21 years, and here we are.

I was a quiet baby. When I learned how to stand up, I would drag my toys out into the middle of the room, take one and stand up. I'd play with that toy for a little bit, then squat down, drop it, pick up another, stand up and play with that.

I had pneumonia at 6 months. I had a seizure around 6 years. I fell off of a lighthouse when i was 8. I moved to a new house when I was 10. I can tell you which of those was most traumatic.

Friends, this is not just a birthday today. I had my last final at 10am, so I am done with my Sophomore year of college. In a week I return to Chicago, to work until Christmas. I've gone through so many changes, I'm sure you have too. I don't remember having a birthday last year. I think it got lost in the weeks after the World Trade Center attacks. But I've met many many noders since then, thanks to panamaus and zot. I've learned so many things about mathematics, physics, electronics, people, life, and me. I've failed my first class ever, Differential Equations (that was the test at 10am... I needed 99% on it to pass). I've switched to Linux. I've questioned my sexual orientation, my religion(s), my values, and my sanity. I don't remember who I was yesterday.

But, I wanted to stop and thank Everyone at Everything, my community and my family. I won't name names, but there are about 50 or 60 in my thoughts as I write this. Especially the one that called me a year ago for my birthday. And the other one, yes, you. And the one with cold hands.

Goodnight, and hope to see you soon-ish.

Also, happy birthdays to Chris-O and Eraser. And anyone else I hadn't known about.

deep down i know that everything between us is falling apart. we're closer than ever, and yet i get the vibe from him that something isn't right. i don't know how to fix this.

in other news, my best friend phoned me today. it's been so long that i didn't know how to talk to her anymore. a month ago, it had been that i didn't know how to talk to anybody but her. but she and i have been drifting apart since may, and now with the country dividing us...

this weekend i will go to a camp that she and i have always attended together. we were so close that we'd been confused with lesbians. (just because we're not sluts does not make us lesbians).

and i'm procrastinating from homework. the more things change. the more they stay the same.

I am the bane of my own existence.

Sex. Once in two years.

Love. Twice in one life.

Two things I would very much like to have again before I die.

Is the desire for these things greater than the reality of them? Sometimes, but not always.

There is time enough for both these things, but there is not always enough time to use these two things to their fullest potential.

I have failed and have been failed, in both sex and love.

They are not the be-all, end-all of existence, but they sure make passing the time on this dusty ol' planet good for a few laughs.

I miss my laughter, too.

Is envy an appropriate emotion for someone who knows what they're missing? Is it ever appropriate? Is regret?

I don't regret having had those things. But I do regret having lost them.

Autumn is here and winter is not far behind. Rain will turn to snow, snow will turn to rain.

How does loneliness turn to company?

I am not who I once was, and that has me worried. There was a time, long ago, when I wasn't so damned content, when I was still shaping my heart for the next day.

I miss you, whoever you are. Are you out there, watching me? See how I dance.

Hmmm, the marlin 60 SB that i have been target shooting and plinking with misfired on me once today. It's the first time it has done it in about 150 rounds or so that i have fired from it.

Upon closer inspection it was faulty ammo that was to blame and not the gun, whew!, i'd hate to have to bring mine to a gunsmith.

It was a remington golden bullet 40 grain high speed round that caused the problem, upon later analysis it appeared that the misfire was caused by one, the round failed to feed completely (failure to feed), and it was a dud anyway. i figured it was a dud as after i chambered it again and pulled the trigger it still did not go off. i kinda assumed it ftfed on my because when i worked the charging handle to eject the round it did not extract or eject and thus the next round got in the way and i was in a jam that couldn't be cleared by just working the action. pretty weird that those two anomalies happened on the same round.

i loaded 6 rounds and fired 1, 1, 2, 1, 1. no failures whatsoever. whew! confidence returned!

i pick up the dud round, and on the rim were two firing pin hits, yep it was a dud alright.

