So... I guess I'm back.

I first found E2 over Christmas break, my senior year in high school, and I was enthralled by the concept -- the same sort of inspiration you get when you fly in an airplane for the first time or when you decide at 2 AM one freezing night what you're going to do for the rest of your life. I've always been the kind of person who tried to learn as much as I could, and (although I was just beginning to find this out back then) I've always had a fascination with networks, how they link such disparate objects together and change the world in such an abstract, yet visible, way. Everything2 pretty much hooked me instantly.

I hung around, reading a lot, writing the occasional mediocre writeup or quest entry, filled in some nodeshells. It was the the last semester before college, and I guess my newfound free time (I was/am the extremely studious type) met up with my idealism, that sense of now-contribute-something you get once you get pushed out into the real world. Plus, I mean, y'all had a 5-line node on Robert Frost. And that just bugged me.

Then college swallowed me up, and I'm just now getting back to the surface.

I still have a year to go, but this is the first summer I've had where I haven't been taking summer school or studying abroad or something like that since... dang, 2002. I've checked in on this place from time to time, and seen the monthly "blast, the server's down again" posts on the LJ group, but I think I'm really going to try and get my feet wet here, once again. I've been around a lot of the Internet since I was 17, and I still haven't found anywhere that's quite like E2.

So, what's new? There's the ads--not the prettiest things ever, but obviously necessary. Have y'all looked into Project Wonderful? I hear they do some pretty nifty work over there. There's a bunch of new names I don't recognize, a podcast, who knows what else. There're even a bunch of new tags down at the bottom of this writeup--when I was here there used to be what, like, 3? 4? Clearly I have some exploring to do. But (unsurprisingly) Butterfinger McFlurry's still there; somewhat more surprisingly, none of my work's been deleted. And there still isn't a writeup for Robert Frost! Dangit!

Anyway, I guess this is my sortof-unnecessary "I'm back" post; I'm going to try writing (re-writing?) for E2 soon, hopefully with more fiction and less of that pedantic style I had 4 years ago. I might do that new quest, though, so it may not show up for a while. But yeah, if there's anything that I absolutely must know about E2 now, feel free to let me know. I'd hate to miss something important.

One day, I don't know when, but one day, I'm going to take you to the field by my grandparents' house in suburban New Jersey and teach you how to catch fireflies.


Nice things about GentlemanJim

No, GentlemanJim did not put me up to this at knifepoint. Though he could have; I mean, he had the opportunity. I met him over Thai food yesterday while passing through. Maybe let's make that nice thing #1:

#1 ~ GentlemanJim did not actually knife me.

He, in fact, treated me to a decent bowl of Tom Yum and a most excellent tour of downtown Tacoma.

#2 ~ GentlemanJim has Tacoma stamped on his very soul.

You may think of that as a good thing or a bad thing, depending. Tacoma is nothing if not a city of contradictions. A harder-than-thou port town whose highest art form is decorative blown glass? {Insert innuendo here!} There are few people whom I think of as avatars of a certain town or berg, but GJ definitely fits that bill. For those of you who think he's kinda rankling and weird: I'll say he does make a bit more sense when viewed in his natural habitat. (That was not a slam on Tacoma, btw. I thought the place was marvelous.)

#3 ~ GentlemanJim is fairly good-lookin'.

The prison tats, mutton chops, handlebar mustache or ZZ Top beard that I'd sometimes imagined on him were thankfully absent. As a Canada boy, he actually sorta reminds me of creases on an all-protein diet, but with the maniac energy of machfive. (Those of you who've met machfive will instantly know what I'm talking about.) He's also got a jagged wit on 'im.

#4 ~ GentlemanJim is a storyteller.

I'm a shockingly boring person-- especially after staying out late the night before at a farewell party-- but I am nothing if not a willing audience for anyone who can weave a good yarn. And GJ can spin a tale at mach speed, like a goddamn tirade centrifuge. It is terrible and wondrous to behold.

