Thursday, December 27, 2001

In the words of the great George Washington in the winter of 1778 at Valley Forge:

"Holy shit, it's fucking COLD!"

:::::posted by
erratic :: 05-something AM EST linky

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Oops, I did it again.

Or, maybe *he* did.

I talked at great length last year about my annual trip to church on Christmas Eve. Well, 365.25 days have passed, and I find myself in the same place that put me off the holiday last year. Same church, same priest.

I was unsure if it was a fluke that his words completely pissed me off a year ago, or if it was something to be expected again. I soon found out.

The ceremony went over 2 hours, which, regardless of your age, is too long for a simple "Christ is born" celebration. The best part, however, was the flashlight vigil. Since candles are too much trouble for the general population to master, especially with the insurance issues and cleaning up wax everywhere, how else to have a candlelight vigil without candles but to use battery powered ones! It was wonderfully tacky. Free advice: skip it next year.

So roughly 80 minutes into the torture mass it came time for the sermon, and the moment of reckoning was upon me. If I was likely to storm out in a huff, this is when it would happen.

He started out describing the harsher realities of a manger. Innocent enough, and, quite honestly, something I had never really considered before. Perhaps it's being a parent myself that changed my perspective, perhaps I never made the conscious thought-experiment of what being born in a stable would be least, if you weren't a horse or a cow. Regardless, we were off to a pretty good start.

Then, it happened.

"No other religion in the world--in the history of world religions--has a God such as ours...that he would humble himself [to such a degree] as to take human form."

I have to admit I didn't hear very much after that statement. I was too busy sautéing in my seat.

In the year of our Lord (ha) two thousand and one, this sacrosanct asshole has the utter gall to declare how wonderful our (well, his at least) God is compared to all others. This set against the still very fresh images of the pile of rubble in downtown Manhattan, where the very arrogance he is now portraying is the single largest contributor of the death, destruction, and ensuing war we are going to be fighting for a long, long time. Oh, yeah, that and it is an outright LIE.

News flash Father holier-than-thou, in all world religions, well, the big 3 anyway, all have the SAME God. Perhaps you should look at the fucking Bible you are thumping in my general direction before you declare your beliefs above all others. The first half of that book is called the Old Testament, and is also known as the Torah, which is the Book that Jewish practitioners read most frequently.

In fact, wasn't Jesus JEWISH???

Anyway: God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah....SAME GUY. It's the lesser characters in the great plot that are generally up for discussion, debate, and holy wars, which each side declaring God is on their side. You would think that having the same God would alleviate most of the disagreements in the world over religious matters, but when someone who claims to be an authority makes such brazenly incorrect statements as the basis for an ensuing argument about the greatness of God, then the very point you were trying to make is lost on anyone who might choose to THINK.

I was raised Catholic. I know you aren't used to people who think for themselves in spiritual matters. But perhaps you could have ran with the notion that you should do the thinking for the sheep, not fill their bleating souls with self-aggrandizing tripe that sounded good when you wrote it.

Anyway, as I said, I was more than a little warm at this point, and while I was busy suppressing the overwhelming urge to throw my candle flashlight at his forehead, I didn't catch a lot of what was said next.

A couple of things that did register, though:

"Back at that time [St. Francis of Assisi's time] Muslims and Christians were slaughtering one another"

Well, two things. Who started the crusades, hmm? Where is that divine providence you were so readily declaring just a few moments ago? If you are going to take credit for the better God, why not remind everyone that it was that same God that sent you off to kill the Muslims that wouldn't convert?

Second, Muslims and Christians are STILL slaughtering one another. And your prior statement is part of the problem. Asshole.

"Let us pray for those who were affected by the events of September 11."

And we know you weren't one of them.

"Let us pray for peace in the troubled parts of the world...Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Israel and Palestine...."

