Winter Tales and Summer Blues.

I saw "A Winter's Tale" today. Courtesy of the MFA at the Shakespeare festival here in Montgomery.

Decent play, great acting. Promise and passion unfolds on the stage in part because the actors are so young, so fresh, so full of hopes and dreams and thoughts of a future spanning decades.

I no longer think of decades. More often I think about tomorrow. Or perhaps the tentative plan for the next stage. No further does my mind wander. There is a gulf in my imagination between the ages of 32 and 50. For those 18 years I have no idea what I will do or where I will go. I doubt children. I even doubt a wife. Perhaps a handful of lovers with more permanence and dedication than the current batch, but never a lifetime promised in an instant.

I have become a gypsy. More on that in another post. I bite sharks. Also more on that in another post. Life has become a series of exits. A running staccato of goodbyes and insistances that I have no more regrets than I have scruples.

It's a fun life, and I live it with a fervour rarely rivaled even by the rich or the insane. I run a race not because the finish line is before me, but because my past keeps me moving as fast as I can travel.

And I guess I'm growing to like it that way.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Do you know about the Global Frequency?

Global Frequency is the name of a TV show concept that some of the hottest network television brains attempted to launch via a one-hour pilot last year. The pilot was rejected by The WB. Here is an article about the pilot's history.

The story itself is interesting, and the Wired article talks about the irony that a pilot TV show about an illegal, underground data sharing co-operative has popped up on an illegal, underground, data sharing co-operative. If you're looking for the torrent, try Torrentspy (and search for "Global Frequency"). If you want a better BitTorrent client, I use BitLord, and it works wonders.

I'm not here to talk about piracy though. I will save that particular rant for another day, and probably bring in discussion about the leaked Star Wars III workprint as well.

Today I'm going to talk about the show itself, because I've seen the pilot, and the idea is intriguing.

If you'd like more information on the show, you can check out the Global Frequency Website for the graphic novels based on the same concepts.

The premise is simple: There are 1,001 volunteer intellegence agents working worldwide for an underground, civilian counterpart to the FBI's X-files division. Specialists in everything for Bio-engineering to Computer Science to Russian Bomb Systems have all been recuited over years of work by the organization's founder, Ex - professional - intelligence - czar Miranda Zero. The organization quietly works across government borders, cultural barriers, and incredible distances to resolve the fallout of dangerous paranormal and scientific phenomena. In a time of crisis the organization might call up an ex-cop. Or an Ice Cream Truck Driver. Or a collegiate gymnast.

And when a person is asked to come on board to help solve a crime or stop a psuedo-natural disaster or prevent an international incident, the line is always the same.

"You are Needed."

"You are on the global frequency. There is an organization of people dedicated to saving the world, and it needs your help."

"You are a specialist. You are the best in your field that we could find. You can aide us in a way no-one else can. You are needed. You are important. You are vital."

That is the message of the Global frequency. That is the hook that makes your heart beat a little faster in your chest. That is the moment that makes your mind reel with the implications of it all.

In a society where employees are becoming more and more a modular commodity, we don't feel needed anymore. A spate of downsizing or a merger or just an economic downturn means we can lose our jobs. We all have basically the same training straight out of college, and that means we are replacable. We no longer matter to the company as vital components. We can be swapped out for someone younger or better trained but with less experience. Or just someone cheaper.

We live in a world where marriage is modular as well. You can be replaced. In 2000, there were 2,355,005 marriages. In that same year there were 957,200. That means that for every five marriages this year, there was a divorce. The actual divorce-per-marriage rate is closer to 40% or 50% for first-time marriages. You are not needed. You are not the only answer to your spouses crisis. In fact, you might be that crisis. The cultural message is clear: we are not integral in our marriages.

The message that the Global Frequency brings to the viewer is an enchanting and charming one: there is a world out there where you, personally, might matter. Where you stand the chance that one day, you might be the only person on earth capable of doing what needs to be done to save the world. You might again become a necessary component in something bigger than yourself.

The message is one we should encourage in our culture. We should reward companies that make employees a vital part of their business plan. We should encourage and uplift couples who make it through the hard times with their marriages intact. We should remind our children every day to include their fellow man and remember that each human has a special gift or touch for some task or process or method.

We shouldn't need a television show to remind us of something so important, so real, and so primary to our mental health and social well-being. We should strive to keep this mentality alive. We should work to weave communities where each member is cherished for their talents and each person feels needed and loved and cared for, even as they need and love and care for others.

We are humanity. We are needed.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Reflections on Music

I have many stories to tell you soon enough. I have been traveling again, and my wanderings have been as varied and as interesting as always.

