This'll Be the Day

November 4, 2008, Election Day, McCain vs. Obama

Well, here we go. I couldn't begin to say who my friends did or didn't vote for, simply because they're likely equally divided in this equally divided political race, and I'm not so impolite as to ask the ones I suspect which way they went.

I did, however, ask my ex. While voting, I wondered randomly whether this was his first (United States of America) vote, and thus called. He informed me that he had not voted (!), because he procrastinated on becoming a citizen in this 'great' democratic society of ours, and thus could not vote at all, even though the polling placed was directly across the street. He's SO disowned.

On a good note, a friend who happens to have a criminal record and therefore had his voting rights revoked, yet, through his military service was able to strive to get those rights back, got a letter Friday granting them and took full advantage. We have hope as a country, after all.

So, now, we wait for results. It will likely be several days before we know for sure - nay, even whether Florida finally got its voting shit together, much less whether one or the 'tother will be next prez - so mote it be.

Pray, meditate, or drink to the best candidate. Headline News at 7pm.

Want to hear a story that has nothing to do with elections? Read on.

I was out in my back yard this afternoon. It was a nice day. The cold snap of last week is history, lots of sunshine today here in Florida.

I was poking around, deciding what further landscaping I want to start this winter. Back in February, when I was absolutely fed up with what I call the rape of the forest behind my home, I decided to turn my 7500 square feet of suburbia into a little bit of woodland.

I ripped out all my St Augustine turf and replaced it with alternate layers of straw and oak leaves. My neighbors were busy raking leaves from their lawns; I went around with the van and collected black trash bags of leaves, more than 50 bags in all. This, plus a dozen bales of hay, was all I needed for a groundcover of forest duff. But that’s a story for another day.

I planted native shrubs and trees; they are mostly slow-growing and I wanted shade for the back porch so I also set out a few young papaya trees in a sunny spot. And that is what this story is about.

Normally I’d have to wait until next Spring to have fruit from these trees, but we’ve had an unusually wet Fall and the papaya trees, along with everything else, seem to have doubled in size. They are about 10 feet tall. Early in October they began to put out thick creamy blossoms at eye level, one at each juncture of stem and branch. Then little baby papayas followed the blossoms.

The papayas resulting from the first blossoms are now about the size of my fist. I noticed that they had beads of sticky white papaya juice on them. Further examination showed that this wasn’t the papaya leaking naturally, the fruit was being punctured by a flying, syrup-imbibing insect. I don’t know what type of insect was having lunch on my papayas; they were about one inch long and half an inch tall with gossamer wings, long slender legs, and an equally long proboscis.

The proboscis was being used to puncture the skin of the papaya. One insect would make up to twenty puncture marks in the same fruit. Each puncture leaked syrup and, as the insect moved from spot to spot, its feet became covered with syrup. Then the syrup hardened and the insects appeared to be stuck to the fruit. What happened next told me these snacking bugs were females.

As each of the ladies began struggling to free herself, a male zoomed up from behind and nailed her. Now she had two reasons to free herself and she struggled harder. Her boyfriend kept his position and, as she continued to struggle, she pulled loose from the syrup and they flew off together in tandem.

Isn’t Mother Nature clever?

This marks my first day on e2 in nearly a year. What's my excuse, you may ask? I have none. At first, I simply felt like I had nothing to contribute. The weeks and months passed, and eventually I stopped using e2 as well as noding. It dropped from my mind. Now I'm back, hopefully for good, hopefully with a vengeance.

Things seem familiar and yet very intimidating here. The little details are what disturb me. For one: Scratch Pads? Blasphemy! In my day we had one Scratch Pad and we were grateful.

I see the catbox is still alive and well (do the kids these days still say catbox?) I always kept to myself, so anyone reading this may wonder exactly who I am. I certainly recognize the more prolific names of my time; just glancing at the Other Noders list brings back obscured, faded memories. TheDeadGuy, Bitriot, Sim3, eien_meru, ascorbic (ah yes, the catbox archive), BlackPawn. I know I once had some sort of opinion or description assigned to most of these, but now names are all I'm left with. I'm starting all over again.

Now I can't stop the flood of memories, none of them bad. Fundraisers, Secret Santa, horror story contests, noding challenges, nodermeets and their subsequent reports. The C!s, EDB, Butterfinger McFlurry (please still be up!). Yes, coming back was surely the right thing to do.

So I've decided to node again? Yes, and I'd like to be a part of the community as well. It's too early to tell how serious I am about this. I may end up leaving again within the week. I doubt that will happen; I've got some nodes in mind that I want to see to before I head back out into the cruel Internet wilderness. It really is cruel and cold out there, and there is no place like e2.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of comment-sorting to do, not to mention catching up on the hip new nodes I've missed in the past year.