AND THE FUCKING U.S.A. Perhaps you could have taken a page from any newspaper in the past 14 weeks and noticed that there are problems here, too, and you have just outed yourself as part of them.

"There is no greater love than that of a person who gives their life for that which they love..."

Yeah, I know of 4 pilots who did just that recently...

So. it's two for two with this guy. Or zero for two, depending on your perspective. Once again the wrong message for a world that needs head-in-the-sand theology like it needs another zealot with Semtex and an attitude.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas season, and a successful new year. May 2002 bring a start of peace, an end to paranoia (except for the 'harmless' personal kind), and a blinding revelation (or thump to the head) for those who perpetuate the ignorance of a world that modern society left behind. Or needs to.

At the very least, let's just finish 2002 having the same number of skyscrapers and airplanes that we started with.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 08-something AM EST linky

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

What I don't want for Christmas

Spammers had better be getting something good from of all the bullshit that I get a cross-section of, because it's certainly not doing *me* any good.

I have no idea how I got on so many lists, and I'm not talking just with the loony address I post here, since that one gets spammed pretty heavily, but the other semi-secret ones are even worse.

So while everyone is busy making final adjustments to their Christmas lists, I have a little list of my own...what I DON'T want, so stop the fucking spam:

I don't want free airline tickets to anywhere I please when I purchase a hotel stay at 4x what it should cost. Even if it's a limited time offer. I'll buy my own damn tickets, thank you very much.

I don't need to lose 30 pounds in 45 days. Or 20 pounds in a week. Or 5 pounds in an hour. I don't want Jennifer Aniston's prune sensation diet either. Or Mariah Carey's Ethiopian diet. If I need to lose weight that bad I'll get off the damn computer.

If you really could make $208,463.21 in 90 days, the last thing you would do is tell a living soul, never mind entire zip codes. Keep me out of it.

I don't want to see the latest naked pictures of the celebrity/teen/farm animal you are singing the praises of. If I wanted to see any of that crap bad enough, I would surf some geocities pages for a while until I came across a mousetrapping ad popup hell site.

I don't want to meet sexy singles catered just to me. Given that the address list is 400+ people, your standards are way too low if you are catering to all of them. No one wants to meet those people.

Even though your research might say otherwise, I really don't lie awake at night wishing I had up to three extra inches of length added to my penis. Even safely, without weights, pumps, or surgery. I may not be typical in thinking I am doing just fine, but I do. Even if the crap does work, which, again, you would keep a damn big secret if it did, I will pass.

I don't need bigger boobs, either. I think I am good in that department. Thanks for the interest, though. Try WOMEN on that one, maybe? (although all the ones I know will just hit delete too)

I don't need Viagra. I don't want to act as my own lawyer for pennies a day. I don't care that there is a broken link on my site. There are probably a bunch of them. Who asked you?

I don't want a free camera for $20. I don't want to reserve a .biz or .name domain. I don't need genealogy software or the latest utility for Windows 2000. I have all the credit cards I need. I don't want a free cell phone...I know it's not really free. I already was entitled to a free credit report, so don't act like you are so benevolent in giving me one.

I don't want frequent flier miles for a web site, not an airline. How far does a web site really fly? How long until you go bust too?

I'll pass on the free shipping. I'll forgo the 50% off bonus special this week only. I'll somehow live without the incredible deals you are sending me because I am so special to you.

Gasoline bonuses are illegal in New Jersey. Stop sending those too.

So that's my list. So far. I know there will be more--loads more, there always is. I long for those innocent days when the computer was going to end the need for paper, and email was going to save us all loads of time. Instead, trees are disappearing faster than you can say Hewlett-Packard, and I am deleting more and more shit, every day.

Where is Spamta Claus when you need him?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 08-something PM EST linky

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

And for the second time in as many posts, I notice a day later that I really need to get some sleep before sitting down at this thing. Perhaps a fingerprint scanner that can tell when you are too tired for your own good?

"Access denied....get some fucking rest!"

