February 1, 2010

My new motto

Sometimes I think the only thing that stops me killing myself is the writer's block on the note.

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December 15, 2009

Differently able

Being severely depressed can lead to achieving, um, different things in your life. I, for example, just finished Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City. Legacy of depression leading to much time spent on a couch.


Depressing &()## game, too.

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October 28, 2009

Stepped out

My father wrote me a quick email today to give me the sad news that my cat Smudge, who has been with our family 19 years since adopting me while I was in college, has apparently passed away. However, in truly classy Smudge/cat style, she nuzzled him awake Monday, smooched him, and then left the house after him and hasn't been seen since. As she didn't make a habit of wandering in her later years, we conclude (given that she hasn't been seen in several days) that she went away to pass on in private.

Smudge, I love you. Requescat i pacem, and I'll bring kippers when I come to see you.

As an aside: if anyone asks me, I shall tell them that Smudge "has stepped out for a bit." God, what a cat.

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June 30, 2009

Blood, glowing.

So today, I achieved two things that make me happy as a geek.

For one, I learned one of the actual uses for Technetium, the lightest radioactive element (I think). I learned this as they pushed a syringe full of the stuff into my arm.

That, in turn, means that I spent the rest of the day emitting freaking gamma rays. No shit. As a result of positrons. Because I was stuck into a PET imager. At least, I think it was positrons. But in any case, think about that. I became a gamma emitter.

That's pretty cool.

The bit where they bring out the syringe in a radiation-shielded box, though, is a little disconcerting. You know, so the staff doesn't get exposed. The staff doesn't get exposed.


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May 27, 2009


Since going on Omeprazole (2 weeks ago) I appear to have gained 8 pounds. Lovely. That's without any change in my eating habits or activity levels (still walking 1.5-2 miles/day).
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May 6, 2009

Unexpected hope

Saw an otolaryngologist today about my breathing issues, fully steeling myself to hear the dreaded "You're fine, you just have a little rhinitis!" answer that has been my wont for the past several years. Didn't get that answer. Said ENT guy stuffed a transnasal flexible laryngoscope up my nose, had me lean forward, and said "Ohhhh yeah." Then slid it back out and said matter-of-factly "Your airway is compromised. It looks like a textbook case of acid reflux."


I said "But I don't have any heartburn, or any stomach ache, or..."

He shook his head. "No. You're quite heavy, and the weight on your stomach at night from your abdomen 'squeezes' the stomach and forces small amounts of reflux back up into your throat. They're not acidic enough or plentiful enough to eat through the mucusoidal sheathing, but they're more than enough to cause edema just below your vocal cords. You have fairly severe swelling of the airway below the larynx, and it's more than enough to cause you breathing problems at night. Coupled with a rhinitis-aggravated post-nasal drip-" -aha, I KNEW he'd get rhinitis into it somewhere- "-that's enough to cause you your continuous throat-clearing attempts and general breathing issues during the day."

I thought about that for a second. "Would this have an impact on my trying to exercise?"

"Oh, yeah. You're not going to get enough oxygen, and you're going to get tired and experience aching and perhaps feelings of dread very very quickly due to inadequate airflow."

(Feelings of dread?) "Oh. Because, yeah, that's what happens when I try to exercise. After maybe thirty seconds."

"Yep. We're going to put you on a massive course of antacids. We can't stop the reflux, but we can lower its acidity to lower the swelling. Hopefully that will be enough to allow you to actually exercise and start reducing your weight. Then that, in turn, will lower and maybe stop the reflux entirely, which should produce more improvement."

I sat there for a second. "I've been feeling like a useless failure because I can't work out, and thought I was just a fat shit."

"Well, you are fat." (At least he didn't say shit.) "But your weight gain past a certain point, the point where you really would normally have started working out, is quite possibly due to this vicious circle - your airway becomes constricted, and even before it would start causing you daytime discomfort, it starts interrupting your sleep via your sleep apnea getting worse. So you're not getting restful sleep. And one of the primary consequences of that, long-term, is weight gain. Which makes everything worse."

"So should I try to exercise again with the pills?"

"No! Not yet. Your blood oxygen is probably low at this point. Not enough to cause overt symptoms, but enough to screw you up and cause cardio stress if you try to work out. Take the pills for a month, then come back and we'll see if your airway has opened. If it has, I'm guessing you'll already have more energy, and we'll clear you for exercise."

Holy shit. Maybe this isn't just because I'm a fat shit and there's no way to break the cycle. Tomorrow, I retrieve some horse-choker antacid pills, and in 4 weeks...maybe...maybe.

Here's hoping.

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February 4, 2009

Bonehead maneuver du jour

A few weeks ago I lost my (second!) Rotring Freeway fountain pen. Really annoying. I searched my apartment, including all my laundry (since I keep it clipped to the neck of my shirt if the shirt doesn't have a pocket) and looked in all the usual places my cats hide things. No luck. Fortunately, the Freeway was a cheap pen ($17 on eBay from the UK, including shipping).

Last night, I was doing laundry, so I went back downstairs around midnight to transfer my clothes from the washer to the dryer. I was dumping the load of shirts into the dryer when I felt something hard. Yep, I had just put my fountain pen through the laundry.

Amazingly, the cap had held - there was no ink on my clothes (or if there was, it had diluted enough to be invisible, none of the clothes are white). When I opened the cap (over a sink - I was just smart enough to do that) a gush of inked water turned my entire left hand blue.

The Rotring Freeway is a steel-nib pen. After replacing the (now water-filled) cartridge and rinsing the pen, it seems to work perfectly. Plus it's really nicely clean.


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February 2, 2009

Phone Phail

Now that I live in the city of my birth once again, I am tentatively considering putting down various roots. One that I haven't put down yet is that of a landline phone - I just haven't found that I need one. The other day, though, I idly wondered if either of my two phone numbers from childhood was available, because I'd probably unpocket for them if they were.

Sadly, neither is. Ah well, you can't go home again.

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January 11, 2009

T3h Econopocalypse

I begin to understand deflation, slightly. I went shopping for clothes today, something I haven't done in over a year. Let's just put it this way: I know it's after the holidays and all, but I piled up my purchases to be rung up, and the total ended up being around 50% of what I was expecting, even with sales.


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December 31, 2008

The End of 2008

I don't know why I feel the need to recap, here, except maybe to convince myself that the year is actually ending. It's been a shitkicker, has 2008. I'll be glad to see the back of it. I don't know what to expect in 2009 - in some ways, such as economically, I can see the news getting worse for at least the first half of the year if not more. Everyday life hasn't yet really been slammed by the collapse of the financial pyramids. I'm guessing that here in NYC it's because businesses which are marginal have been desperately holding on until the end of the year to either try to survive via the holidays or to at least collect what takings they can before calling it a game.

Either way, I think a whole lot of businesses are going to close down in 1Q '09, with concomitant unemployment and gloom. Here in the City, where we all live in each other's pockets, that ripple happens fast and hard. I hope it doesn't happen, because i don't want to see anyone hurt, but realistically it's already happening. I'm concerned that NYC will fall back to early 1980s or 1970s status - high unemployment, low civic spending, crappy conditions. I think I'm the only person who watches early Sesame Street episodes and is depressed as fuck because I remember when what felt like the whole damn city looked like the grim-ass projects you always saw in those shows.

On a personal level - well, 2008 sucked too. Nothing really good happened, except that I finally moved back to NYC - but even that wasn't without all kinds of PITA side effects. Lots of bad crap happened that I'm still dealing with. I'm another year older (I really feel that on New Years' rather than my birthday, probably because it's easy to ignore my birthday) and still have no fucking idea what I want to do when I grow up - rather, I should say, that I realistically can do. I know what I'd like to do, but the government has pretty clearly told me I'm not going to get to do that. Another reason to find George Bush in a bar in ten years and kick his scrawny ass.

Well. Baconfest is coming up. Hopefully that will provide enough of a lift to get me through January and some of February. It usually does.

