Monday, April 30, 2001

Dennis Tito reached the most remote hotel in the solar system today. I am really happy for the guy. Let's face it, if I had $20 million in discretionary funds, I'd be posting from Space Station Alpha right this second.

NASA, of course, is in a tizzy. You can't have tourists renting space on the station that was funded by international tax dollars. How crude!

However, NASA should keep their collective mouths shut about what the Russians can and can't do. For starters, the Russians *can* get a civilian into space without blowing them to pieces. The Russians *can* burn up a space station on time and on target (remember SkyLab?).

The Russians can pull off a relatively successful space program with a total budget that equals roughly what NASA spends on coffee and doughnuts for a year.

Now, I strongly believe in the exploration and utilization of space. If NASA was eliminated I would be the first one in line screaming bloody murder about the importance of the work that they do, even with their failures and shortcomings taken into account.

They should, however, shut up, and take a lesson from their "inferior" counterparts. The ingenuity of the Russian space program precipitated the existance of what would become NASA in the first place. There is a hint of sour grapes in NASA's complaints, and perhaps, a simple "hey, nice one!" coupled with an examination of what actually works, versus what looks good on paper, is in order.

The Russians have one satisfied, paying customer on board the space station. NASA has one customer, dead and scattered across the Atlantic ocean, who never made it to space...although she did ride for free. Who would get your business?

I think JD Power and Associates should start awarding a customer satisfaction rating to space programs. The results should be looked at long and hard before anyone begins to whine about who can and can't do what with their allocations for the space station. NASA has proclaimed for years that the age of private citizens in space is coming. The Russians said little, yet ushered in that age.

Time to play catch-up again, NASA.
:::::posted by erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Saturday, April 28, 2001

What spam should be, first in a series:

**

If you're determined to retire with enough income to have REAL Financial Independence and Freedom, and are not afraid to work for it, I can help you.

I am looking for people with a Good Work Ethic and extraordinary Desire to Earn enough for a SECURE FINANCIAL FUTURE!

NO SPECIAL SKILLS OR EXPERIENCE REQUIRED. We will give you all the training and personal support you will need to ensure your success!

This LEGITIMATE INCOME OPPORTUNITY can put you back in Control of your Finances, and Your Life!

If you've tried other opportunities in the past that have failed to live up to their promises, THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE YOU'VE SEEN!

THIS IS NOT A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME!

YOUR FINANCIAL PAST DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE!

GET A FUCKING JOB!!!

That's right, a JOB.... You get your ass out of bed every day and go do something for money. Legal, dependable, and honest, a JOB will allow you to accomplish such things as earning a paycheck, and perhaps receiving a pension.

Either way, you'll earn money, and perhaps learn something too. You may make friends, and will have loads of things to do with all that free time you have right now.

A JOB. Get rich SLOW.

Call now.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 11-something PM EST linky

Thursday, April 26, 2001

Central Intelligence Agency
Research and Development - Surveillance Equipment
Washington, DC 20505

To whom it may concern:

I understand that the ever changing world of technology creates demands on your agency that require the commission of extensive resources, both financially and in manpower, to maintain a world safe for America outside her borders. All of this occurs, of course, while every other industrialized nation tries to inflict the same treatment upon us.

So, I though I might save you guys a little trouble on this one.

Through a process a little too convoluted to explain in much detail (although you can figure out the basics) I came across the following technology: The Safety 1st 900mzh Nursery Monitor.

As outwardly innocent as this product may seem, I have noticed certain oddities while putting it to use.

Namely, it picks up sounds 3 blocks away.

It was quite by accident that I discovered this. But in turning up the volume on the receiver all the way, I started hearing trucks drive down the highway. Sure, you say, big deal, right? Well, the highway is a quarter of a mile away, and the truck in question was listening to Garth Brooks on the radio.

There are 3 blocks of houses and trees between me and the highway.

OK, big deal you still say, right?

Well, the transmitter has a range of about 1000 feet. What use is the ability to broadcast a microphone that can pick up sound 2500 feet away a mere 1000 feet? FCC regulations? Perhaps saving a little money on electronics? Hardly.

This unit transmits on a secured 900 mhz channel. Sound spiffy, no? All that cooing and gurgling flying through the air over a scrambled frequency, safe from prying ears? OK, so why does it need to be secure?

They are building a network. A secure network of powerful microphones that can transmit to one another once they have a sufficient number of them installed close enough together. They can do this because they have secured the frequencies that they use, and nothing but the best encryption breakers could find out what they are really up to.

This leaves two questions. Who are they, and what are they up to?

Well, the device is made in China. They are behind this.

The last problem is this: how do they listen in on a network of microphones strung across our country all the way from China?

Anyway, so how is that spy plane thing going?

Just thought you might like to know.