On a somewhat related note, did you ever notice that things decide to get together before they all go south at the same time?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 05-something AM EST linky

Monday, December 17, 2001

I had a headache all day yesterday.

Funny thing about headaches. I used to get them all the time. Then, for no apparent reason, they stopped. While the prevailing theory of the time was that the newfound pain in my neck purportedly attributable to arthritis, then not, then maybe, was simply enough of a distraction to forgo my observations of a throbbing head most of the time, it was never proven.

Well, after yesterday, I don't know whether or not it was true, but I can say with total confidence that a throbbing head AND perma-sore neck together completely redefine the concept of suck.

My extensive bag of tricks in the headache cure department was emptied out pretty rapidly, and none of the usual solutions to a loosely defined problem were completely effective. In fact, most of them simply subsided the pain just enough for just long enough to make the resurgence that much more unbearable.

So much for therapeutic acumen. Sigh.

But as I said, I am a veteran at headaches. I can tell a migraine from a sinus from a tension from a "slept too long" instantly, and I can usually manage what is best for each quickly. Usually.

Not that I am a wimp or anything. When you spend most of your life from age 8 through 23 with frequent cranial aches, you learn to deal with the pain. In fact, any particular moment of the experience is completely tolerable. But that's not what gets you.

It's all of the moments.

Like a soft rain in the cold, too sparse to even reach for the a song that you love to listen to over and over water flowing over stone...the one overwhelming aspect of the eventual collapse of stamina is the addition of time.

You get wet and cold. The song becomes unbearable noise. The hardest stone eventually yields to the softest trickle. I know my very existence is defiance of inner elements over physical forces, but sometimes it really knocks the wind out of me.

So much of our preoccupation with how to successfully navigate this little ball of water and dirt has to do with avoidance of catastrophic events...don't get in a car accident, don't fall down the stairs, don't get shot in the head...all noble and worthy pursuits, don't get me wrong, but even the most reckless of us are statistically unlikely to meet with such a demise. It's cancers, liver and heart diseases, cerebral failures, and long-term degradations of health or mental state that take most of us down over time. Slow, almost imperceptible, grinding away at us, piece by piece, until one moment you notice just how far you have fallen from where you were, and where you want to be.

Not unlike the tenth hour of a headache, when death actually starts to sound appealing.

Of course, this morning, it was gone, and even though my grotesque shortage of sleep *could* be affecting my mood just a bit, I can't say that I feel particularly tired. While the long walk in the cold, light rain did eventually soak me, I know that I am already drying as I type these words. The ferry from Manhattan to NJ is therapeutic in itself; I am a captive audience to myself 200 strangers streak over the water toward perceived sanctuary from the dangerous place we all work.

Of course, the whole while, time is working it's wonders of imperceptible change, grinding away at our joints, DNA regeneration that is just a little less effective than the last time. Life is slowly digesting our bodies and spitting out our souls. We aren't leaving the danger...we carry it with us all the time. Not noticing, or knowing what to do, or caring: that is the real peril. Not to mention the dangerous admission that we just might be helpless over any of it, anyway.

And the worst part of all is that it doesn't even hurt very much. At least, not any particular moment.

So, is this the human condition we all talk about? Is it truly the struggle that matters? or does the measure of one's accomplishments stretch from birth to the moment of giving up? At what point is fighting against the inevitable victory of time over us all a pointless endeavor?

I hate knowing it all. I hate knowing nothing. I can't find victory or defeat. Only the sounds of the grinding bones in my neck, a constant reminder of the nature of things.

No, I am not going anywhere with this. I am not looking for answers. I am in pain. I have been all day. Yesterday, too, but differently so. I am cold and wet and trying to find the point of it all. Is it the inability of my own perspective to find solutions or is this the lesson I sought to learn all along?

What is the point and what is the distraction? Is love the answer or the question? Is hate the reason or the enemy? When does apathetic observation become valid introspection, and when is it self-inflicted torture?