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September 28, 2008

Why One Should Have Friends

Because (in my case) they will lead me to do things that I would never do on my own but enjoy nonetheless. Case in point: I went out for brunch with some of my closest friends - Mom, Dad, and twins - and afterwards they said "hey, let's go to MoMA!"

I said something like "um...sure...I suppose..."

But I learned a couple important things. One, I had to get a membership to MoMA (so I did. Totally reasonable.) Two, it's amazing if you're like me and educated in the arts by osmosis (i.e. being around art-knowledgeable people and books without studying it) how many incredible works are sitting in MoMA. When you go around corners you stop and say "Whoa, wait a minute...even I recognize that..."

Three, watching and listening to kids explain art is more educational than reading about it:

Lianne Explains Mondrian

Four, sitting quietly and contemplating is the absolute best way to go even if it's crowded:

Chapins Contemplative.jpg

And five and finally, MoMA is the only museum of art I know of with a helicopter in it:

MoMA Helo

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September 23, 2008

The joys of apartment living

Despite the warm temps today, my building decided to test the heating valves by turning on the boilers and having the supers come around to inspect all the heating units in the apartments. As a result, I had to stay home to allow them access, because my bottom lock isn't trustworthy by itself.

The conversation that resulted:

Super: "How do you get to the valve on this radiator?"

Me: "I was hoping you could tell me that. I almost roasted last winter."

Super: "Oh. I guess the lady lived here before you never touched 'em." (pulls out large knife, starts hacking at the years-thick paint on my radiator then wrenches the panel off with a shower of fragments) "Ahh. Yep. Here it is. Looks like it's okay."

Me: "...couldn't you have determined that without shredding the walls?"

Super: "Nope. Tell your landlord it was our doing, and that they shouldn't paint over the radiators."

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September 14, 2008

ARGH. Fourth attempt was not a complete success.

Upon receiving my actual permanent license in the mail, I am exceedingly unhappy to note that despite my clearly writing 'CLASS DM (Driver, Motorcycle)' on my form MV-44 (and my Mass license clearly displaying a 'Class DM') I have been given a Class D license.

I've had that motorcycle rating 18 years, man. You bastards aren't taking it from me that easily.

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September 2, 2008


On the fourth attempt, I manage the herculean feat of wresting a New York State driver's license out of the Department of Motor Vehicles, in exchange for my clean-record Massachusetts license. The fourth attempt. Sigh.

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September 1, 2008

Welcome to the world, Elizabeth Caroline. Don't go nowhere.

One of my oldest friends and his wife just called to inform me that I'm an uncle, sorta, again. Their daughter, Elizabeth Caroline, was born at 27 weeks rather than the normal 40, being somewhat impatient to come into the world apparently. They waited until the prognosis was good before notifying friends, so I'm hearing of her birth nine days after the fact.

She weighs one pound, ten ounces. Down from one pound fourteen at birth (normal weight loss, says the hospital).

Very few things in this world ever cause me to start asking the cosmos for favors at whatever ruinous interest rate said cosmos might charge. This is absolutely up there. Universe, please let us see Elizabeth hale and healthy a year from now. She's got top-notch parents. She's got all her bits and apparently went from full oxygen ventilation to just room air force flow in under a day. She's got us all pulling for her.

I believe my friend, her father, when he says they think she's going to stick around with us. He's a doc himself.

But for what my entreaty is worth, I'll add it anyway.

Now I gotta figure out how to order Gund bears online...

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July 9, 2008

Eye Give Up

Warning, personal problems and associated whining follow this notice.

No, really.

So I've been going to see an opthalmologist due to the recent unpleasantness. He has been pleased with how my subepithelial infiltrates have responded to steroid treatment, and today declared me 'cured!' and fully weaned from my corticosteroidal eyebaths.

The problem is that, as I told him when I first went to see him, my right eye is (still) blurry.

I am (or was) nearsighted. This meant that typically I would read with my glasses off; closer than about twenty inches, both eyes would focus almost perfectly with no correction. This is still true for my left eye. As my vision has changed, it has changed entirely at the 'far end' - in other words, the correction required to give me 20/20 distance vision has shifted. Up until a few months ago, this was still true.

Now, however, my right eye is blurry all the way in to contact. This has been true since I had the damn pink eye in the first place. It's gotten better since the inflammation went away, but it isn't gone. The opthalmologist told me that he doesn't refract people (determine their prescription) anymore, because it's just not worth his time; looking at the cosmetic surgery ads in his office, I could understand that if not agree. He told me that my prescription (which was twenty months old at this point, true) needed to be redone and advised me to go to an optometrist.

I did that. Twice today, two different ones.

Neither was able to fully correct my right eye, no matter what combination of magic optics they had at their disposal. No matter what, I was unable to focus both eyes on a subject without at least slight double vision. Individually, my eyes seemed mostly sharp, but together - nope. My left eye was exactly as expected - very slightly worse off than twenty months ago. It takes slight but noticeable effort to focus so as to eliminate the doubled vision (i.e. even wearing the test specs in the office) and my eyes quickly tire. I can't do it all the time, either.

So now what the hell do I do?

I mean, I know, get another opthalmologist. But still. Fuck.

Then to make matters worse, when I came out to the front of the store that I presently use to get my glasses (the first optometrist was theirs) they said that to make the lenses he was able to recommend would cost $589 (no frames, mind you, reusing mine) and when I said "okay, file my prescription for a while then please" the woman helping me got narrow-eyed and said "well how much of a deposit can you leave now?"

When I explained that I wasn't going to make a $600 purchase without carefully checking my monthly budget, she got more insistent about leaving a deposit. Finally she relented, but only after charging me $50 for the eye exam "which would have been waived."

I mean, I had no problem paying for the exam, but man, her manner just lost that store a sale. I really hope they give me shit about handing me the prescription when I go get it.

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June 13, 2008


Halal Bastirma and a small Challah loaf = lunch yummy.

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May 28, 2008

News that every computer geek loves to hear.

"Well, yes, there appears to be some eye damage."


On the plus side, I have something which apparently is a not-uncommon result of viral conjunctivitis known as sub-epithelial infiltrates. According to my eye doc, dead virii underneath the corneal skin cause localized immune reactions, which produce small opaque white spots in the cornea. My eye is having trouble focusing due to the interference.

Also on the plus side, this is 'nearly always' amenable to steroid treatment.

On the minus side, it can take 'months.'


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April 29, 2008


So for what seems to be the first time in my life, I have contracted conjunctivitis. Ouch. I dunno which variety (going to see a doc tomorrow) but all I know is my right eye looks like I took a really hard punch. Feels like it, too.

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April 10, 2008

Ways in which New York City sucks - health care version

I understand the legal requirements of the warning, but still. When you call a mental health care professional because another mental health care professional who diagnosed you with a critical problem due to depression referred you, having the second doc refer you to his assistant whose job is to say "You do understand that the doctor does not take health insurance and the fee for consultation is $400" is not likely to make me willfully enter treatment.

The only thing I can think of is rent, honestly. I just left Boston, where the average hourly rate for psychiatric services in private practice seemed to bounce between $125 and $175 depending on where in the metro area you were. Maybe there are, indeed, fewer mental docs per capita in New York, and this is a purely market-based difference.

But, I mean, *fuck*.

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March 25, 2008

Flip out and kill the whole town

So I very rarely talk on this blog anymore, and I almost never talk about work. Not totally sure why, but there it is. I think I've gone a long time since I felt I had anything to say that I wanted other people to hear, or even to tell myself in a forum others can read. Depression does that to you. It's still quite true, but I did turn a bit of a corner today. Not 'towards the better' or anything, but a situation I'd worked myself into took on a different perspective due to the advice of a good friend who knew me, there when it mattered, better than I knew myself.

I work for a tech company, now, doing "analysis" for a C-level executive. That is to say, I investigate, analyze, write up, and in some cases roving-audit what our company is doing in the IT space and report to him on a regular basis. Sounds like the ideal job for me, and in many ways, it absolutely is.

Recently, I was tasked with handling the infrastructure planning and buildout necessary to support the launch of a new product - a small product offering, initially, to be sure, but one completely separate from our existing service and hosting infrastructure. I was given fairly vague inputs and requirements, vague guidance on budget, and not enough time to do the job properly.

