Dickens of a Blog

(June 2008)

If you want to comment, then you can contact me. I will post comments to the journal as soon as possible, unless you ask me not to share them.

June 26, 2008. Thursday.

(03:08:14 PM CDT) Though I Rarely Do the Bag O' Links Anymore, Here Is a Fun One

I tried to recall the most popular boy and girl names that I knew of, and could think of Jason and Jennifer and Jessica and Stephanie and Sarah. I thought it was cool that they all had J and S sounds (sort of soft instead of hard consanants) and I figured I would look it up. Well, I was wrong, mostly. Those names are kind of popular, and might be regionally popular, but they do not quite fit into the most popular name bracket if you mean, by that, top 10.

Here is the SSA List of Most Popular Baby Names. Note some fun things about the list. Something like 9 of the boys' names are Biblical or Religiously related (St. Anthony is a popular name Saint, for instance). However, only one of the girls' names is Biblical (Hannah) and a couple are used in potential connection to Religions.

If you want to play around with other related tools, you can see how your name ranks against the top 1000 names. Doug doesn't show up at all. By the way. Which does not surprise me.

Or you can view by state. In Alabama, William (my first name) is number 1.

Enjoy that.

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:03:32 PM CDT) Random Youtube Hijinks

For some reason, Sarah's browser crashes whenever she tries to view embedded Youtube videos. I'm not sure if anyone else is having trouble with this, but I went ahead and removed (in this copy) all embedded content. If a post shows up here that seems to refer to embedded content, but you don't see embedded content, click on the date of the post (as you can see it is a link) and it should take you to the original copy of the post over in the archives. This one should have the embedded content. I figure they will fix this in a couple of days, but just to be safe for now (she is sort of my biggest reader, can't her fail out. Heh).

Dratted computers!

June 25, 2008. Wednesday.

(09:46:42 PM CDT) Today as a Relaxing Contrast to Yesterday

Today was an interesting contrast to yesterday. Yesterday I talked to a dozen people over several hours. Today, with the exception of Sarah, I exchanged a total of about a dozen words: "How is the pool today? Cool. I may get in later. I get wiggy if I get too much sun." That's it. I feel almost jittery, though. But it's all going to be ok.

I finished watching season one of Stacked. With any luck, I'll have a review posted tomorrow. I think I am about to go and play some Twisted Metal (here's hoping I unluck Russia!) and then read until passing out.

Good night


(01:20:07 AM CDT) While I Love My Friends...

I honestly do love my friends, but tonight I just feel exhausted after hanging around a couple of them. I tried explaining to one of my friends (neither of the ones that visited today) that it feels like I have a 5-6 hour window of hanging out before it starts to drain me. Even when I having a great time, and am quite happy to have them around and sad to se them go, I end up feeling mentally exhausted if we hang out for say, 7-8 hours. I can't explain it. It's not really anything new. I've always felt like that. But it does seem worse.

I think getting married did triggered some of the strengthening. All the social interaction I (and I do mean specifically me) tend to want is easily fulfilled by hanging out with Sarah in the afternoons, eating a quick supper, playing tennis, and showing her BBC comedies that I used to love back as a teenager. I actually miss it when I don't get it. Then you have today where I hung out with Allen from about 10am to 6pm, Kerry from about 5:30pm to 9:30 pm, went to the mall and to a couple of other stores and went out to eat and then went and walked around campus. And suddenly you have my total interaction quotient going from a usually 3.5-6 person-hours to an easy 30-50 person-hours. Even when the hanging out is fun, as it was today, and completely without regrets, it still just leaves me in a state where I kind of wish I had watched another episode of Are You Being Served? Again while rubbing Sarah's feet. It's not even agoraphobia or anything. I just like to sit around in the quiet and read way more than I should.

I've noticed some people don't have the tiring effect on me, or have it in much smaller levels. James and Latoric never had it. But then I lived with them for 5 and 7 years, respectively. You learn to adapt when someone is around that long. Alicia doesn't. In her case, I'm not sure what's different, besides the fact that she and I have so many compatible interests (and she is forgiving of my weird faults) that I never feel like I have to entertain her. I just ramble about any old thing. Becca and Mandi and Katie, my core Book Gallery workers, do tire me out, but that's ok. I still love them. Niko and Raymond are my oldest brothers in this town, and I can hang with them for a long time. I think, looking at the list, I notice that in the last five or so that the problem lies somehow with my expectations of what I should be doing. It's not that I feel like I have to impress them, but I feel like I to impress myself while hanging around them. That probably says a lot about me, right there.

I think the condition is worsened by the fact that my diet was weird today (calorie dense chicken biscuits for breakfast, watermelon for lunch, and egg foo young for supper). The mixture of grease and high calories with the completely opposite in the middle just got to me. On top of that, I pissed Sarah off this morning, managed to somehow not sleep well, forgot to take my allergy medicine (and my multivitamin) and had about half the tea I normally consume. Just about the best part of the day was getting to walk up and down stairs at UAH. It just sort of tired me out and got my oxygen up. Unfortunately, the high did not sustain.

I'll find something better to post tomorrow, I promise.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 23, 2008. Monday.

(09:36:08 PM CDT) Little Pockets of Boredom (i.e. life)

Nothing much has happened since the business of the weekend. Namely to say, nothing much has happened today. In fact, I can't really conceive of anything at all happening today, worth it's salt. I looked up some information on Are You Being Served?, I downloaded a few episodes of Stacked to see what an American "version of Black Books" could possibly be like. I read. Finished the crazy that is book 4 of the Vampire Hunter D series and finished the crazy that is, coincidently, book 4 of the Discworld series. This was not intentional.

Beyond that, boring boring.

I suppose that's all.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 22, 2008. Sunday.

(02:16:48 AM CDT) A Long Day

Today has been longer, and generally more unexpected, than, well, expected. The plan was to get up about 9am and then head up and do a hike on Monte Sano, something we have not been able to pull off in about a month. The heat, the humidity, various plans, and occasional bursts of bad weather have tended to conspire against us time and time again. Our hike was cancelled though, with a collusion between mood and gas prices made us question the decision of spending even the 4-5 it would require to go up there (not to mention water or snacks we might buy). Just about every free penny we have, right now, has to go towards us visiting my mom in a week or so. I don't know how much gas will be, and so the prepared for amount (round about $100) may be too much or too little. Sigh.

Our change of plans was just to do a bit of urban hiking, a hobby that I enjoy will likely increase over time. We did a three or so mile loop around various roads near here and whatnot, and stopped off at Book Legger (did not find a copy of The Spire like I was hoping) and John's Big Brother and then came back up around Walgreens. Managed to kill two birds with one stone. Not only hiked but got errands done, and didn't have to use any gas for it. It was an excellent 2-3 hours.

I did get a tad sunburned, but have been overall fine except for a lack of energy and some sinus issues. The day was overcast and I faired better than the time we tried playing tennis in a cooler, but sunnier, day. This leads me to think that is partly heat related. My issues. That it isn't UV (the sunburn, for instance, doesn't even hurt that much). But it's either I.R. or heat itself (I know, technically the same thing viewed from two different angles).

After that, we just sort of hung out and relaxed. Most of the rest of the day is a blur, up until tonight in which we spent an hour or two reading and then watched the rather excellent Spanish horror movie The Orphanage. It is largely a mood piece, but handles the mood well.

Well, besides brief praise for the movie, I suppose I should hie to bed. My throat and sinuses are still a bit tender and I never did exactly find any energy.

I'll leave you with two book links. The first is the 2008 Locus Award Winners. "After the Siege" for sure deserves best novella. Heart Shaped Box wasn't perfect was entertaining. Chabon and Pratchett are both masters. Gaiman and Willis are good. And I have heard great things about The New Space Opera. The second link is Entertainment Weekly's "100 New Classics". Most of the list seems plausible, though I only know about half of them. A few I have complaint with. While The Da Vinci Code is a generational book, I don't see it being favorly remembered over time. And The Ruins is usually considered a weak book by a talented writer. Anyhow, there is that to peruse as well.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 20, 2008. Friday.

(12:57:24 AM CDT) Urban Legends. Pledge of Allegiance. "The Customer is Always Right". Barack Obama.