For now, an image to tide you over. The picture is of the surface of a piano frame in an old tabernacle near the great lakes. The exposed rafters are what you see reflected in the surface.

I have been thinking about music lately, and what it means to me and to others. I find that music modifies my mood sometimes, and that I can use music to this end when I desire a change. If I am in a depressed state of mind, upbeat or encouraging music might improve my outlook. If I am too cheerful, a darker or quieter piece might calm my nerves and restore my more relaxed mentality.

I find that if I am not careful I will choose music that enhances my mood rather than nullifying it, and instead of using it as an anchor I use it as an engine, fueling my angst or pain, or slaphappy mindset until I have driven myself outside of the range of neutral feelings and emotions with which I am most comfortable.

It is a different way of thinking of something we normally consider entertainment: music as anasthetic.

Friday, July 29, 2005


So I ran across this organization today called Grafedia. (Tag:

It's an online system for a sort of openly accessible virtual grafitti. Right now you upload images and .wav files to their website (video and mp3 support is coming, supposedly) and link them to a word.

This word becomes a ghosted e-mail address on which, when contacted, automatically replies with the file that was linked to the word.

The concept is simple: link your file, go out somewhere, use a blue sharpie or crayon or spraypaint to write your word with an underline and include the gradedia text if you want. Then anyone who sees the word can be get curious and send a message to that address and find out what's linked to it.

The idea has limited application for the home user, of course. Not many of us will write down a word on a piece of paper, trudge all the way home with it, remember it, and send a message just to discover what images some other random person is linking.

But when you're standing on a streetcorner waiting for the bus and you see that blue text and underline and you've got your hiptop or blackberry with you, the logic of such a system becomes a lot more real. A way of crosslinking graffiti and concepts that any connected user can access at any time from most modern mobile platforms.

The downside of course, is that right now it appears that the grafedia server is down. Ohwell.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ashley's tale.


When I was three years old, I climbed into my mother's lap and started learning to read from the Dr. Suess book she was attempting to use to put me to sleep.

My mom and dad were always ultra-involved in my education when I was in elementary school, but a change in jobs and two younger siblings meant that eventually I was put on autopilot. However, something from my younger days had stuck with me, the best way to understand something is to experience it.

I'm one of those kids that others call an overachiever and a teacher's pet. I can't ever seem to just not care about an assignment. If a teacher give us a project, I like to know I've got the best submission in the class. But high school is winding down now, and senioritis has hit, HARD.

Last year I made a 34 on my ACT score. In the spring of my junior year I started applications for universities (I know, a half-year early), and got a secured admissions deal with a small college in the pacific northwest, far from home. I could have started this year but my parents said they didn't want me to leave until I was 18, so they asked me to postpone my freshman year. I chose the program because it was the best school for my field (meteorology--yeah, I wanna be a storm chaser) but lately I'm beginning to think it was a good choice for other reasons. Senior year has been. . .well, different.

One school morning this August, as I was climbing out of the giant hunk of polluting metal my mother calls an SUV and I call "the monster" something struck me. . . there was a very simple requirement for my admission to college--my GPA had to stay above a 3.0. Everything else was taken care of.

I had a 3.95 at the start of junior year. Thanks to Mr. Steven's freshman mathematics class ("I don't give out As for anything less than perfect mastery." What an asshole!) I didn't have a 4.0, and since I didn't, there was no point in trying to keep one. My college entrance was assured, due to dual enrollment last year, I'm not even numerically capable of dragging my GPA below a 3.0 without failing a class. And I couldn't fail these classes if I tried. I knew I'd make Bs at least from habit alone even if I slept through every lecture in every course.

So it was, walking into Oilmount, that stuffy little private school on that first day of the fall I realized. . . I was being given a yearlong vacation by the Academic gods. They were telling me that I could screw around just as much as I wanted, and nothing could go wrong.

For the first three months, it was really hard. I tried my best to relax and blow off assignments but I found myself doing every homework problem, studying for every test, and re-writing every essay just like always.

Until the one about sex.

It was a research paper. Kindof a big project. 10 pages, with notes and references, all of it in MLA format. The teacher gave it to us in the oddest way.

He told us to draw cards from a hat. On each card was a letter of the alphabet. I got S. Then he told us he wanted a research paper on a topic that started with that letter. It had to be controversial in some way, and it had to be engaging and important to my generation.

I have no idea what made me pick sex. I suppose it was one of the first things that came to mind. One of my close friends had been telling me about all the wild sexy games that some people had been playing at a party the previous week --(they sounded like grown up versions of spin the bottle) and it seemed to be pretty controsversial and important to my generation. . . so there it was.