One last thing. I'm posting this as a public daylog, not because I crave the spotlight and myriad welcome backs, but because I want people to know how meaningful E2 The Community is and was. Around the time I left, there was a lot of discussion about maintaining the tight-knit feel of the site while embracing the inevitable growth of our little information database. I'm posting this publicly so people can see that, even for someone who noded by the sidelines and then left for eleven months, is a special place, and it is hard to leave for good.

I am surprised there isn't much more written about this---maybe it is just that so much has been written already. I have studied endless figures, and "knew" before the election what would happen. I could have actually made a log for every five minute chunk of the day in between the last entry I made and this entry. For a while, earlier in the day, I was nervous as Virginia, a state that had been polling slightly but consistently ahead for Obama, showed McCain 10 points ahead. I kept telling myself that this was just the result of rural countries coming in before the big cities did, but it did make me nervous. Each new state that had its polls come in---sometimes ridiculously small numbers---caused a frantic cycle of reloading on various news sites to see what it all meant. When it finally struck me that it seemed that Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina were truly going to do what had been predicted, and come through for Obama, I should have felt elated, but instead I just felt...confused. Even when I walked through the celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, I didn't know quite what to feel. My eyes misted up, but I still didn't quite know what to feel. I did understand what the people were feeling around me, though. It would make sense that a young black person would be ecstatic about a president who shares their background, but the middle aged, middle class people seemed to be happy for the same reason. Although it remains to be seen how true it is, people feel that Obama shares their background, and understands them.

There are a lot of policy issues, and discussions about just what Obama will do as president. Much of this election was driven by that. Much of it was driven by other things, some of which I have written about before. Although Obama's razor thin margins in traditionally Republican states such as North Carolina and Indiana don't spell mandate, they do mean that we are probably thankfully beyond the Red State/Blue State cliche. Strangely enough, it was in John McCain's concession speech that I found the perfect one sentence description of what this election means to so many people, speaking about the racism that existed in America a century ago, when the idea of a black man even visiting the White House outraged people.

America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time

Many Americans are happy about this election because, even if Obama doesn't deliver on the promise that his political and academic credentials suggest, we have reasserted that America is for all Americans, not just for a shrinking cliche or stereotype of what Americans are.

So, yo. I just have a quick question. Anyone playing Spore? My screen name's "dystopiansatire". What's yours? Asiee from working all the time, Spore's been a strange, fun creative outlet for the past little while. So help me. I fail at making anything, and I/we need your ideas!

Hit me with your Sporepedia/screen name. I'll put a running list on my homenode. Thanks! Also, I'll try to node Spore in the near future, I guess.

Also, way to elect Barack Obama, Americans.

Yesterday's alcohol reeking in his brain. Emptied tobacco leaves on the table. Scavenging should help Nark to find something which can be lit and smoked.

Numbness, the only feeling that he is sure, he is capable of. It won't be like any other day. Yet, he is a little worried about the masks. Will they betray him for once and all?. His usual equipment set is touch wood. The SW1911, his companion for over five years now, is safe under his bed. He can't do without it, to give the finishing touch to his work. He can faintly remember the screams of his client's prey; not that it bothers him, but he needs the memories to carry on the next day's work. He has nothing to do with them except that they help him to earn money. Try to kill them without pain, that is it!

He keeps just enough money for a decent living, nothing more - A bottle of black rum, with roasted chicken, one shot of crack and 40 cigarettes. The rest is set aside for those who love it more than anyone else, the gambling dens and the whorehouses.

He prepared himself for the next day, the toughest day of his life. The client, let us call her Deme, is a hard nut to crack. He had been proud of his ability to analyze and understand his clients, but no luck with her. The moment she started talking, her sharp features dissolved into molten flesh. Her cheeks were red; surprisingly her eyes were innocent and radiant. She had a smile which reminded Nark of himself and his childhood. She took out a photograph and a flash drive, with still and moving images of the target, his routine was meticulously explained. Her intellectual ferocity kept Nark on his feet. Everything was finalized, a cheque was placed in the name of his favorite woman, Napa. By the time he finished studying it, Deme was gone.

He played the tapes and studied the target. "This is easy." But, there was an unarming look on his face, a certain ugliness which yearned for life. He seemed happy with his family and his work, but again ,why bother ? Respect him just for the fact that he is your source of money, money which Napa will spend for the next two weeks.

He will do it differently, this time. He won't use the masks. He would want to see the face while it took its last breath. The scared expression which drove him to use the masks; he never wanted to see their mutilated faces or manifestations of their deepest fears. He didn't want to let himself be known that a part of his soul was being killed.