Sarah asked me about an urban legend today: people were getting calls claiming they had missed jury duty. They were informed they were going to be arrested and should turn themselves in. "Oh, you didn't get a summons? Let me have your address, social security number, a credit card and state id number and I'll check that for you. Oh, you're right, you didn't get summoned. My bad". The principle seems valid, even if it never happened (in this case, it did). This sort of represents what I have taken to call Urban Myths versus Urban Legends. An urban myth is something like "flouride makes you want to join the military" or "rice makes birds explode". It is an untrue thing, based on a lack of science understanding or a misunderstanding of facts. Much like the Obama myths I will link to in a moment. Either he is a Muslim or he is not. That is an urban myth. Urban legends, though, I think of as things that could happen even if they did not happen in that way, and probably did happen in some other form. When you hear about someone hiding in your backseat, then it probably did occur once and has just been passed down through the generations. That sort of thing.

Anyhow, while on Snopes.com, I figured I would browse through a few other urban legends/myths and see what came up. Here are some good ones.

  • Dr. Pepper Refuses to Print Under God. As in "One nation, under God, indvisible...". What they did print was "One nation, indivisible" which seems to be a perfectly patriotic statement. However, several groups tried to get a fuss going (and failed) because "why would you butcher the pledge of allegiance?" You know, the statement that goes: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. America". Turns out "under God" was sort of shoe horned in back in the 1950s through a couple of interest groups' campaigning efforts. Read more in the Wiki.
  • Best Buy Charges a Restocking Fee!. That's right, if you get some sort of electronics, and then just want to return them without any real reason, you have to pay 15%. OUTRAGE. Except, you know, not really. Here's a tip, to the guy who sent out the original e-mail. If you don't want to pay a $300 restocking fee, don't buy a $2000 TV and return it after the weekend. Who does that? People too lazy to look up information online? People who are just "renting" the equipment (I know of folk who do this at Wal-mart, as a cheap way to get movie cameras or party supplies)? The fact that someone complained about not being able to return equipment after four days is just part of that idiotic creed that the customer is always right. The customer is always self-serving (as is the business, hence the "truce" of letting the customer be a bitch). The thing that bothers me is that the same customer who bitched about their lost $45 probably wouldn't want to get a previously owned piece of equipment at full price. They would consider it a slap in the face. They would have sent out an e-mail about that. This means that they largely want Best Buy to just take the equipment back and eat the cost. Remember the bit about "self-serving"? No business ever eats the cost. It is time to stop assuming that our little temper-tantrums and threats "to not shop there anymore" mean anything. "They don't need my business". No, they don't. Congrats on finding that out. It's like the guy I read about who refused to shop at MovieStop because they wouldn't take his "unopened DVDs" as used credit. That's right, he wanted the store to take a number of DVDs that he had never opened back without asking questions. Not as "new" returns. But movies he just paid full price for, and then ignored, until he finally decided that he should return them for $5 of store credit*. He doesn't shop there anymore, apparently. He showed them!
  • A Metric Ton of Stupid Urban Legends and Myths about Barack Obama. Lots of them. More probably still to come. You take a black man and put him in power and whites get creative. Maybe he deserves a metal for bringing out the worst in us? I can't even tell my family that I am going to vote for him this Fall because enough of them believe that he is a Muslim that is going to enslave the whites that I don't feel like hearing it anymore. Some of my favorites include:
    • Obama's 50 Lies, most of which are either made up or are assuming the reader won't realize simple facts (such as the fact that most people have two sets of grandparents, that people can change careers in their life, and so on).
    • The Family Portrait, in which Obama's family is photographed, but then are assigned racist, fake names. And they are caption as being crack addicts, gay film stars, dead, in jail, and so on. It's actually kind of sad at how racist it is and how it falls into the hands of our racist heritage.
    • Is Obama the Anti-Christ?, in which some dumb-ass references Nostradamus's prophecy about the anti-Christ being a middle aged Muslim male and claims it is Biblical. Sad thing is, a lot of the dumb ass white christian males who will pass crap like that around (they're not racist, they're just being sensible!) don't even realize that it's not from the Bible. Sad.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: one possible explanation is that he regularly bought lots of movies from stores with close out deals and the like. Places where they sell them at under $5. Since the rule was that the took 4 used movies for one new movie, if you get a dozen movies from an ebay bid for $20, you can turn that into 3-4 new movies. That's the only reason I can think of. Truth be told, though, most of the people who buy large quantities from MovieStop take movies back after a month as trade in. They have presumably never heard of Netflix, or renting, and find spending $15 to "rent" a movie acceptable. Not late fees, I suppose.

June 18, 2008. Wednesday.

(10:02:38 PM CDT) Some New Pictures Added

I've added some odds and ends to the webpage today. There are a couple of new photos on Sarah Part 1 and a handful of new ones added to UAH. Have a looksee. I also added a link to Becca's homepage. It can be found under my friend's pages on my Links page.

Si Vales, Valeo

(03:28:30 PM CDT) The Grad School Update. Sunlight Alleries. More on the Smoking Drama.

I am not sure how much I have updated my readers on the grad school issues. But, just to make sure that I have everything up to speed, here we go. I have been accepted into something called a Blended Cohort. This means that I start school in Spring 2009, will take some classes online and some on site, and presumably will graduate Fall 2010. All of that is no problem, except that "on sites" seems to imply a 75+ mile drive to the Gadsden campus. Even carpooling with my three friends that are starting about the same time, that is a gas expenditure of about 8 dollars a person per trip. So I have to think about some things. I'm waiting for some e-mails back from the school before I make any final decisions.

While reading the Cracked.com article, The 6 Most Terrifying Allergies You Can Actually Get, I was made aware why my "sunlight allergy" confused the hell out of the doctor who did the blood work on me back in my pre-Huntsville days. Apparently, sunlight allergies normally manifest as horrific rashes on the skin. Mine manifests by my getting sunburned faster, stiffening up in the joints, feeling sick to my stomach, and feeling a little bit out of it. I do, after an hour or two, start develop a sun burn that will turn into blisters (when I say I blistered my skin, I mean in the literal sense), but I don't get hives, or a rash, or anything like that. I suppose this means that I don't have a sunlight allergy so much as a sunlight reaction. At least while reading up on it I see why the doctor was so confused.

At any rate, one of the most recommended treatments is to increase sun exposure, which I have been doing. And it works. My symptoms are way down. It still feels like someone is poking me with needles, and my eyes still sort of cloud over, in direct sunlight, but at least my arms are going all arthritic.

To end the post, I want to share a rather strange news article that was linked from Fark.com this morning: AMA agrees that menthol should not be banned from cigarettes. But menthol and vanilla should. Why? Well, clearly young-uns smoke cloves while, as referenced in the article, I kid you not: blacks smoke menthol. The attempt at logic looks something like this: if we take away what blacks want, they will just find another source, but if we take away what kretek-fans want,they will stop smoking. In some ways, it's true. In some ways. It's also a pigheaded justification that shows off just how much corruption is going into this deal. Small tobacco, with it's lack of advertising and generally purer tobacco is getting busted down while big tobacco, and all that implies, si not. Ah...sigh.

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:32:11 AM CDT) A Case of Good Idea, Bad Idea

Want to hear a good case for good idea bad idea? How about this one:

Good idea - promoting worker health.

Bad idea - random mandatory blood testing of said workers.

Good idea - helping workers to promote the health of their family.

Bad idea - firing workers if their spouse smokes.

Good idea - holding smokers to task for the 8 billion collars they cost taxpayers in health care.

Bad idea - not raising cigarette taxes to something like, say, $3 a pack which would easily pay for said costs.

We are probably the last generation of real smokers. I imagine that after the hoopla is all over, smoking will be regulated to smokers bars, if that, and certain states. It's something of a centurial thing. Every so often, people have to get up in arms about something and have it banned or destroyed. This time around, it's tobacco. In the future, it might come back. I don't know. The major problem tends to be overindulgence, anyhow. Smokers cramming down 1-2 packs per day? At 3-5 minutes per cig, that's 60-100 minutes per pack, or from 1 to 3+ hours spent with a stream of smoke near or about the face, in the lungs, and in the room. Of course that level of smoking is going to have repurcussions. If you spend 3+ hours every day of your life doing just about anything (including drinking sodas, typing, eating red meat, beating your head into a wall, or walking near a freeway), it's going to add up in 30 years time. But, well, Americans can't not suck in 2 hours of smoke into their lungs every day, so we have to do away with the whole shebang.