I started it just like I started any other project. The night it was assigned, I scribbled some notes on the project assignment page, then wrote an ridiculously rough outline. Then I went through the ritual: stare at the outline while doodling (puppies and a flower this time--I gotta grow up!) and then heading for the Encyclopedia set upstairs. Yeah, I could use Wikipedia, but there's something comforting about the Dad's old copy of Encyclopedia Britannica, even if it doesn't know that the Berlin wall has come down, it's still the first place I go.

On my way downstairs with S-SN in my hand I snatched dad's Oxford English Dictionary off his desk and headed back for my room, then curled up and started reading.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jumping Off Points

Link for your lives!

Your new slave - Sitemeter. A completely free, unobstrusive, advertisement-free counter and statistics tracker. It even does graphs of daily, weekly, and monthly statistics, as well as giving you pie charts of browser share, PNG graphics support, and even language settings. The downside is a weird layout, wonky statistics, and occasional arguments between their scripted images and my firewall. I'm looking into an alternative that I'll post about next Monday.

Your new master - Schlock Mercenary. One of the longest running, daily updated comics on the web. The archives stretch back to June 12th of 2000, and to my knowledge, he's never missed a day. That's a damn good record for this hobby/business. In addition, he's got razor charp wit, charming slogans ("Enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, nothing more") and a barrelful of sci-fi knowledge on his side. I recommend starting from the beginning, because the stories tend to be long and involved (but very worth it, unlike some other comics I could name. . .*cough*Sluggy*cough*).

Noteworthy - This is a bit depressing. It seems that there are people lobbying to put warning labels on soda. Don't you bastards have anything better to do?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Choosing your battles.

I know, I know. I haven't updated in two days, and I'm always critical of blogs that take unnannounced and usually lengthy vacations. Shame on me. Etc.

I've been thinking about this old quote lately that's sitting in a text file called "Interesting Junk" that I've maintained for several years now.

"Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel."

An old quote from a comic I have not read in years, called Kevin and Kell. Over the couple years of K&K archives I read, back before the turn of the millenium, the comic was mostly about unity and diversity, as told through a world where multiple species inhabit the same schools, workplaces, and businesses. K&K wrote a lot of things I liked, including a couple comics I still keep (I'll get on a rant about virii one of these days and you'll probably see a K&K comic linked).

But I liked this quote. What does it mean to choose your battles? What do you do when someone brings the fight to your door? Do you run? Do you play diplomat? Do you refuse to fight at all? What are the available options aside from direct combat that will give you options from which you choose? Are there any?

Random note: I just passed the 1,000 visit mark since May 10th, when I added a sitemeter tracker to AiW.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

This is a little shocking. . .

It is a survey that did not piss me off.

I know, I know, I'm known for many things and filling out surveys has never been one of them. But the format of the beginning of this one actually serves a purpose and says something interesting, so I'm going to use the beginning of it (I cut out the rest of it because after "Tomorrow" it went into all the normal crap survey questions ("do you like. . .toothpaste?" WTF?). Note that I filled out the survey on the 14th of July.

Ten years ago
I was annoying. You could take my word for it, but you could also ask any of my friends from that era. I was loud, clueless, and dorky.

Five years ago
I was lovesick. I had just graduated high school. During the previous few years, I had held intern position for dot coms and science museums, studied college level mathematics, and travel around the United States and even a little in Europe. I had also fallen hard for a girl. I called her my beloved and I would pine for her from a distance for two more years before things would finally fall apart for me.

One year ago
I was escaping. I had freshly graduated from the Mercer University School of Engineering with a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelors to match. I was watching the only real dating relationship that had ever gotten anywhere slip through my fingers like a pile of sand. I had chosen not to pursue a career in my field immediately, and didn't want to return to school, so I found myself adrift. Back at home, trying to find a way to bleed off my broken heart and nervous energy so I could get back to doing what I love.

I was sitting on the side of the road in Florida, watching the sky and hoping for the best, so that I could proudly say that I'd watched the Space Shuttle take off with my own two eyes. But no such luck--the launch was scrubbed on account of a failed fuel sensor.

I have been convinced of the magic and necessity of effective birth control. I performed a handful of my normal tasks with my usual aplomb--packing what others thought was two vehicles worth of baby paraphanelia into a single vehicle, washing dishes and being a pool of calm in the midst of the pre-trip stress.

I will be traveling half-way across the country by car with a family of six that is driving to an annual family reunion of sorts. I will be, as usual, the outsider. I will also be doing a great deal of the driving. It will be my birthday.

One Year From Now
I hope to be working in Southeast Asia, doing relief work. Possibly with the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005



A 450 mile ride on my Yamaha Maxim XS400 just took me 12 hours. That is an average speed of 37.5 miles per hour.

