was a young'n.

I am presented with a dilemma.

Let's paint the scene: I am sitting on the table, with the nurse on the right with all her equipment. To the left is my mother. They are trying to convince me to take the shot.

Look, I don't have all day. And this
shot is expensive to put together. If you do it
at another time, you'll cost your parents more money.

But the other shot --
I'm taking it the next time we come!
Can't I take this shot then too?

Now, Stagmeister. You need this shot to go to college. Don't be stupid; take the shot.

...

/me picks up the alcohol swab and moves towards Stagmeister's arm

/me backs away

You need to go to college! You need this shot in order
to go to college. Therefore, you need this shot.

Needless to say (no pun intended), this continues for about fifteen minutes.

Eventually I did indeed get the shot (a little pain is worth going to college, and also I didn't want to spend the whole evening at the doctor's), but I don't feel so well now. My arm feels like the muscles are all out of place, and my foot feels like it's going to fall off my leg.

I don't know if my foot has anything to do with the shot, but my arm certainly does. I can't move my arm all the way back, and I have a headache.

Oy! Someone (or something) help me.

Overall, though, I am not hurt. This is something I know, and something that I know before I get shots. I know I will not get hurt in the shot unless I tense up (which I do often) or pull away when the needle is in me. I know it will be only half a second that the needle is in me.

So why am I so afraid of needles??? I don't know. I don't care. It's just the way I am, and I'm afraid that won't change.

Here I am again, writing to you. I'd like to be able to entertain you because I'm guessing you are likely pretty bored. I wish I had an interesting story to tell you about my day, but I don't. It's not that nothing interesting ever happens here, but I just don't seem to have a memory for what goes on around me. That worries me a little.

Still, I like to write to you, just to fill up the empty bits with useless babbling bits like this. Maybe this will slightly make up for the lack of interesting things I have to tell you. You never seem to mind that I'm not much of a storyteller and for this kindness, I thank you.

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie you rented. It's not so much that the movie itself is one I really want to see, it's because it's a chance to do something with you. These moments together I will always treasure.

Well, anyway, I hope My Big Fat Greek Wedding is as good as some people say it is. If not, well, that's OK too - at least we suffered together ;)

OK, time for me to read some news. Yes, I'm slacking off at work again. After such a long day, don't we all deserve it?

I’m not on the list.

16 people on the team, and you’re taking 11 people to Nationals. Sure, only eight get to compete, but at least the others get to be a part of it. Only five left behind. Why me? What the fuck did I do wrong?

I’ve never missed a meeting. Anything you ask, and it’s done. Don’t you know that by now? Isn’t that enough?

What else could I do for you? Every night, every weekend, I devoted myself this above all else. I came right after spending over six hours in the hospital, directly against my doctor’s orders. I came only an hour after finding out that a dear friend of the family had died. I came when I was on the verge of collapse, when everything else in my life was falling apart.

And I didn’t regret it then. Dedication was what I had to offer the team, and it was willingly given. Because this team--

It’s all I have.

But if I can’t make the cut, I guess I have to accept that…

Wait—you’re taking who? Who’d you give my roles to? People who’ve never even played the parts before?!?! People who just joined the team this semester? People who miss meetings and procrastinate and whine about the workload??

was I really that bad?

My scores weren’t that terrible, I know, I calculated the averages. There’s not a role I can’t play well if you just give me a chance—I went from the pregnant stay at home mother to the arrogant morbid medical examiner for crissake, what the fuck else do you want?

I should just quit. If I’m just going to watch you send others on—I can’t take that. I have my pride, dammit, that’s all I have.

But first, I have to get away from here, away from this team, but especially away from you, my dear coach, one of the few people whose respect I’ve every truly struggled for…

I get to the door without anyone noticing. Hell, I’m invisible after all, just someone who wasn’t good enough.

Then I hear your voice, calling my name. “Can I talk to you for a second?

I turn. Can you see the tears in my eyes? I hope not. “No.” No, you can’t talk to me. Not right now. If you say another word I’ll lose it and then I’ll really have nothing left.

So instead I take the coward’s option. I run. Run, and don’t look back. Just keep it together till I get to the dorm, ignore the voices behind me. Someone still calling my name…

The tears escape. But there is no one to see them.

I call my parents; preparing to return home, to return to my safe haven for as long as I can. But there is still tomorrow and the next day and the next to face.

I can’t face you.

If I asked you why, what would you tell me? I don’t think I want to know.

I could just quit. On a campus this big, it’s easy to get lost and never be found again.

But no. You said we’d be meeting on Saturday, and dammit, I’ll be there. Even if it takes every bit of strength I have to watch as your chosen eleven prepare. Even if I think you were wrong to discard me so quickly.

Because I said I’d be here for this goddamn team, and I meant it. As long as you still need me

I’ll stay.

This is a letter of sorts to my Mock Trial Coach, with all the things I would never say.

With each cockroach I smash, I feel a little less human and a little more monster.

I feel bad for them as I crush them as they try to eat my food. I try to wash them down the drain to certain death that I'm somehow entirely detatched from... But I know that death is probably more excrutiating than the instant blow of impending doom (simple fact: a human can drown in only two inches of water... cockroaches are pretty stupid, so they can drown in a drop of water). With each crushed cockroach I become a little more cockroach myself. Every time I crush one of them, I crush myself. With each crushed cockroach it's me that I crush by my inability to understand....