Sincerely,
-John
:::::posted by erratic :: 02-something AM EST linky


"We would like to thank you for flying Continental...and hope you enjoy your stay here in Honolulu or wherever your final destination may be."
:::::posted by erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

WARNING: Personal entry again. If you're getting sick of them, move along for now...there will be some silliness later on.

***

I have a problem. Well, I have several, and none of them are terribly new. There is a new twist to some of them though.

I sat around a conference table this morning, listening to seven people pick over the project that I have been running for our client. Granted, I took some time off. Then the manager did. Then I did again. Things were bound to be out of sync.

I struggle to stay in the moment. Meeting schedules and training documents and engineering reviews are ebbing and flowing through the room, and a cold businesslike hum can be heard when you let the individual words blur together. This is a good trick for getting past the surface...ignore the detail and listen to the notes of the discussion. People rarely hide their true feelings with little more than words.

All I keep thinking is...I can't do this.

I lie awake each night, turning over the events of that day. Every day. I replay cetain key moments in an infinite loop and try to dissect the purpose behind them. I try to understand why.

Everything is bittersweet. My heart was cut loose from its control lines and emotion flows through it without concern or caution. I suppose the last vestage of the person I created is the job, although it is closer to the truth than anything else ever was. I have become accustomed to the lifestyle it porvides me, but the maintanence of the facade required to keep it all in place is crumbling. I like the technology, I like the challenge, I don't know if I can jump to the next step. I don't know if the "phase" is the resistance, or the attempt.

I look at how I deal with people in general...why I bare my teeth and snarl like a cornered badger when I feel threatened. Why I feel threatened at all, when I should be using the power within to build up resistance. A wall.

Wait, the wall is what got me here in the first place. Shit.

I don't know if I will ever be able to look my little girl in the eye and tell her to follow her heart if I am unable to do so myself. I have time for that, though, time to figure it out.

I hope.

I have gone through most of my life waiting...waiting for something. I never figured out what that something is. My cynical side tells me that I am simply passing the time until I die, looking for the occasional pleasant distraction to keep from too closely noticing the relentless passage of time. My optimistic side tells me I am waiting for a sign...something will happen that changes everything, and make life about now. Sometimes I feel like that already happened...sometimes I feel that it was only an illusion, that the cruel hoax of reality only allows me glimpses of what I can't have, and for no particular reason.

I never asked for patience.

Is the desire for more, the pursuit of such a life, even if held out of reach, only about the pursuit? Would I be so inspired if I thought it was so unattainable? Perhaps my shell was once needed to prepare me for the pain I would open myself to once I cast it off. But now, I am raw -- open to too many things, things that, once upon a time, could not touch me.

The only solace I can take in it all is the fact that I would not change this...that I would rather limp through my life, vulnerable and bleeding, than coast through it, protected and unscathed.

I hope that will be enough when I try to explain it all to her. I hope she will understand.

I hope I will, too.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

It was hot today, and humid...uncharacteristically so for April in New Jersey. But days like this tend to burn themselves out by the late afternoon.

I sit on the steps looking out over the yard, listening to several children rambunctiously playing in the next yard. The gentle, sunny breeze is slowly giving way to a stiffer wind, and the sky begins to fill with a gradual darkening gray.

As nature prepares for the impending storm, the children's voices become more fervent...almost argumentative. There is anger in the atmosphere, and it seems to seep into the beings of everyone who lives under it.

It certainly strikes a chord in my soul.

I lean back, light a cigarette, look toward the heavens through closed eyes while taking a long draw...silently daring the rain to come.

It doesn't. Not yet.

The wind and the darkness and the impending rain feel custom ordered for me. Angry tears with the inevitable admission that there is a power that sometimes flexes itself upon us and all we can do is wonder.

The crack of thunder announces that the armies of warm and cold have met on the battlefield, and the resultant blaze of electricity pays tribute to the determination of the forces that will decide the course of the coming days.

The release comes when all of the tensions snap, simultaneously, and pour out their spoil onto the ground below. It is a rush of wind and water, of sound and light, as the gray releases its pent up frustrations onto the earth, and leaves nothing but a yellow glow in its wake.

The sun slowly sets, and the glow begins to fade. Without this, the stars would not be able to shine.

When her words finally sunk in, I had nothing to express my feelings. Love and sorrow and anger and fear and guilt and release all crowded my consciousness for attention. The rush was overwhelming, and the attempt to express any of it left me feeling inadequate.

Just when I am ready to give up, I look to the sky, and see the collision played out in front of me...as it has been for millions of years. The storm that rages around us, can rage within us as well. What pours out is a result, but not necessarily an answer, and sometimes you can never really understand why.

I look again, and all I can do is wonder.

Godspeed, sunshine.
:::::posted by erratic :: 07-something PM EST linky

Monday, April 23, 2001

I was told over and over again that being a parent changes your view of the world. What I didn't realize was that is because everything looks different on next to no sleep.