Even though I am currently a pipe smoker, I am pretty sure that I am winding down. My current idea is to allow my current stash of tobacco to be my last. Meaning when I run out, I don't think I will get any more (at least not lots more, like an occasional tin every now and again sort of amounts, just not more than maybe 100g at a go). There are numerous reasons for this, but towards the top of the list is that fact that I don't want to smoke around potential kids, and the fact that while I sort of enjoy the hobby and the whatnots attached to it, I can't really say there is a REASON to enjoy the hobby. By which I mean, I like sitting around with a pipe, but I could just as well learn to sit back and relax while whistling as far as personal edification goes. I also have poor teeth to begin with, and a tendency to heartburn and mouth ulcers, things which pipe smoking does not help (even when it doesn't hurt). I still detest the idea of someone banning tobacco when the answer should be in self-moderation, but I think it is time for me to start self-moderating myself. I think, by the way, that it is telling that I have been a pipe smoker for 3 years and have no addiction and no change in lung power. Yes, nicotine is addicting. Yes, it's your own fault for smoking two packs a day.

I'm just looking at how we handle things, now. Smokers requiring laws to stop smoking. Businesses requiring laws to be non smoking establishment. This is a bad sign. Who knows what is next? I mean, really? We, as a people, can't be trusted not to smoke so much tobacco that we give ourselves bleeding lungs. What the fuck can we be trusted with? Firearms? Sugar?

A lot of the ideas for this post come from this article, including the statistic that 70% of smokers (in California, anyhow) say they want to stop but can't. And the fact that one employer really is talking about randomly sampling workers' blood. And the fact that Safeway doesn't want its workers to smoke, but continues to sell tobacco products for fear of losing profits. And so we come down to the gist of it in so many ways. We are letting actuaries dictate laws again.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 17, 2008. Tuesday.

(12:56:47 AM CDT) Something that comes with the territory, I suppose

Tonight I had to do some website rewrites. Mostly for my own sanity. I don't consider myself a photogenic guy. At best, I tend to take something in the vein of "cute" photos or maybe if one was being nice: dignified. At worst, I come off as a semi-functional half-brother to something fuzzy. In what could be Internet Irony, one of the worst pictures of me, or at least one that I felt made me look the goofiest, which showed me bouncing a tennis ball, turned at an angle that made me look even more voluminous than I actually am, and with a goofy look on my face, became the top search result if you GISed my name.


In fact, it's the only picture of me that shows up. The website logo also shows up, and a picture of Sarah, but that's it.

In an attempt to rectify the situation somewhat, I took down that picture and replaced it with the following one. I'm not exactly cuter in this one or anything, but it had a tad bit more dignity to it at least.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 16, 2008. Monday.

(11:04:37 PM CDT) Busy Day. Final Fantasy VI. Some Links.

Tonight has been fun. Sarah and I got to play tennis and go swimming. I actually played tennis in the afternoon sun. That's the first time I have gotten more than maybe 20 minutes of direct sunlight in years. My skin hurts a little, but doesn't seem to be burned. I have been doing micro-doses for a while now, and I think that has helped me to build up a tolerance enough that it didn't completely floor me this time. I was quite wobbly, afterward. It sapped my strength. But, besides feeling a little out of it, and just a little, I seem to be ok. Hurrah.

I've restarted playing Final Fantasy VI. It used to be my favorite, years ago, beating out even FF7. Now, I think FF7 is my favorite. I still really like VI but there were some aspects of annoyance that were trapped in it. Not so much game play (though a party that large requires a lot of leveling) in a general sense, but just certain layouts and maps and timed events that require a tad bit more frustration than they should. The game also feels a lot shorter this time. It's been, oh, 8-10 years since the last time I have played it. It might just be that I have played a lot of large RPGs since then, including some of the Might and Magics and others for the computer. Like Cadbury eggs, it might be mostly in my head (though the bastards are smaller!).

I have a few fun links for you. I'll eschew the normal "bag o'" format. I found this one on Brian Keene's blog: Top Writers Feel Heat from Publishers' Presses. The gist: writer's that sell are expected to sell often. Most big writers are expected to put out at least one book a year. Some writers are upset. My thoughts: having worked in a store that specialized in getting rid of the excess publications, I know the whole system stinks of bullshit. They push these writers to write more books than they are comfortable with, and then they print more than they should, and then whine and pine that the book-selling industry is crumbling. It's crumbling because they treat it just like any other retail market and it's pretty damned unique. Just the fact that the most successful publishers are the ones who print books so that they can be oversold and then returned? How in the hell does this make sense? Sure, there is an aspect of needing books to make displays to attract attention and sure there is the fact that sometimes books like The Da Vinci Code come along and drain what should have been an overprinting. But the rest of that is bullocks. And, because they don't know how to handle things like James Patterson without thousands of copies going into overstock, they sure as hell don't know how to handle small time writers who have a strong focus on lasting content.

Texas GOP Platform Stirs Passions. Why? Because they wanted the nude artwork removed from Washington, D.C., including the museums. Also, no abortion, no matter what. Oh, and when the guy in the back said that we should leave other countries along, these men so petty as to fear classic nudes are quoted as saying: "There is no substitute for victory!". Oh, and blacks get all the best scholarships.

These two articles work together in scary ways: Woman boinks dad, get jealous of mom and Men apparently can't keep up with the sexual needs of women. Note: sexual needs seems to imply "orgasm". And, well, I just have to say both sort of make me feel weird. Not orgasm. Just that I'm supposed to care that men who have for generations ignored the fact that their partner has needs are suddenly demanding therapy for it? Here's a tip. Soak your penis in ice water. Numb the bastard. Do some sit ups. Now, go! Because, in the long run, if you don't, then that woman's father is a better lover than you. And NOBODY wants that.

9 Legal Cases Where Someone Does to Our Legal System What Young Men Are Apparently Unable to Do to Their Women (according to the previously linked article). Huzzah!

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:08:24 AM CDT) I've had a busy weekend

The weekend ended up being fairly busy, overall. Friday night, met up with Katie at the Nook and then Sarah and I headed out to her place to play Wii and Rock Band and watch some random comedy and playing Munchkin Cthulhu. Got home sometime after midnight, went ot bed. Next day, Sarah went with her grandmother, sister and mother to Emma's Tea Room for lunch and then, later, Raymond came over and hung out for a few hours. Around about 3am, we went to Steak & Shake and had a very late supper. Came back, and passed out. Sunday, we did some shopping and got our supply of groceries. For the first time, we used the non-disposable bags on a big shopping trip ($100 worth of groceries in a handful of bags). It actually works pretty good as far as ease of carrying up from the car. Stores were crowded and stress was high so we just chilled out afterward. I eventually got around to cooking dinner (skillet fried steaks with vegetable curry over jasmine rice). Ate to bloatation. Tried swimming but bugs kept diving into the water and it was kind of creepy. And, well, that catches us up to the future.

Or, well, present. I guess.

Come up with a game called Drown Disc. Read some a couple of graphic novels. The problem with long, busy weekends is that they tend to be blurry.

Um. Had a dream about "normal people" and "abnormal people". The term for the former was caple. The term for the later was something like capuyje. I have no idea where the terms came from. I will probably use them in the meta-story for the Oblend world that Niko and I are working on.

Oh, and my sink broke. Waiting to see if they can fix it tomorrow.

Good night!

Joy to the world. Joy to all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. My sink just up and fucked me.

June 13, 2008. Friday.

(02:48:47 PM CDT) Some Math of Bibliophilia

Bibliophiles can be annoying people. I suppose that is much the same as saying that nurses, janitors, monkey wranglers and magazine editors can be annoying people. I just mean: they can be annoying in and of themselves.

I have been composing a formula. It goes a little something like this. Take the first five prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11. Now take two axes (what's the plural of axis?). The first one deals with whether a bibiophile is a book lover due to a love of books in and of themselves, or due to a love of reading. The opposite sides (2 and 11, respectively) would range from a person who rarely reads but enjoys having leather bound editions to a person who throws books away after reading them once. The middle range, a 5, is a person who equally loves books and reading them. The second axis ranges from 2 to 11, as well, with the poles being a person who reads wholly for their own self-edification versus a person who reads wholly for their social edification. An introvert to a braggart, in other words. A 5 in this case is a person who likes talking about reading, and will read based on reviews and the like, but also strongly takes his or her own advice.

You now have two prime numbers. You multiply them together and you get a number from 4 (the ownership loving introvert) to 121 (the braggarty reading fanatic). In my experience, and this is just in my experience, I am well aware, the annoying quality of the bibliophile is directly related the to the product of their two primes. I would rank myself a 5 on the first (equally into collecting and reading) and a 3 on the second (mostly read my own thing, but do like to talk to others about it and post about it in my own journal, however the inability to do such would not stop me from reading). This gives me a 15. This means I am annoying with it, but only on the lower end of the spectrum. The old women who used to come into my store and brag about how much they read before picking up a dozen of the crappiest romance titles? They are damned close to 121. At least 77.