Don't piss in my skittles.

Okay. So we've all the heard the story about how you strangled a cloud. Hell. I've sent a few off, myself, but this here is my cloud, you heartless bitch, and these here skittles are my skittles, and will not be pissed in by you or any other family member ever again.

And as far as the rest of the family is concerned, you take the cake. You are the culinary masterpiece of screwloose bullshit. I've tried harder than with anyone else, to reach out to you. Aknowledge, the only time I lied was after you had repeatedly denied me from telling the truth!

Well, I hope you're happy, now! I'm done. Advection will push me until the only thing I remember is the angry little girl back in Connecticut. My blood flows counterclockwise in the north and never makes the same mistakes twice.

I have worked as the tech-crew on a school social for the first time.

I never believed it could be so stressful, amusing, pointless and fun all at the same time.

To be fair, I did less work than anyone else, due to my lesser knowledge. Even so, it was incredibly difficult. So it's understandable why Jai doesn't want to do it again.

The tech crew consisted of four people: Myself, Adam (Brother of Glenn, a hacker who has finished school), Leigh (A fellow nerd, and of the opinion that nerds are better than anyone else), and my good friend Jai, who, due to his knowledge, gets lumped into doing everything vaguely tech or sound related for the school.

We started several days before the actual event. In all, we spent around seven good free periods setting up lights and organising.

On the day, we started at lunch. Jai and I had a free, and IPT (Counts as a free) last two periods, so we started. Jai got to work a little earlier, so I was unable to find him in the computer room where he was meant to be straight away.

I spent lunchtime playing games on my home PC in the school computer lab. I must explain our plan here. Amy, a non-nerd, had brought in her pc *cough* Shitbox *cough* with all the music stored on mp3 format. We needed it on CD form, so she had to bring it in, so as to connect it to an external cd writer. I, meanwhile, had brought in my system so as to connect to a digital projector, and play Winamp AVS on the ceiling of the dance floor.

So there I was, playing Unreal Tournament in class, while Jai fiddled with the system. We needed to get Amy to make playlists, as the popular music consists of shitty rap, whilst we all prefer, um, good music. Therefore, we didn't know what tracks to play. Also, my contingency plan of bringing in my most popular music would be pointless, as it wasn't shitty enough.

It turns out Amy forgot to bring her blank CD's, so we stole some from school. After wrecking two and getting error messages, we remember Leigh's wise words.

"That external Cd drive is shitted"

By now, school had ended, and we were short on time. We split into two teams, Jai and Adam to get the venue set up, and Leigh and myself to get the music happening.

We opened up both cases, since we needed to get the files onto my system, as it had a burner.

The first, Amy's, had an atrocious pink colour scheme on Windoze, as well as a naming scheme consisting of capitalising alternate letters.

Inside was a Cyrix chip.

A Cyrix chip that was part of the motherboard.

This was termed "Like buying a Russian Car"

Then we opened my box. I discovered why, when I purchased my system, the vendor was unable to "fit in" a TNT 2, replacing it with a Voodoo 3 PCI 16Mb. My crappy motherboard had no AGP slot.

We stole a few Network cards and got to work on creating a network. Over this period of time, I changed from my uniform to a black trench coat and ninja hood. What, you expect me to run a social and not dress like a ninja?

After an hour of trying to install drivers and needing to reset the fucking bitch, we were unable to get a network happening. So, Leigh switched the hard drive over to my computer. He placed it as master on the same channel as my burner.

The system failed to boot up.

Leigh took out the drive, switched the jumpers to slave, and put it back in my system.

It booted up. Our next challenge was to reassemble the playlists, since we had just changed the files from drive C to D. After that, we let it burn at four speed.

We managed to get all three CD’s done, with much waiting, eating of pizza, paying out of Amy’s computer, and more waiting. Of course, I stole the mp3’s while they were there. Some of them were good. (Note to anyone wanting to arrest me for piracy: This is of course, utterly false. ::crosses fingers behind back::)

It was then that my system was rushed over to the venue to set up the projector. We then started the shitty music. Inexplicably, every teen idiot screamed between songs, despite the fact that every song had both no musical merit whatsoever, and they were all exactly the same.

We kept getting requests, to which the answer was no. We kept getting people coming out through the wrong door, so we barricaded it with a block of wood. We got some free drinks, and continued.

I entered a rapping competition, with MC Frontalot’s Penny Arcade. The first place went to someone with no rhythm at all. The second place went to someone who did not rap, but beat boxed.

Unfortunately, we were not able to use the strobe much, due to the music being shit. Two decent tracks were played. When “Grease” was splayed, I was requested to change tracks. I replied in the negative. When asked why, I responded, “Because I like this track”

The second, "Who let the dogs out?", was only good insofar as Jai and I changed the lyrics to “Who let the sluts out? Hoe, Hoe Hoe Hoe.” This was directed at every female on the dance floor.

At the end, we packed up. Jai pulled out a plug, and it arced. Luckily I pulled out my computer 3 seconds before. Had I not, the bios would have jammed.

We were unable to put the sound desk away, as we didn’t have the key to unlock the cupboard.

The first thing in the morning, Jai was complained to for not putting it away.