No! he shouted, he didn't want to delay it further, putting on his best clothes, the holster under his blazer. He arranged his tie, checked his favorite gun, lit a cigarette and tiptoed to the mirror without any of his masks

Planet Earth Lights A Cigarette

Demands cuddle.

fascinatingly detailed bullshit log

I want to apologize for dumping the probably-mundane details of my life on e2. It's lame, I know. But, I was thinking about it, and I'm probably not going to stop doing it. Without e2, I would probably have no one to talk to about, well, anything. I'm dead serious about this. My best buddy is deploying for the second time when the end of this school quarter comes up. My younger brother has just turned in his papers and will be serving an LDS mission to who-knows-where in about a month. Other than Toni, these are the only people I talk to in real life.

And now, Toni's gone.

Things have been strained for the last month or so. We were starting to become distant, and the intimacy we'd had barely a year ago was gone. I, in my standard way, didn't speak up about it, hoping that I'd be able to discern what was wrong and be able to work through it. Last night, we finally sat down and talked about what was going on.

It turns out that the reason we weren't intimate any more is because... well, there are a lot of reasons. Some bigger, some not so big.

In what feels like a fucked-up way, I'm actually rather happy for her. I love her, and I want her to be happy more than anything else, and if not being with me is what it takes, then that's what it takes, and I'm willing to do it. We're parting on the best terms possible; neither of us is mad at each other, we're still friends. In fact, because we've signed a lease on our apartment, we're going to be roommates until August of 2009. I'm not going to think about what that's going to do; I'm not trying to think about this very much right now anyway.

The problem is that I'm absolutely fucking terrified of being emotionally alone again. I've been in some kind of romantic relationship ever since I started high school, and I thought I'd found the woman I wanted to marry in Toni. I'm a fuckin' shut-in nerd, I have no idea how to meet new women. Toni and I have been together for the last four years, and I've gone from being a emotionally retarded depressive selfish bastard to what feels like a rather decent and caring person. I don't regret our relationship at all; she makes me want to be a better person. To tell the truth, I'm actually relieved. Living with that tension and discovering that none of it is actually my fault is a huge weight off my shoulders.

It's all the little habits and stuff I've built up that, when I have to stop myself partway, feels like a little sucker punch to the gut. I stopped wearing my ring this morning, and it literally feels like I'm missing some flesh from that finger.

This hurts like fuck.

Originally for Sunday, February 10, 2008.

I hate talking to you but you insist on keeping this "good connection" between us. Nothing good comes out of wasted years ‒ my whole high school career specifically. Despite that I started my senior year without you, the grasp is still firm. I followed your directions and I'll be going to college this coming fall. I've become more a young woman and less a young girl. Over and over again, our chances of revival have been presented to you and you decide against taking that advantage.

However, there is not a day that ever drifts by where I refuse to regret the greatness that was my seventeenth birthday. And just as I had turned fourteen, I will be eighteen without you.

I can assure you that I no longer need you, but thank you for shaping up my past and laying a thin foundation for my future.

The 2004 presidential election was for me an exercise in endurance. I watched the election returns on a laptop screen from a hut at Discovery Bay, New Harbor, on the continent of Antarctica. There were nine of us there. There were only supposed to be four. Five of us were stranded by weather, straining the resources of the small science outpost. The helicopters couldn't fly. We were stuck in an Antarctic white out for what turned out to be 10 days helping to deplete the camp's food and fuel at more than twice the rate calculated by the team doing science there.

In a remote survival situation, one is very careful to assess the import of any item upon which one wishes to comment. Typically, anything not related to the improvement of the immediate situation falls into the category of triviality. The outcome of the 2004 presidential election would not immediately increase or decrease our food and fuel stocks, so we refreshed the web page on the laptop without comment. What was obvious was that there was enough food for all of us to persist for a couple weeks, and in that time the weather was bound to clear and the helos were bound to resume flying. Meanwhile we would finish the Oreos and the canned soups and the packages of hot chocolate, and would wind up defrosting the emergency stocks which had been laid in the prior year. They were out in a "bear box" sunk into the permafrost.

There are no bears in Antarctica, so the bear box served only to keep out prying humans.

The camp leader asked Henry Kaiser (Executor of the Henry J. Kaiser foundation, rock guitarist and film producer) and I to go out and take an inventory of our food supply. We did, and in the process I sliced open my hand on a sharp metal fragment in the bear box and commenced bleeding all over the pristine Antarctic wilderness, forever mingling my DNA with the eons of nothingness and the millions of years of dinosaurs before, and thereby subjecting myself to punishment by the U.S. government of something on the order of 10 years in jail and twenty-five thousand dollars in fines.

Dug was with us. At the time he was a combat nurse on leave from Afghanistan, taking his R&R in the frozen south. He calmly dressed my wound, told me how to handle it going forward, and went about his chores.

After a while it became obvious the election situation was going to be a repeat of sorts of the 2000 vote count fiasco. This time in Ohio instead of Florida.