The list of insults-and-injuries includes: 6 rainstorms--All of them independent with enough space between to heat back up and necessitate dismounting to remove all the rain gear. Losing my license plate (motherf*$%@ing interstate-gnomes). Hitting a MAJOR pothole that appeared to have been installed intentionally by the Alabama highway service. Losing my change purse just before I reached the first toll-booth (out of a half-dozen). Dropping my bag (well, technically dragging it behind the bike) and damaging the extra helmet. Getting bitten by insects (specifically, flying ants that decided they liked it inside my rain suit). Getting papercut before I left in the morning. Forgetting several items. And even Hydroplaning (no crash thankfully) in Columbus and hitting water so deep I was sprayed with my own wake.

It was a very. long. day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Here comes the Linkage


The Goods - Google Earth. I know it already got a whole post for itself, but it is worth mentioning twice. Grand Canyon flythroughs, Times Square from ground level, and the ability to find your own house and see your car parked in the driveway makes this program more than worth the download.

The Words - And here I thought Australians liked justice and freedom. It appears that they don't. It also appears that their court system doesn't understand technology. Hurrah. Scratch Oz off the list of places I want to live.

The Waste - Tequila Mockingbird. This is another double link. But it's a good time waster, so there it is. Enjoy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Best Argument for Birth Control:

Two spoiled girls, ages 5 and 6.

I shit you not, there has never been a more compelling reason for me to sign up for a vasectomy the minute I get home. A couple of these demonesses in children's skin visited a house in which I was staying, recently. It was like someone had given cocaine to two small chihuahas (the neurotic, annoying kind you want desperately to kick) and then let them loose in the house.

I don't know if I've made this clear lately or not, but I don't like children. More precisely, I don't like other people's rotten and misbehaving children. Moreover, it makes me loose most of my respect for the parents, because a great deal of the behaviour of a child (especially etiquette, self control, and temper) is a direct result of the way they were raised.

So, if you want to make me happy, raise your children to be calm, quiet, and polite, or don't let them in the house. If they want to shriek and run about until they fall down, the little creatures are welcome to do it in the yard with the other wild beasts.

Author's note: I'm travelling at the moment (Ohio, more on that later) and my current situation keeps me away from the glorious "Intertron" (as Tycho calls it). I'll try and update tomorrow, but you might have to wait until Monday.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I'm on the road today. I'm doing what I always do. I'm traveling.

I like to travel. It has shaped and molded who I am.

It has formed me. It has been such a part of me that I started an independent blog just for that topic, and between myself and a friend we've written a small book's worth of content on the subject just in the last 6 months.

I am used to being on the road. The sound of a jet engine or concrete beneath tires calls to me like the siren song of the ancient Greeks, and sets my body in motion and puts my mind at ease.

If I stay in one place too long these days I start to stifle and sputter. I start to recoil from my surroundings as if they have become some sort of trap to keep me from my mobility. To restrict my freedom. The 'little things' get to me and I become uncomfortable, jittery, and unsettled.

I have a yen to travel. It keeps me restless. It keeps me moving. It keeps me sane.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Alyx Vance Naked.

Damn you perverted monkeyboys.

For some reason I can't quite fathom, my blog is one of the top ten returns for any combination of "Alyx Vance" and words that imply a lack of clothing.

So when I check Sitemeter daily, I discover that about three times daily I get a hit registered off of a google search that is page-precaching my site, because yet another slobbering fanboy has decided to see if there's a mod out yet where he can stare at the imaginary pixelated nipples of Half-Life 2's Heroine.

Shame on you perverts. Shame, shame, shame!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Stephenson's Earth.

I swear I could run a weekly blog that was just a once-a-week update on which invention Stephenson suggested over a decade ago in Snowcrash that is now hitting the market.

This time around that project is the ambitious "Earth" he suggested as the world's most powerful navigational tool.

It's progeny is the Google Earth project.

I cannot convey how kickass this is to a traveler. The free version includes the ability to create and organize "placemarks". For fun, I mapped an 88 placemark tour of my entire trip to Europe. I marked every city, found many of the hostels and hotels we used, and was able to mark almost every landmark in the major cities like Sevilla and Paris. Now hitting the "play" button takes the viewer on one long unterrupted camera shot from the Atlanta airport to London, around London, and then across the European continent.

The inclusion of road maps, terrain data and even building data in 38 major US and Canadian cities makes this more than just a globe with Sattalite photos pasted to it.

This is one very, very cool toy.

Be careful though, or you'll find yourself spending hours just playing around with it. Doing things like placemarking all the campuses where you've taken classes, or finding your grandparents' houses.