As a strange aside, 121s often have trouble communicating despite the essentially social nature of their reading, and despite the passion for the art, can be surprisingly illiterate. Relatively speaking, of course.

That was all fairly pointless, unless you want to calculate your own number.

It does tie into something I came across, today. On the SFBC product page for Terry Brook's graphic novel, Dark Wraith of Shannara there are many interesting comments. You probably have to be able to sign in to see it, and there isn't much I can do about that, but I will post some of the better quotes here, in a moment. But first, keep in mind that the second paragraph of description states "With this never-before-published adventure, Dark Wraith opens a whole new world of Shannara excitement - in fantastic graphic novel form! B&W illustrations by manga artist Edwin David.":

  • "I agree with the others who did not want to buy a comic. I find it hard to believe sfbc didn't list it as a comic book. I will now have to be more careful in my selections if I decide to order any more books. Am terribly disappointed."
  • "The plot is very straight forward/undevelope." [sic]
  • "I sincerely hope that he will continue to write traditional novels for people like me, who love to read!"
  • "I prefer words not pictures."
  • "So all of you so called fans better bone up on the story before waxing this wonderful piece of art." [posted this one for the interesting use of the words "bone" and "waxing"]
  • "Boo to Mr. Brooks for stuping so low. I feel like I have been taken. This series has been one I have read over and over. However This is one (dark wraith of shanara) I will not ever read again. I would return it if I could." [sic, and note that SFBC allows returns within two weeks, implying it took longer than that to read or was damaged in the reading]
  • "I am just too discusted to say anything - I am just glad I was able to review this book at a friends house..." [sic]
  • from a review called I've been snookered: "That Terry Brooks would pass this off as one of the Shannara Series is an insult to every fan he has above the age of 15. Both the Club and the Author should be ashamed of themselves."
  • "Tell Mr Brooks to go back to what he does best, Writing good stories that we can picture in our heads."
  • "To those of you who berated those of us who do not know what the new meaning is of a 'graphic novel', well excuse me for being old. I'm sorry. To me, a graphic novel is Anne Rice's vampire chronicles - for ADULTS." [By the way, the term "graphic novel" has been in fairly common parlance in its current usage since 1978 or so. Maybe even before then. To be fair, Anne Rice did write Interview with the Vampire in 1976, so you got me there]
  • "No more cartoons books, please. I love Mr. Brooks novels, but I like to paint my own pictures from his words." [sic]
  • "This MUST be a joke. Is Terry Brooks going into writing children's books these days? I would say "The Wraith of Shannara" should be listed under Books for Children because that is what it is. For adults that can read, we don't need pictures to depict the story for us. We have our imaginations. This is downright insulting to one's intelligence."
  • "I would not have had it sent had I known it was a comic Book.I expected another grate book from Terry Brooks.Instead I get a book that is for a gradeschooler" [sic]
  • "THIS IS A COMIC BOOK IN BOOK FORM! Very disappointed upon receiving this book. It is not a book but a "comic book" disguised as a book. Shame on Terry Brooks and Sci Fi Book Club for deceiving the loyal followers of the Shannara series."

And you probably wondered what I meant by 121s. Adults, mostly older females from other clues, infuriated by the fact that they ordered a dirty little comic book (as opposed to a novel full of graphic depictions, apparently). Never mind that this completes a cycle of their beloved author's material. Never mind anything like a collector's value of a hardcover graphic novel. They were tricked into buying comic book. As if they couldn't read (considering the author "stuped" to making a less than "grate" book, it's up for debate). What if NEIGHBORS were to see this? I swear. They, my friends, are getting the vapors.

Si Vales, Valeo

(04:51:20 AM CDT) Communication as a "five way" street

A couple of different things have come together to inspire me tonight. I will go ahead and give the preamble before I get into my quickish breakdown of what I am thinking about. The first inspiration comes from the Internet. The glorious Internet. And the way that asshats on the Internat, when you talk about them mispelling "moron", link to a picture of some guy with a sign and say "Welcome to the Internet". And then laugh. You can pretty much take any other Internet meme out there, and you get similar results. Now, sure, these ignorant assholes who unfortunately are not dumb enough to not know how to type might not understand if I used the phrase ecce homo*. They would probably giggle like mad over the last four letters and find themselves dreadfully clever. The older I get, by the way, the more I realize that self-ordained cleverness is the bane of intelligent conversation. I dislike the use of "moran" because it is insipid, pointless and used by people more as a desire to not be excluded than anything else. I choose not to accept it, and therefore, self-ordained ministers of clever banter aside, it is meaningless to me. It is not even laziness, but something worse: an equally boresome act as the initial act, transformed into pointlessness.

The second source of inspiration was a chat I had with my sister-in-law about how crazy college years can be, along with the technically-a-joke statement that all college girls are crazy. "Including the wife," I told her. She wanted to know how her older sister was crazy, and so I summed it up best with the observation that she is significantly less stressed now that she is in her job than she was in college. Significantly. And her job involves explosives. Pretty much rest my case there. I gave the old SIL the same advice I gave the wife: fail a class. When you fail a class, you understand how little it matters, and how free you are. When you get all A's, for instance, each additional class is more stressful. You've come this far, now work harder and go further. Once you get that C, D or F in a class, though, you no longer have to worry about it. You can get A's because you want to, not because you are trying to stay perfect across the board. No one cares is 10 years anyhow. Not even you.

Of course, like the wife, the SIL isn't going to take the advice. I'm sure the wife, now, would take the advice. But at the time given it is was unacceptable. It is not because they do not understand. It is not because they do not, generally speaking, trust me. It has a lot to do with their interpretation of University life. For them, University life is grades. Pretty much the end all and be all of it. Failing a class is much like not-existing. It is dying in terms of University life. When I say fail a class, I mean "get it out of the way so you can focus on making contacts and friends, focus on going to parties and artshows, focus on self-motivated projects and reading books". When they hear it, they hear "give up on yourself". Two entirely different things.

Seeing as there is no meaning in the Universe, and meaning is a concept stitched by our brain, there is language in the Universe, neither. It is all a sort of fluctuation of arbitrary symbols. You don't have to accept that, by the way. I'm not sure I do. At any rate, communication is the process of popping a symbol out of your brain and putting it into mine. If this does not succeed, then communication fails. If you want me to cook fish for dinner, and I am left thinking about beef, we had a miscommunication.

Of course, there is the central bit. The actual, physical ability to transport communication across a medium. Air. Telephone lines. Cellphone signals. Whatever. And there is the ability of you to put your symbols into an interpretable system and my ability to interpret your system. Without the medium-transferability, you have silence or noise. Without your ability to encode, you have noise. Without my ability to decode, it might as well be noise.

Besides these three bits, there are two other bits. For lack of a better word, ironic given the nature of this post, I will call these two other bits desire and agreeableness. You have to desire to encode. I have to desire to decode. This is something of common sense, but it popped into my head and made things a lot more clearer. For a speaker, the desire to encode is prior to the act of encoding. If you don't care to speak, then you will not. For the listener, the desire to decode has to be there before decoding can take place. And as soon as desire is lost on either side, noise is generated.

But agreeableness must come into the picture, too. This is more than the ability to encode and decode, more than the desire, it is the intention to do so in a way that the other party is willing and able to understand. It is the ability, namely, to allow symbols to agree to some degree of accuracy. When I say "fail a class", effective communication means that I also must state my phrase in a way that the listener will accept. To most, "fail a class" sounds like anti-intellectualism or laziness, but it really is about accepting that you are at college of your own will. It is not he who controls the spice, that will rule the universe. It is he who can destroy it.

Agreeableness is the part that breaks down in slang. Because those who yield slang often do so in a way to separate themselves. Jargon is the same way. Special words are used not to enhance speech, but usually to control it. When you accept their slang, you accept their control of the conversation. It just so happens that our society is more willing to accept slang than to speak against it. We are looking for the new phrase.

If none of this makes sense, it is the very sleepy ramble of a guy that needs to pass out. I'll look back over it in a day or two and will touch it up.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: here is the man. Spoken by Pontius Pilate when presenting Jesus to be judged. God, Himself, stood in front of the world with a crown of thorns upon His head, broken and chained. Worse, still, God was just another human, dying and temporal. A much, much more poignant phrase than "moran" can ever be. And with a 2000 year history. Welcome to classical knowledge, homo.