Of course, that's not entirely true, either. I'll have a lot of time to sleep once I get back to work.

One of the perks of this whole deal is the ability to use the same "for the children" rhetoric that everyone else uses to get their way...especially when they are on shaky argumentative grounds: "Save the tree moss...not for me, do it for the children."

Yeah.

But it's really not so hard, this parenting thing...at least, I think I was given a good example to follow. The Government has been taking good care of me for years.

Don't smoke...or, at least, not until you're old enough. Don't worry...we'll tell you when that is. Don't drink, either, until we say you can. Oops, 18 isn't old enough for that anymore...make it 21. By the way, those things are bad for you, did you know?

Drugs are all bad...even the ones that used to be OK. We have newer ones now that are bad in different ways. Keep away from Cocaine, but be sure to take your Ritalin. Relax, we're on top of all of this.

Wear a helmet. And your seatbelt. Use a car seat. Be sure you have airbags. Slow down. Watch your step. Don't intentionally concentrate and inhale contents. You could drown in a pool. Cross on the green. Don't stick a fork in the electric socket. Keep the toaster oven off of your head. Don't microwave the cat.

These people have been looking out for me for ages, and I am eternally grateful. I will dutifully pass on this knowledge to my little girl.

Of course, now there is a new scourge, responsibly pointed out by Patti...and I am left with one question: Who will head the underwear police?

I understand the beginnings of such concerns...that the bad ideas in society start "catching", like a disease. This is when the government gets involved. It becomes legislative imperative to correct these ills, and set forth an enforcing body that checks ID's for smokers, or ID's for drinkers, or issue licenses to drive, or allow girls of the appropriate age to buy a particular type of panties.

See, I am going to completely sidestep the issue of what the appropriate age for such personal adornment should be permissible. I know I will likely have to face the issue someday, and all I can tell you is that based on my own experiences, three days is too young to worry about thongs. So sometime between tomorrow and 30 years from now I will likely run across the whole thong thing, but, most importantly, *I* will run across it.

I hardly expect some 16 year old girl making $6 an hour to enforce such parental controls...I don't expect them to enforce very much discipline as baby sitters, never mind as underwear enforcers.

Plus, notes are too easily forged. Perhaps we should issue underwear licenses...complete with a test on sexuality signals, proper walking techniques and how to surreptitiously pick a wedgie (although, being unfamiliar with such issues personally, I have it on good authority that thongs actually avoid wedgies, since bunches of material can't migrate to places that they don't belong). Upon the successful completion of this test you could then go the the DTU (Department of Thong Underwear) for a photo ID and a rating on what degree of raciness was allowed: Class A - Bikinis. Class B - Basic Thong. Class C - Things with lace and hooks and detachable panels. Class D - Edible.

This all sounds well and good, but someone who could manage such enforcement of these new protocols is needed. Someone with the proper experience and personality and free time to make this new agency successful.

I think the only obvious choice is Bill Clinton. We already know he can easily identify thongs, thank you Monica, and I am sure he could easily be brought up to speed on anything he is unfamiliar with.

Then again, I suppose he knows everything he needs to already.

Of course, it could be argued that having a bunch of people running around inspecting girls panties introduces a new problem. Like anyone who really wants the job must automatically be disqualified from getting it.

Perhaps more people should start wearing thongs. It might not affect the implementation of the underwear police, but it would certainly assure that a lot fewer people would be getting their panties in a bunch.
:::::posted by erratic :: 11-something PM EST linky


Contact the homeworld. We have already been searching too long. There's no intelligent life down there. We're going home.
:::::posted by erratic :: 11-something AM EST linky

Saturday, April 21, 2001

What is it about April 20th?

See, yesterday, I met this girl. She is unlike anyone I have ever met in my life. From the moment I first laid eyes on her, I knew I was in trouble.

She has short, soft, brown hair, and the deepest blue eyes that you have ever seen. From her pouty lips to her long, slender fingers to her soft, smooth skin...she is simply....perfect.

Often times I think about the occasions when I meet various people. The dynamics of the situation ebb and flow as two souls previously unacquainted with one another begin to communicate pieces of themselves to see if there is something that connects them. Often times I find my own part in this dance as equal parts of daring to share and trust, while trying to assess if what I am exposing is accepted. When it is, then to someone else, I am suddenly an acquaintance, associate, friend, a member of their tribe, or a common soul who was waiting to be found. Within these connections there is always something that someone now considers me to be, and that is invariably good.

In this case, however, I am considered something else that no one has ever labeled me before.

I have been spending a lot of time with this new soul whose acquaintance I have had the pleasure of making. The more I know about her, the more I am completely convinced of her total beauty and perfection, or her outer appearance and her inner glow.

She even has a beautiful name: Brigid Rose

She is my daughter.

She says "hi"
:::::posted by erratic :: 11-something PM EST linky

Friday, April 20, 2001

So there's something strange going on here. Let me just state the facts and I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

John is missing, or invisible, or otherwise not present. He's not in AIM, not at work and not answering the house phone.