Now my head is beginning to hurt...again. At least it's not so bad. Well, not any particular moment of it.

The sweetest taste becomes putrid after some undefined threshold, and while the change appears sudden to our observations, it is probably linear. Slowly plodding toward a point of "last straw", although the gradual nature of the process produces an apparently sudden result of perception.

I catch the process, sometimes. Sometimes, it catches me.

Things seems sudden although they are most likely not.

Is life cyclical or linear? No, it is both...but is it linear cycles or cyclical lines? What intersection of experience and optimism defines our fleeing moments of happy and sad? Why does the universe seem to kick me in the gut just when I think I've gotten a grip again?

Where did I put my aspirin?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 04-something PM EST linky

Friday, December 14, 2001

For whatever reason, I noticed for the first time all over again that I walk by ground zero every day that I am in the city. At least, for a while, I hadn't noticed.

That's something, right?

On my way from the ferry to the N & R stop at Rector place, I walked past the Christmas tree on Broad street, between Wall Street and Exchange Place. I walk past that tree every day I am in the city too...just before I turn the corner and silently salute the cleanup crews.

Today, however, there was an addition to the scene. A, the mother of all TV's, it may have even been gas powered, I don't know, but it was 15 feet wide, maybe more, and it was sitting directly in front of the tree...

...showing military hardware with a dramatic musical score.

Walking to the subway when you are loosely late for work (not really late YET, but at this point you know you eventually will be), you don't stop for very long, even for a scene as odd as a pseudo-music-video of an APC in front of Yuletide cheer and set to the backdrop of heavy lifting machinery.

Lest we forget the reason for the season.

Not that we should pretend everything is shiny happy people holding hands, because not even the most self-deluded isolationist could sell that to himself nowadays, but a simple 50-foot safety zone around the symbols that some things are still a little flavor of normal, even if it's a normal you had once detested.

And while it's easiest to wish for peace on earth from inside something armor plated and gripping an assault rifle, I'm just hoping the Rudolph special isn't pre-empted by the bin Laden tape, and that somehow I can isolate Brigid from the sheer oddity of it all. Oh, I know an 8-month-old is pretty easy to keep centered on Big Bird and sqeaky toys, but I'm not naive enough to think that it's all going to be over and wrapped up next year.

Did you?

See, although a constant evolution of societal tolerance is inevitable, when a nation such as ours can actually feel good about kicking the crap out of other countries, or "the terrorists" (a definition that allows us to mess around in lots of nations), then the satiation of wanting to do the right thing forms a symbiotic relationship with the desire to use up all that fancy hardware we've been saving for a rainy day, and suddenly, it's raining. Again. Hallelujia.

This war thing is kinda nice actually...only bad guys are dying and we are doing the right thing. I could get used to this...and I think we all could. Too easily.

Here's to the hope that we don't.

Otherwise, I'm going to have a difficult time explaining the tanks in front of the Christmas tree, singing peace on earth and goodwill toward those who are with us and not against us.
:::::posted by
erratic :: 09-something PM EST linky

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

"Bin Laden and other leaders of his al Qaeda network were cited as unindicted co-conspirators in the 31-page indictment."

A thirty-one page indictment!?!?! Man, now he's in REAL trouble...
:::::posted by erratic :: 04-something PM EST linky

Sunday, December 9, 2001

"Brigid Rose, we bless you with your name."

Brigid - from the Irish (Gaelic) meaning: the strength to accept or the strength to resist
Rose - from the Greek meaning: a rose

Today capped off a hectic and stressful weekend. With all the recent weirdness and difficulties that life has entailed over the past few months, two families at odds were joined together in celebration of the only commonality with the strength to overcome such differences.

Brigid was dedicated today. It was a Unitarian ceremony.