Since i only tried the golden bullet for function testing i think i will finish the function testing tomorrow with the hyper velocity rounds and decide from there which one to stockpile.

So far i have succesfully used remington subsonic, and cyclone with no failures and i am almost through with my box of winchester super X target too.

I hope the vipers function just as well as i am leaning towards using that as my long range deep penetration hyper velocity round. The yellow jackets seem to pack a punch but i have heard they aren't too accurate, i will try them all the same and let you all know.

if you are still here, thank you.

Conspiracy Theory Time: Today in Turkey, (a pseudo-ally of the United States and a NATO member) 15kg of weapons-grade uranium was recovered. Not depleted uranium--the real deal. In a lead container under the seat of a taxi. Written on the container are the words "MADE IN .W. GERMANY". Remember West Germany? They were also a NATO member. The other text on the container is blurry, but this is what we know about that container (and by inference, its contents):

  • It came from West Germany, and was therefore made before 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, the men arrested were suspected of smuggling it from "Eastern Europe"--meaning a non-NATO country.
  • It was found in Turkey in transit at least 13 years after its creation. That's a long time for uranium to remain unused, but due to its long half-life, it probably didn't deteriorate much.
  • It was found by paramilitary police after they received "a tip-off".

Turkey is against a war in Iraq because of the Kurds, but could be vulnerable to Western pressure due to their NATO membership and reputation for being a smugglers' paradise. It's also the home of Incirlik Air Base--a great strike point for a potential war with Iraq.

The Voice of America news story (not a terribly objective source)includes the following blurb to place the story in perspective for those of us who have had our heads under rocks for the last six months:

The seizure comes less than one week after the British government published a report claiming that Turkey's neighbor, Iraq, has been trying to acquire uranium for a nuclear weapons program. London and Washington accuse Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and they have been working to build international support for a military operation to oust him.

So, it smells a little fishy to me. Uranium smuggled out of a Cold War-era reactor or NATO weapons depot (remember how paranoid we used to be, back then?), from one U.S. ally to another. Two poor Turks are picked up after an anonymous tip, accused of moving this stuff through Eastern Europe (of course it came from Eastern Europe--that's how you go east through Europe!). Not buying it yet? Read this article, from almost a year ago, when the U.S. and the U.K. were trying to drum up support for bombing Afghanistan:

Police in Turkey have detained two men who attempted to sell enriched uranium suitable for use in nuclear weapons. A police official in Istanbul said the two men offered over a kilogram of uranium, wrapped in a newspaper, to undercover agents. The detentions came just a day after the US President George Bush said Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation was seeking to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons "to destabilise entire nations and regions". A Turkish police official said the arrested men - an ambulance driver and his friend - were not aware of the uranium's real value and agreed to sell it for $750,000. "They were barely aware of what they were selling. They only knew it was a very expensive substance and wanted to make money," he told the Associated Pressnews agency. The men said they bought the substance from a Russian man several months ago. It is believed that the uranium comes from one of the former Soviet republics. The seizure in Istanbul took place as undercover agents arranged a final meeting with the two men, with whom they had been in contact for a month.

So: in two cases, just as it becomes politically convenient, a pair of incompetent Turkish smugglers are caught by sheer luck (or their own ineptitude) after they are caught with weapons-grade uranium (don't those three words sound great in a headline or a press release?). In each case, the American public, and the rest of the world that watches CNN, has been bombarded for a week or two with vague warnings that swarthy unscrupulous types just might try to smuggle this stuff into the hands of some very bad brown person we don't like.

Is it just me, or does this look like a Hollywood frame-up? Sucker Turkish patsies with promises of a few million American dollars and then send those rubes up the river. You can't make an omelette without killing a few people...

* update * (29 Sep 02) The uranium has been found to weigh only hundreds of grams. Will that headline make the news tonight?
* update * (1 Oct 02) Fifteen pounds of uranium actually discovered to be "harmless, containing zinc, iron, zirconium and manganese." Total weight less than 5 ounces. The discrepancy was due to the fact that the Turkish police weighed the lead container with the material and reported its total weight.