June 12, 2008. Thursday.

(01:44:05 AM CDT) A New "Low". + Picspam (the second of thirds)

Tonight, I achieved a new "low". I can think of no other word for it. Ok, before you jump to conclusions, I'll explain. I'm a tongue brusher. Right? I brush my tongue after brushing my teeth. There is all sorts of germs that can build up on the tongue, and I just kind of like how it feels. This has never really been a problem, except brushing the back of your tongue causes a bit of a gag reflex. Recently, though, I got some new toothbrushes. These are a bit stiffer. So, guess what? While brushing my tongue tonight, I apparently cut it with the new toothbrush. That's right, my new "low" is that I made my tongue bleed. Crap.

That's going to hurt come the morning.

Now, for some more brief pic spam. The first one is (obviously?) Sarah with her new haircut. The next two were taken this afternoon while it was raining and sunsetting at the same time, making some interesting color patterns.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 11, 2008. Wednesday.

(02:45:23 PM CDT) Shot Nerves. Various Links in Today's "Bag"

My nerves feel shot today. Possibly due to my weird sleep schedule last night. I went to bed about 8pm. Woke up about 10pm. Sort of napped after talking to Danny on the phone. Woke back up and stayed up until 3am. Feel asleep until 9am or so. I have this slight, undefined, headache and my hands feel twitchy. Who knows what is up?

Is the book industry in trouble? I don't know. But I've notice that some of the smaller presses seem to be wracked with more and more delays. Two books that I have preordered (or set aside the money to order upon release) have been postponed at least a month. In one case, a couple of months. Reminds of the days when I used to order books from Palladium and they could be a year or more late. That was in the early 90s, before books when through their slight surge in the late 90s and even bigger surge of the early naughts. I think we are returning back to that time. But you know, there were plenty of good books at that time. And most of the world's greatest books are public domain. I think book lovers will be ok.

Ok. Enough random talk. Now for some really, really random links.

  • Man killed in freak farm accident. What do I mean by "freak"? His dog ran over him with a tractor.
  • The Southern Baptist Church is shrinking. Sort of. Reading the article, it seems that the number of new baptisms is down but I don't see any actual numbers saying that there are fewer members. A not-surprising statistic is that 10 million SBs are not regularly attending church members. For those not in the South, SBism is almost like Judaism. It's as much a culture as an active religions. On another side of the topic, I do find it interesting that an article that discusses how SBs believe that a person should be baptised before they reach an age of maturity features a main image of a seven year old boy being baptised.
  • The 10 Most Terrifying Sex Guides. I found this article a mixed bag of funny and not quite funny, but it does bring some interesting chatter. Especially the Toybag Guide to Erotice Knifeplay and that book on enemas. Hmmm. Oh, and the DIY sex toys book, that I might order just to have on my shelf.
  • What Shat That?. By the man who wrote the DIY sex toy book. Wow.
  • President Bush Regrets His Legacy as a Man Who Wanted War. This is kind of a case of "Article and Headline disagreement". He doesn't really regret going to war, so much as he feels he was misunderstood. The comments include several fans claiming that history will judge him to be a great president*. I don't know. I really, honestly doubt it. His only contribution was helping to keep the country strong after 9/11 (which is important) but then squandering that by getting us involved in an economically draining war that makes the years wasted in Vietnam seem redundant. Well, you know what I mean.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: here is an interesting logical conundrum. Let's take the following two claims:

  1. The future has a better view of present events than we do because it can see them in hindsight.
  2. The future will find that Bush's action were both necessary and good.

And let's say that it leads us to:

  • President Bush will be remembered as a great man in history.

#1 does make something of a kind of sense. It may not be true. We have a really wrong view of what happened, say, with the founding of this country and, say, Columbus. We, as our history's future, have made some really weird observations that are not accurate. #2, though, is where it gets interesting. Since the future is not yet decided, then this statement is neither true nor false. In one interpretation. In another, it is false because it talks about something that does not exist (the opinions of the future). If, say, in 20 years, there is still disappointment in Bush's legacy, then maybe their future will vindicate him. Ditto for 50 or 100 years. Finally, 1000 years from now, the argument still holds. "In the total scheme of things..." can still be trucked out. It becomes a dangling predicate.

I don't suppose I have anything specific to say about it other than this. It just makes for an odd little logic loop.

It also seems strange that it is most cited by the sort of people that hate discussions of the future. Who find discussions of oil shortages and pollution to be "liberal talking points".

June 10, 2008. Tuesday.

(01:17:16 AM CDT) Post of the Night, the Second, in which I briefly picture spam (very briefly) and discuss the act of giving gifts

I cut Sarah's hair. The effect works but unfortunately the picture I took is a little too washed out to look attractive (unless "living dead girl" makes you go a tad pitter-patter). I also got some cool "spam" today in the real mail box, but I am too lazy to take that picture. So, in an act of irony, my "pic spam" is going to be a single photo. Suck it.

Those are five gifts I got from my birthday. None of them are "STUPENDOUS!" or anything, but all of them are thoughtful. They are, from left to right: The Godfather, a book of mathematical classics from Athens (and elsewhere), a Charles Dickens finger puppet, a scrap-book mug (inset at a slightly off angle so you can see it better), and a copy of the In the Mouth of Madness. Every one of them are gifts that I appreciate to the fullness of their value, if not more. The problem with gifts is that they rarely match their value. I forget the statistic, but it comes out that most gifts are only 70% appreciated. Even if you wanted some new clothes, you will like the clothes that you are given about 70% as much as clothes you buy yourself. Gift cards and cash are even trickier, since the average person is upsold by 33% while shopping for their own gift with such a method. This means for every $50 you give them, they are forced to spend about $17 of their own money on top of this in order to actually get the items they mean to get. These are averages I learned while in retail, and so are not 100% accurate. Some people love the gifts they are given. Some people strictly budget themselves. But it really is tricky. In all five cases, above, I consider myself as being blessed with good friends. Because the $5 books are worth more than that, the $3 finger puppet is worth more than that, the $10 movie is worth more than that, and $? scrapbook mug is also worth more than its individual parts. That table represents about $30 in gifts, but the value is more. However, if I was average, the value would be only $21. And that's kind of sad. Just think about all the debt we go into around Christmas to get gifts, and it's like throwing 30% away on one hand and then paying 30% back in finance charges. We are screwed.

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:13:53 AM CDT) Post of the Night, the First, in which there is a great stinging and discussions about headlines and contents go awry

Apparently the Kitchen Ghost is back. Just moments ago I heard a loud knocking coming from that direction. It sounded almost like the someone knocking on a door, but had a watery quality, as if someone knocking on the side of full pool, or maybe upon a water pipe. The closest I can get to explaining the sound was 5-6 very loud splashes agains the bottom of a thin hulled boat. Very Innsmouthian. It bears to note that, like the last time the Kitchen Ghost made an appearance, maintenance men were working on the roof early today. It probably means that they are leaving tools up there to get blown around in the wind, and the sounds are just much louder in the middle of the night when I sitting around reading or playing games with the sound turned off.

Besides things quite spectral, another Halloween motif - the creepy crawly - came out to play with me, today. A yellow jacket, or maybe more than one, set upon me and stung me with great buzzing. I didn't even quite notice at first. I just heard the buzzing and felt little sharp pricks in my back. And then I mostly sighed angrily and asked "WHY???". There is a chance that they can see the future, and knew that I was going to be the guy who would ask to have them killed. It could be something of a self-fulfilled prophecy. I may have been stung by the Oedipus of Yellow Jackets. The veritable Wraith King of the Dolichovespulae. "This man shall destroy our colony, he will rue his machinations!"