I called his cell to check in and when I asked what was happening there was just this odd pregnant pause... I'm sure there's something big in the works, but I'm not sure what it is.

I guess I'll have to wait and see. Think good happy thoughts for him, eh?


:::::posted by
diz :: 07-something PM EST linky

Thursday, April 19, 2001

Q: What goes "moo...oops...*splat*....kaboom" ?
A:
Well, nothing anymore
:::::posted by erratic :: 08-something PM EST linky

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

OK, a bit of redirection...the best way I can describe the previous entry is with a quote from Monday: "there is a disturbance in the force."

The person who said that is me.

It seems that there has been a broad cosmic case of the baddies...I can fully count six separate incidents, which are mostly unrelated to one another, happening in the past six days.

One on Friday, one Saturday, two Sunday, one Monday. I knew that sooner or later it would come around and bite me, and yesterday, it did. You'd think that the forewarning would leave me better prepared, but, as it happens, it was actually worse. I wasn't just anticipating it, I was overly so: tightly coiled, like zealous snake waiting to strike.

So after the ensuing difficulty sleeping, for the second night in a row, coupled with the over caffeinated, over nicotined, work-pressure-laden morning, my resulting temper tantrum was nothing less than spectacular. As you can all so plainly see. Heh.

Hey, I am "erratic" after all, and I quite proudly claim "moody" in my who page. It would seem that I am also channeling a fair bit of what is going on in the universe, too. It would also seem that I really need to chill out a *bit*, since I didn't do to well with it.

So, things are really not so bad...in context, anyway. Don't look for my picture in the news just yet, unless it's about that Nobel Prize rumor again ;-)

R-I-G-H-T
:::::posted by
erratic :: 06-something PM EST linky


Thanks for asking....

See...it's my fault.

Hold it against me. No, wait...hold *everything* against me. Twist my words and assume the worst. Tell me how I feel and what I think. Really! I need it!

Ask me loaded questions with an ulterior motive. Ignore my replies. Read into something that isn't there. Please, I insist.

Run away and tell me it's my fault. Instruct me in the finer points of being myself. Convince yourself of my dubious intent, regardless of what might be otherwise known.

It's all my fault. Really. I have the very nerve to exist on the planet and was actually standing here being myself.

There should be a law against people like me.

Other than that, I'm fine...how are you?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 02-something PM EST linky

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

My cell phone is an integral part of who I am. I am not sure exactly when it happened...it was gradual, but during a cigarette break a few weeks ago, when I was asked by total strangers why I wasn't on the phone, I knew it was total.

I guess I'm just the guy with the Qualcomm stapled to his head.

Concern about the financial implications of the realization that my recent 4 digit monthly bills could be exchanged for a brand new Jaguar XJS aside, for a moment. Concern about the double-jeopardy cancer risk combination of inhaling carcinogenic smoke while beaming 1800 mhz microwaves through my skull aside, for a moment. These things are bad for you. For your psyche, I mean.

See, I hear things. Things that aren't really there.

When my last model phone offered up all the new ditties that could announce an incoming call, I dutifully selected one that was suitable to my personality yet different enough from those that I recall hearing recently, so I wouldn't participate in the mob self-grope whenever some generic "beep boop blip" sounded in a crowd. I knew that only my song would cause such behavior from me, and this could save a bit of dignity.

Unfortunately, I seem to get a little *too* attuned to the tonal alerts. After a few short weeks, my ear has learned how to screen the appropriate notes that could come from my phone out of anything that may generate them, even amongst a cacophony of other noises. While this is helpful when expecting an important call in a crowded train station, such leisurely tasks as listening to the radio in the car become paranoid delusional fits...with me shutting off the radio every 30 seconds when some song or voice or other miscellaneous audio emission would generate sounds that fall within the range of those that my ears have now been hard-wired to pay special attention to.

Plus, I like techno...a lot. Electronic music is really bad for this sort of thing.

OK, so I rotate the ring every now and then. Of course, then you are responding to the song that is someone else's phone, since you haven't learned your own yet. Once you do, the same problem returns.

I got a new phone last month. Different ring sounds again...although, on this one, the sonar-like "ping" is not only way too easy to learn, but far to repeatable by music *or* high human voices, so I have abandoned that one as well.

However, the new phone now has "vibrate" mode. Ahhhhhh!

Once I stopped freaking out at the random, spontaneous buzzing at my hip, I started to like the idea. I could stop paying attention to every minute sound, and listen to music again without concern for hearing phantom phone calls woven amongst the intended auditory experience.

However, two realizations are sinking in, and I am not happy about them.