Just for that lack of gratitude, Jai is no longer going to do the socials.

thunder thunder lightning ahead
kiss you kiss you dark and long

Yeah. It's cold and dark. So'm I. The tequila's worn off by now, and I'm reminded why I never drink that shit. I've lost the edge it gives, the speed and quickness and the arrogant certainty of myself: a power never used, always held in reserve. It's not false confidence: it's just what I would have if I had all the self-esteem I truly deserve, with no inhibitions to go with it.

I've still got enough of it in my system to notice that I look good: high black boots and black jeans and black leather jacket over a futuristic-looking tabshirt of raw silk, gold-brown hair splayed out just so around blue-green eyes. I only notice that when I've had a few, though I get a lot of attention all the time.

But it's never the attention you want, is it?

No, of course not. There's only one. Of all the women I care about, am friends with, am attracted to; of all the women who hit on me, who slide up to me and nip at my neck at the club, who whisper breathy fire into my ears, my thoughts are never far from her sweet ways and quiet proud beauty.

"...Besides, I'm not exactly looking for a wife right now. A muse. I want a muse," I said last night, over dinner with my roommates, who are a married pair.

"Well, I don't think I've ever met a woman who more perfectly resembles a muse than Jessica," replied Kate.

"Yeah. Yeah, I know..."

She's been a little distant, the last few weeks, since the five gorgeous days we spent truly together. She's been busy with two jobs, her own quiet life and her books. We've spoken a little, and what we have said has been good. But not enough time. It takes me a while to get comfortable being around her. Time, and a few shots of vodka, and I'm calm enough to actually talk to her. I wish I could get over that. Dating a model still wasn't enough to let me entirely conquer my irrational shyness around beautiful women.

Scratch that: I'm fine with beautiful women. It's the beautiful, intelligent, kind, creative ones who send my mind careening into "So, uh, do you live here often?" territory.

"Some people started calling me an angel, once. I was afraid they'd started to believe it," she said, on our first night of drunken honesty. She leaned forward and sucked on one of those odd cigarettes she smokes, long and thin and pale like her.

She's a priestess, not an angel. But I could believe it.

I'm not sure what to say to her now. Life has been too stressful to be interesting; full of the mundane sort of stress that prevents the thinking of deep thoughts, of writing things like this. Too boring to be epic. Lacking the depth that conversation with her requires.

I hold with the oldest words of advice: just be yourself. I'm trying. But I don't particularly want to be me right now; it's not a very good place to be. Rent and unemployment and moving and exhaustion and stress. And she's been busy herself, and stressed herself, but since those five gorgeous days when it seemed like we were really together, since those nights with her midnight hair spilling across the pillow, looking into one another's eyes a few inches apart, the tiny elfin smile on her face, just before she kissed me again -- it's been different, less, quieter, like we've suddenly remembered to be cautious, not to let anyone too close. Something I knew well, till she came along and opened me back up again.

I see her again on Sunday, for a few hours, before she goes off to her second job. Just she and I, alone for the first time in two weeks, a chance to talk. Perhaps we'll discuss this. Perhaps we'll find our way back to what we had. Or maybe it'll just be uncertainty and silence as we sip our coffee and stare out the window.

And maybe I'll show this to her, as I showed her what I wrote about the prophet in the road after our second night together.

She matters to me. I want her to be happy. I consider her a dear friend, and that, of course, must come first.

But along with all that good noble kind nice-guy-ness, and the valid and true and pure emotion, there's the raw animal hindbrain emotion that I can't deny --

gods, I want to be with her so fucking badly. Heart and mind and body and soul.

Can I hold you in pages, adore you
Your words they have power over me
Let me hold you in pages, enthrall you
I have dreamed of your majesty...

Following up from what I said on Monday, I heard from my doctor yesterday. I have an appointment in Tampa with my new surgeon on March 31st. All sorts of questions will be answered then, and sometime in the next two weeks they'll be sending me an info packet with details about the surgery I need. This week as been a poor week health-wise; I've spent the past 4 days in bed whereas in the past weeks I've usually been able to go to work. Something clogged up my intestines again, making the pain worse than it has been. It's been so bad that I've been unable to sleep through the night, so I sleep about 30 minutes and then wake up for another 40. I've been watching a lot of DVDs since I fixed my computer's DVD player last week. Because of the weird sleep pattern it feels like the past 4 days have been one very long day. It all blends together.

Bright note: NinjaPenguin and Skweejeepusher came by this evening to hang out for a bit. We watched a DVD of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and played some Sonic Mega Collection. A good time was had by all.

Taglines
I believe that Hollywood films would attract even more viewers if their taglines, instead of being epigrams, were in fact acrostics. I give some examples below.

Windtalkers
Where
Is
Navajo?
Do
Tell
All -
Look!
Kill
Enemy
Raiders
Soon.

Insomnia
Inspector
Not
Safe!
Or
My
Next
Investigative
Assistant.

One Hour Photo
Ordinary
Natural
Employee

He
Obtains
Uncertain
Revenge

Perhaps
He
Observes
The
Others?

Frida
Female
Rider
In
Da
Accident!

Signs
Strange
Icons
Gonna
Nurture
Suspicion

(This was inspired by two things. Firstly, there is an Asian video shop along the route my bus takes (in Britain 'Asian' generally means 'from the Indian subcontinent' and not 'from the orient' although it can mean the latter as well). There are posters for Bollywood films, all of which have oddly mistranslated taglines. Some of them feature a man called 'Baba' who holds up his index and little fingers, sign of the bull 'heavy metal' style.