Being raised Catholic only made today easier in one way: deciding it was the right thing to do. I don't believe I have made much of a secret about my feelings of what religious lessons I was taught, and also what I actually learned. For any lingering doubts, how I would choose to bring up Brigid in a spiritual sense without fostering the very notions that are responsible for the heap of rubble that was once the World Trade Center was cemented after September 11th. Religious tradition may be customary in society, but it is also dangerous. I vote for an inclusive view of divinity.

I hope she agrees.

She was an absolute angel today, well behaved beyond what would be expected for a 7 1/2 month-old, and whether that was due to her sense that something big was happening, or that the overwhelming social mass that was presented to her simply overloaded her still congealing consciousness, I'm not asking. She seemed to have a good day, and so did I.

Not that I am less than glad it's over.

I had "precognitated" several situations that might need the variety of tact I am not predisposed to dispensing at the spur of the moment, and happily none of them occurred. The only real point of oddity was that of my own family, and I found it more humorous than confrontational.

The discussion of the remainder of the service today was of duality and the simplistic notions such a view of the Universe propagate. The Light/Dark Good/Bad Us/Them mentality may have been evolutionarily important when our ancestors were busy trying to beat dinner to death with clubs, but in the epoch of cell-phones and jet-planes, perhaps an admission that the importance of all aspects of emotion and observation can be considered as necessary parts of a wonderful whole, and not a team sport where you choose which side you are on.

At the reception, I overheard a tittering conversation of how different THOSE (meaning the Unitarians) people are from US (meaning the Catholics). I had to chuckle, albeit sadly. A later conversation at least put to rest my one nagging concern: that I am entitled to my "wrong" opinion and it will be respected.

The words may have fallen on deaf ears, but they were heard. And perhaps that is enough to plant a seed.

Yesterday, at the insistence of Amber regarding the subject of babbling babies, I spent approximately 40 minutes with Brigid saying "mmmmmmmBuh! mmmmmmmBuh! mmmmmmmBuh!" (Think overly exaggerated consonant 'B' sounds). I figured that while she knows her name already, getting her to actually SAY it will take some effort, and since you have to start somewhere, "B" seemed like a logical first choice.

I was intrigued to see that Brigid spent the whole time examining my face and mouth, either trying to figure out how the dynamic of oral phonetic production functions, or wondering just when daddy completely lost his marbles (long ago, baby girl...long ago). After observing nothing more than her apparent bemusement of what I was doing, I ceased the lesson and we crawled on the floor together for a while.

After a nap and some spirited playing time (and escape attempts), she began to exclaim, quite emphatically, "mmmmmmmBuh mmmmmmmBuhhhhhhhh!!" It went on for over an hour.

Sometimes, what we hear and the effect that it has are spaced too far apart for casual observation. In other words, you need to let it all sink in, then maybe something will happen.

I saw it once, yesterday.

I hope I see it again in the future.

p.s.- most of you haven't seen her lately, have you. Here she is, taken just yesterday. Yes, she's gotten big. :-)
:::::posted by erratic :: 08-something PM EST linky

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

So...*THAT'S* "IT"?!?!?!

Sheesh. I know the hype wasn't going to to ever live up to the reality, but come on...

It doesn't fly (no surprise there), it doesn't teleport anything (again no real surprise), but it doesn't even have a Stirling engine. It's a scooter that runs on batteries. Granted, a real neat scooter, no doubt, but it runs on batteries. Whooopdy-friggin-do.

Through a happy coincidence, I was looking for an electric scooter last week, because the reality of my commute into NYC was becoming too frustrating for words. The first twentysomething miles (by ferry) takes roughly 40 minutes, and the last six miles (by subway, walking, cab, it doesn't seem to matter) takes 45 minutes.

I was looking at the Xootr EX3, which is kind of like a Razor scooter with an electric motor. It only weighs 20 pounds, and costs less than $1000. Kinda cool although I wasn't sure if it would really get me anywhere quicker.