That last is the problem. I have been running around our company taking careful note of where we do things 'like a startup' that we should be doing 'like an enterprise.' I've been doing this for long enough, and with enough focus, that when I was given this task I accepted it - and then instantly snowed myself into a standstill thinking about all the things that a proper project plan would need in order to get done in the timeframe given, with the staffing available (i.e. me).

See, I never did that. It's not what I do. I know what not to do for 'sustainable and process-oriented deployment' because it's what I used to do all the time; I'm an ops ninja, if I can blow my own horn just slightly. I liked to get handed tasks with stupid requirements and even stupider resource commitments so that I could say "Okay, then, you want it to what? By when? Fine. Just don't ask me how it's doing it, don't look in the server room, and for God's sake get a real team working on building the next, proper version of the infrastructure so that we can rotate onto that when it's available, but in the meantime, I'll ninja your shit."

My friend listened to me complain about the lack of requirements, the lack of input data, the lack of staffing, and the lack of a project management skillset for about half an hour. Then he said: "Dude, some people build things, and some people break things. You're an ops ninja. You break things. You make shit happen in impossible situations when that's what the company needs done. Stop trying to do shit in a manner which you don't do, and be yourself. You can't fix how your company does things at the same time doing a project in a manner that's almost entirely new to you with insufficient support."

He's absolutely right. I need to do one thing, and in this case, that's make sure the infrastructure is available to run the product when it needs to go to production. That's it. Sure, it would be nice if I could do this in a completely documented, trivially scalable, enterprise grade manner; but realistically, that's not what I do. Good, fast, cheap, pick any two? I'm the latter two, thanks.

Now, my job is still to improve how we do things. But I need to remember not to let that get in the way of the more urgent, tactical objective: to get this code hosted and available when go-time comes.

Time to slide the wakizashi out, flip out, and kill the whole town. Because ninjas are flippin' sweet.

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January 31, 2008

Having a day.


At 4:10 am this morning, my mother passed away.

This was not a surprise. Nor was she in discomfort or pain, at the end.

With her passing, a large amount of the magic 'not thinking about problem X/Y/Z in my life' shield went away, and stuff started to become uncomfortably relevant again, but, you know, you deal with it.

Then I had to take my sister-in-law and her au pair to the airport a couple hours south. This was voluntary; I needed to get out of the house, and figured I'd run a couple errands in Boston. All good.


Um, yeah. There was this deer, see. 180 lb buck. Had this funny notion about highways.

Luckily, that imprint on the windshield right in front of where my face sits was from the deer's head, not mine. The state trooper's comment: "Those're well-built cars. 'Murican car'll jus' fold up around a deer that big."

Nobody hurt. All OK. Meg and Jenny even made their flight.

Still. Seems my week is going...well...consistently.

I couldn't even take the deer home and roast it. I'm not a Vermont resident. Sigh.

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January 29, 2008

January 29, 2008

It's been almost a week, now, with all members of my immediate family in the house. Myself, my dad, my brother, his wife, and their two kids. Various friends of the family percolate in and out, with a few around almost constantly to help. My nephews, ages six and four, constitute a herd as they thunder about the house. We're trying to instill some quiet zone rules. My brother and I shamble about, sleeping on no particular schedule, reading, foraging for food, running errands. My dad spends as much time during the day as he can out of the house on errands.

My mom is in bed in the front living room. She is on oxygen, has a Foley catheter and a pulmonary drain in, and is taking liquid lorazepam through an implanted IV port. She's dying. That's why we're all here.

Her cancer is a metastized endometrial cancer, and is 'fully developed' in her heart and lungs. She refused to stop undergoing chemotherapy even at the end; as a result, her hair is mostly gone. Her skull is becoming uncomfortably visible when you look at her head as her body weight drops. She stopped taking food a couple of days ago, and now only intermittently accepts water. She is losing her ability to swallow. She hasn't said anything lucid in a couple of days, but at her most lucid will answer clearly that she is not in pain when asked.

Sometimes, pretty much whenever she wakes, she is extremely agitated, repeating "oh God, oh God, oh God" over and over again as an absent reminder of her distress. When she awakens, whoever is sitting by her bed calls in other members of the family, and we all assure her in quiet voices that we're all OK and tell her that she's at home, in her bed, with her cats, and that she can stop worrying, stop fighting. We're all going to be OK, Mom. You've done your part. You don't owe anybody anything. Do what you need to do.

(Die, in other words.)

When I'm not sitting with her, all I can think about is the sheer amount of crap in my life that is piling up as I sit here in northern Vermont. I haven't been to work in weeks. I moved to New York City less than a week before coming up here; my cats prowl my not yet-fully-unpacked apartment in New York, peeing on my sofa in their outrage according to the cousin who is feeding them. I need to get on with my life. I need to recover what of it I can; by the time I moved, it was a complete shambles, in between eighteen months of mom deteriorating and fighting my father over decisions involving her care, of my own ongoing depression and going broke over the move and carrying the upkeep of two apartments (since I haven't been able to rent out my original one in Boston) I really, really, really need to spend time pulling myself back upright.

But mom is still here. And mom needs us to talk to her, when she can hear; which might be all the time, for all I know. She needs that fractional infinitisemal version of the support she gave me, all my life, growing up.

I haven't cried. I will likely lose it once she's gone, any day now. I have to stay functional; between my father being almost completely irrational and unable to understand that, and my brother being fully occupied with his family, I have to be able to respond at any given moment to ongoing crises.

For example, today, we discovered that the cats have both worms and fleas. All ten of them. My parents' cats. Ten pills. Ten neurotoxic neck lotions to apply. I can't even tell all the little fuckers apart, really.

Doesn't matter. Do what you have to.

One of our friends, who is experienced with terminal hospice care, keeps recommending that we all 'tell mom what we need to tell her.' How can I make her understand that there isn't anything I need to tell her? I told her everything, all the time. There's no great cache of secrets. If she doesn't know how I feel, then we've been doing everything wrong, these years. I do tell her, when I speak to her, that I love her. She has always known this. I tell her that I am okay, and that she needn't feel that she is leaving with the job of me undone. I am lying in that I am not okay, but I am not lying in that there is nothing for her to do, nor would I expect there to be. She has nobly fulfilled her part. What is left is mine to solve.

Her lungs are shutting down as they fill with fluid.

I am not sure. Sometimes I hope, fiercely, that I will be sitting there holding her hand when she draws her last breath.

Sometimes I hope I am not; cowardly, I hope to be asleep, or running an errand, or just...not there.

I've told her everything I can.

I don't want her to suffer.

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August 20, 2007

Migratory Habits of the Negriddishe1

...that would be me, yes. There is a possibility, just a possibility, that I've found a place to live in New York City. I don't know. I'm desperately afraid of jinxing it, despite having told several people already. But until I'm past several hurdles, well, I'm not a tenant, so best not jump any howitzers too early.

Here's hoping, though.

One thing that still makes me drop my jaw - it has a private roof deck. Oh, please. Oh plllleeeeease....

1 - Negro Yiddishe.

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July 20, 2007

One More Straw

Not the last, just one more. Things always happen the night before I'm supposed to catch a plane, and hence should be sleeping. Tonight? Someone smashed my car window and jacked my iPod out of the car. The iPod itself, whatever. The car window, sure, I'm annoyed. It's just...I don't know, it's just the whole now I have to deal with this part of it. Have to get the car to the shop, deal with insurance, the whole nine yards, all while trying to be at Logan by 3pm. When I'm not packed. And my house is torn up by contractors enough that I can't really shower.

Coupled with all the other crap I'm thinking about and trying to get done (but instead watching pile up on top of me) I'm left just...fucking tired, is all. A kind of despondent angry, wishing I could turn the clock back enough to catch the fucker (I was out there within 45 seconds, not fast enough) so I could really get a good cathartic rage release on.

Now? Now it's just one more thing.


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June 19, 2007

The internet is a wonderful thing for (my) feet.