To hear all of the not-nice things about GentlemanJim, just /msg me.

somewhere on US Highway 2,

I'm a big fan of pushin' niceness, so I was glad for the opportunity to highlight the character of one of the most lovable curmudgeons here that I know: dannye. At the risk of invoking his wrath, I am dedicating this daylog to him. For the record, this is entirely and one hundred percent sincere, so those of you who think I'm being a cheeky brat or taking the piss... well, seven times out of ten you'd be right, but today you are very, very wrong.

For those of you who haven't managed to speak with him, I assure you that once you get past his alleged surly exterior, beneath you will find a dear heart. He is probably going to kill me for that, but he has only himself to blame for exposure - he has shown us again and again that he is a good, decent person.

Fact: Even if you don't have the opportunity to speak to him, all you have to do is dig a little into his massive pile of contributions and find the dannye I'm talking about right before you. This man has led a pretty damn full life, and I am willing to bet he hasn't told a tenth of his stories. I am also willing to bet these stories are definitely worth hearing about.

But if you're too tired or lazy to do some digging, I've taken the time to find a few gems for you. They're planted all inside this little missive of mine.

He is an only child.
He is a very proud father.
He's been married for years.
Did I mention he has lots of stories?
He has plenty left to teach us.
He himself is still learning.

He is worth your time.

Moving from the United States to the United Kingdom has not administered much culture shock. The differences between my life here and my life in the US are not much bigger than the differences I found moving within the US. One complaint I have is that it is impossible to purchase a working clothes dryer. Sure, all the better for the environment that I have to use a drying rack or, now that the weather is turning pleasant, a clothes line. The main drawback is that I now have to iron every shirt and pair of pants. Pair of trousers, that is. (Pants here are underpants there.)

With this weekend's laundry finally dry tonight, I settled into ironing in front of the telly and found the British version of COPS on BBC1, whereupon I realized that my immunity to culture shock is probably less to due with the similarities between the countries than with my social insulation. I was never an extrovert, and being a father to a small child keeps me isolated from civilized society. It is fitting, then, that jilting culture shifts occur when I watch TV. If I had been ironing my pants in front of the FOX network's COPS, I would have enjoyed a virtual ride-along where police officers, sweaty from triumphant pursuit and grass-stained from pinning the perpitrator to the ground with knees and forearms, compete for breathless understatement, "He's not too happy to be in custody now, but he'll thank us tomorrow." Instead I pressed my trousers watching the BBC's show CCTV (short for closed circuit television). Here the police officers observe the streets through a myriad security cameras; a pack of young thugs beating a commuter waiting for the bus with their fists and feet are admonished through an attached loudspeaker, "You are being recorded. Police have been dispatched." Sure enough, the youths scatter and the foot police are directed by radio to the worst offender. They didn't show whether the foot police threw him to the ground as the cuffed him or whether they administered him a stern talking-to. You can guess as well as I can.

This funny difference between the implicitly sanctioned omnipotence of American police and the implicitly sanctioned omniscience of British police got me thinking about the ubiquity of video and electronic tracking. I've been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the disappearance of anonymity in daily life. I have no intention of doing something for which I might later appear in court. Nevertheless, I don't like the idea that if I use a credit card at a pub, someone will have an indelible record of how many pints I drank. Just take my money and quench my thirst! I don't want the City of London or the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to know when and how often I've driven in or out of the city limits. Just take my toll and fix the roads! I don't want any neural networks perusing my literary purchases over the last decade with the ostensible purpose of making further recommendations. Just sell me ideas and let me think in peace!

It would be reassuring if the problem were with me: I am just aging into a cranky, paranoid geezer. However, I do not think you could park a Mini Cooper in the room between the Bush II administration and a government without any checks and balances. Do I feel better in the UK? No. Britain is hardly better. Bushy-eyebrowed Gordon Brown looks like a man who thinks he knows, better than us, what is good for us.

It's all enough to make you want to soil your pants. No, trousers. No. Pants.

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