I am very unhappy.

Today started off really well. I woke up slightly later than I wanted to, but I suppose the extra hour and a half of sleep was what my body needed. As soon as I woke, I called my friend Joey, and we talked about the business we plan to start when we are done with college. After getting off the telephone with Joey, I spent about an hour and a half revising a paper for my Economics of Technological Change class. I am pleased with the paper.

After taking care of that, I decided it was a good idea to shower, for I had every intention of going outside of my house today - it is Saturday, after all. So, I shower, dress, and go through the morning routine. By now it was a little after ten AM. No problem. I crack open my Differential Equations book and take care of my problem set for this week. Great. Easy enough, and it was just a bit after noon when I finished.

At this point, I had one thing left: work on my Data Structures assignment. I had no intentions of finishing it, but wanted to get as much done as I could. It is due on Wednesday, and I don't want to save it for the last minute.

I developed the GUI for the program very quickly; however, the remainder of the program is still escaping me. I emailed a friend from the intro class I had taken during the summer to ask for help, but I have not gotten a reply yet. Not a big deal, really. I have all day tomorrow to work on it.

I am, however, at this very moment, entirely miserable. My entire being aches with wanton pain. My good friend said she was coming over today. She told me that she would come down after the wedding she was attending, which began at 2PM from what I recall. She hasn't arrived, and I am rather despondent about that. I was going to ask her if she felt like going to see a film, and getting dinner. It's almost 8PM, so either one or the other, or both, is/are out unless she gets here post haste.

The really upsetting thing is, if I would have know I was not going to be doing anything great this weekend (yes, going out with her is great) then I would have likely gone home (home, as in not at college for the weekend) last night, where I could have enjoyed this year's remaining mild days in my beautiful yard. Or, even if I decided to stay, I would have planned today very differently. I don't like sitting around, waiting for something that isn't going to happen. For all I know, she could be held up somewhere where she can't contact me, but I doubt it. It's all too likely that today is just another shining example of why I generally don't maintain very many friends.

I am very, very unhappy.

A cup and a paycheck, the souveniers of a day.

The paycheck, for painting, this Saturday and last, with a bonus, for a job well done, and to get a new tire.

The cup, a small, hand-thrown thing, about three and a half inches tall, bulging at the top, a little something from an M.F.A. Gray, a stripe of an earthy orange, three unglazed fingers reaching up from the bottom. It fits nicely in the hand, yet looks to small to actually be useful for anything.

Woke up far too early, 8, after four hours of sleep, so wanting to just go back to bed, to sleep more... it was so possible to sleep more, and would have been so so nice. But... work beckoned... no. Money beckoned.

Tired, not really wanting to get up, but aware of the day ahead. Work and an attempt to be around other people. Or something. Sort of.

Drag self out of bed, gather clothing to wear after painting is done, towel, shampoo, soap. Carry an armload, cautious of the paint that still seems a little wet, on my pants. The painting last night that caused it - painting on canvas - was a bit dissapointing. Just wasn't going anywhere. Flinging paint at canvas... but not making things any better, and no clear idea of where I was going.

Some nights are like that, it seems, just getting nowhere. Sometimes they come too often.

Took the digital camera to the studio, last night, also, but the batteries were dead. No pictures for her. Or anyone else, really.

Walking down the hill, to the car, armload of clothes in hand, worrying that I should have a long sleeved shirt, as it seems rather cool. I have no such shirt, not to sacrifice to painting, so I just worry.

The van, covered with dew, sits there. No parking ticket. Finally got a parking pass.

A sliding door opened, clothes placed inside, the same door slammed. Into the drivers seat, trying to figure out which way to go. To the corner store, to get coffee and donuts, wishing I could spend more on food, but realizing the need to save, more... Stopping by the room for a sport coat, then to the art building, to pick up a paint brush, and the post office, to stare at an almost empty mailbox. Too much driving. And then moving on.