First, now that the vibrating "answer me" indication is something I am accustomed to, I am receiving phantom "buzzes". I first thought this was in my head, but today I have witnessed, first hand, my leg muscle twitching at a frequency that lends itself to the suggestion that I am actually receiving a call. So it seems that *I* vibrate, after a while, in sympathy with the phone. While not as troublesome as you might think, here is the real problem:

Some day soon, my phone will "ring" with a voice. Synthetic or recorded speech--it doesn't really matter--proclaiming who is calling, and some other significant (or frivolous) indication that someone in the world is attempting to contact me. Spoken words.

When that comes out, and I get used to it, I will be hearing voices...voices that aren't there.

That is something that I have been afraid of for a long time.

Ooops...my leg is buzzing...one sec....

"Hello...hello!?!"

Damn.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 01-something AM EST linky

Monday, April 16, 2001

Proof that I might have seen too much strangeness in the world...

I was perusing this article. Admittedly, the headline caught my attention:

Transvestites Stone Official's Home

I couldn't believe what I read next. I was *dumfounded*

What was it that stunned me so?

That transgender mobs are frequently unruly during summertime in Turkey? Nope.
That there is a sports minister who's son is worth assaulting? Nope.
That a failed kidnapping took place under "odd" circumstances? Nope.

This is what got me: 50 million lira = 42 dollars!!!

Good lord, now that's weird.
:::::posted by erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Sunday, April 15, 2001

There once lived a man.

This man wasn't common by most standards. He lived differently from most of those around him, and preached beliefs that were quite different from the prevailing ones of his day.

The spoke of God and Holy Scripture and talked at great length about his personal relationship with the divine. His beliefs converted an initially small group of followers to his way of thinking...to his way of seeing a relationship with God as something other than what they had been taught before.

This man's beliefs and actions were so radical that the government became suspicious, then fearful, then angry at what this small group of different thinkers was doing. They wanted to silence this man and his beliefs before his actions got out of hand.

This man, however, believed so strongly in his purpose, in his beliefs, in his destiny to change the world, that he gave his life rather than submit to the whims of a government that did not understand him.

Quoting scripture and prophecy to the last, this man died, willingly.

The effects of this man's teachings are still felt after his death.

This man's name was....well, pick anyone you want: Jim Jones, David Koresh, "Do", to name a few. The list goes on and on.

:::

I am not drawing any parallels or conclusions. There are stark differences between what we know about "great men of history" and what we know about the ones I just spoke of. But when do those on the lunatic fringe gain legitimacy? It seems to be long after their deaths, and it seems to soften their living image, as needed, over time.

Do remember that people such as Jesus, Mohammed, and Martin Luther were the political terrorists of their day, with religion as their mode of change. I am leaving the very thorny issue of true divine providence out of this discussion, and restricting my thoughts purely to the historical.

Change of a divine nature in history is based solely on its success. Everything else should be viewed with a healthy skepticism, and one that needs not interfere with faith.

Believe in the divinity of whomever or whatever you choose. Do not confuse that belief with historical fact. Wars start that way, and have.

The message of the man who's rebirth is celebrated today has been changed, to suit the powers that be, long before any of us were alive, and that message is historically suspect. What will be said about us 200, or 2000, years from now?

Today is a religious holiday. It is celebrated because many believe that a man conquered death.

The reason we know about this day, however, is based on the historical impact of who took up his cause long after this man was gone, and how far their words carried that message. Even if the message was distorted to get a point across. Today is a political holiday, too.

That man would not be happy about a lot of what has happened in his absence.

Happy Easter.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 03-something PM EST linky


Computers. They really screw with your head. And not always in a good way.
But that's another story.

The design here is pretty hairy, I'll be the first to admit. And no, I'm really not all that great with HTML so I use FrontPage (don't throw anything, this is a hobby for me). So hopefully the design will heal itself as the cracks in the pavement often do...until then I'm just filling in potholes.

Yeah this makes a lot of sense. That's what I get for sitting at this damn thing for 4 straight hours. More again tomorrow.

This was the first post to loony.org. It was published approximately 12:40 am, EST, on April 15th, 2000. That means one year ago from this very moment.

Some thoughts:
Computers do screw with your head, but not always in a bad way either.
I have redesigned since that first post. I like this one better.
I don't use Frontpage anymore. I use notepad.
I sometimes sit at "this thing" for a lot longer than four straight hours. I'm used to it.
"More again tomorrow" never really needs to be said.
This is still a lot of fun.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Saturday, April 14, 2001

One. Zero.

That's all. It seems pretty simple really.

1 0

One wouldn't think that something so outwardly innocuous could launch an economic revolution, albeit short-lived, and spectacularly apocryphal...at least in the short term.

The invention of the "1" predates the invention of the "0" by thousands of years, and yet, the revolution in mathematical reckoning that was spawned by the addition of the lowly "0" is only a footnote in the story of what was to come, with the truly monumental leap forward when all other numbers were discarded.