There's a film, I can't remember the name, and the tagline is:
"Known... is a drop! Unknown... is an ocean!"

Which seems to make sense... at first. But the more you think about it, the less it means, like that reggae song 'The more I find out the less I know' by that guy, you know, early 70s.

The second inspiration is a dream I had in which I was teaching a class at university in the art of the acrostic, and I wrote this on a blackboard:

Flotilla
Fuel
Lines
On
Top -
Tits
Away!

Which, as you might notice, is actually an acrostic of 'FLOTTA'. Which sounds like a scandinavian girl's name.

Michael Caine on 'Jaws IV: The Revenge'
~
"I have not seen the film, which is by all accounts terrible. I have, however, seen the house it built, which is fantastic."

Clouds
~
It is a little-known fact that all European clouds and cloud formations are actually produced by a company based in Cheshire, England; the clouds are pumped out of a giant machine, wound up, and set free to patrol the skies. In order to protect them from bird strikes they are coated with a thin layer of silver (lead was used until the 1970s, but was banned when it was discovered that clouds which had fallen into the North Sea were poisoning the cod).

Unfortunately, competition from Eastern Europe and the Far East has resulted in job cuts in the cloud factories. EU subsidies have redressed the balance, but have resulted in a 'cloud mountain', which smothers Lyons and has depressed the tourist trade there.

A further problem affecting the cloud industry is 'Mad Cloud Disease', which causes clouds to misbehave by, for example, moving against the wind, or suffocating flocks of geese. Fortunately the RAF have so far prevented this disease from spreading beyond Jersey.

Advances in cloud technology have come thick and fast in the last twenty years; modern cumuli-nimbi are usually fitted with USB ports for connection to a standard Windows PC, which can be used to diagnose faults in the cloud in the manner of a modern Formula 1 race car.

Clouds are also an indispensable weapon in the war against terror. Their appearance is unthreatening and they have a reassuring effect on the British public. Rain can also be used to put out fires, and when was the last time a cloud planted a bomb? Never, that's when.

Hi everybody – it’s been awhile since I wrote anything but I’d like to tell you about my Sunday.

I was sitting on my bed looking at my cat and playing with my stuffed animals. My dad was downstairs cleaning up the house and listening to music. I asked if we could listen to the Police. When the song called Every Little Thing She Does is Magic came on I put on my magic hat and wand and started dancing. My dad thought it was funny.

I like my room. On three sides its yellow and the other side is red. The ceiling is blue. My bedspread is made of puffy clouds and blue skies and I get to sleep under the stars on the ceiling at night.

Tonight my dad is going to make Mexican food and we are going to watch From the Earth to the Moon. I hope I like it.

This is a poem I had to write for Halloween for school. It’s called “That Black Cat.” I hope you like it.

That black cat
was strolling that the alley

That black cat
He likes to look at me

That black cat
He’s not a witches black cat

That black cat
Plays that music

That black cat
He likes to dance

That black cat
He’s not a witches black cat

That black cat
Likes to dance

Dance on black cat

My friend Brooke tried to steal this and say it was her poem. It made me angry and I told my teacher. We’re still friends though.

It’s time for me to go to bed. My Daddy always says to “Sleep the sleep of angels” before I go to sleep. I like that. I say the same thing to him. I hope you all sleep the sleep of angels too. Good night.

Welcome to the present

I’m currently reading William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, his new “cyberpunk” novel set in the post-9/11 modern world. Apparently, Gibson decided that the real world is a sufficient stage for his critiques of contemporary culture, that there is no more need for him to create fictional ones.

Reading it, I’m struck by the idea that if you were to send this book back in time to 1990, the year I first read Gibson’s Neuromancer, it would undoubtedly be taken as science fiction. Gibson’s characters interact extensively with technology, employing the jargon of Internet communication -- IRC, message boards, and websites. We never got the jetpacks, flying cars and atomic supermen predicted by science fiction’s golden age, but we did get the cyberspace worlds of William Gibson. Which is not bad, considering that at the time he wrote Neuromancer, he famously didn’t even own a computer.

When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to “jack in” to the net and experience the universe that Gibson’s characters inhabited. And now, 13 years later, I inhabit that kind of universe, but it’s so normal and mundane I rarely stop to think about it. I have friendships with people I’ve never met, flung around the globe, communicating via internet forums, voice-over-IP chat rooms and through the abstract violence of online gaming.

So the science fiction world of Pattern Recognition is our world, yet it’s also the world of Gibson’s past “speculative” efforts. With so few science fiction universes overtaken by reality, I think it’s interesting to note that in this case, it’s really happened. So much so, that Gibson is now considered a literary author, casting off the ghetto of genre fiction and now firmly entrenched in the mainstream. Pattern Recognition sits in the display window at Kramerbooks and Afterwords, an arty bookstore/cafe in Washington, D.C. that has a dreadful science fiction selection (in fact, they seem to be embarrassed they stock the genre at all).

I never thought I’d see that. But then again, I never thought I’d have my own online pseudonym either, much less several of them.

Dear So-and-so who will remain unnamed here: (an excerpt)

I really don't know sometimes what I was supposed to be. What am I doing with my life, or what's to become of me. I don't know if forces are holding me back from realizing things, or whether that force is me, myself. Constantly sabotaging my own senses. I know you'll understand me.