Later on, maybe I'll try and upload a copy of my placemarks list for fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

About a Boy.

I just saw About a Boy.

I decided I wanted to see it after I saw In Good Company and checked out the IMDB site for that film. I discovered there that the director for that movie was Paul Weitz, and that he was also credited for About a Boy.

I was shocked because I realized at the same time that he was American Pie's Paul Weitz. Yeah, that Paul Weitz. Paul hump-a-pie-on-the-kitchen-table Weitz. Once I learned that, if I hadn't already seen (and loved) In Good Company, I probably would have never seen it.

But since In Good Company had impressed me so much, I decided to give About a Boy a shot. I despise Hugh Grant, but I read a few comments where people who claimed to hate him normally admitted that he did well in this film, so I risked it.

Hugh Grant was passable. Great acting, a character that he's basically typecast for, and strong writing let him play the role without pissing me off. His 12 year old co-star was outstandingly abnormal. The movie was touching, funny, and real.

And it let me glimpse my potential future. Of course I won't have the ultra-popular but vapid song to make royalties from and therefor be an independently wealthy bachelor. But however I make my money I can see my life playing out very much like this one. Lonely but not alone.

And I guess I'm ok with that. Whether or not my redemption comes along, the inevitability of my future is something that doesn't frighten me anymore.

Should it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Links for Monday

Links for the day.

The Service - Blogger.

It has a better post editor than any other online system I've played with. It's intuitive and simple. The only downside is that its scritping system is somewhat limited and doesn't give you a lot of alternatives to the standard handful of blog archival methods. For example, I can't keep my Diaryland-style "forward" and "back" buttons that make the blog read more like a web comic and less like the daily news.

Time Waster - Penny-Arcade.

I've been reading PA forever. Updated thrice weekly with gaming hilarity and eloquent criticism of everything from the latest gaming news to sins committed with carrot cake, it's a great comic. If you're a gamer, the references are very worth the time. If not though, you should probably give it a pass.

Favorite comic strips: That's a tough one since they have a six year archive, but Along Came a Spider usually makes me chuckle. And since I used to have friends like these, that one gets high marks also.

Article: How Lock Picking Works

from Because, honestly, everybody should know how possible it is to lose everything.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Talking Verses Doing.

"Light Side Jedi spout off about becoming more powerful than you can
possibly imagine. Dark Side Jedi take over the universe."

A brilliant man wrote that years ago, and I've kept it in a file called "Interesting Junk" for over half a decade now.

I ran across it today. I think it is worth considering. What exactly does Obi-Wan manage to do with his 'power greater than Darth can possibly imagine'? Apparently he gives some cheat codes and hints to a teenage blonde kid, and that's pretty much the end of it.

Vader can crush people's will to live with his mind. I think he can imagine more power than a hypothermia-induced hallucination saying "Hey, go see my old short green muppet friend."

So when it comes right down to it, are we "do-ers" or "talkers"?

I'd rather be a doer, personally. I'd rather treat the people around me with blunt honesty, and be about my business, then beat around the bush and expect others to do the same for me. I don't have the time for it. There's a galaxy out there to conquer.

Of course, that kind of mentality gets me in trouble often. Many people (even the most direct of them) rarely expect to get a taste of their own medicine, and when someone tells a man flat out that he's wasting his time talking about things he doesn't understand, he rarely takes it well. I guess that hurts because I've lost what I thought were strong relationships that way. But were they really that strong if telling these friends that they knew not of what they spoke offended them so deeply that they would destroy friendships to keep their pride intact?

Weakness comes to us in many disguises. I have learned that pride can be one of them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Family Birthday Bash.

In my immediate family, 75% of the birthdays fall within 17 days of each other. My Father's, (today), mine (the 15th), and my sister's (the 26th). This year we are not going to be together on all of the birthdays. My sister lives in a different state and I will be driving 18 hours to Ohio on the day of my birthday. So she drove down this weekend and we're co-opting my father's birthday for all three of us.

It will make for an interesting day. Many gifts to exchange, stories to tell (I haven't seen my sister in months) and we're all attending a play this afternoon.

Right now I'm about to go help my mother set up hors dourves and make drinks for everyone. My sister and her husband should be here in a moment, and then the chaos will really set in.

I think I like it better this way than I would if I had a whole day to myself. It feels better. Maybe this is just because it is what I'm used to. Maybe it is something in my natural character. I don't know.

Christmas in the summer, almost.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Future of Portable Files.

Back when I was in college, I took a course called the "Senior Capstone Lab."

In the class, I gave a powerpoint presentation using an XP workstation, a plug-and-play projector, and a USB-key. I played the presentation directly from the key. USB keys had been out-and-about in the world for some time but my school was slow to adopt and I was one of the early adopters.