The historical significance of this adaptation of what appears to be the simplest of concepts does not take on any noticeable meaning, until a fraction of a second ago from the holistic perspective of the deeds of mankind, and yet, rarely is our species treated to such forewarning of meaningful change as it occurs.

Especially when the messenger of the change is also the message.

There is unsteadiness in the early days, when the clumsy manipulation of a thousand light switches by some deranged physicists (who were too ahead of their time to even be kindly referred to as visionaries) believed in a new course that is still questioned today. That some clever assignments of their symbolic representation into a new symbolism would result in anything other than just another set of symbols. That all the complexity of flipping a coin could, in turn, be used to approximate nearly anything one wished by simple repetition. Massive repetition. How ludicrous.

With a warchest of eight 1's and eight 0's you can easily approximate any character in the english language. With sixteen of each you can approximate nearly any character in any language in the world. Communication using matchsticks, only faster, beyond the limit of biological comprehension and yet, born out of the cleverness of the same. A desire for more of something that has not yet been identified, only more so.

A hundred of these "bits" will assemble a word. A thousand, a simple sentence. A hundred-thousand, a paragraph, and several million, a story. Hundreds of millions are required for a copy of play by Shakespeare, although that same quantity can be rearranged into an approximate sonata from Mozart, or a reasonable facsimile of the Mona Lisa. Additional manipulation could bring forth a smiling child, a naked woman, or a view of abstract emotion.

The manipulation is the next step.

Just as any collection of material is only as useful as the ability to rearrange it into something new, the mighty 1's and 0's of the world are only worth the ability to manipulate them. Now, this is the concept that revolutionizes the human universe: you can change them, or not. That's all.

A 1 could be turned into a 0 or left as a 1. A 0 could be turned into a 1 or left as a 0. Those 4 actions represent the sum total of what can be done to a 1 and 0 within the jurisdiction of manipulation. The revolution is complete.

The remainder of what you have seen, and will see, is only refinement.

That doesn't mean that refinement is worthless... the honing of what exists now to something that will be better occupies most of our non-reproductive purpose on Earth. The invention of the steam engine was not a revolution, the discovery of tools and the harnessing of fire were. The steam engine is simply a highly refined result of those revolutions, and took millennia to achieve.

That does not belittle the steam engine, nor undermine the significance of its role in history.

However, it does at least suggest that the steam engine was bound to be created, once a primate swung a femur in defense of its life, and later warmed itself by the fire.

Revolutions are rare. Obvious ones, more so.

The "1/0" "flip/not flip" revolution was mechanized for the calculation of trajectories of artillery shells. The unforeseen consequence of that humble beginning has led to streams of 1's and 0's flipping or not flipping at the incomprehensible rate of trillions and trillions, per second, around the globe, all the time. They carry music, art, ideas, and the people behind those ideas to places that were never before accessible. People gain employment around the world without standing up, make friends, fall in love, declare war, relate stories of incredible inspiration or horror, and evolve themselves. The village is mobile, and in flux, and the ability to expose the inner sanctum of who you are or aspire to be only accelerates the process.

The connections are growing, and those connections, in turn, create new connections, and change us all, ever so slightly, like a mind that has learned something new.

Tomorrow, this blog, this place on the web, this simple illusion approximating parts of me through the trickery of manipulating streams of 1's and 0's, is one year old. It was born out of a process of change in me, and has, in turn, also changed me. I would like to believe it may have changed some of you, too, and I hope that has been a good thing.

Happy Birthday, loony.org.

:::::posted by
erratic :: 01-something PM EST linky

Friday, April 13, 2001

UPDATE:

I just went out for a quick cigarette and something seemed wrong.

I looked straight up and it was blue. Then I looked to the south a bit and some glowing round thing that hurt my eyes after a while was just hanging there all by itself.

Apparently, this "sun" and "sky" thing is for real after all. Who knew?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 01-something PM EST linky


I have read the mythology. Apollo riding his blazing chariot across the sphere of the "sky", every day.

I have heard personal witness' accounts, although anecdotal evidence is hardly reliable.

There is a vague recollection in the very foggy mists of my memory that such a thing might actually be true, no matter how fantastic the notion might seem.

Allegedly, there is a giant ball of fire that hangs in the sky for many hours each day. This glowing sphere moves along an elliptical arc across the "sky", which I hear is a giant blue area straight up.

I'm afraid that I am having a hard time accepting any of this. This alleged "sky" that I hear about is actually the big dark gray thing that the rain comes from, and this alleged fireball that magically floats in this "sky" certainly isn't messing with the gray.

If there is some sort of glowing fire thing, it hasn't been here in...well, jeez...not anytime that I can recall...at least, this week.

So, I guess it's just a myth after all. If anything changes, though, I'll let you know.

Fire in the sky...R-I-G-H-T. Who thinks up this stuff?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Of course...given that it is so close to Easter and all...I suppose that it is somewhat possible...

