(22 November - 1 December 2005)
1 December 2005
-The rain has been truly torrential in the last 4 days. Much of yesterday did not involve rain, but a fair bit of it did, & now that kind of rain is back that will make you believe it's still nighttime when you're inside. It's reminding me of the old haunts in Oregon just a bit much. But when one has nowhere to be outside particularly, & can get there in the car, the rain's not so bad at all. I've actually found it a little soothing, though I'm not too sure why.
-More & more I find myself focusing on something one second & forgetting about it the next, only to find five minutes later that I really was working on something else entirely before my train of thought pulled into the siding. I'm not even 26 yet & I feel like my mind is simply decaying. Though this fits with my theory that my mental acuity peaked in 1991, it's not exactly comforting. The thing about these things, like when my vision starts to fade or something, is that I know these things will only increase as time progresses. I will have more forgetful episodes, more confusion, & so on. At least these events usually confine themselves to the first hour or so after I wake up.
-Yesterday was a Wednesday & not the one before Thanksgiving, so there's a new Mep Report up at that site. We also have gotten our RSS/XML feed to actually work, so if you are into that sort of thing, it now is fully functional. Enjoy!
-In other off-site computing news, we officially launched the RMI Forum, so that's quite exciting. I can tack on forum moderator to my list of duties & it looks like there's actually going to be a fair amount of discussion. Yes, the forum is very green, but those are RMI's colors as well. This may end up being a pretty fun project.
30 November 2005
-Literally everyone is sick. In some sort of inexplicable comeback, my immune system has actually decided to show up this winter, bobbing & weaving around every single one of the illnesses besetting my surroundings. Which of course I just jinxed to the hilt. But it blows my mind how many people have been ill in the last 2 weeks, at home & abroad.
-The next time someone tells me that the market solves for something, I'm just going to ask them how the market solved for slavery. Because outlawing slavery was an external control put on the market, which wanted to keep buying & selling its precious commodities! What we really need, though, is a platform to start talking about the slick new slavery that's coming in the next few decades... where the first-world led by the US actually enslaves whole countries through its economic dominance combined with "free trade". As I explained in a way more salient than I will ever be able to recapture again in a debate round at Worlds in Toronto almost 4 years ago, you can't have a level playing-field competition between countries that started accumulating wealth 200 years ago & those that started 2 years ago. & any time you have wealth accumulation get too far out of proportion with everyone else, the one with the wealth can start enslaving those without it. Sure, it's slavery with a home & a "job", but when 99% of the world will do anything for "the right price", all one has to do to control their actions is accumulate enough to pay that right price for whatever you want. & while it sounds fancy & comes with more durable goods, it's just another form of slavery. This is why equality is just as important as getting everyone to a minimum standard of decent living & where Brandzy & I (among others I'm sure) diverge so fundamentally. Because if everyone's at the "minimum standard" & one person has all the wealth of the other 7 billion people combined, they really all end up being that one person's slave.
-I just think it would behoove everyone in every field to remember that everything we believe is based on assumptions & unprovable premises. Anything we can do to promote that remembrance is a step in the right direction. I don't think that the right conclusion from that is to then go Hume-style & start disbelieving everything, but rather to temper knowledge with the understanding of its wobbly foundations.
29 November 2005
-Exit Em, stage Belgium. Yes, Belgium... she's going to a conference on childhood obesity in Brussels that's at least tangentially related to her work. As she's one of the top healthcare people in PIRG nationwide right now, she got the nod. I'll miss her greatly, but when she gets back, we'll be just a few days away from heading to the PIRG Aspen thing, which will be a lot of good time together.
-I made a spreadsheet of how much I have to get done each day before Aspen to launch the University Quiz before leaving. It's a narrow window, but if I can squeeze through it, I think I'll have timed it perfectly. Just reading about high schoolers applying to college on the pages where they post the existing quizzes makes me itchy to get it done. Yet I have a lot to get done for RMI in the same timeframe, so it's nothing but computer time for me. & I have to write Duck & Cover through just about Christmas. But it's good stuff all the same. & if push came to shove, it wouldn't be too bad to launch the Quiz in January.
-I meant to post a few days back that Em & I heard our upstairs neighbor breaking down his own door at 4:25 in the morning to get upstairs, after apparently getting locked out. We were very concerned upon first waking up to the noises that someone was breaking into our apartment, but once we heard footsteps upstairs (& they didn't sound like urgent break-in footsteps, despite following the sound of a door being bashed in), we stopped worrying. It wasn't until a couple days later (which was a couple days ago) that we heard confirmation that the neighbor was getting into his own place. It was a serious door-bashing too. I'd have to be in a world of hurt before considering this line of recourse to a lockout, even at 4:25 in the morn.
28 November 2005
-Stop the presses! I hope he wants this info posted, because I'm telling the world! Matty Frese has a blog! I dare say woot. All of you out there without webpages, beware... your days without webpages are numbered! We shall have everyone providing daily updates of their life before too long. Welcome to our world, Freezer, glad to have you aboard. Oh & let me know if you want the link taken down & I'll burn it from people's memories, or something...
-I've been meaning to comment on how sick I am of people misunderstanding this answer from the Book Quiz. Mind you, I realize that it's a bit of a stretch for people to realize I'm making a pun about ferries & fairies in the last sentence... & that one has to be a little familiar with the material of the book to understand that ferry boats play a key role, as does belief in a variety of ideas, to really get the joke. Okay, fair enough. & it seems that a vast percentage of those who get this answer have no familiarity with the material in the book, let alone have read it (I should talk... I haven't read it either). Fair enough again. But people, do you really think I'm going to have a glaring spelling error in the freaking Book Quiz? Come on. Give me a little credit. Yet if you Google "You're Siddhartha" "Book Quiz", you can read all about how many people chide me for my misspelling. This is what I get for trying to be punny.