An hour or so drive to the house of my aunt and uncle, NPR on the radio, going close to the speed limit, being passed by too many people.

Not focusing enough on driving, either, and I see it. This is what it was like the last time. Yet I don't really do much about it. I should, I know. I should. But I do not seem to be changing. The minivan feels less comfortable, something is different. I squirm in my seat, but do nothing about it.

Off the interstate, seven or so miles of road to the house. Relatively little commercial development, few lights, fast driving. The radio still on. A stop light, a left turn only lane, the signal, driving a bit, almost past the driveway. Pulling too fast into the dirt and gravel driveway, then slowing down, instinctively, almost.

9:30. Already. Evaluating the job, the looks of everything... seeing what little still needs to be done. A week and a few weekends, already, painting this new barn, and it is almost done. a few second story doors, a second coat on the doors on the first floor... pretty boring, white and dark green.

I get out a ladder, a dropcloth, and the paint, and get to work. My uncle appears, we talk, he provides the radio I was unable to find. Car Talk - tends to be amusing. But it is only somewhat there. Focusing on something else. On nothing, perhaps.

Working hard, moving quickly, listening to the sharp, harsh, honest words of my uncle. This habit he has, of calling me "Rembrandt", don't know how to react. Can't tell from the tone of voice what he means. So I keep working.

My body becomes more and more tense. Doing physical labor, usually, is relaxing. But not this. Perhaps the stress to get done today. Perhaps the stress of meeting new people, this evening. But stress, all of it, and it builds up. My uncle's frequent progress checks...

And soon enough, it is lunch time. Hot dogs and potato chips and pickles and cookies.... Sitting at the dining table with my aunt and uncle, afraid to lean back on the chairs at all, sitting stiffly, awkward, uncomfortable. When they were in Indianapolis, five years ago, at Christmastime, I set coat on the back of one of the handpainted, floral, c. 1850 chairs, knocking it over, breaking one of the spindles... so afraid to do anything to them, ever since. So afraid to sit in them. Never comfortable in them. Ever.

Talking vaguely about something unmemorable. College. Math classes. The neighbors. Don't really remember. Don't really care. Just trying to finish this today and do the best possible job.

Outside, painting, again, making good progress. The paint doesn't cover certain things because a dark color won't cover a light, perfectly, everywhere, in one coat.

Working on the double doors, on the same side of the barn where my uncle is on the roof, painting the dormer. This American Life on the radio. We talk. A little. Just don't know how to talk to him. Anything I say, anything, and he just sort of reacts, well, as though I am strange. I know he will. I don't even bother. Feels this way so often. So very often. Must learn to talk to people.

I turn off the radio, because, well, I just can't deal... TAL is just, well, too embarassing... can't see explaining why I listen to this stuff to him.

4:15. Have finished what I can finish. So close to being done, but my hands are too clumsy, at this time. Too late. Too tired. Started to mask off the trim of the door, just about the last thing, but it is just too much. So I clean up.

A shower, at their house, but thouroughly unrelaxing. Don't know why... just stress. And stuff.

Clean, a bit refreshed, ready to leave. A paycheck, with a fair bonus, conditional on the replacement of a certain rather balding tire... more anxiety... need to find a place to replace that, soon. Arg.

Leaving there, stopping a few times on the long driveway, trying to read the map without really reading it. Trying to figure out how to get to Kent. Going to an M.F.A. show, to talk with the significant other/ spouse of said person about the Library Science school there... at the reccomendation of a friend of my father.

Driving on the road to Kent, through the woods, the twists, the turns. Thinking about driving off the road, or into another car. Not to kill myself, no. Just, because, well, it semmed like the right thing to do. Like I would drive away and be fine. But I don't.