Anyhow, wasp-based fantasy segues aside, let's move on, now, to part two of this first post. Sometimes, headlines lie. They sum up the article a bit more drastically than they should. For instance, when Fox News busted out the headline "WMDs Found in Iraq" what the article said was "Chemicals that the US sold to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s have been found, unused." But, chemical weapons are WMD and so the headline only lied a little. The problem is, as Drew Curtis points out in his book It's Not News, It's Fark, most people don't really read headlines as lead-ins to stories. We read them as summaries. That one headline chosen by Fox has probably been repeated as fact by people without the comprehension to finish the article. I noticed a couple of headlines today, in which the article contains pretty much the exact opposite of the headline:

  • Headline Says: Terry Pratchett, avowed atheist, may have found God. Article says: "It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics, they just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows." In other words, he found peace the Universe shall unfold as it may (or, to better ape the Desiderata by simply quoting from it: "And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should".)
  • Headline Says: Obama Plagiarizes!. Article Says: Well, not really. I mean, no more than Rush Limbaugh plagiarized this February 2008 blog spiel. In that he said similar things and used similar words. What maks the old Rushman a league of his own is when he calls out the Clintons and the Dems for rampant war spending and out of of control federal budgets. Impressive!
  • Headline Says: Seattleite Sues over Diet Menus. Article says: well, that. This one I just posted because one is torn between chastising someone from eating at Chili's while trying to stay on a diet, and partially because it really is a tad sue-worthy. Some have, inexplicably, rushed to the defense of the chain, chanting "fatty!". At the same time, look at it this way. Even if you buy their logic, that Chili's was listing "per serving" instead of "per plate" and it was her problem for not guessing what a serving was, then you end up with 1) idiots so frothing at the mouth to insult fat people they are defending duplicitous practices and 2) an argument that mostly only works because it is food and a fat person is involved. Let's say they charged you $5 per serving, and made their plate be 3-4 servings. And then put that on their discount menu. And you had no way of knowing how much you were being charged until you got your quarterly statement. And then found out you were overcharged. Sure, the argument still stands. It's bad thinking to eat out at Chili's if you are trying to save money, but would you support someone taking extra money from you through a menu trick? Shit, there are some Victorian era barkers who would love you!
  • Si Vales, Valeo

June 09, 2008. Monday.

(01:47:22 PM CDT) A Mostly Book Related Bag o' Links

I have spent the last few minutes formating an HTML rendition of Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana. You can read it here if you wish, but keep in mind that it is only about 1/3 finished in the formatting. After I get the brute formatting aspects out of the way (getting paragraphs blocked off, section links working), my next stage is to go through and get special characters set up. Several of the names have special formatting. I am not 100% how easy this will be, but it's my next goal. Finally, the third step will likely be to set up some sort of annotation, or appendix, or the like. There are a lot of connections to Lovecraft, so I want to type something up addressing that , ranging from almost definitely (like the god of smoke, Kilooloogung's connection to Cthulhu as far as naming is concerned, and the way that MANA is the sleeping god) to the maybe (the old man Zardok versus the old man Zodrak).

Also have bene leafing through some Creative Commons music. I'll get back to you on that one.

Now to share some (mostly) book related things for you:

  • It's an old fashioned book burning. While the symbolic act of burning Harry Potter alongside pornography may or may not ever save a single soul, some people there said they felt the "generational curse" being lifted. What's the generational curse? Immorality and perversion. I think it is fitting when the article about book burning includes this quote, the order is likely not incidental: "We need healing. We've got pornography, abortion, murder, violence on the rise in Shreveport." Again, the focus is on sexual evil above and beyond all the other sorts of evil that might strike down a small town. And what does Harry Potter have to do with sexual evil? Well, you tell me.
  • Red Rape! It Can Happen Here!. Speaking of a book that should have been burned for sexual evil, Connie Seller's "classic" of gang rape, spousal abuse, anti-communist spittle, anti-intellectual anger, and many other wondrous things is discussed and described in some detail. I have found a copy of it for sell and may order it, but I'm not sure if I can bring myself to do so.
  • The Future of the Internet. A free to download book by Jonathan Zittrain discussing the current trajectory of the Internet and how it can be a very bad thing. What I have read has seemed very interesting. Try the PDF, and if you like it, then you can pick up the hardcopy with the handy-dandy link on the page.
  • Brian Keene discusses the future of books. Well, not so much the future of books as the results of a Random House poll about the future of books (you can get a copy of the results form the Keene post, or just click here). Keene rightly points out how so many of the questions and answers are more telling in and of themselves than anything else. Why certain of these questions are asked, over other questions like "Do you prefer new books to used?" and "Do you encourage friends to buy you books as gifts?", is a mystery. Or, like Keene said, "How is gas prices affecting your book buying habits?". On top of that, several of the most straightforward questions have at least one person responding "I don't know". Have you ever bought a ebook? "I don't know". It says bad things. Keene's commentary about the horror genre in particular should be read by horror fans. I assume the man knows what he is talking about.

And now for the non-book part of this post, I give you Big Buck Bunny, an animated short using free tools. It's cute, funny, kind of brutal to little animals, and completely free. Have a gander:

If you enjoy it, you can download it in many, many formats and sizes.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 08, 2008. Sunday.

(11:53:08 PM CDT) Trippy Ass Ultraman Eps. Part Two of Three of old Personal Journals.

I tried to go to bed early. 9pm. Not too crazy for some people. By my normal standards, that would count as "yesterday". Woke up an hour or two later with a strange throat itch. My throat has been bothering me all afternoon, and it now occurs to me that I have the beginnings of a sore one. I wasn't sure what was up, but now I know. And "poop" is all I have to say about that.

I made some hot ramen to sort of soothe it, and, while eating, watched a couple episodes of Ultraman. The two trippiest I have seen so far, and they came back to back. The first involved Telesdon, the underground monster, and some weird mole people with no eyes (and really bad makeup to cover the eyes up). All the mole people were caucasian, which I suppose was meant to make them pale. And the episode jumped in continuity a couple of times. Then, even better, the next episode involves Jamily, the "cohabiting" monster. That's right, cohabiting. Who flies an invisible spaceship and comes from earth but crash landed on a planet with no food and and no air or water but somehow managed to survive long enough to turn into this three hundred foot tall slab of rock from the harsh conditions. Besides the middle dramatic moment, which has to be seen to be believed, the final scene is surprisingly dark for the series. I have to show these episoded to people.

Well, time to read some Pegana and some Godfather, but I guess I will post the second old journal entry. Just like last time, all names have been blurred out. Again, note the number of times I bring up this sense of needing to do something. I find it weird how much energy I put into thinking about the future. Really, take this as a lesson. Get out and do.

May 19, 2001: After Friends Graduate

I might have trouble summing up the events of the last couple of days. Some aspects blur in an out of perception, changing as I tell them. Some are rock hard blinding light, and even these might be copied down wrong for "fear" of embracing them fully. A lot has happened. And it has not been an easy couple of days. It has been damned hard. But suddenly, out of the blue, I think I will make it. At least I am willing to try harder than I was previously.

As far as I remember, foolish to not just read it, but bear with me, the last journal entry that I have is for the day of Graduation. XXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXX...three good friends taking one step closer to the edge of leaping out of my life. Here is something of a summary of events leading away from this:

XXXXXXXXXX's DEPARTURE -- XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX, great friend and loved companion, returned to Pittsburg on Monday. After living 4 years of his life in H'ville, and 2 as my neighbor...gone. I walked over to his house (still didn't have internet at the time) and chatted with him for a few hours. Mostly sat quiet while he chatted with XXXXXXXXX, but still...I know how that goes. His dad, step-mom and brothers show up and then I basically just say goodbye. One last hug, one last handshake, and then nothing. I walked away. I had little purpose in being there. It wasn't even for emotional support that I was there. I was just there. He was/is my friend and I miss him. But somehow, the change in the friendship happened even before we said goodbye. I've chatted with him since then, he didn't act all that happy with my jokes. My guess is that he is being ate up with XXXXXXXX thoughts, and they are starting to get to him.

XXXXXXXXX'S INTERVIEW -- XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX is going to work for the FBI, or so she hopes. At any rate, I don't know if that is the right job for her. As per standard, I will support her choice I think. The FBI is fairly rigid in their selection. If it is not for her, then she will not make it. That's the best way to look at it I suppose. She has a lot more stuff to do, so its not going to be overnight. I do not know how much longer I will keep up with the process...the reason behind such is further down.

THE ILLNESS -- My stomach hurts like crap. At least it did. The symptoms got worse and worse until (while XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX was over here) I decided that I HAD to seek medical attention. She gave me 60 dollars to help out with any costs I would have (I still have 20+ in the bank). I ended up getting feverish and weak. I could barely move. It was damn near too late. Turns out the culprit may have not been the stress. It may have lay with the aspirins that I took for the stress headaches and such. They apparently were eating away at my stomach lining, literally. I don't know how much longer I could have continued at that path before actually reaching death...The blood tests were good. I don't have H. Pylori in my system...so keeping up with a care schedule on my tummy is good. It means it can heal. I don't appear to be losing much blood internally, maybe none. I just have to keep taking PrevAcid for a couple of weeks. I have to watch what I eat. Then I can go back to my regular schedule. I just have to be careful. Obey the body much quicker.