I predicted that in the near future we would see USB keys becoming a common pocket-toy for many engineers and anyone who needed mobile access to documents in a format that didn't scratch or dent, and could be thrown on a keychain and carried anywhere. The portability, reliability, and conevnience of having an entire briefcases resources in a package the size of a lighter was ideal for many day-to-day uses.

I projected that in the future we'd see USB keys expand to fill other needs. Electronic key systems (easy to implement electronic locks, complete with encryption schemes for the files storing pass-keys, would make it possible to carry a single 'key' for all of your locks, home, car, and office). And that eventually we might see most of the features of a computer offloaded to such a device. After all, with a docking port, input and monitor, you could theoretically compute from anywhere.

We're one step closer to that now, with Flashpoint Sharedrives, from Xmultiple. They're a relatively simple device, with some big implications. The device allows you to share data with other flashpoint drives without any computer on hand by direct-connection. In fact, you can even drawn data from someone else's drive using the "load" feature, even if it isn't a sharedrive.

The convenience of such a sharing might make the question of peer-to-peer obsolete. As drive sizes expand and we begin to see possible multi-gigabyte thumbdrives on the horizon, we could share movies, music, and pirated software without ever uploading a single bit or byte to the net, via the old sneakernet that we used in middleschool and high school to trade shareware games. Only now we don't have to carry the media with us. We just hit a button and keep the data on a permanent drive that we never have to give away or exchange.

It is an interesting concept. It is a facet of the future.

Of course, the counterpoint is that someone could steal all your portable files by hitting 'load' if they hacked their sharedrive to take everything from your key instead of just from the specified subfolder. How long before this sort of information becomes the premise for a new trick in the next Mission Impossible or James Bond film? It'll probably happen within two years.

I feel like Dr. Suess all of a sudden.

"We do tricks with bits and bytes,
we play games with sound and light!"

And coming soon:

"Fox on Socks downloads some rocks
uses rocks to break RIAA locks!"

Friday, July 08, 2005

Progress and Waiting.

I am renovating a room in my parent's home right now. The room in question was my room when I was very young, then became my sister's room for several years, then my room again after she moved out, and then while I was in college became a storage space slash office slash shrine to my geekiness. My star wars posters and glow-in-the-dark stars from a simpler time stayed on the walls for years.

When I moved back home after I finished college and took my vacation from maturity, one of the realizations I came to while I was working as a bartender was that I wanted to change that room. I knew it would eventually be my father's office again after I moved out and I didn't feel I was doing him a service by leaving him a teenager's room complete with faded images of Darth Vader and empty, dusty CD racks.

So I moved everything out of the room and set to it with hammer and crowbar. All the furniture in the room was built-in, so I ripped it all out. A dog fell through my ceiling back while I was in school (that's a whole separate story, coming soon), so there is all-new sheetrock in my room, but none of it was finished, so after all the furniture had been ripped out I mudded and sanded all the sheetrock, then textured and painted the ceiling and painted the walls.

We're putting cherry wainscoting and a chair rail all the way around the room, and now that the painting is completed, the major project has been preparing all the wood for the wainscoting, baseboard and chair rail. This meant staining it, restaining it, then coating it in polyeurathane, smoothing it down with steel wool and recoating it with polyeurathane again.

After each of those steps nearly a full day is required for the wood to dry. If you apply the next coat too early, you'll just waste your time (at best) or ruin the wood.

So I find myself thinking about progress. I find myself wondering how many times we try and force things to happen when we should realize we're in a 'drying phase'--where waiting is the only way to make sure things will go right. If we'd just be more patient would everything fall into place?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"You and I. . ."

". . .In a little shop,
buy a bag of balloons
with the money we've got."

There is a moment with EKG that I will always remember. (I'd link to her, but I'm too lazy to hunt up one of her modern blogs. Scan my archives and you'll find a link somewhere.)

I was in Florida with her and a rather large crew of other people. We were sharing a huge multi-bedroom condominium on the 14th floor, overlooking the Destin beach. At the time we were living 6 hours away from each other and saw each other once a month if we were lucky. And I'm not too proud to say it, we were very much in love. It was October, a few years back. It seems like an age, now.

We had been in each other's arms as much as possible for most of the weekend, and my 'no kissing' restriction (I told you it was a long time ago) was still in full effect, to her frustration.

I borrowed a short wetsuit and went swimming, the morning before we left. And when I finished, I went back to the beach and I wrote in the sand with my cupped hand. Gouging out tracks to create letters 8 feet high and as temporary as sunset, to be erased on the evening tide.

