(8-17 March 2003)

17 March 2003
-Happy St. Patrick's Day!  It's Irish, it gets everyone dressed up in green, it's a 17th!  More things one cannot ask for.  This year, I'll spare the story of my 3rd grade construction-paper leprechaun outfit.  I was a strange child, but I think I make an even stranger adult.
-While it is St. Patrick's Day & I'm all up in my greenness, there is much to be sad about today.  March may translate into instability & volatility in the modern era, but the US leaders are quick to remind us that it was originally named for the mythical god of war.  You might say that those involved believe the only gods are of war.  Not to say that Gore, or anyone else, would be doing much better... keep in mind that the USA's 12 years of "inactivity" in the region have involved daily bombings of the people & places known as Iraq.  That's 8 years of Clinton administration in there, still bombing the hell out of the country.  This week, it just escalates & gets more official.  & whatever anyone thinks of France's other policies, or Russia's, at least they made sure that history can't quite write this one off as a worldwide coalition.  Nevertheless, with Bush to speak in an hour (I'll still be at work), it's a dark week for the world upcoming.  In the midst of all this, there's a part of me that almost yearns for the days of monarchs & autocrats.  With the advent of democracy, the actual wielding of power & its functions haven't particularly changed from the realities of 16th or 17th century Earth.  Countries still just try to bonk each other over the head, hording power, bullying, intimidating, & using all the fun hallmarks of nationalistic regimes of any age.  But in the era of democracy, they use insipid justifications, actually managing to convince some people that what they're doing is more than upholding nationalistic fury!  America must first pretend to want "disarmament" (not of any real sort, just the "we big, you small, we arm, you disarm" variety), then resorting to "military conquest" (you say regime change, I say military conquest) when the world sees through the paper-thin argumentation.  It would be bad enough to live in a country with people saying "Look, we're just bigger & stronger & therefore might makes right," but the world of "We're killing them to SAVE them" just rips me up.  I guess I'm just asking for a little authenticity.  Where's our national referrendum in a democracy?  Where's our representation in a republic?  In the old days, the king would trot out to say a few words on why it was time for the land to tighten its belts & suit up for war.  That's on schedule for tonight, with 100% chance of war by week's end.
-So up until today, there was a Citibank ad on the roadside on I-680 northbound between Walnut Creek & Fairfield.  It was situated precisely in front of one of these huge refinery/smelting/pollution-belching type places that dot the region... the place is just a stereotype of cruddy industry.  The Citibank billboard said "There is no such thing as unconditional wealth."  Framed by that horrendous plant, I think they made a profound point entirely unintentionally, & I wanted to capture this on black & white film.  But over the weekend, they changed the billboard.  Maybe someone noticed the irony, but I'm guessing the lease was just up.  Either way, I'll have to look for a new headlining graphic for the anti-capitalist page that will eventually show up here.
-The Country Quiz has now been taken more than ten-thousand times!!  This as of the day before yesterday, having been up for a bit less than 2 months.  That's well over 100 times a day, mean average.  You can now check the stats past 10,000, plus the weekly search winners.

16 March 2003
-Nivey-Nive!  I hadn't seen the old Alamo native in some time (since graduation), but he appears to be doing well in general, if not in very specific.  I guess everyone was weary.
-The house is vaguely clean, & now we have a scanner!  Ah, the good things that will come to this site from a scanner...
-Congratulate Emily, the newest PIRG Fellow.  So we'll be by the Bay for at least 2 more years (from August of this year) as she becomes an expert researcher of consumer advocacy topics, including (but not limited to) health care reform!  This is yet more good news, rounding out this month into one big volatile ball of craziness.  But look at the calendar.  One word says it all.

15 March 2003
-March is only half over?  Are you kidding?
-The JMMC Library has offered me permanent (not full-time) employment.  Job security after only 2 weeks!  This means that AIM will stop skimming off the top of my paycheck & that I'll have (drumroll please) full benefits!  AND I'll be working fewer hours.  A very nice break after the month's setbacks.  Goodbye, $485 EKG's!
-I'm usually in a relatively foul mood during my Saturday hours at CU-Concord.  I think most of this stems from not being a morning person, but having to be at work at 8 in the morning.  But now that I work at 9 am all the time, my mood there has improved greatly.  I'm still no morning person, but I'm getting back to the comfort with mornings that I had at Dickinson in the summers so long ago.