Then I found out that electric scooters are TOTALLY illegal in NY. Well, not totally: you can use them anywhere except on the streets, sidewalks, and public places.

How much to lease a 6-mile ribbon of sidewalk from Wall St. to Central Park per year? Well...probably more than getting a ticket daily.

How disappointing.

Speaking of disappointing, the cable modem debacle was a near miss for those of us who a) use @Home service and b) don't use AT&T. I am refreshed to see that Comcast and Cox decided that they can't throw something together in 2 weeks and cut everyone over to it. Now they have until the end of February, and I still don't think they can throw anything together in time, but until then I won't have to order DSL.

In a brilliant PR move, Comcast posted a page covering FAQ for the @Home ransom demands, and they said basically this (the page disappeared when an agreement was reached. I KNEW I should have saved it):

(paraphrasing) If your Comcast cable modem service stops working, you can use the Comcast@Home backup option to access the internet. Just contact Netzero or Juno who will get you set up for free...

Well, how fucking NOBLE of you to arrange FREE ISP service for me. Actually, I already HAVE a Netzero account, Sparky, because I never know when your sorry-ass connection is going to go down now. Netzero sucks, unless you have nothing at all. Then it sucks slightly less than nothing at all.

The best question was this: "Why shouldn't I cancel my cable service and get something else?"

Their answer? Cable access is faster and cheaper than DSL. This is actually true. DSL service is also run by a company that won't be going out of business anytime soon, and the small question of uptime being greater than 0 might actually be WORTH the extra money. It may be slower than a working cable connection, but it is infinitely faster than a broken one. Morons.

Anyway, while we're still on the subject of disappointments, Christmas is fast approaching. Anyone looking forward to getting things they don't want, can't use, and shouldn't return (although you will, or are you a re-gifter?) ? The only saving grace to the whole thing is that this is one of the two most celebrated christian holidays that use pagan rituals to win over the public. On an ironic level, I can enjoy it.

Then again, I can enjoy a lot of things on an ironic level.

Ironic, no? ;-)
:::::posted by erratic :: 06-something AM EST linky

Sunday, December 2, 2001

If you get a watch and it's a timeless design, is that good?

My my my. Time seems to be flying by faster than an F-111 over Kandahar. Between moving (well, unpacking), the job thing, Brigid, legal issues, and an occasional respite, I now see that nearly a month has passed. Sheesh.

I've heard that Colorado is a lovely place to spend Thanksgiving. While I still don't know whether or not that's true, I did have a nice time away.

Lawyers cast a shadow over everything that could show up here. I have already had some posts show up in court against me, and I am now forced to consider quite carefully what goes on with loony. Way back when I declared a step toward discovery. Now, "discovery" has a somewhat different meaning. Oh well.

Brigid occasionally spends the night now, which is a very good thing in every way except for my own sleep. I still find myself standing there just staring at her, and sleeping with one ear open is not as restful as "normal" sleep. Not that I have ever really had normal sleep.

She has a cold...her first one...and it's not very fun for anyone involved. But this too shall pass, and, as I once heard from a brilliant person I know, babies epitomize the human condition: "It's never been this bad." She'll get sick again in her life, but this will be the worst episode. I hope.

She just turned 7 months old (for those who haven't been keeping score). Oh yeah, she's crawling now too...with a vengeance. The idea of putting her down somewhere and not finding her there again is a little scary...and very cool. She's doing great, and, as I expected, is *very* opinionated.

I wonder where she got that from?

I am going to refrain from declaring myself "back", since the last time it didn't do anything other than set me up to not post for a long time, and I really have wanted to say things for a while(imagine that). Hopefully, the remainder of my concerns over anything else here appearing in the public record will be assuaged in the next few weeks.

In the mean time, there is still enough non-litigious stupidity to talk about, dontcha think?
:::::posted by
erratic :: 04-something PM EST linky

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