XXXXXXXXXX TELLS THE TRUTH -- I can think of nothing else to fill in here. I might as well get it over with. XXXXXXXXX told me that she was pretty sure that I would never have a chance with her romantically. Well, she said that I would NEVER have a chance. She still wants to be friends and all. But she says that I never excite her like she wants to be. She says that I think too much. I think she has thought like this for some time, she just hasn't told me. I don't know why. She just hasn't. I cried a lot. I wondered a lot. I prayed quite a bit. I don't think I have prayed enough. God has something in store for me. I don't know what. I don't know when. I am ate alive with the lack of knowledge. I see no other way. It doesn't look like I am going to be filled in just yet. I still feel for her. But I am no longer allowed to feel for her like I used to. It is wrong. It is not fair to me. There is debate on whether it is fair to her. I have so much to say on the subject that I don't think I can say anything. Does that make sense to anyone? The only thing else that I wanted to say is that after the chat, she came over and cried in my arms. I don't know all the reasons behind it.

XXXXXXXXX's POST GRADUATION PARTY -- I got to make it. I got to meet XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX. I had some fun. I was sort of forced to cut it short. That makes me feel better I think. XXXXXXXXXX is unsure what to do with me. She keeps starting to hug me or whatever...then she thinks about it and pulls away. I need to put her at ease soon. But I sort of think that she needs to feel at a bit of unease. I need her to want to do for me instead of just expecting me to do for her. This is as good as I can do towards rejecting her. I don't think I can do it for long. Soon, I'll come running back to her I fear and then she will get to say "No, Doug" once more.

Questions: Does this mean that it is over between the two of us? Can there be any other beginnings? Do I want there to be, really? What can I learn from this? Am I ready to make myself feel happy about myself? Do I realize that I need to?

Si Vales, Valeo

(04:25:17 PM CDT) Taking Chances

Today I have doing some various odds and ends. The one I have spent the most time on is further deleting and sorting files on my computer. I didn't get to the picture files (all my old jpgs, bmps, gifs and who knows what) but I did get another 10 or so gigs (about 2000 songs) of music cleared off my harddrive and my music folder is now under on large folder instead of a couple of folders linked together. The overall space gained today would have been about 12-13 gigs when you include the other stuff I got off of there.

One of the things I cleared out was my old electronic diary, a series of text files covering the years 2001-2005 or so. Very sparse and sporadic, there would be a dozen days of entries followed by three months of nothing. It is interesting, though, to see what occupied my mind. Mostly God, girls, and computers. One of the huge themes was this constant sense of taking chances, of willing my life to change. I kept telling myself to get out and take this or that chance. I kept telling myself to try and change this or that. And, for what I can piece together, I never did, not really. Frankly, had Sarah not come along then I would probably still be somewhat spinning my wheels. I no longer feel comfortable making excuses. I now tend to want to make better things.

I ended up only keeping three entries, which I will post here with some words blacked out for the good of everyone involved. I'll start with one in just a minute, but I have a bit of interesting trivia, and a small Bag O' Links for you.

The trivia is that I cut Sarah's hair today. First time I can ever recall cutting someone else's hair. It looks both pleasant and kind of punkish at the same time (rough edges but it shapes her face) which is what I was looking for. She seems to like it. We'll give it a couple of days.

And now the links:

  • Parents of Ill Vegan Girl May Face Police. The article brings up the issues of veganism in developing children. In the title case, the girl's bones are possibly wrecked for life due to a lack of proper vitamin D and calcium. In a couple of the extra mention cases, some couples have starved their babies because they did not consider breast milk to be Vegan.
  • erv_felicia's Home Page. I post this because I found it in my bookmarked links from my old Mandrake box. I'm not sure why I bookmarked it. Back when I had that box, though, the links I had (about 2 dozen) were all pretty serious links to me, things that I definitely wanted to keep track of. I cannot imagagine why this page was bookmarked. Maybe this is something to do with my Uncle JD, who was also in the Navy about the same time. Maybe it was a friend of his. I haven't a clue.
  • A Poetical Cook Book by Maria J Moss. A crazy, old school cookbook with recipes for haggis and old school jams and whatnot. Fascinating, really. Do a quick in-text search for "calf's head surprise"

And now the old journal entry

October 17, 2001: Finally a Full Linux User

Well, today is the day that I get to finally exist as a full Linux user. Of course, I don't have everything figured out, and I'm not sure if I ever will...but I got the gist of it I suppose. I can play sounds. I can surf the web. I can write several types of documents. I can play some cool games. I can program (though I want a smaller IDE). I can look at pictures. I can watch MPGs and RMs. Its not a bad setup, and I am already addicted to things like Virtual Desktops and the way the files are layed out. My Window's indocrination will kick in again one day and I will likely screw around with something...but that is in the future, heh.

The first thing of today happened in the early hours of morning. Konqueror went hay-wire when I tried to launch it. I could not use it look at my files. Well, that is not entirely accurate. What I mean is that I could not use it by the Home Directory launch button on my desktop. I could launch it as a web-browser and then swap over, it seems. But that is not the same. I was growing irate. I went to the Mandrake Expert (one second, let me check to see if anyone replied: nope, no one, and I will close it). I went to KDE bug report. With all this in mind, I found only that someone else had had the exact same problem as me. Namely, Konqueror opened in File Manager profile would would up and try to refresh the file display and would more or less lock up. Eventually, it would time out and would be done with it. I ended up solving it by opening the Webbrowing profile and manipulating it...then opening up the File Manager Profile (thank goodness that the size of the window had not been saved before) and saving it to match the window size. It made the window stop trying to endlessly refresh itself and enabled me to make other changes (namely, to save it in the Details setting as I like) which should stop the program-glitch from returning. If it does return...there may be some hell to pay...hehe...oh well, I suppose.

One of the first things that greeted me today was a picture of a pro-Osama bin Laden poster with Bert on it. It was Bert from from Bert and Ernie but the picture was from Bert is Evil homepage. The picture had apparently been printed off the web and then posted into the collage of the poster. I didn't think much about it so I sent the e-mail along. Later, my mom calls me back and says that the poster may have been a signal to start attacking schools. There is but one way to tell...wait.

XXXXX stopped by today, the first time since reading the poem. I am glad. I thought she had become scared of me. It is interesting to talk to her, but I have to wonder what is in store for the two of us. She needs someone, and I believe someone like me. She needs someone who can hold her emotional weight so that she can be the great person she is meant to be. Her family is apparently drowning her and they will never allow her to be what she needs. She needs to get away from them, I guess. She is a special person, but I don't know if I could survive the relationship. So, I will rush nothing. I will remember to pray to God tonight and get Him to decide what He thinks about the deal...

I need to finish up The Idiot, I am taking too long. I love it..but I have been absored with the computer more, I'm afraid.

I need to write some more poetry, as well. I think I will do that next...

Song of the Moment: Losing A Whole Year, by Third Eye Blind. Color of the day: Hmm, that sort of greyish white color that you will get in the morning when sunlight penetrates the fog.

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:13:39 AM CDT) Wooee...Tired

It has been a busy day. A kind of busy past couple of days, actually.

Last night I watched Teeth which I do recommend. I'll say to everbody but that's not true. There are several masticated penises, and a lot of direct sexual references, including a seen of a gynecologist talking about how "tight" a youngish (16-17?) girl is. It's raunchy in that sort, but what I like about it is it takes all thoses fears that teenage girls might have about their sexuality - their vagina is a monster, boys are just trying to get into their pants, date rape, perverted doctors, creepy family members, creepy old men - and it turns it into this black comedy. The trailers are way wrong. They often portray them men as the sympathetic characters. But really, it is the girl. It's not even so much a horror story as some weird, longish allegory about overcoming sexual discrimination.

Today we went to Mandi and John's wedding shower brunch. I'm not sure how many people were there in potential, but in actuality it ended up being this core group of people who were interesting and we hung out there for five hours and hand a good time. Thanks to Becca and David, as well, for setting it up and offering their home to the event.

While waiting for the others to show up, I read the graphic novel interpretation of Paul Auster's City of Glass. If you find that version, I recommend it. It is both very strange and very poignant at the same time. Being graphically and narratively appealing.

After that, we stopped by Home Depot and, with the help of a very nice associate, got some excellent lumber scrap to help reinforce my chair. It's been falling apart since we have moved, and only through sheer tenacity can it hold up my bulky frame. With the 2x4s, it is fairly well braced. Turns out that we need one more piece to finish it, because Sarah and I are unable to take measurements, it seems.