14 March 2003
-Everclear (the band) kept me going through some of the hardest days of this journey called life, & for that I will always be grateful to them.  The bitter, depressed rage with glimmers of hope on the side mimicked much of my attitude from 1998-2001 & it helped to have that to resonate with.  While this attitude no longer reflects my reality, their latest effort ("Slow Motion Daydream") seems to have an undercurrent of change as well.  Mostly, it's an overtly political album, something that's hard not to make in this era, but is comforting to see nonetheless.  So some resonance remains.

13 March 2003
-Three years ago today, I woke up from a dream I was having that vaguely resembled "Magnolia", & started Introspection.  Happy birthday to My Worst Friend!  Figures that my worst friend would be a three-year-old.  Insert chuckling here.
-So, remember victory gin?  That was a hallmark of Newspeak (a division of Doublethink), not in the actual events of 19 years ago, but in Orwell's predictions.  But victory gin is here today, in the form of freedom fries, freedom toast, freedom kissing, & I guess Freedom Lick, Indiana, home of Larry Bird.  The point is, are people flipping CRAZY?  A majority of the country doesn't support the war without UN approval, but then goes off its rocker when the UN actually thinks before it approves something?  Are American citizens really so inane as to boil national interest down to the needs of a spoiled hedonist whose motto is "I'll take my toys and go home before you can say 'don't take your toys and go home'!"??  Someone is proposing legislation in the House to use government money (the same money that is leaving say, the welfare program) to bring remains of American soldiers home from French soil.  60% of people on the CNN poll about a boycott (clearly unscientific, but science isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of a poll) say they will be joining a boycott against French goods.  I've said it before & I'll sadly say it again, France is one of the only countries even THINKING right now.  Usually the US is more subtle about boycotting thought.
-Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my bosses at CU-Fairfield may not have been thinking fully when they put me in charge of the desk for two hours, with signs up saying they'd be back in one hour.  A call from my boss contradicted what I'd been telling people for the first hour (namely, that their calls would be returned that day), so I ended up misleading a goodly number of folks.  Why open a front office when people only really want to talk to three people that won't be there?  Such increases my frustration this week with systems, & just about everything else.
-While I'm ranting about the world at large, I also want to comment on the story that somehow swept the headlines for the last 36 hours.  A potential title might be "Smarter Than You Think".  Sure, the whole world is ecstatic that they found Elizabeth Smart.  But no one really seems to be asking the hard questions.  & maybe this will come with time... & I'm not advocating grilling the poor girl, either.  BUT, one has to wonder how this person just complied with being captive for nine full months.  She was found ON THE STREET?  In broad daylight?  Wearing a wig?  In talking about the Laci Peterson case, I've been a big skeptic about people saying she may possibly be alive, just using the reality that it's impossible for someone not to surface when their family is looking for them & they want to be found, unless they are dead or really locked away in some impossibly well guarded dungeon.  Considering that the latter case really only happens in horror movies (or .000000001% of real life, I suppose), one is left to assume that Elizabeth Smart may not have wanted to be found.  I couldn't hazard a guess as to why, but when her dad announced that he wasn't asking her about the experiences, this sounded like a red flag to me... something more like he knew what had happened, & it bothered him.  I guess none of this would have aroused suspicion from me had the Smart family released photos at the time of the disappearance that looked anything like Elizabeth at the age she was when she disappeared.  In a successful ploy to get their daughter above the fray of the thousands of lost kids that never make the media, they released pictures of a cute 9-year-old when they had lost a 14-year-old.  Strange, especially when you want someone to recognize the kid.  This is why pictures of her just found make it look like she was lost for 5 years rather than .75 years.  The point is (this post is way too long), there's definitely more to this story than the open-&-shut milk carton miracle that people are billing it as.

12 March 2003
-Technically, today marks 3 solid years of daily updates here at Introspection, My Worst Friend.  Of course, anniversaries are best marked on the day of the anniversary, even though tomorrow's entry will mathematically open year number four.  What a great project that has come from such a spur-of-the-moment opening.
-Seeing people tear their hair out about school projects as I do at Chapman reminds me how glorious it is to only have to be working.
-90% of traffic comes from the inability of people to merge properly.  Next time you see that a lane is closing, merge immediately & encourage others to do the same.  The only reason it's slow in the first place is because all the other bastards are trying to zoom ahead as far as they can before the lane actually closes, & this makes for bumper-to-bumper last-minute merging, which is inefficient & causes backed-up traffic.  If everyone merges right away, traffic will move, perhaps slower than the speed limit, but way faster than 5mph-stop-5mph-stop-crawl-stop.