Then again, if this sort of thing were common, it would have me seriously re-examining my current "somewhat less than good Catholic" standing.

I mean...divine intervention was something I used to seek from time to time, and, well, Mary with a briefcase of cash would have certainly answered a prayer or two. I suppose it still would.

I guess they should have asked for her to hang onto it until after they cleared customs. Gotta be really specific when requesting miracles, apparently.
:::::posted by erratic :: 11-something PM EST linky

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Well, well, well...

It seems that Microsoft has been busy these past couple days. Less than 24 hours after they declare war on hostile code, they announce the termination, with great prejudice, of "Clippy"...by far the most hostile code anyone has written in the past 5 years.

While I hope that this sudden realization of the fact that crap code causes enormous problems for far too many people, I am left with the sullen understanding that this is nothing more than a marketing ploy.

If Microsoft created a utility that safely scrubbed all of the poorly written programs or programs with unreasonable vulnerabilities in them, I would be left with a $3000 solitaire machine.

Oh, wait, they did create such a utility...it's called "uninstall", but, of course, it doesn't really work very well.

And, of course, as much as I would love to believe that "Clippy" was really dead...I know he's only hidden from view. I've seen the next version of Office...he's still in there, just not automatically on.

Just because the little cartoon annoys the fuck out of absolutely everyone I have spoken to doesn't mean that *someone* doesn't want to be needled to death by the digital incarnation of a meddling in-law. At least they have a sense of humor regarding their beloved little assistant.

On the brighter side, I have also seen the next version of Windows...and it is going to be really nice. It's as different from Windows ME as...as...as a version of Windows that actually works.

It's pretty far along in development, too. Let's hope they have enough time to incorporate the level of quirky instability that I have grown accustomed to, before the release date. I'd hate to lose my ability to blame problems at work on "it's Microsoft, what do you expect?"
:::::posted by erratic :: 07-something PM EST linky

Tuesday, April 10, 2001

On September 29th, 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died from cyanide poisoning. The investigation revealed that the cause of these tragic deaths was Tylenol Capsules which were intentionally laced with potassium cyanide. A total product recall of all forms of Tylenol was initiated by the makers, Johnson and Johnson, in an effort to save lives and the trusted Tylenol name.

For the rest of us, the headaches were just beginning.

I remember the event well. As an impressionable 11 year old, I could never figure out why they recalled the pills when only the capsules were tampered with. Moreover, why the sudden hysteria from every corner of the globe when the problem was centered in one metropolitan area.

Today, I understand better why the hysteria happened, and it has a lot to do with people losing objectivity when danger is nearby. But enough is enough.

See, all I want is to take my damn vitamins.

After the fateful event, all sorts of products started coming in new packages with a "quality seal" or a "freshness assured" seal on it. I suppose it's not considered good luck to suggest that your product might be the target of a madman and thus "even more sure it's not poisoned" is probably a bad thing to put on this new seal...but "quality seal"?!? What, suddenly quality was a concern?

At some point, the "quality seal" became the appropriately named "safety seal." I don't know when this was, exactly, since I don't recall any press release, but it would seem that in an effort to acknowledge that their products might be the target of a deranged person, they also suggest that they aren't so concerned about quality any more. It's subtle, but think about it.

See, "quality seal", as busshit of a term that it is, could at least conjure up images of concern that the purity of whatever was inside the bottle was as originally intended. Quality. Fine.

But now, "safety seal" suggests that the contents probably won't kill you. It's a long way from quality.

I'm sure some recent college graduate will retire with the royalties of a "Qual-safe seal", it they haven't already come up with that one.

Anyway, they safety seal everything these days. EVERYTHING. I have to bust open safety seals for antifreeze. What's wrong? Is someone afraid that the buzz won't be the same if you drink contaminated ethylene glycol?

After the quality and safety seals are out of style, there will only be blank seals. Basically, no one will remember the apologetic introduction of the "quality seal" excuse or the silent slip into the "safety seal" mode but only that a seal should be there. On everything. On antifreeze, rat poison, and insecticides. Even on the Tylenol.

They seal books. Perhaps to keep the contaminating effects *in*? Then again, it's usually computer books. Perhaps that is a clue.

They seal hard drives. Motherboards. Mice, for godssake. What is the world coming to? Is someone going to poision my mouse? It's from Microsoft...what the hell else could you do to it?

I suspect that someone will come in and seal my keyboard off from me sooner or later. The question is, would that be a "quality seal" or a "safety seal"?

:::::posted by
erratic :: 10-something PM EST linky


Let freedom ring...
:::::posted by erratic :: 12-something AM EST linky

Sunday, April 8, 2001

While the leaders of two countries that love to hate each other are posturing back and forth trying to accommodate their own swollen egos while looking like they did nothing wrong, and get a very small but highly publicized group of people from one land mass to another, I am taking it upon myself to light the way out of this morass.