Then we went swimming. And ate at La Alameda (sp?), which is great because it doesn't take us too long to walk to, and they have margaritas. And went to Walgreens. And wow, tired.

Got Lord Dunsany's The Complete Pegana in the mail today. And Katie got me this awesome Charles Dickens finger puppet. Both are excellent. I'll post pictures of a few neat things that have found their way in my life (the puppet, the mug that Becca gave me, etc). Sometime.

For now, I get some boiled peanuts, get ready to watch the Series 5 closer of Peep Show, and then plan on passing out.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 05, 2008. Thursday.

(12:01:08 PM CDT) Bad Game Devices

It has been awhile since a Cracked.com article has made me laugh as much as The 6 Most Ill-Conceived Video Game Acessories Ever did. I mean, there is a reason that the Wii and DS were initially taken by some old school gamers as being a bad thing. We were used to gimmick devices coming out every year with a huge pricetag and gods awful execution. I'm surprised, thinking back, that the little gun controller worked as opposed to just breaking upon pulling the trigger. In the history of video game gimmicks, it is a fluke.

Linked to in the article is a clip of the Angry Video Game Nerd. I will embed it below. I recommend watching it, but it is not work safe. Just keep that in mind.

Si Vales, Valeo

(04:07:36 AM CDT) Just to Taunt Sarah

It is far too late, and I have been exhausted for hours, now, but I wanted to post this to taunt Sarah.

I read The Godfather for too long, and then started to go to bed. But I figured that I would clean off the table where she does crafts because it was getting too cluttered. Then I figured I would clean up some more and eventually got around to cleaning out the litter boxes. About an hour of cleaning in the middle of the night. But that's not the best part.

When I was taking the trash out, I saw a fox! At least one, possibly two. The first glance was a fox, grayish in color (presumably a Gray Fox) going around the corner of the building. Then, when I got up to the parking lot there was another, possibly the same and he just looped around, off to the right watching me near some cars. I called out to it, and it didn't really run away so much as just stared at me curiously, not unlike a stray, scared dog who is curious but not all that curious. According to the article, they can be up to about a meter in length, and this fellow (the one that I saw clearly) would have been about 700mm. Possibly making it a female (who are slightly shorter). Looking around, it was almost exactly like this fellow:

I guess, Sarah, just keep an eye out for him/them in the morning.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 04, 2008. Wednesday.

(12:13:16 AM CDT) Just a General Thingie Blog

If anyone could buy me a subcription to this magazine, I would be thankful. I am going to try and order a couple of back issues. It seems to have a really good selection of fiction.

In what counts as scant "other" for news tonight, I tried out my ear plugs while swimming and they worked like a charm. It has been years since I could swim without worrying about swimmer's ear. Man. That made me happy.

Ok, that might be it.

Wait, I lie. I have one, horrific, thing to share. I was reading "The Greatest Gift" tonight, which is the short story that became It's a Wonderful Life. While reading I came across a line that, taken out of context, becomes quote horrible. You have to go the story itself to read the full line (tell 'em I sent you, you pervs...):

"But not another word could she get out of her mouth, for he smothered it with kisses, and then dragged her up to the children's room, where he violated every tenet of parental behavior..."

Si Vales, Valeo

June 03, 2008. Tuesday.

(03:32:46 AM CDT) That Could Have Went Smoother

I have now spent the last 6 hours getting my computer back up and running. And not with a 100% success rate. Some of the features are most definitely new and improved. Some have broken my box. I have been pulling stuff out, putting stuff in, and sometimes just feeling confused all around. For instance, Firefox now crashes when I look at Facebook unless I launce Firefox through a console window. GVim is no longer supporting colors, strangely. That sort of thing. Little weird things that used to work but don't any more.

I'm going to read something quick and light and then get some sleep.

Si Vales, Valeo

June 02, 2008. Monday.

(02:22:09 PM CDT) Sure to Make Sarah Squeal

Just uploaded some older, black and white photos of Cindy.

Si Vales, Valeo

(12:56:19 PM CDT) The Great Blah of Wasting Time to Be Productive. *choke*

Spent the last two hours trying to find a program that will allow me to properly annotate pdfs with Linux. Jarnal seems closest, but gives me some ppm error (despite everything else seeming to be good). I'm going to upgrade the notch in Ubuntu and see if that gives me more options. Who knows how long that process will take.

In the meantime, enjoy this trailer (which is for just about the only movie I care about that is forthcoming):

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:38:44 AM CDT) This Crazy Little Town

Not being entirely sleepy, and kind of in the mood for a walk while the pollen is still too damp to kill me, I head out tonight in a loop with Walgreens being something of my mid-point. I was in the mood to pick up a couple more cans of AriZona Tea (they are on sale, and I want to review them) and I also needed to spend some of my birthday money to get some ear plugs. I have horrible luck when it comes to drops of water in my ears. I'm not sure if ear plugs will be a good way of handling it, since similar devices make my head feel really uncomfortable, but I will give them a try. I like being able to swim under water and I would hate to have to develop a swimming regimine around keeping my head dry the whole time. If the ear plugs don't work, then the next option is some sort of device that fits over the ears like headphones that can at least keep the water from directly putting pressure on the ears.

While there, there were a few odd incidents. A group of women (by their voice) cackling loudly in a parking lot on University Drive. No words, no distinct syllables, just random animal like cackling laughter for several minutes (at least 15 that I could hear them). A woman walked into Walgreens and asked about their pharmacy. It was 10pm, so the pharmacy was closed. When the guy told her that Huntsville just has two late night pharmacies (he pointed them out, but she didn't seem to be listening) she got pissed and wanted to know why Walgreens would be open if their pharmacy is closed. "What's the point?" she asked, angrily. She, presumably, was so very near sighted that she could not see the two longish lines of customers picking up various goods at that time of night. That, or so self-centered that a store that can't serve her specific needs must be pointless.

This incident rattled the cashier so much that when I handed him my canvas bag to put my purchases in, he first bagged them in a plastic bag and then went to put them over inside. He finally went "OH!" and fixed it, and then commented that he loved the idea of people using reusable bags like that and that most customers should. I understood, though, because I have been on the receiving end of non-specific customer fury in which they think it is justified to ruin your day because some one somewhere in the chain of command far beyond your control made a decision that you might not even agree with yourself. As a bonus, I have found that most people who use the "Well, my day was ruined and they get paid to take complaints" style logic tend to have a huge number of excuses about their own mistakes, and the mistakes of their bosses, and hate being treated that way in return.

Outside of events that occured to me while walking in the wet to Walgreens, there were so many others over the weekend. There was the guy that got hit on the Arsenal after a drug bust went awry. Today I witnessed the aftermath of a wreck so bad that one car's bumper was inserted into the other car. On top of that, you have a woman finding two women sleeping in her bed after she woke up from sleeping on the couch, a porn store robbery, a felon breaking probation to purse snatch, an Athens man whose car hit a train (the other day while coming up to my interview, I had a view of a railroad crossing in which two vehicles passed almost right in front of the train rather than wait), and the strange story about a man who shot himself in his car while going down the road which lead to a crash. This town is going insane.

My weekend extended out to some more fun times. Saturday was home to a handful of errands. We had originally planned to go Vespa shopping but decided to aim for sometime in the future. We did hit up the farmer's market on Cook and the Kaffee Klatsch and Choi's. I got stuff to make curry, a good sized watermelon, some green tomatoes and eggplant for stir-frying, and some peanuts for boiling. There was swimming involved, and general horseplay. Saturday ended up with me heading over the Make Shop to hang out with the guys and to drink some Riesling while discussing many, many topics.

Sunday was lazier, but involved some more shopping (this time it was Garden Cove). There was some customer appreciation sale going on, 10% off of everything. The place was crazy packed, though. Hard to get stuff. A few of my favorite items were simply sold out. I got another of those canvas bags that I like (this one with the Garden Cove logo), some raw sugar, some bulk cereal, and a few treats. After that, there was In the Mouth of Madness, boiled peanuts, Flight of the Conchords, bacon cheeseburgers, swimming, and Munchkin Chtulhu. Ugh. This weekend has been fun, but I am exhausted.

Finished Snuff. Time to work on my book on paradoxes (paradoces?). Then I can get back to reading Neal Stephenson and The Count of Monte Cristo. Finish those off.

Alright, I dont' think I got much more in me. I'm going to be in bed really, really soon.

Good night, and thanks everyone for the great weekend...

Written by W Doug Bolden

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