Since I now have a job which requires me to actually wear footwear whilst at work (hi Arden!) and since removing it while sitting at my desk is easier if it's not sneakers, I found myself actually wearing my dress shoes a lot. This was also made true by the fact that for the first time in my life I owned dress shoes which were actually more comfortable to wear than my midprice sneakers. When you weigh what I weigh, this is a not-inconsiderable surprise; these shoes were picked out for me by a dear friend who marched me to Nordstrom's in Tyson's Corner one time before a job interview (hi Shurronne!).

Anyway, so I had one pair of Ecco dress shoes. The problem was that they were comfortable, and I was wearing them everywhere. Then Amazon.com started advertising some partner store, Endless, I think, which sold shoes (and handbags, for those of you who care). They were running some sort of sale whose tagline was that if you ordered shoes overnight shipped, they'd knock 5$ off the price and the shipping was free. Knowing full well that this means simply that the shoe prices are inflated, I shrugged, but there - there in front of me - was a whole range of Ecco shoes.


No hassle.

Ding. Thanks to the internet, for the first time in my life I have more than one pair of non-sneaker or boot shoes. And you know what? They're fucking comfortable.

It only took 38 years, mom.

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March 23, 2007

Quick, nail up the mail slot!

...Mom's cat has apparently spawned again. Must...not...allow...intrusion......must resist...CUTENESS....

Seriously. I've reached maximum cat density.

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February 15, 2007

Bodies at rest don't quite always stay there

So, and so. It is time to move on. I realized I haven't actually yabbled about this here, but a fairly significant personal change has happened in my (work) life. I've resigned from Novell, effective 3/2. I'll be taking vacation starting this weekend through 3/2, however, and back that day (a Friday) to deal with exit paperwork and the like.

I've been fairly harsh on Novell in the past, and it would not surprise some folks (me included) if this were the opening to a diatribe about something or other couched as a 'reasons I left' post...but, actually, that's not it at all. I was offered four opportunities in one that I couldn't really pass up; the first, to work with and for a long-time and good friend, the second to work for a company I am an angel investor in (albeit several years ago) and hence put my skills where my money is. Third, it involves doing difficult things with Linux, and fourth, it involves (hooray!) moving back to New York City.

I'm not sure when I'll be relocating, since that will involve all manner of logistical puzzlesolving on both my part and my new employer's part. They need to get more or new office space in Manhattan - not for me, per se, but because they currently have something like 200 people in a 150 person space. Since they're in the early phases of that process (either moving or getting new space and splitting the office) I am able to relocate in a somewhat leisurely timeframe.

Of course, this doesn't prevent my having to spend nine days in corporate training in Edison, NJ. Whee!

Seriously, though, it's been a hell of a ride with Ximian and the monkeys. I look forward to darkening their doors, email addresses, public appearances, and general reputations in the years to come.

Posted by jbz at 12:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 24, 2007

I'm a loser.

You know you're in trouble when you and your buds don't even say hi but instead:

<jyeo> ping
<jbz> pong
<jyeo> | .
<jbz> | .|
<jyeo> | : | (i hax)
<jbz> | . | .
<jbz> ...fuck
<jyeo> . | |
<jyeo> call it a draw
<jbz> heh
Yes, we read too much bash.org.

Posted by jbz at 1:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2007


The boffins at Trader Joe's have informed me that the reason I can't find their tasty frozen gyoza is because the supplier has gone out of business.


Apparently Whole Frauds has something similar. I'm debating whether that's enough of a reason to go there.

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November 28, 2006

Important Tip for Cambridge/Somerville Residents

...Rosie's Bakery in Inman Square is selling fullsize pies left over from Thanksgiving for $5. Er, as of Tues. morning, they were down to the small-sized pumpkins and the pumpkin cheesecakes. Whoo! I got an apple, and it's tasty.

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September 11, 2006

Departed, a mentor.

I received sad news today. A gentleman I considered a mentor and friend, Dr. Glenn Gotz, passed away a couple of weeks ago. Glenn hired me as a summer intern at the RAND corporation several years ago, and has been a cheerful and supportive presence in my life ever since. He was an enthusiastic person, a gregarious person, a people person, a smart man, and one of the best reasons I had to want to finish my Ph.D. I'll miss him sorely, as will most all of us lucky enough to have been touched by his vigor.

Peace, Glenn.

Posted by jbz at 12:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

I Reached Out and Touched The Soul of Douglas Adams

I had a moment of understanding tonight, lying in bed with the CPAP strapped to my bean. The sadly-not-immortal Douglas Adams wrote a book titled The Long Dark Tea-Time Of the Soul, about which title he did in fact offer a bit of an explanation. It never made much visceral sense to me before.

Bear with me, this is from scattered memory and I don't have a copy of his words handy. I am sure I could find them if I asked the miracle of the internet, but this being a daylog, this isn't really about precisely what he said - it's about my understanding of what I thought he said. The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Adams said, is in many ways exactly like a Sunday afternoon when the weather is somewhat gloomy - not bad enough to be noteworthy, just not good - when one has nothing interesting to read, it's past lunch but not yet time for dinner, there's no good reason to change out of one's pajamas and one has already taken all the baths one can profitably take.

I have been intimately familiar with this form of malaise on a grand scale for quite some time. With the assistance of pharmacology and friends, sometimes more the former and sometimes more the latter, I endeavour to keep on keeping on. It's not always successful, and I think at the moment this is one of those times.

In any case, lying in bed a few minutes ago and realizing that I was (again) exhausted but not tired and hence not going to get to sleep past the artificial overpressure in my airway and generally viola-tuned muscles, I felt something strange happen.

I don't have a very full schedule these days - work, mostly, and that mostly placeholder stuff - but I try doggedly to keep at least three or four personal things in my organizer over any given two week period just so I'll have some form of event to break up the time and anticipate. Movie releases, visits with friends, dinner with relatives, pick up the TR from the upholstery shop where she's getting a new top, etc. If it's something that I can tell myself is fun, extra credit.

Lying in bed, I was thinking about the several things I have coming up over the next few weeks, which include a trip to Vegas for a wedding (i.e. sheer stupid silliness) - and I wached all the psychic buoyancy of those little mental flotation assists evaporate.

That's new. I have often had periods where I've thought about my schedule and realized somewhat dully that there's nothing in my life that I look forward to - and that's how I can usually diagnose myself as 'being in a depressive period.' To the best of my knowledge, though, I don't think I've ever caught myself observing an actual inversion - actually thinking about upcoming things and having their status go in my head from 'anticipated' in a smooth sine curve over to 'who the hell cares.'

As I lay there, I had a sudden and immensely strong image of a Sunday afternoon with clouds and a teacup holding only cooling dregs. The newspaper contained nothing but bad or boring stuff, and I'd finished it (even the crossword) and had bathed for so long that my bathrobe felt like sandpaper. I walked back into my bedroom to lay down for a nap, and the act of assuming a supine position woke aches in my muscles which felt that they hadn't had any exercise since their last recline - and I was in no way tired.

The long, dark, tea-time of the soul.

I'm not going to be able to see the psychopharm for five weeks, and the last three times we tried adjusting the dosages it only made things worse.

Damn it.

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August 1, 2006

Why medical science fucking sucks.

I have 'Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.' In layman's terms, this means that at night, my airway collapses and I stop breathing for ten seconds or more an average of 85 times per hour. That was as measured by two sleep studies in hospitals, in which they wired me up with all manner of sensors and fixed visible/lowlight cams on me and watched me sleep - so I'm reasonably sure it's not hypochondria. I have had a surgical procedure called a UPPP, or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, along with a tonsillectomy. Neither of them has fixed the problem.

That I have the problem doesn't piss me off. What does is the following. This problem first became really noticeable to me immediately after college. At the time, I was working out religiously, and weighed roughly 240 lbs. - I was in better shape than I'd ever been, and in better shape than I have been since. This period of high athleticism lasted two and a half years, until my return to grad school - but it was already on the wane by then, hampered by my increasing difficulty in getting restful sleep.