Henry cooked steaks we found in the bear box and seasoned them with Thai spices. Turns out Henry is a gourmet chef and we all benefited from his skills. He's also an aficionado of old movies and 1950's TV series, and had brought a collection of DVDs which we savored after dinner.

As the storm battered our hut the wind shifted to a direction that prevented the exhaust from our diesel-fueled heater from exiting the furnace. Thus the hut filled with diesel exhaust. Threatened with suffocation, we were forced to open the doors and let in the frigid air until the winds shifted.

As day and night are indistinguishable in Antarctica, our days were metered only by our camp manager declaring nightfall and bedtime. And then by the subdued movements of those who had not fallen asleep so as not to awaken the others.

After some immeasurable period of time, John Kerry conceded to President Bush. The population of New Harbor greeted the news with indifference. Henry made oatmeal for breakfast. The wind had made a mess of our supply yard where we kept large cardboard and plastic boxes called "triwalls" tied down to boulders with cargo straps. The boxes contained scientific supplies, tools, some foodstuffs, and waste containers. At New Harbor all waste from all sources has to be containerized in 5 gallon plastic buckets, sealed with several layers of tape, and labeled for shipment back to North America.

The most noxious job in camp is one of cleaning out the latrine, which in part involves capping off the 55 gallon drum of urine before it reaches the critical level. This is the level beyond which if the drum is filled and frozen, the frozen contents will cause the drum to burst. Thus, the urination procedure in camp involves first checking the level of the "pee barrel" with a calibrated stick to make sure your deposit won't raise the content level above the critical mark, and after making that judgment, either peeing into the appropriate funnel or first capping off the 55-gallon barrel, rolling it to the supply yard and replacing the barrel with a new empty one, and then urinating. Given the severity of the individual's urination urge, the motivation to perform the barrel swap could vary from low to non-existent, which could result in negative consequences for the population.

The task of swapping out the shit bucket requires slightly less physical exertion - as the bucket contains only 5 gallons as opposed to a nearly full/frozen 55 gallon drum. But depending on the severity of the individual's evacuation urge, bad consequences could arise almost immediately if the fill-level of the bucket is not first checked. And then is raised the issue - how many people are actually certain of the volume of matter they void during defecation - and can that judgment be trusted? (Upon this one cogitates while seated above the bucket.)

These items went through my mind as I pondered the 2004 election results in silence while swapping out the shit bucket. I did it even though the bucket wasn't entirely full, and even though I didn't need to use it for any reason.

It seemed the only way I could center myself when facing the inevitability of another four years with a man at the helm I felt was better suited to a position managing the main Phoenix, Arizona Walmart branch than the highest office in our land. And yet, I am a firm believer in democracy. As the people had spoken, it was my duty to dissent and then support the process.

After 10 days the helo landed and brought us back to the "civilization" of McMurdo station. There, in a slightly less restrained atmosphere the political views of my camp mates became clear and I was in a minority of supporters of the democratic candidate.

Thus for all to witness - the wonder of the American system of government. Nine people with vastly differing political views band together in a remote Antarctic science station and support each other when the environment necessitates it. And they argue their views fiercely when the environment allows.

I left the ice at that time praying, "Keep Dug and his unit safe in Afghanistan."

I believe he is now in medical school in New York.

Despite guarantees my federal income tax burden would increase, I supported and voted for Barack Obama. Those who felt fear of taxation would sway my vote missed the point entirely, as apparently they did for a majority of America.

Though I am not a registered Democrat, I realize that during my tenure here at E2 I have blogged nothing but liberal viewpoints. Had the Republican party shown the wisdom in 2000 to choose the 2000 version of John McCain as its candidate, you'd have seen me supporting him and appearing to be a conservative.

But I cannot fathom the depths of evil perpetrated upon our country's good name by the fetid jackals currently inhabiting the White House, and look forward with radioactive, purified, molten glee to noon on January 20th, when the end of the reign of our empty-headed dunce-in-chief ends my servitude as shit hauler, and the administration of Barack Obama makes me a free man again. Free to travel the earth without having to endure the perpetual scorn of the rest of the world. Free from the polite recriminations of my European colleagues who ask me time and time again, "What happened to you people? Don't you realize what you have done?"

Free to remind those who scorn our processes that we are just as likely to show bouts of genius-like brilliance as school-yard bullyism, and that we are indeed the beacon of freedom in the world.

Free to remind those who would threaten us that it is far more profitable to join us than fight us.

Free to remind our allies that having friends in the world is something we value.

Free to plop down my passport in front of the border official of any country and remind them - yes it is us who put men on the moon and put an end to slavery and tyranny in the civilized world. It is us. We are Americans. We may go crazy occasionally, but we are still capable of great and simple goodness. We are not torturers or imperialists or slaughterers of children in the name of God as oil. That is not us. That is not me.

Free at last. Free at last. Dear God, I'm free at last.

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