I sometimes (well, probably more often than a word like sometimes implies) think back in time to those weird, scattered, poetic moments of our shared experiences back in the day. There was this certain way I felt.. this certain way I think we all felt for awhile there, that something was going to happen. Whether this was naive of us, or me I don't know. I know that I was more naive then than I am now, as age is wont to do to the beings who experience it, but at the same time I can almost so clearly track the exact point where I stopped one path that I was on and turned down another, the path that eventually has led me here. Was that path the right path? I'll never know. Was there even another path to take? The past is so tricky. There was a point that I honestly would have done anything in the universe to see that you and I could somehow create some kind of life together, that we would support each other into the things and forests and rivers of our minds together, and that no matter what came of it, it would be good, it would be right, it would be the right path. I have no idea if you felt any of that inside of you. I shouldn't even be writing this, but sometimes I rely so much on what I feel is communicated between people "unsaid" that I forget that maybe in that unsaying, nothing was ever said at all. I want to make the motions to say these things. And I can analyze, overanalyze, redimensionalize, unfracture and unravel, but I'll never know. Lost in those months of psychoactive drugs... Why did I end up making the quick choice I made? And at the time, who was I? How did it happen that I re-sculpted my self so easily then into that life? And it's not about love or not loving.. We know that the world is not limited to "I love this person, and no one else" and yet we are made to pretend that sometimes. Or something like that. And I love ______ tremendously, and I want to make everything right, and have everything always be right. But there are parts of me who have died in making that a reality. These are the same parts of me that suddenly awaken when I see you, or -------, or hear from either of you. And these parts of me could find a happy, living place if somehow we could be closer together, in some way.

I think the last time I made any attempt at communicating these kinds of thoughts to you I got no response back, and if that's the approach you want to take, believe me I understand. At the same time, know that any dialogue you want to have with me on this subject is important to me. We have our lives, we're living them. We're both with people that we love and take care of and the universe keeps on tilting and wars are being fought and minds are being broken, and maybe just by talking about such things we (I?) can calm my tumultuous head.

I've been to this place while under salvia divinorum.... this extra-dimensional zone where I woke into this place and you were there and ------ and many others, those few that somehow we are compatible with that i haven't met before, that i have met. it's all a blur. it was several years ago that I had this journey... anyway, the experience was too true for me to deny. we need to find some way that we can be near each other. I do anyway. I shouldn't speak for you, or for anyone else...

Well, I should somehow close all this up. I'll mention that I've been drinking wine, and I apologize if my words and thoughts are sloppy. Know that I love you, and that if _anyone_ ever asked me, that's what i'd say. my love for you knows no boundaries, but could live within a cage if it just meant getting to sit around in the same pet store.. or whatever metaphor I was trying to make.

Recently, one of my friends from high school dropped me an email. We hadn't conversed in close to a decade; the last I knew he was in a music PhD program at Notre Dame. Turns out he's now a music teacher in Michigan, not that far away. He told me he comes into Ohio regularly for Mensa games days, which he told me are a lot of fun. I more-or-less trust his evaluation of fun when it comes to games, because we had a great time playing Pictionary and Taboo and stuff when we were all in San Angelo.

So, anyway, my friend says, "Why don't you join Mensa? The Columbus group is a lot of fun!"

Now I'm considering joining. My SAT or GRE scores will get me in. But I'm torn. I'm well aware that if you join Mensa, you generally can't mention it to nonmembers for fear of being seen as putting on airs. I've noticed quite a lot of Mensa-bashers here and there.

On the other hand, I love playing Scrabble, and none of my current local batch of friends likes playing that game. I'm getting so out of practice my Texas friends will stomp me clear into the ground the next time I visit. And it might be nice to (gasp!) meet new people in town.

I do have nippy little personal qualms about the premise of Mensa, since membership is based solely on measures of IQ. It just seems kinda un-democratic, un-neighborly, dunnit?

Mensa detractors jump all over the whole issue of the validity of IQ scores as being an accurate measure of intelligence. IQ tests don't measure the whole of the power of a person's mind. No paper test could, really. It can't measure your adaptibility, your common sense, your ability to work social situations and influence people. It can't really measure your creativity or artistic prowess. And some people just don't test well.

So a lot of the detractors state variations of the above, and cry "IQ scores are meaningless!"

Gosh, the college admissions offices sure didn't think my SAT and GRE scores were meaningless. According to them, such standardized tests -- which are IQ tests in sheep's clothing -- are a good measure of how well you'll do in school. Should I be feeling oppressed now?

A person's ability to get into college plays an enormous role in the course his or her life is going to take. How many people find a future wife or husband in college? How many people have life-changing experiences in college? What if you don't get into the right college, or don't get in at all, because your test scores, big (SAT) or little (classroom grades) weren't deemed sufficient?

I can't speak for the rest of you all, but my life would be hugely different right now if I'd gotten an assistantship offer at NYU instead of Indiana University. And it would have been even more different if I'd been accepted at Rice University for my undergraduate degree. I'd pinned all my hopes on getting into Rice, and as a consequence of not getting in, I stayed at the local university, where I had a good experience. But still -- what if?

But the most interesting thing about the standard IQ-tests-are-meaningless threads I've read is that the arguer almost always says something along the lines of, "If these high-IQ people are so smart, why aren't they all successes? Why aren't they all rich from the proceeds of their latest inventions and driving Lexuses etc.?"