As of now, I'm pretty overweight. What really bothers me, though, is that no medical professional I can find seems able to actually accept the fact that my problem began before I became so. Their answers all are, initially, something along the lines of "Oh, you just need to lose around a hundred pounds." Well, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. For two reasons. First of all, they all say this, despite the fact that there's no way I could lose a hundred pounds safely. As I said, when I was working out three or four times a week, and in good enough shape to run a half-mile without really losing my breath, I weighed 240. I weigh 320 now. So really, 80 lbs. is my 'grail' maximum.

The problem is, though, that they have these fucking 'body mass index' charts that some thumbsitter in the guv'mint gives that that says that I, as a 5'11" male, 'should' weight around '185 lbs.' Before they look at me, even after they see me, that number is sitting in their head, and my weight is nothing more than a delta from that 'ideal' - no matter what my physiognomy. Never mind that whoever they studied for that ideal weight had nothing like my body shape.

Anyway. So here's the second fuck you. See, one of the symptoms of sleep apnea is - wait for it - weight gain. Yes indeed. And one of the 'risks of weight gain?' Sleep apnea! Whoohoo. Those AMA charts are doing us a fuckload of good, aren't they? So what's always their advice? "Um, lose weight."

That'd be nice. It'd be nice if I could, say, perform more than five minutes of physical exercise without becoming exhausted - and I don't mean the nausea-related exhaustion of being out of shape and out of blood sugar, but the I need to sleep NOW exhaustion that reminds me that I haven't really had a good night's sleep in, oh, maybe three or so years, which was when I had the surgery. That, mind you, is with using the damn CPAP religiously - because if I don't, I wake up with cold sweats and aching joints that tell me I've gone lethally hypoxic, and the pounding in my temples that tells me my blood pressure probably hit two hundred plus systolic while I fought for air.

A more general and final fuck you is reserved for this otherwise good summary of my condition. Why? Because it uses my favorite fucking phrase ever, which every doc I've ever been to about this has slipped into using at one point or another. Really, I love it. The "noncompliant patient."

Get it?

I'm the problem.

It's my fault. Their fucking literature tells them so.

And people wonder why heavy weapons fascinate me.

Posted by jbz at 3:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2006

Don't drive here.

This is the third time since coming to the Boston area I've suffered mid-to-major body damage to my car. In all three cases, I was stationary. This time? I was waiting at a light. Fuck this place.

Posted by jbz at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 8, 2006

A Word Of Thanks to a Tow Truck Driver

This morning, I was awakened from a sound oversleep by the sound of a car alarm. Which, when I stumbled to the living room window in the grip of an unconscious impulse, turned out to be my car alarm. Darth was protesting his ass end being unceremoniously hoisted upwards. Adrenaline kicked me fully awake, and I managed to bolt out of the house just as the tow truck was pulling away. I ran up to the door in my briefs (to the general hilarity of the two Cambridge cops and four other tow drivers on my block) and gasp/wheezed "...drop fee?"

The driver looked at me and grinned (not actually cruelly) and said "Seventy-five. You have it inside?" I nodded, and he said "Okay, I have to keep moving, but I'll pull over across the street, okay?" He pointed. I moved away, and he pulled past the cross-street and up to the curb, waiting. I went back inside for pants and cash.

Which was a problem. I came back out and trudged over to meet him, shaking my head.

"You got it?"

"No, man, I think you still got me. I only have $17." Which was totally true, it was all the cash I had in the house.

He looked at me for a second, then laughed and said "Nah, I'll take your $17." Which he did, then dropped the car carefully and shook my hand. "You still have the ticket, though, I can't do anything about that."

"'Course not, man, thanks, thanks a lot."

I drove Darth back into my driveway. Hell, if running out of my house in tighty-whities to get a laugh saves me from having to go to the tow yard, that alone would've been worth it. The ticket was $20. I can't really complain at all about the tow, since yep, I was on the wrong side of the street (they switched the street sides a year ago when they repaved and put the signs back, and I still get them wrong...first Friday and second Monday, which side?) and they didn't get to my car until 10:20am instead of the 8:00am they normally do (which I would've slept through) and he was cool about it and made my Monday not suck.

Whew. So here's to human, good-natured tow guys. Thank you, sir.

Posted by jbz at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 31, 2005

My mother's hurting, and the emptiness is awful.

The CallerID information on my cell phone guaranteed I wasn't going to enjoy the interaction.

I received a call today from my mother. Now, normally, I enjoy talking to her. However, she's been having a bit of a tough time recently for a number of reasons. To cap it off, a couple of weeks ago, her favorite cat vanished. This is something that all owners of 'outside cats' dread. I had told her numerous times that this was a possibility - not to prepo an 'I told you so' but because I knew it was something she wasn't really prepared for, despite her nightly almost-panicked session of calling for the cats to come in the house.

My parents live in a rural area, next to the main two-lane highway through the region (and only main road). There are hunters in season, there are tractors on fields around the house, and there are occasionally just mean-spirited jerks with .22s or shotguns and not much to do. There are predators of all kinds. There are all manner of poisonous things a cat might eat - or that its prey might eat.

In short, it's not that the cat did anything stupid (for a cat) or even made a mistake. The odds are stacked against them, up there.

However, this cat had made it a couple of years, after her predecessor had been hit by a car almost immediately after being adopted as a kitten. She was a proud (and fierce) hunter, bringing field mice, shrews and birds into the house to play with until they stopped moving - and then, always, she ate what she caught. We'd started treating Mom's predictable nightly cat-calls with amusement and (I am guilty to realize) some derision - on the premise that 'if you're going to have an outside cat in the boonies, deal.' My mother is a crazy cat lady; when did that happen?

A couple of weeks ago, the cat didn't come home.

My family searched everywhere they could, and found no sign. There were several cats missing from the village they live in, and they had seen a fox in their front yard a couple of times. Normally, foxes would avoid cats (and vice versa) since they're both after roughly the same prey - but the Fish & Wildlife department explained to Mom that in the midsummer, foxes are teaching their kits to hunt. Thus, August is the only month of the year, typically, where 'domestic animals' might suffer their privations.

Not good.

Mom tearfully told me that a couple of times, she'd heard faint meowing when in the front yard. She'd searched every time, and found no sign of Sweetie (yes, the cat is named Sweetie; I was scandalized by this until I met her, because...well...that was her name). I attempted to comfort my mother a few days ago, because she was suffering tremendous guilt that the night Sweetie had gone, the other cat had been anxious in the kitchen - usually a sign of trouble - and Mom hadn't gone into the yard to check in the middle of the night when she was getting a glass of water. Had she done so, she was sure, she would have been able to save the cat.

Now, my mother is, in fact, 'loading' an enormous amount of her current problems onto this straightforward real-world one. She's ascribing guilt to herself enormously and has her emotions bound up in her cats - too much, perhaps - because she's under stress, is working hard, and for any number of other reasons I don't know or understand right now.

I explained that if a fox had taken Sweetie, there's no doubt she (or he) could have killed the cat - but that there was very little likelihood that s/he could have done so silently. Sweetie was a night hunter - and while a fox could certainly kill her in a straight fight, there's no way I can conceive of that she could have been surprised. The noise would have been awful, and there would have been no doubt what was going on. I've been in the yard when Sweetie's brother tried to sneak up on her, leading to a catfight - and a couple of times, it's escalated to a racket that no-one would be able to sleep through a mere fifteen feet away with open windows.

But today she called me.

She was crying again, and she told me that she'd heard the meows (she realizes) near one area of the house every time - near where there is a fairly large porch, walled off from the foundation. Today, there's a 'smell' near there.

When trying to comfort her over the past two or three weeks, I didn't dwell on the tendency of cats to come home and hide when injured. I've seen other relatives' cats do that when hit by a car, for example.

I just spoke to my father. They pulled the siding off the porch area, and there's a stench. They're very, very sure the cat is in there.

I don't know what to say. If my mother wasn't hearing things, then the cat was alive under the porch and unable to come out for at least a week and a half after she went missing. She would have died literally underneath her family's feet.

I know, intellectually, that it's not our fault. I know that this is the kind of thing that happens. I know that this cat, adopted from a barn, had two and half (three?) years of perhaps the happiest life I've seen a cat live.