-It got cold all of a sudden. Reality caught up to the calendar in a hurry. Maybe Thanksgiving awoke the sleeping winter, but methinks I'm going to have the space heater on till March.
-I'm beginning to think there's a major airline/airport conspiracy taking place to list every flight as on-time on the various airline websites in order to get people to spend more money on airport parking & food while waiting for actually delayed flights. It's a great theory to have online updates as to when flights get in, but they've been so consistently wrong lately that I'm beginning to think something fishy's afoot. It does make sense that in an era of airline failures, the industry would leave no corners uncut.
-While waiting in the airport (for a good long while), I actually heard someone greet their friend by saying "O M G". Just saying the letters like that, slowly & deliberately. I foresee a future when those three letters, like KFC or the NAACP, stand for nothing but themselves as a distinct phrase. I also foresee a future where no one says anything anymore that can't fit in a text message. In this future, I will be the last person alive without a cell phone.
27 November 2005
-Galapagos certainly wasn't the best Vonnegut ever, but it also wasn't half as bad as Fish made it out to be. I think the ultimate lesson there is that human beings, whether they were once inside it or not, are currently outside the bounds of evolution. As I've always maintained, the whole purpose of humanity is to overcome human nature. Not that I think that's really the point that Vonnegut was trying to make... but I think he made it anyway.
-Lots of projects coming up in the month of December, so that'll keep me focused & busy. & with unexpected good news bringing relief, I really can't complain. I just have to hope that I can navigate the crazy schedule this month contains to get all the projects done!
26 November 2005
-I don't really know what happened to today, but I recall resolving to get something done & I can definitively say that didn't happen. Nevertheless I spent some time with Em, who is still very sick & will be leaving for Belgium in just a few days, so that was worthwhile. Saw "Good Night & Good Luck", which I highly recommend. It's funny that we've come full-circle to a point in history where McCarthyism is the historical analogue to modern problems (Patriot Act) rather than the modern problem being analogized to (e.g. in The Crucible). Good stuff though. Where is our modern Edward R. Murrow? & then I convinced everyone to go to Ahn's, which made me happy.
-I am more stubborn than anyone... & don't you forget it. Or I just may have to prove it to you.
25 November 2005
-Managed to get home last night from Tracy for the first time in 3 tries without getting pulled over. Both times prior were on suspicion of drunk driving, which is really the only thing I'd ever want to get pulled over for with my lifetime blood alcohol level of zero. It makes me smile how quickly they let me go when they start talking to me. I found a way to get Civ 4 to work on my lousy graphics card early this morning, so methinks I'm going to be settled in for a bit.
24 November 2005
[from Tracy, California]
-Drove up here this morning for the dinner with the Garin clan, at 12 instead of 15 sans Will, Holly, & Aaron. The kids are all on the verge of actually becoming little kids & leaving behind hints of toddlerhood. Em's quite sick, mostly with the dreaded Time Off Disease mefears, so that's no fun. Overall, a fine Thanksgiving.
-We got in some Tongiaki & Bootleggers before people dispersed, reminding me how difficult it is to win a game when everyone gangs up on you.
-I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving the last couple days, & I don't mean to be a downer, but I think I'm developing some big problems with it. Namely the origins & the allusions to a big feast between the white folks & the Native Americans. I know I've made analogies before between modern America & a successful Nazi Germany in that America pulled off its genocide, moderating just a little at the end as one might've expected an unopposed Nazi regime to do. So what if, in that hypothetical of a successful but now somewhat mollified Nazi Germany, they had a holiday commemorating an early festival between Jewish immigrants & native Germans? A little inappropriate, no? But when the winners write the history books, we're horrified by that idea while celebrating ostensibly the same thing at home. I'm rapidly running out of holidays that I don't see mind-bogglingly large problems with. Mind you, I'm still all for the ideals behind Thanksgiving... taking time to be thankful for being blessed to the hilt is very important. But the context is disturbing at best... we're thankful for the bounty we raped & pillaged from the people who were here before us? Not cool.
23 November 2005
[from Clovis, California]
-When my father-in-law/boss (I've been known to call him my "foss", though not directly) asked how I was doing in "the kindergarten", he wasn't kidding. I have to say how glad I am that I don't work in this office everyday, as the folks who do seem to spend more time goofing off & listening to loud music than working. Did I mention the fluorescent lights? It's a less-than-stellar scene. Thankfully there will be a lot more work to do coming up, & all at home.
-"Walk the Line" was surprisingly good, though it must be noted that if it were any more similar to "Ray", it would be unbelievable. In fact, it probably is unbelievable anyway. But I always like movies where one learns as much as one is entertained.
-Cheesecake for dinner. That'll do.
22 November 2005
[from Clovis, California]
-I do love the train ride down here. I've been meandering through Vonnegut's Galapagos, so I read that along with a bit of sleeping & eating. Despite the conductor's dire warnings that the train was going to be very full with the onrushing Thanksgiving weekend at every stop, the train remained relatively reasonable. There weren't zillions of open seats, but no one had to sit next to someone if they didn't want to. So it goes.
-Ah, data entry... how I've missed you!
-Wow. There really are people who think that way. Fresno will remind me when others won't just how ridiculous Americans can be. You'd think it's just in TV shows, but here it's real.
-The new guest room at the Garin Homestead is more & more like a lodge everyday. I don't think I'd ever volunteer to stay elsewhere in the house.
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