The key to diplomacy, after all, is compromise. Well, actually, it's getting the other guy to think you compromised, but failing that, some actual compromise might be in order.

The main problem here, really, is that we are dealing with two extreme positions. The Chinese government wants a full apology, while the United States is offering no apology. All or nothing is not something that can be met the middle. I would have guessed that even someone with as limited intellect as a politician would understand that.

So let's throw them a bone. Offer a backhanded apology. If we are feeling magnanamous, we could even call it a "full" apology. The wording is the key. It should read something like this:


The United States of America is heartily sorry for the legal flight that our plane was taking when your own paranoia, error in judgement, and crappy pilot forced our aircraft to set down in your stinking country that we never wanted anything more than a few pictures of in the first place. Please accept, with our sincerest humility, that such an event will never happen again. We're putting missles on the next one.

Perhaps throwing something in about permitting their country to manufacture Nike's even though we know how lousy they are to their own citizens might be in order, too.

See, the trick isn't holding a hard line on not issuing an apology, the trick is to make the Chinese government wish that they had never asked for one in the first place.

Problem solved.

Why make this so difficult?
:::::posted by erratic :: 08-something PM EST linky


So, the Mars Odyssey is on its way...

I think that is a good thing, since we need something to finally get to Mars in one piece and further examine the Red planet.

All of the topigraphical maps of the place surely need updating. The wreckage that has been strewn over the place in the past few years laying all over the place needs to be tracked, and the redness is doubtless slightly brownish-red with all of the added rust.

On the bright side, a manned mission to Mars is becoming far more likely to happen, regardless of the success of these little missions.

If NASA's success rate doesn't get any better, then instead of a research mission, we can send up our astronauts on for salvage.

All that titanium gets expensive after a while.
:::::posted by erratic :: 02-something AM EST linky

Friday, April 6, 2001

The weather today

Today will be fair, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and gale force winds, hail, sleet, thunderstorms and mayhem. Flash floods possible with tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes likely.

Tonight, clearing with more rain and a blood red sunrise at midnight, frogs and locusts swarming the landscape from the east. There is a 70% chance of the four horsemen of the apocolypse, with pestilence and doom possible.

The weekend will be cool and damp, with burning shrubbery proclaiming the end of mankind and gangs of giant tie-dyed unicorns sweeping the western hemisphere, demanding iceberg lettuce.

On Monday, sunny and pleasant, with spring-like conditions and highs in the mid 60's...

:::::posted by
erratic :: 02-something PM EST linky

Thursday, April 5, 2001

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life traffic
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings

The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz splat
And the sky with no clouds there were some clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound the stereo was cranked up

You see
I've been through the desert on a horse in a car with no name it was a Dodge Stratus
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain next time leave the cell phone home

:::::posted by
erratic :: 04-something AM EST linky


I'm not one of those people who bores the world with vacation pictures...places you probably have never seen with very touristy looking people that you couldn't care less about looking goofy in front of some random statue...

But because this trip very coincidentally happened on April 1st, just to prove this wasn't a hoax...one quick snapshot:


Me - Holli - Amber - Chris

OK, that's all.... carry on.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 04-something AM EST linky

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

The drive back through the desert seemed longer, hotter, and late.

My head hurts. Actually, everything hurts.

More air travel fun tomorrow. Peh.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 08-something PM EST linky

Monday, April 2, 2001

Things to do today:

Hit the road again for some more exploring

Continue to be as "unplugged" as I can manage and try to enjoy it

Try to ignore the work that is piling up in my absence

Get Famous
:::::posted by erratic :: 02-something PM EST linky


Some observations about the recent happenings here:

Pictures are worthy approximations of people and places, but do not do the real things justice.

Smoking in California is, as far as I can tell, and I have heard this before, regarded as slightly worse than clubbing baby seals for fun

On that note, elephant seals are really cute when they sun themselves on the beach (no, I didn't club them)

Publishing giant William Randolph Hearst had way too much time and money on his hands (I saw his castle)

Chris is taller than I expected, but just as quiet as I imagined

Whenever I would previously say some smartass remark to diz, the response of "I am going to smack you" was, in fact, a valid threat

With all the discounting of parental opinions of their own children that I typically do, Holli really is as amazing as I have been told

All of people, places and things that I have seen pictures of in the past year do, in fact, exist

I have met the three cats, and Flo is a killer (mouse)

Of all the things that should be strange about being here, the strangest is posting from the computer that has been used to chat with me...I feel like I am talking to myself.

"diz" is Amber, for those of you who don't know, and yes, I do call her both

People can accurately represent themselves on the internet to the extent that meeting in real life is seamless

I have more to say, but Amber is holding my cigarettes hostage until I give her her computer back, and I feel a nic fit coming on, so that's all for now
:::::posted by erratic :: 01-something AM EST linky


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© John McCabe, 2000
so be nice, 'k?