None of that is going to make a difference when I think of her under the porch, dying.

I'm worried about my Mom. I love her, and I know this is hurting her terribly.

Posted by jbz at 9:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

The little things that make them people

One of the joys of living with cats is learning what makes them individuals - watching their personalities develop as they grow from kitten into older companion. This process is occasionally its own bright reward when one of them decides to let you know something very distinctive about his or herself - something that can't be explained by 'normal predator behavior' or other dry-sounding theory, and really can only be looked at as a streak of individuality.

Despite her carnivore purity of heritage, Rory likes watermelon.

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August 14, 2005

Tasty redundant bad-for-me-ness

I can now state following experimentation and without reservation that this is, in fact, delicious.

Very bad for you as well, thank the lords of fat.

I recommend doubling or tripling the described garlic allowance. :-)

Posted by jbz at 11:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

Sweetie, please be OK.

A few minutes after I wrote the prior entry, my Mom called tearfully to tell me that her youngest cat, Sweetie (I know, I know, but you have to know the cat, she's actually perfectly named) has been missing for a day and a half from their home in Vermont. Normally I wouldn't be all that concerned, but a fisher cat has been seen in the neighborhood and one of the neighbor's cats vanished two weeks ago. Sweetie, I hope you're OK and come home soon. I know you've stayed out all night before but Mom is a bit fragile where her kittens are concerned.

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August 8, 2005

Tow trucks and problem resolution.

Argh. So, I was out of town last Friday, and my memory glitched the 'side of the street' parking regulations. As a consequence, my TR6 was towed. I went to pick it up this morning, fearing what I'd find; the TR is really too small to be handled by standard wreckers without damage. I paid the $130 ransom for the car at the office, and the manager said "Oh, the green TR? Yep, I wantcha to know, we used a wheel lift on that...can't tow 'em from the frame, we know that."

I was heartened by his assurances, and thanked him before heading out to pick Amanda up from the tow lot.

Unfortunately, there's a massive gouge in her front fender, all the way down into the metal, and the fender (up near the headlight) is dented in from the impact.


I pointed this out to the manager, who really did seem quite upset that after the lengths he'd gone to reassure me, there was damage to the car. As I am a firm believer that the best way to sort things out is up front and amongst the parties involved, I let him check his paperwork to verify the gouge hadn't been there (well, I knew it hadn't, and it was clearly fresh, but I'm not going to begrudge him the check).

He has asked me to take the car to his associated body shop, where they will 'make things right.' I checked with the police to make sure I didn't lose any documented rights by accepting the car (after taking cameraphone pictures of it), but shook his hand on it and drove off the lot.

Part of me thinks I may get screwed. But on the other hand, it's one fine thing to rant and bitch that not enough people in the world just make the effort to fix things without resorting to lawyers and all manner of measures like that. He treated me civilly and offered a solution which would result in no paperwork, and no out of pocket expense to either of us. While I may have less recourse if I'm not happy with the results, I have no reason to state ahead of time that I won't be, and it's in both our best interests for me to be happy with the repair. Given that, and given his courteous treatment of me given this offer to amend the situation, then I'm going to say it's my burden to take him up on his offer.

We'll see how it goes.

If the repair is well done, then I'll buy him a bottle of whatever he's drinking, on the theory that when problems like this are solved with both parties shaking hands and doing the right thing, we're all better off. There's too much crap in the world for our blood pressure to suffer from things that go right. I do hope that's what ends up happening; I'll add the cost of the bottle to the cost of the tow in my mental "YOU IDIOT" budget.

Then I'll apologize to my car for leaving her on the wrong side of the street. :-(

Posted by jbz at 7:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Disappointment with one's alma mater...

...is not an unfamiliar feeling, unfortunately.

Posted by jbz at 7:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

All right. I'm a dork.

But you knew that, if you're reading this. The real question is...

How much of a dork like me are you?


It is the greatest movie of all time. Worship it.

Posted by jbz at 8:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 9, 2005

Hm. How do we square this with the *last* one...?

a Ninja
You scored 12 Honor, 4 Justice, 3 Adventure, and 5 Individuality!
You are a soldier of the night. You rely on no more than your cunning and your repuation to strike fear in the hearts of lord and peasant alike. You've a sense of honor, but one that comes from within, not imposed from outside.

Black clothes and shuriken for you. You're gonna do just fine.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on Ninjinuity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on Knightlyness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 5% on Cowboiosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 47% on Piratical Bent
Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71 on Ok Cupid

Now, there's no hard and fast rule that says ninja can't carry Desert Eagles, I suppose. But getting back into stealth is gonna be really really hard. Still, when you run out of shuriken and you gotta take out the guy across the yard, well...heh.

Update: A coworker put it quite succintly: "jbz: They don't see you coming, they don't see you leave, but they sure as fuck know you were there."

Heeheehee. Pass that man a beer.

Posted by jbz at 12:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 8, 2005

Uncanny. They have discovered my Counterstrike self.

Desert Eagle
You preferred a weapon with 38% power over speed and 70% range over melee.
You use a Desert Eagle.

One of the most powerful handguns in production, the Desert Eagle is a heavy punch in a small package. Its reliability and speed are remarkable for a gun with such high caliber. Your enemies won't stand a chance as you fell them bullet by bullet.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on power
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 80% on range
Link: The What's Your Signature Weapon Test written by inurashii on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Heh. So guess which weapon I tended to always buy in Counterstrike...


Posted by jbz at 1:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 2, 2005

Online Personals and other Wound Saltings

In the never-ending attempt to convince myself that my genome isn't doomed, I ventured forth once more. I picked an ad which gave a fairly detailed amount of information - likes, dislikes, personal touches, a couple of lists and a few paragraphs of abouts, some wants. Hmm. Okay. It didn't ask for pictures, rather it asked for information...encouraging.

I responded in kind, mirroring the format of the ad, and offering a pointer to a webpage of mine where there is, in fact, a link to a picture of me, using my real email account - figured what the hell, it's on the web anyway.

I got back a one line replay from a yahoo email account which read something like "i couldn't open your picture can you send it as an attachment?"

Okay, fair enough, I hadn't sent a link directly to the pic, and the description I'd sent of the link in question was in fact sort of vague. I attached the pic, sent it off.

No reply. But the personal was reposted later that day.

Now, I realize that I have no right to expect anything from this person. I realize that this person could just be a picture collector (something I had no idea existed until I began the trail of tears that these boards can be if you're actually there because you don't have much other option). On the other hand, the lack of request for a picture in the posting, and the generally detailed nature of the post, plus the generally detailed reply I'd sent, had made me think not that physical attraction didn't matter (never that) but that perhaps, given the interaction and effort already expended, and given that the other party apparently had at least put in the effort to respond to my email, I might get some form of polite reply rather than simple void.

Ah well.

Sorry, ignore this. Bitter crap.

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June 28, 2005

Oh God, I'm so sorry

Charlette, I'm so sorry. I failed you, and I'm sorry. I hope when we meet again you can find it in your small heart to forgive me, but please know that the one thing I had hoped was that I could avoid this.

To all of you who aren't her: I've known for two weeks or so that it was quite likely my last ferret had cancer. While waiting for the cytology report, I had her at home and was making her comfortable, since she didn't appear to be in any pain, but was losing a great deal of weight. Finally, two days ago, her weight had dropped far enough that I had decided to ease her transition rather than wait for her to start sufferingpain as well as privation - since she still gamely would run up and lick my nose, despite her back legs not being able to support her, and seemed chipper, it was clear that she was no longer able to use the litter box and soon wouldn't be able to feed herself. The cytology report indicated that yes, it was most likely a widely-metastized cancer.

I scheduled a Wednesday morning appointment, the soonest her physician could get into the hospital, since she seemed fine if weak.

Today I came home to find I was wrong. She decided she couldn't wait. She apparently passed away at some point early this morning - perhaps even late last night, since I poked my head in the door but didn't actually see her on the way out, but that was normal - she sleeps in. I can't remember if I actually looked at the spot in which I found her poor little self this afternoon.