11 March 2003
-Well, yesterday we found out that between my ridiculously silly emergency room visit & the incredibly vile hit-&-run driver, Emily & I are out $1,891.00.  Each half of that double-whammy ended up costing us very close to the same portion of that total.  There are two key lessons in this.  First & foremost, it's amazing how much worse either of these situations could have been.  I didn't actually have anything wrong with me, & Emily was not in the car when it was hit.  No one was.  These are both wonderful facts, & it's really quite lucky that when things go wrong, the only damage here ends up being monetary.  & the second part of that is how amazing it is that we actually have enough money to sustain that kind of loss.  At many times in the last year, that sort of financial hit would have meant serious life changes, or begging from family.  But there's a second lesson here, stemming from that, about the overall randomness of money.  Anyone who thinks there's a sound link between work & money just isn't paying attention to the world.  Were we lazy when we decided to park or I decided to listen to the tens of people clamoring for me to go to the doctor?  Did we somehow deserve those events more than someone who is working harder?  Something tells me otherwise.  Something tells me that these things strike in an equal-opportunity fashion, & had they struck someone less fortunate, it would hurt them a lot more than it hurt us.  Not because they're lazy, but because the place people end up in has so much to do with the accident of birth, made worse by the ongoing accident of money.
-I was going to archive, really, but updating the BP People page took a lot more time than I thought it would.  & I'm not even really sure that I like it better than the old design, so I'm going to save that one just in case.  But it felt like change was needed.  That's how a lot of things seem to be feeling, all over the world.

10 March 2003
-In the lateness of the hour, there is desperation.  The desperation always feels a little like hope, & a lot like despair.  Finding linguistic similarity, the desperation & despair climb walls, hand in hand, hoping for prey within the mighty castle.  But the courtyard they find is empty, prarie grasses growing in the unkempt grounds.  The moss is slick, the wood rotting, & it is hard to say whether the interior corridors are abandoned altogether.  The descent of the sun fights with the surging rainclouds for the right to snuff day's last light.
-In day, there is comfort.  But it may be artificial.  At night, there is perception.  & only one bulwark against the perception's pain.
-Russia & France are my heroes.
-In Exports news (local meta stuff), Phil's "plog" has crossed the line into dormant territory after over 40 days without updates.  Meanwhile, Drew has a very different sort of webpage, but enough to merit inclusion on the big board.
-New graphic up top, plus the regular Monday updates for Search & Stats are in.  If I get really adventurous, I might even do some archiving.  But you can see other posts this month for evidence that I'm not exactly brimming with energy at the moment.

9 March 2003
-Stanford was pretty great, even if we only made it for finals (Em's interview yesterday running way late).  Finals featured the first career tournament win of the Williams boys (Pinkel/Gallagher) who have become almost as estranged from the circuit as Pinkel's high school friend.  Regardless, it was all about the dinner afterwards, in which the Stanford team desperately tried to spend $1,000 on pasta.  I met Barrett's girlfriend (two words you thought you might never see entwined, together for the first time), & got to hang out with Barrett for an actually long time.  All of this was the lone beacon of hope in what has been a very rough opening to March.
-I wasted my one day off of seven being in a foul mood & trying to not have to do anything.  So I didn't.  But the mood deepens.  The wells are opening again.

8 March 2003
-If I were to title this post, it would be called "History Repeats Itself Itself".  Oh my goodness.  I was bored at work today & started reading entries from 1 & 2 years ago as I'm about to hit 3 full years of Introspection.  Anyway, check out what I wrote 2 days ago (6 March 2003) & then 1 year & 2 days ago (6 March 2002).  Scary, huh?  I knew I'd posted about on that topic before, but EXACTLY one year ago?  The significance of time always bowls me over.
-Stanford was awesome yesterday & should be again today.  So many people I miss from the circuit.  Just wish Deis could afford to send teams.

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