The letters I scrawled--"I LOVE MY KAWAII GIRL"--were completely legible from the balcony of our Condo.

For those of you that don't know, Kawaii is a Japanese word. It has a definition in the Urban Dictionary.

It was a reference we had shared. The word fit her, perfectly.

When I returned to the condo I discovered that none of our rather large party (12 people? Maybe more?) had been watching the beach when my temporary graffiti was in progress, and so I kept my mouth shut and waited for it to be noticed.

After a while, someone went out to the balcony and noticed the writing. Someone else joined them and soon there a half a dozen people had come to the rail and talked about the words below. I was standing in the kitchen with her when one of the other girls, in a thick southern accent, asked "What's Ku-way-ee mean?" and the comment came floating out of the conversation on the balcony. My EKG looked askance at me and I nodded my head in the direction of the balcony. "Go see for yourself."

She walked out and I moved and stood waiting in the hallway from the kitchen.

I'll remember forever the way she turned from the rail and the happiness in her eyes. Real. Genuine. Holy.

She ran to me, and if things had been different we would have kissed then, but it would be a few months before I would remove that romantic embargo. But the embrace we shared there was worth a lifetime of pain. It certainly paid an advance on the agony of the trip home, when dramatics from another member of our group put us all on pins and needles for the last few hours she and I had together before she returned to Alabama and I went back to Macon.

She was my Kawaii Girl.

Now she is my ex. So now you know how she got her nickname. For me EKG isn't a medical reference at all, even though it has everything to do with the heart.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Visit Whore Vs. The Holiday Weekend

Ok, so I use sitemeter to keep track of my visits and page views here at AiW.

This weekend my daily number of visits fell to about one third of its normal. I assume that is because this was a holiday weekend and nobody is checking their e-mail, web-pages, or what-have-you.

My intent with All is Well is to write something everyday. I would like to think that I write something compelling or interesting or insightful everyday, but of course I realise that with some days like this one and months where I only updated a handful of times, my track record isn't perfect.

My experiment is to see whether my writing is good enough, and the blog published and polished enough that via word-of-mouth, search returns, and simple 'next-blog' jumps I can pick up a daily readership in the 50s.

No real reason for it. I don't really need the confirmation of my writing. I'm not using this as a metric for my personal worth, I'm just curious to see, with thousands of new blogs being created every day and millions of derelict blogs floating dead in various corners of the web, if I can create something even moderately influential.

I guess we'll see in coming months.

If the visits ever climb after this shoddy weekend, that is.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What is WRONG with you people?

Check this shit out.

It seems that in Ohio, being too skilled at a sport means you shouldn't play, because you might make the other kids feel bad.

Can we say "Lowest Common Denominator"? Nope. Denominator has too many syllables. We might make the kids with speech impediments embarrassed.

Grrr. And we dare wonder why our economy is floundering and foreign industries and currency are destroying us on the international markets and exchanges?

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Four.

The warehouse was dark. WarTech was the first to arrive.

I could hear its whirring as the treads cut across the wet cement towards the set of crates. I didn't look up from the metal briefcase I was unlocking.

"It has been seven years, sir. Why have you summoned us?"

I told it.

"I have no family, so I cannot empathize."

I told it I understood that, and it was inconsequential.

When Femine arrived, I barely recognized her. She'd lost weight but the old black catsuit was gone--replaced with a strange-textured combat suit, Some sort of new kevlar substitute, I guess.

"Need something done, John? It must be important. You know the cost for our services."

I explained.

"That's quite a pretty trick you are describing. Expensive. Worth your soul?"

My eyes must have glittered oddly in the moonlight from the high windows. I told them I considered it worth the soul of God himself.

Stiles came through one of those upper windows and landed in a shower of broken glass and laughter on the crate next to WarTech. "Wow! That's blasphemy, Johnny boy. Care to repeat it?"

I shook my head as I spun the case towards him. The neat organized little vials shimmered in the moonlight.

Stiles grinned. I hated that grin. Grins should have white teeth in them, not green or yellow. "Influenza? Oooh, I like it!" he whispered.

When I heard D's boots behind me I didn't turn around. I just kept moving his new loadout from the case to the table. I set the Berretta down almost wistfully. Seven long years and it still felt like an extension of my hand.

"When you got out, I became the new end of days." The voice was lower than mine had been. A bass rumble that sounded almost guttural and made the hardware in front of me rattle and skitter against the metal table.

I shrugged and told him that he wasn't expected. He didn't owe me anything. I had called in a favour on three old friends.

"I know." The rumble responded. I could hear the leather coat swish against the heel of his boot as he drew closer. "But the three horsemen of the apocalypse sounds pretty silly if you ask me. What is the job?"