I'm sorry, Charlette. Above all else, I didn't want you to have to move on alone. God, I'm sorry.

Posted by jbz at 7:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

They swear this is unrelated...

...and I believe them. :-)

Anyway, as my boss told me yesterday, apparently there was a problem with my job title on our corporate guide site. The CIO was presented with a (not short) list of personnel (by Legal) whose job titles were...'problematic.' Therefore, let it be known that I am no longer an 'Applied Entropy Monkey.' I am, instead, 'RDT&E Operations and Support.'

Somehow, some small and precious part of me has died. :-)

Posted by jbz at 11:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The late unpleasantness

For reasons I won't go into, I was recently involved in a standard sort of corporate procedure involving an HR complaint process and subsequent investigation. This is why blog posts have been a bit thin recently. I had considered not posting about it at all, but decided that that would really be counter to the purpose of this blog, which is (in part) to describe and discuss things that I think are important.

This is.

Let me say at the outset that the circumstances involving the incident and resulting week-and-a-half experience are not relevant to this post. I'm not going to discuss them here, and not because of legal reasons; rather, because I've already discussed them with everyone involved, and I don't think it fair or proper to discuss them with the world at large. I bring it up here because several people asked me where the *()@# I've been and a couple others asked me what the hell was going on or how the hell it all turned out. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then don't worry about it; I'm fine, it doesn't matter, and you should cheerfully skip to the next entry.

I did want to say that in the main and looking back, I feel that Novell (my employer) behaved, as a company, in a completely above-board, proper, and (most important, to me) respectful manner to me. I'm not going to claim the process was without angst and its friction, but I will say this: at the end of the process, I am proud to work here. I spend a lot of time ranting about corporate and political behavior, but it is important to me (and I hope it comes through) to be even-handed about my standards. That is, when an organization or entity behaves in a manner of which I approve, it is incumbent on me to acknowledge that fact - and not just concentrate on the negatives.

Anyway. The process that took place was not malicious, nor capricious. It was Novell carrying out its corporate responsibilities. At the end of it, I've learned things about the company I work for as well as myself - and I'm happy I work here.

Enough said.

Posted by jbz at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2005

Deep golden, clear and bright


Today a good friend and I opened a bottle that he'd given me some months ago. We opened the bottle, poured, sniffed, clinked, and drank.

Deep golden, clear and bright.

Posted by jbz at 2:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

I Appear to have forgotten The Rules.

Rule #1: Users suck.

Rule #2: They're all users.

Rule #3: See rule #2.

Seriously, I used to take some small amount of satisfaction in trying to avoid behaving like a true BOFH.

Note to self: It's your own fault. Don't be such a credulous asshole next time.

Posted by jbz at 9:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2005

Well. This Doesn't Bode Well. Emo, Rory, get over here.


Scruffy, loner, suspicious, manic depression...


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May 19, 2005

"What do you do with it?"

"What's haggis?"

"Sheep's stomach, stuffed with meat and barley!"

"...and what do you do with it?"

"You eat it!"

"How revolting!"

Heh. Not really. It's quite tasty, actually. Especially wi' a pint a' 80.

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May 17, 2005

Fuck right off, you

...said Tick. So I did. I'll be relocating (albeit briefly) to a land where they make wondrous potions. More pointless ranting later.

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March 15, 2005

I'm HIGH TEST, man.

Whew. Thank whatever's holy my beer score was higher than my wine score, or I'd never hear the end of it at work.

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 132 proof, with specific scores in beer (80) , wine (66), and liquor (147).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 58% on proof
You scored higher than 89% on beer index
You scored higher than 87% on wine index
You scored higher than 99% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

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March 1, 2005

Fellow Travellers

It is so good to find like-minded folk out there. Heh.

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February 5, 2005

Sleep? We need no sleep, we have new Murakami.

Made the cardinal mistake of trying to induce drowsiness by reading, some wee hour this morning. Not just by reading, but by opening the new Haruki Murakami novel Kafka on the Shore which has been patiently looking at me since I brought the hardcover home from work. Amazon delivers there, of course, since I'm there during the day.

Aside: I wonder how many people have blogged about the dichotomy of the instant-on consumer shipping world and the 'must-get-signature' crapola that screws with it? Plus the 'your work address is not on file' nonsense or the 'we don't accept personal packages at work' much less the 'THERE MIGHT BE A TERRORIST MOUSE IN THERE YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD' meme? Must hit Google.

In any case, Kafka on the Shore was a fast read (but not fast enough to prevent me from seeing daylight twice that cycle, bitch whine moan) and an enjoyable one. I'll be going back. Murakami has returned to his two tested themes - converging plotlines and parallel worlds. As usual, human sexuality, classical music, cooking, contemporary Japan, literature, pop culture and modern automotive blandness all make their appearances, along with some detailed bits of niche but important history which may or may not correspond to reality - but that correspondence isn't quite important.

Kafka on the Shore refers to the name of one of the central characters (a fifteen-year-old runaway named Kafka), a painting with the same title, and in fact at least one situation in the story that may or may not involve the character. Throw in erased hollow people (at least one of whom is a nice grandfatherly type who is fond of telling people Nakata is not to bright - that's his name, he speaks in third person - but can talk to cats, Siamese most easily), the mysteries of living spirits, and a green Miata with a bit of a deathwish and there you go - a Murakami novel.

It's grounded in a much more recognizable setting than, say, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World but that's because the latter is a deliberate genre piece. I was actually reminded a bit, in the final third of the book, of a Tim Powers book - Last Call, I think it was. A great deal of everyday magic happens, which may or may not be happening, and may or may not be having enormous impact. Film at eleven. Unless the world ends first. But if it doesn't, we may just skip that segment of the news, and you'll never know.

Oh, and the blank homeless gent is a shiatsu master.

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February 1, 2005

And, in other news, I still have no life.

Heh. What with all my ranting and foaming at the mouth about the recent unpleasantness I haven't had a moment to write a word about my own life, or the typical lack thereof. Many of you will consider this a blessing.



Spent time with some friends at work discussing our latest addiction and its technical underpinnings. As an Op, am naturally fascinated and vacillate between pained sympathy, irritated customeritis and pure I-coulda-done-it-better schadenfreude whenever our home starts to...well..tank. "Hm, anyone have NPCs in Ironforge? No? Sigh."

Chatted with a friend in LA about the Eyes deal; he's a college roommate and now a filmmaker himself. Ended up having to thank him for allowing me to bend his ear griping my frustrations, but then had to retract apologies; he's going to Tokyo for a week with his lovely wife, the lucky bugger. Jealousy.

Technology...love it. Tried out Skype now that there's a Mac OS X and Linux client available. Like the Mac OS version for its 'telephony' focus, but will stick with my iSight and iChat AV for family-and-friends use. Still, I'm tempted to buy some SkypeOut minutes. If only I spent more time in coffeeshops with my Powerbook and had a headset...oh, wait, no, I'm fairly glad I don't. I think. Then I'd just spend time in public playing World of Warcraft and looking like a loser.

Speaking of coffee shops, I tried out this new 'drinking chocolate' monstrosity at (shudder) Starbucks, 'Chantico,' after my usual postmodern deathmatch linguistic throwdown:

"Yeah, let me have a large Chantico please."


"Big. Biggest you have."

-silence-"...well, it comes in these six-ounce cups..."

"Okay, then why did you ask if I wanted that word that I won't deign to repeat if it's not available in the first place?"


"Gimme. And shut up."

Yes, I'm like that until I've had my coffee or other stimulant. If I had a bowel disruptor, it'd be on steaming rectal volcano and some son of a bitch would pay.

So anyhow, Chantico. This is how chocolate was supposed to be drunk, originally. This is how you get chocolate if you wander into a small stube in Wien and ask for it. The only problem is that this is the United States, and the franchise ghetto to boot. So, of course, there's enough sugar in this concoction to stun a pre-teen child who is terminally addicted to Twinkies. I really think this could be tasty if they just yanked like 4/5 of the sugar out of it and maybe added some alcohol. Okay, I'd be willing to add the booze myself. But for God's sake, the sugar, man. Get fucking rid of it. Like, now. I could run Hershey PA for a day at least on one six-ounce cup of this stuff. It's like one of the M&M Guys had diarrhea into my goddamn cup.