I find this line of reasoning interesting, because in the process of decrying people buying into a one-dimensional measurement of intelligence, they are holding up a one-dimensional measure of success as a proof that IQ tests are bunk.

Material success is certainly the dominant paradigm in our society. Our Western culture encourages us to believe that a big house, an SUV in the garage, designer clothes, and a huge TV set in the living room are all signs of a successful person.

What if you don't believe in materialism? What if you think that a consumer culture is damaging to the planet? What if the amassment of money and objects is less important to you than spiritual development or the freedom to pursue your interests? What if your idea of success is to lead a happy life?

One IQ test detractor noted that many Mensa members hold very "lowly" jobs as janitors or bartenders. Many were even unemployed. He noted that relatively few were doctors and lawyers. His logic went that, once again, if all these people are so smart, why aren't they all movers and shakers?

Perhaps some of these folks don't want a high-stress, 60+ hour-a-week job with a ton of responsibility over other people?

Maybe some did dream of a high-powered career but were hindered by bad luck or poverty. They've found themselves toiling at a mindless job amongst coworkers and relatives who don't like to read or think, and the lost broompushers and whiskey-slingers want to find people who won't judge them as being weirdos for their intellectual interests, people with whom they can hold a conversation and, perhaps, make a connection.

And maybe a lot of these high-IQ people in "lowly" stations in life are "seekers": they took a hard look at the dominant success paradigm, and found the nation's pursuit of God Money to be hollow and shallow. They rejected the go-getter career path ... but they haven't yet found anything to replace it.

Maybe they're still looking.

I know I am.

Today is a day that its hard to get work done.

One of my closest friends is moving from sunny Arizona to freezing cold Boston. I'm going to miss him alot...

So I naturally started thinking about all the wonderful memories we have had. And while I know its selfish to think how this is going to affect me, I can't help but think about it. There is something very necessary about my friendship with Neil.

Last night we picked up a friend from the airport and went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday's. In the parking lot he notices a girl getting out of her car. He struck up a conversation with her and somehow I ended up meeting the girls of the Arizona Statue University swim team. Well meet maybe too strong a word considering they were drinking alot and distracted by a laser pointer Neil keeps on his key chain. They ended up buying it from him for $15 so they could continue putting red dots on guy's crotches.

Neil brings wackiness to my life. He's a bastard sometimes because he never lets me win an argument, even if its over how much my day sucked. He plays music better than me, which makes me practice more. And he's driving to Boston tomorrow.

Men aren't supposed to cry.

Today's Headlines

US News

Democrats Blast Bush on Iraq
The top Democratic congresspeople yesterday directly criticized President Bush's policy on Iraq, signaling a strong Democratic willingness to challenge the administration's policy just as international opposition is hardening. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both spoke out yesterday in separate appearances, stating that it would be "premature" for the United States to invade Iraq without winning broader international support.

Air Force Reports 54 Assault Claims
The Air Force has combed through 54 cases of alleged rape or sexual assault at the Air Force Academy that have been investigated over the past decade. Testifying before a Senate panel on the sexual misconduct in the Air Force, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche acknowledged that many additional cases have occurred but were never reported. Roche also promised changes in how the academy handles sexual misconduct complaints so that victims will feel freer to come forward.

Terence Hallinan Doubts Leaked
Even San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan didn't think he had enough evidence to charge San Francisco's police chief and other top cops with conspiring to obstruct justice. This revelation, leaked to the press by unknown sources, puts the district attorney and his high-profile case on treacherous ground. The leaks come from the 1,300 pages of grand jury testimony in the case, which Hallinan cannot leak to the public himself.

International News

Bush Calls For UN Vote On Iraq
During a Thursday evening press conference, US President George W. Bush warned that he is ready to go to war soon, even without UN backing, and that the United States would call for a vote on the Iraq situation. Today, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is set to deliver his report on the progress of the weapons inspections in Iraq; the nature of the report will likely determine how the vote will go down in the United Nations.

Two of Osama bin Laden's Sons Captured
A Pakistani provincial minister announced this morning that two sons of Osama bin Laden were captured in southwestern Afghanistan in a joint operation involving Pakistani and United States troops. Saad (the eldest son) and Hanza bin Laden were captured in the Rabat region of Afghanistan, and it is possible that they were injured in the conflict. US counterterrorism officials disputed the claim.

Annan Deeply Deplores Violence in Israel
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday in a short speech that he deeply deplored the use of "disproportionate and excessive force" by the Israeli military in a Gaza refugee camp. This action led to the killing of 11 Palestinians and the injury of more than 140. Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard expanded upon this, saying "Such military actions in densely populated areas, as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes, cannot be accepted as a legitimate means of self-defence and violate international humanitarian law."

Business

Vivendi Universal Posts Staggering Losses
Doubts over Vivendi Universal's elusive strategy wiped more than a billion euros off the debt-laden media group's value in European trading today after it once again seized the prize for posting France's worst corporate loss. For the second straight year, the troubled media company had the largest corporate loss in the nation of France, this year posting a $25.7 billion loss. Shares in the company fell an average of 8% in European trading on the news.