The words caught in my throat, but somehow I managed to tell them what I wanted. That I wanted the city destroyed. That I wanted anarchy and chaos let in. That I wanted wild animals to roam its streets and the homeless to take up residence in its classiest penthouses. And that then, I wanted it to crumble completely. That in twelve months I didn't want a soul living within 20 kilometers of city center.

"This is an extreme measure and a very long potential casualty list. Is there a primary target?" WarTech queried.

I told them that the city's sins had destroyed my little girl, and that it chose to protect the man who took sexual pleasure from her death. I wanted those in positions of power, all those who could have aided or helped her, to be primary targets.

A display was projected onto the table out of one of WarTech's manipulators. "I estimate that count at 31 names, with 15 additional names depending on external variables." The names and faces began to scroll past on the table, the glass shards making them warp and distort oddly.

Femine stepped up, reached out and cupped my chin in her hand. "You know the exchange rate for Miracles. John. You retired from this job. Are you sure this is what you want?"

I told them that this was what must be done.

And so the recreation of the destruction of Babylon began.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Man : Woman

A friend sent me a reference today.

An excerpt from the book of Proverbs.

"There are three things that are too wonderful for me, four that I do not understand:

the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship in the sea, and the way of a man with a woman."

When I read this passage I want to search for what binds these four concepts together. What is the underlying nature of the wonder that the sage feels?

So I rewrote the statement without any language around it, using only the primary words.


When I write it in this manner I am immediately think of SAT or ACT test questions, and my mind attempts to ask "what common thread rules these four?"

eagle : sky

The Eagle soars in the sky. It is master of the ground beneath it and all the air. Yet without the empty atmosphere the eagle would be purposeless. A third wheel. A useless creature without any method of movement.

snake : rock

A snake moves across a rock. The rock supports the weight of the snake and captures the heat of the sun, returning it and giving the snake life. Without the rock, the snake will not survive, for it cannot gather the energy it needs to hunt.

ship : sea

A ship carves through the sea. Without the water the ship would sink, run aground on savage rocks. The sea has the power to destroy but it also justifies the ship's existence. No man would build a ship if there were no water upon which to sail. It allows the ship its freedom and gives it purpose and reason.

man : woman.

Man and Woman in modern times have become viewed as more and more seperate entities. The arrival of women's liberation, the "working mom" and "stay at home dad" archetypes, and even the homosexual community's growing political influence have all served to isolate the 'man' and 'woman' concepts. We begin to think of them as equal parts, exactly equivalent in all things.

Instead of imagining a man as a pillar and a woman as a cornerstone, for example, we imagine the genders as two pillars. Instead of thinking of ying and yang we think of 1=1. we create equality and do not celebrate the hybrid creature that a marriage creates, a symbiotic relationship where each depends on the other and the support is as great and important a task as the movement.

man : woman.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"The Black Chair Area"

I ran across a Xanga post today about a guy dropping by Valdosta State University, the site where Georgia's GHP program is hosted.

He was a GHP kid (as were lots of my friends) and in his blog he relates how strong the memories of those places are for him.

A summer program imprints strange memories on us. It is different from a home, or even a dorm room, where a year or more allows all the memories to blend together and gives you an overall impression but doesn't drag back certain memories most strongly when you see those places. Instead a summer brings out a cacophony of experiences.

I suppose it is because a summer program is so short, and tight, that only a handful of memorable moments exist, and so these spring almost unbidden into the mind when the place is revisited.

I spent the summer of 1999 in Carnegie Mellon University's APEA program. I survived and thrived for six weeks of living there, eight hundred miles from home, taking courses in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I never left campus.

When I think about their (then brand-new) University Center, a very short set of very distinct memories leap into my memory as if they just happened. I can see "The Black Chair Area" in my mind. It's a center space in the UC there that we all used as a gathering point. There are very distinct events in my life that I recall. Frustrating a math geek with a 'simple' geometry problem. Watching a student sprint up to try and erase an errant note from his homework before the TA got to it (the TA wasn't offended, thankfully). Hearing the most puerile joke of my life (still makes me laugh and grimace at the same time). All good memories. All strong moments in my life.

But so few of them, and so strong in my memory. Will they always be this way?

When I am old, if the Alzheimer's that runs in my family gets me before cancer or heart failure, what will I lose first? Will I be able to return and visit those buildings (if they still exist), and have the memories come flooding back? Will anyone humour me enough to travel halfway around the world with me to help me chase my memories?

Scary thoughts. Questions about mortality plague me suddenly. Will I be forgotten, or will I forget myself?

Friday, July 01, 2005