Looking at all the tire places I pass. Thinking of stopping, too late. Putting the decision off until later.

At the campus. Trying to find the art building. Down a road, the wrong one. Stop in a parking lot, consult map... find the right building. Park. Fret over the possiblity of getting a ticket. Put money in the meter, knowing it will run out, but the meter is only 30 minutes, max...

To the art building! Yep, looks like an art building. All empty inside. Down some stairs, to the bottom floor, where this thing is supposed to be. I see some people, after a while, and avoid them... finally realize that I will have to go past them, and maybe even make contact with them.

So I find the show. But not the person I am supposed to meet. Waiting around, awkward... grr. Eat some food, look at some art. Feel nervous. Look around. Appear out of place. Still feeling stressed.

The artist works entirely in ceramics. The show is of a set of platter type objects. As a little sort of gift thing, the cups noted above are being given away, for beverages...

Then E. shows up. Yay! She introduces me to people and I talk to the library science person and all is good... didn't get much from the conversation but the realization that I need to talk with people more. And then I left.

Drove back to Hiram. Saw the bridge out, on the way, and thought about jumping it with my car... again... I don't know why. It just seemed like a good idea. I don't want to die, not at all...

Sat in my office chair, stared at the computer, and did nothing. Surprisingly nice. Really. All the stress went away, slowly. So nice... all that pain, just gone.

Realized that I have to write. I just have to. If I can't converse in conversation, I need to say something somehow. And I need to practice writing. So I started this daylog.

Wrote and talked and wrote and wrote... and then she came on. She asks all these tough questions, and I love and hate her for it. She makes me think, and want to write better, that I may talk better with her. She types so fast, says so much... she is amazing and... I just can't type so fast. I don't know what to do... write more.

It is so hard for me to write, to communicate with people... this is a place to start.

This is all I can share now. There is more. I am listening. And I am trying to write.

I awoke surprisingly early, around nine o'clock. The sun was shining. I had a blue sky above me, and things to do.

Around twelve o'clock I left my house to join people at the peace march starting at Embankment; I met my brother and Tiefling and Tansy and others on the side of Cleopatra's Needle, and looked either way to see the roads packed as far as I could see in both directions and yet more people coming across the bridge. I got the feeling that it was going to be even bigger than the march against the war in Afghanistan on October 13, 2001, and the atmosphere was very positive aside from the angry pro-Palestinian crowd who turn up to this sort of thing with posters of dead babies captioned 'Sharon's greatest success' and things like that. (demonising has no place on a peace march, damn it; criticise, yes, but portraying one's opponents as monsters is precisely what allows people to make war on each other as if they weren't humans.).

Possibly hundreds of thousands of people turning out to protest against this war might help in some way? Is Tony Blair determined to do whatever George W. Bush asks of him - of us - however unpopular it might be with the populace? Could this show of opposition - together with the reluctance of his own party - possibly provide him with a useful opportunity to explain to Bush that he really doesn't have the support of his people or his party in any war on Iraq and that taking his country to war in spite of that could be a real problem? (Does he even see this as a potential problem?) If Britain did somehow end up not supporting a military campaign in Iraq, would the USA go ahead with it anyway?

I expect what happens in the United Nations will probably make more difference than what happens in London in the end, but in any case it's good to know that dissent is not quite dead in Britain yet...

So, anyway... there we were, crowds sprawling in both directions, drinking tea on the side of the obelisk and chatting, waiting for the crowd to get moving and meeting people as they turned up, until almost three o'clock when the march finally started its journey towards Hyde Park. Unfortunately, it was just around this time that I kind of had to start walking in the other direction. A few weeks ago, my brother has booked us both tickets to see two showings of Smallfilms productions at the National Film Theatre today, having no idea that the peace march was happening too - so it was miss most of the march, or miss Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, The Clangers, Bagpuss and Pogle's Wood, and Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin in person.