3Com Predicts Lowered Revenues
Networking giant 3Com announced that sales for the fiscal third quarter will fall below previous projections, with revenue in the range of $240 and $245 million. The company blamed the drop on soft demand for telecommunications in the United States. This news comes on the tail of 3Com's announcement earlier this week of the sale of its CommWorks carrier equipment division to UTStarcom for $100 million cash, which reinforces 3Com's general direction to focus on selling networking gear to corporations rather than telecom services.

EBay Subsidiary Half.com Shuts Down
EBay announced yesterday that they are closing Half.com, its fixed price subsidiary for used books, CDs, and other items, in late 2004. Half.com founder Josh Kopelman also said he would leave the company office in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, effective April 15. EBay purchased Half.com in a stock swap in June 2000 in order to increase its customer base and unify part of the online seller's market, but the deflation of the internet industry has made the deal not worth holding on to.

Science & Technology

University of Texas Student Data Compromised
Crackers are believed to have stolen the social security numbers of 55,200 faculty, staff, and students at the University of Texas last weekend following a computer break-in. This disclosure has led to fears that the social security data may find its way into the hands of ID thieves and has caused the university administration to look into alternate means of uniquely identifying personal data. The university did say that student academic records, health records, and insurance data were not compromised in the attack.

Cassini Probe Sends Back Wonderful Jupiter Pictures
The Cassini space probe, on its way to a rendezvous with Saturn next July, did a close fly-by with the planet Jupiter in the last few days. The craft took a number of shots of the gas giant and the pictures were released earlier today by NASA and the European Space Agency. The shots reveal new features in the gaseous belts that cover the surface of Jupiter, including new details on their composition and relationship to each other. The Jupiter flyby was intended to cause a gravitational speed boost, which would cause the craft to reach Saturn much quicker than otherwise possible.

Silicon May Significantly Increase Battery Life
Adding a small amount of silicon to the graphite normally found in the anode of a lithium-ion battery can cause a doubling in the energy storage capacity, according to researchers at the Sanda National Laboratories said Thursday. If this advance can be commercialized, it will lead to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with more power, a longer lifespan, and smaller size.

Health

Breast Implant Surgery Linked To Suicide Risk
Of the 3,521 Swedish women who were given cosmetic breast implants from 1965 to 1993, the number of deaths was 85, including 15 suicides. The death rate is 44% higher than would otherwise have been expected, and the suicide rate is three times as high as would be expected. Researchers suggest that the relationship is caused by psychological vulnerabilities in women who request such cosmetic operations, mostly centered around a poor self-image.

Thigh Length May Indicate Diabetes Risk
Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that people with short upper legs are more likely to have glucose intolerance or diabetes, particularly if they are white and female. Speculation on the cause of this is that the short thighs themselves do not cause diabetes, but that the genes causing both conditions are linked. Another hypothesis is that stunted growth early in life (causing the short thighs) can be related to chronic disease later in life.

Sports

Els Shares Dubai Lead
Defending champion Ernie Els holds a share of the lead at the Dubai Desert Classic at -10, continuing his run of strong golf to open this season. Els has won four of the five tournaments that he has entered during the 2003 campaign, and the Dubai tournament looked as though it might provide the first head-to-head meeting of Tiger Woods and Els until Tiger withdrew earlier this week.

South America Will Host 2014 FIFA World Cup
World soccer governing body FIFA announced Friday that a South American nation will host the 2014 World Cup. Germany is slated to stage the 2006 event, while South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia are currently bidding for the 2010 competition. Argentina was the last South American nation to host a Cup, back in 1978.

Entertainment

Sopranos Star Walks Out
Sopranos star James Gandolfini is suing the makers of the TV series after discovering that series creator David Chase was dishonest about payments for the upcoming season. Gandolfini, who plays mobster Tony Soprano, has begun legal proceedings against US network HBO to get out of his contract before filming starts on a fifth series of the hit drama.

George Michael Accuses BBC of Censorship
Singer George Michael has accused music TV show Top of the Pops of ordering him not to wear an anti-war T-shirt on the air. Michael recorded a version of the protest song The Grave for the show. The star said that the BBC refused to let him wear a T-shirt bearing the words "No, war, Blair out". In response, the BBC issued a statement saying "we are not giving George Michael a platform to air his political views, we are giving viewers the fantastic opportunity to see an international star perform on TOTP for the first time in 17 years."


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I watched the George W. Bush press conference last night in which he reiterated the supposed "logic" behind a war with Iraq. Most of the conference was just a reiteration of the same old tired line. That was, until the next to last question:

QUESTION: Mr. President, millions of Americans can recall a time when leaders from both parties set this country on a mission of regime change in Vietnam. Fifty-thousand Americans died. The regime is still there in Hanoi and it hasn't harmed or threatened a single American in 30 years since the war ended.

What can you say tonight, sir, to the sons and the daughters of the Americans who served in Vietnam to assure them that you will not lead this country down a similar path in Iraq?


BUSH: It's a great question.

Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.

In order to disarm, it will mean regime change. I'm confident that we'll be able to achieve that objective in a way that minimizes the loss of life.

No doubt there's risks with any military operation. I know that. But it's very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won't change. The mission is precisely what I just stated. We've got a plan that will achieve that mission should we need to send forces in.

This question and the response to it very clearly lays out the huge divide between the Bush administration and the thinking of many people worldwide. Bush sees nothing but a military conflict in this situation. To him, that is the way to solve the "problem" of Saddam Hussein.

But we tried that solution in Korea, and now North Korea is brandishing nuclear weapons. We tried that solution in Vietnam, lost 57,000 lives, and lost the conflict.

Military conflict does not work for disarmament. It's a simple fact that has been repeated time and time again in recent world history. Yet George W. Bush seems not to see this picture.

We can only hope that this will ONLY be another Vietnam, because this time around, it could cause a global holy war and massive terrorist onslaught that makes 9/11 look like a day at the park.

How many lives is disarming and removing Saddam Hussein from power really worth?


Lent Diary, Day 3

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

The hunger effects yesterday were much less pronounced than they were the first day of my trial. Right now, I am not strongly feeling thirst or hunger effects, whereas on my previous lunch breaks, I was ravenous and parched.

But what does all of this really mean? I am finding that it is best to reflect on this in the hour before sunset, when I am beginning to feel very hungry and thirsty. Last night, I spent this hour in prayer and meditation. I sat crosslegged on a chair, breathed in and out slowly, closed my eyes, and tried to understand the sacrifice that was made for me and what I could do to help repay that sacrifice in my daily life.

Jesus led by example, and I hope to follow in that example. I will lead by my actions, not by my words.

And when I opened my eyes, I felt clear of conscience, and I feel that I'm beginning to comprehend internally what the true value of my life is.

I tried to be punk, but I care too much

This could also be called, "the night I tried too hard". That night, I had it all. Dressed all in black, spiked bracelet, wild hair, and dripping black eye-liner. I entered into the dark, flashing, booming room of fast-music, watching all the kids around me. The we-don't-give-a-fuck attitude was overflowing in the room. This is what my perception of punk rock and goth rock was until I found myself.

That night at The Ranch Bowl I saw familiar faces, mostly from church, who welcomed me in to their little circle. These kids I had seen around, but I never really knew what to think. I guess I thought they were having the same kind of we-don't-give-a-fuck attitude as everyone else, but I soon realized you don't have to act this way to be a punker. These people I hung out with that night were conscious of each other. Not only that, they were conscious of others around them. When they saw they were bothering someone or they bumped into someone they said excuse me. During the break times between bands, they talked to total strangers and made people feel like a part of a community. They were polite, said 'please' and 'thank you' and respected their elders. One looked like a kid I worked with who was into boy bands (but I didn't tell him that). Another one looked like someone you would only see on a talk show.

That night some local bands played. One was a band named System Failure (heavy metal). I was shocked to find that the lead singer looked like the all-American boy next door, yet he had a screaming voice that sent shivers down your spine. It was then I realized more then ever, music reaches across looks and styles. I'm now sure there are plenty of suits out there who dig Heavy Metal and go to shows regularly. After I left that night I had a renewed sense of self. I knew that I didn't need others to re-affirm my identity.

Punk rock was started as an anti-establisment scene against the corporate music scene. If you even remotely dressed like a punker, you were labeled a jerk or a bitch. This is a mostly wrong perception as I have come to realize. It used to be like that, because there was more of an 'every man for himself' mentality. But now, it has become more of a community, where people come to listen to music and share ideas. Yes, there are many people in the scene who have no respect whatsoever for others, but thats more of a personality thing then it is a punk rock thing. It's not even a punk rock thing. It's a rock thing in general. Like this guy I saw on a TV reality show one time (because it's a very credible source). He was a Tommy Lee wanna be. He treated everyone around him like crap and all the while he was saying "Hey, there's more to me than what you see." You don't need to be a shithead to be a rocker.

Now, whenever I go to a show I feel free to be myself. To say, "I love my mom" in public and never feel like I have to leave any part of me at the door.

So today was a big stinking rally in support of the UBC T.A.s. It was an attempt to end the strike. I do not like the strike. I would like school to go back to normal and for someone, anyone, to mark my midterms. The university has been spending a lot of money and effort to tell its students that the T.A.s are way out of line. The T.A.s have no money, which I suppose is part of the point, but they are spending a lot of time to tell us that the University is lying to us. I am taking both sides with a barrel of salt, and yet, the T.A.s have many strong points.

I have a real problem with the University campaigning against their own students.

And there was cake at the rally. In tribute to Martha Piper saying "let them eat cake".

The T.A.s are being asked to live on $6000/yr. It occured to me that I live on that much.

The T.A.s want more money and a discount on tuition. Which they deserve.

However, that money is going to come from my pocket. As a lowly undergrad, I am a pion and a pawn. I suppose that is redundant.

But there was cake.

Mostly I am mad that Martha Piper's kids get free tuition. And she makes $350 000/yr. If my parents made that much, they could afford to send me to school.

And why does she get $350 000/yr? I have a real problem with anybody making that much money. What are you going to do with that much money? Buy another car? Another house? Another country?

I live on $6000/yr, after the tuition I pay. I take the bus.

I have a lot of possessions and a nice place to live and enough food.

Of course, I am only supporting myself.

The T.A.s can't expect to support a family on their wages. They shouldn't. I am sorry, but that is the truth. I just want the strike to be over.

The only way this can happen is if the University actually agrees to bargain with the T.A.s.

Halfway through the rally, I left. I went to class. The T.A.s began to picket the building I was in, while I was inside. It felt really creepy. Like I was trapped inside. I didn't want to cross the line, but I had to leave....

< p>

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