I'd never seen Noggin the Nog or Ivor The Engine although I had books of both, and I hadn't seen The Clangers in ages, and I'd at least showed up to the demonstration to be counted, so I went and watched cartoons for the rest of the afternoon, and I can't say I was sorry.

First up was an episode of The Clangers called The Seed. One of the Clangers planted a seed and it grew at first but then it drooped, so they called over their friend the cloud to rain on it, which did the trick. Grateful for its help, the Clangers decorated the cloud with flowers. Soon though, they realised that their planet was being overtaken by this greenery, so they radioed the Iron Chicken for help. The Chicken in turn called in Skymoos from a nearby planet - great purple quadrupeds with huge maws and a hint of the bovine about them. They muched through the rogue vegetation in short order, drank a pot of soup, and then flapped off into the sky on their wing-like ears (ear-like wings?), twirling their tails happily.

Next was Bagpuss: Flying, the episode with the little basket and twig broom with the song about the woman who went seventeen times as high as the moon to brush the cobwebs out of the sky, and with the mice fooling Professor Yaffle into thinking they've perfected a flying machine using the basket and a couple of fans, until he notices the fishing rod that's really holding them up. Like most episodes of Bagpuss I'd seen it not long ago, but even so it's always a sublime pleasure to watch.

In the Ivor the Engine episode Unidentified Objects, Dai is just telling Jones about Martians - little green men with pointy heads who come down to Earth and disguise themselves as petrol pumps, there's a lot of them around these days - when they spot a squadron of round flying objects not far away. Suspecting an invasion, they set off on Ivor to see what's up. When they get closer it becomes apparent that it's not flying saucers at all, but bubbles: Meredith Dinwiddy, the local gold-miner, has put together a vast, elaborate apparatus with levers and giant bellows, which blows a perfect soap bubble every time. It still takes quite a bit of effort from a human operator though, until Jones has the idea of connecting it to Ivor's boiler to automate the process. The machine churns out half a dozen or so bubbles in quick succession, and the episode draws to a close.

Finally, we had three episodes of Noggin the Nog, the Noggin and the Ice Dragon story. Noggin and friends are called to a valley which is being terrorised by a mighty dragon, but when they find the dragon they realise he's actually very nice, really a thoroughly decent sort who didn't mean to frighten anyone and wanted nothing more than to have someone to talk to for a while and then get back to bed. I won't give away any more of the story than that.

After this programme, we had half an hour before the next section, a showing of several episodes of the much less well-known (black and white) Pogle's Wood, interspersed with question and answer sessions with the genius creators of these shows.The Pogles are simple folk who live in the roots of a tree somewhere near Canterbury with a peculiar creature named Tog who is somewhere between a cat and a squirrel, Pippin, the son of the queen of fairies, and a plant named Plant who entertains and educates them with powerful but benign magic and has a deep fondness for bilberry wine. In the question and answer sections, the self-deprecating Postgate was visibly discomfited by the adulation people kept throwing at him.

By the time we got out of the NFT the rally would have been winding down in Hyde Park so I went straight home, cooked myself some supper, checked the news - the police were admitting to 150,000 on the march, the organisers claiming 400,000 - and then went out again. My local craft centre, where I used to go to make and fire clay models, was having its closing-down party, so I called by to say some goodbyes and to see if anyone could suggest any alternative kilns I might use (which they did). I was distracted while I was there by a ranting comedian who evinced disappointment when only a few of the people in the room said they'd been on the march. He was followed by a talented if somewhat poorly-rehearsed jazz band with a great female singer. She sang It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), and she had that swing; she sang Fever, and I got the fever; she sang Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye, and I said goodbye and hurried off to the noder meet.

Attendance was down on the first leg of The Neither Big Nor Clever London Noder Meet, and conversation was a little subdued I thought; it was a hot, sticky night, and quite a few of us were exhausted from the march. Still, it was good to see all the people who came. This was the first time I've been to a noder meet where I didn't meet anyone I hadn't met before...

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