Every day I am surrounded by images of a blinking, confused, pathetically grinning George W. Bush and I am stymied in my instinct to reach for heavy, blunt objects.

In other news, I am experiencing a rush of driving pleasure whenever I have the joyous experience of piloting my new ride about the shitty driving environment that is the Boston Metro area - and a positive explosion of something Germanic deep inside my male heavy-large-vehicular-control-speed-genetic-predisposition-glands when I take it out onto highways. Large smiles cross my face. It's unseemly. I'll tell you how bad it is: I don't even need to speed. Just blip the throttle. Zip past a hauler, slide into the passing lane, listen to the car talk to me. Ooooh. Yes. Yesyesyes. 314 horses and six forward gears, an iPod and time to play. Whee. I actually smile when I make my car payments.

I know, it's pathetic. Look at the title of the post.

Oh yeh, my coworker Peter says I should use the word douchebag in this post. So there.

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January 18, 2005

Oh yeah.

There was a Baconfest. You missed it, unless you didn't. I didn't. I am swimming in nitrates. Swimming, I tell you. It is good. The tenth (my God) Baconfest was...just as good as the others.

Many points to Daren Chapin, who managed to both play Asshole and bottle-feed within...well, some improbably short time period. And that's bottle-feed someone else, people. Not his homeslice self. And to Kermit, for commuting to NYC from the fest for a Batmitzvah, and returning again, to continue drinking. To Dave Burbach, for being the only member of the fest to have punched his ticket at ALL TEN ITERATIONS. These are but a few of the heroic feats performed.

Thank you all. It's two months 'till Baconfest.

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January 10, 2005

Addiction - sweat, ketones, shivering and lack of sleep.

And there you have it. If only it was substances - oh yes, there are programs for those. Instant versions for us impatient Americans if we can't take the time out of our busy self-destruction. No; no, nothing like that.

Much less destructive, but oh so insidious.

It's almost like work.

Weekday evenings, weekends, hours, days - I can't even begin to count.

Yep, it's World of Warcraft. And it's supplanted AO in my (BWAhahahaha*cough*) spare time. I sure hope those folks at Blizzard are hard at work on expansions, because when folks on my home Realm start hitting the level cap in droves, it's gonna stop being fun...and then what, go back to real life? Nahhhhhhhh...

They have this awful command..."/played". It just gives you the amount of time you've spent actually logged into the damn game. Mine passed over into 'days' and I stopped looking at it...and this was only a couple weeks into the darn thing.

This wouldn't be complete without a couple musings on what makes WoW attractive to me, other than my well-known addictive tendencies (quiet in the cheap seats, you). It's actually not all that impressive, technically - they've had all kinds of problems with it, and they've consistently wimped out in a classically American MMORPG fashion in their efforts to handle the load. Despite large and repeated beta tests, Blizzard was overrun with early adopters and load problems, and rather than deal with it by improving base stability and performance, they seem to have frantically increased their rate of 'instancing.' I understand that this is much more than a technical decision; it's intimately tied into the design of the game, from content to play flow to population load in zones to the amount of available quests to the simple stuff like the capacity of the 'helper processes' like the ships/zeppelins. However, it means that despite hearing impressive numbers like '250,000 people online!' I'm never, ever going to see more than a couple hundred at any given time - and if I do ever see that many, it's likely to be the last thing I see before my client gives out due to lag and load crash.

It's really, really, disappointing. As far as I'm concerned, the first M in MMORPG just isn't there yet. I hear that the Wish beta was cancelled by Mutable Realms today. Whatever else is said about Wish (and I know next-to-nothing, save where the servers were for the beta...heh), it was at least an apparent attempt to increase the performance of massive gatherings in virtual worlds.

All of the various problems exhibited by the MMORPGs in handling large number gatherings realtime bode extremely ill for my long-wished-for, and extremely overpromised consensual, overarching virtual space.

More on that later.

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December 28, 2004

You'd think an alcoholic lived here

Hm. Took stock of the liquor cabinet yesterday and realized that my intake has dropped fairly sharply, and hence, stocks are up. Resolved to get tippling. Currently in stock, through the efforts of myself and other snobbis..er, connoisseur-types -

  • The Macallan - Cask Strength
  • The Macallan 18
  • The Glenlivet - French Oak Finish
  • The Glenlivet 18
  • Knockando
  • Oban
  • Lagavulin 16
  • Glenrothes Speyside Malt 1974
  • Pamperos

I feel a tad overwhelmed. Ah well, and now with a box of Macanudos and a box of Fonsecas to go with 'em, I better get to it. Rough job, but somebody's got to do it.

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November 14, 2004

Another silly personality test

Hm. Jakub and Rodrigo's results made me curious, so according to the quiz (I am):

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.

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November 8, 2004

Don't know how parents do it.

I was in NYC this weekend visiting with friends. Stayed with friends who have three-month-old twin girls (awwwww) and performed now-familiar-poopy-diaper-and-bottle-feeding duties...felt proud of myself for taking on the 1:40 AM feeding after looking at the haggard face of my pal as he came out to mix formula in response to the tentative "Whah?" from the nursery. Took the bottle and sent him back to bed before tiptoeing into the room, only then realizing that I had no idea where anything was and that my eyes hadn't acclimatized...stepped on two things that went "squeak!", one thing that rolled, and another that just slid but managed to reach the squalling Katia Chapin.

Lifted said tot, cradled, inserted bottle to frenzied Maggie Simpson-like smacking noises and all complaints ceased. Fifteen minutes and five ounces later, she looked at me and squirmed for two minutes while I patted her on the back. Several coos and peeps later, she produced an enormous fart and two healthy belches, then promptly stopped moving entirely, conked her head against my cheek and began to snore, at which point I felt safe laying her down and re-inserting the pacifier. I backed carefully out of the nursery.

Next day, spent a couple hours total placating fussy small girls, and then went to see a high school friend I haven't seen since he moved to Israel several years ago to become a rabbi. Met his wife and his two-month old and two-and-a-half year old daughters. Drove home that night (last night). All in all, an overbabied but fun weekend.

This morning, however, I left the house, and as I closed the door, realized I had left my keys inside just as the lock clicked...got out onto the stoop to find my car had been towed due to street cleaning...and pulled out my cell phone to call a colleague for help to have the battery die right after talking to him. I think the weekend took more out of me than I had realized, and that was only one night and one day of kids.

Thank God I don't have any. I'd be a mess. So would they, if this is any evidence.

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November 1, 2004

Oldies and Goodies

I remain pleasantly surprised by how well The Hunt for Red October holds up, every time I view it in the years downrange. Much as I dislike T3h Baldwin, it does contain my three favorite movie men (Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn). Other than perhaps-forgivable Reagan-era paranoia ("the God-damned thing's made to start a war!" -really? What were ours made for then?) and overly Disco-looking Soviet submarine control rooms, it's just a hell of a lot of fun. And to be fair, the paranoia was significantly toned down from the book version, heh.

Not that the book was bad. All hail the Laserdisc!

"Hey, Ryan...be careful what you shoot at. Mosht thingsh in here don't react well to bulletsh."

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October 28, 2004

Idly wondering...

...if someone has yet stolen the 'Reverse (the) CurvSe' sign from Memorial Drive yet...

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Transcript of telephone call to my father's answering machine moments after:

(shouting, hoarsely, bourbon in one hand and phone handset held eighteen inches in front of face with other):



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October 27, 2004

They sure don't make it easy.

Mets, Red Sox, anybody playing the Yankees. That's the preference ladder in this part of my house. Ask my Dad, gleefully calling me those first three games of the ALCS, then grumpily refusing to leave the dinner table during game 7. When I was a small (well, okay, young) boy in NYC, say around six, Dad would refuse to go out walking with me because I had on my Red Sox T-Shirt that I'd gotten from my last trip to Boston. My uncle, who lived there, would take me to games with him, and thus was my love for this particular hard-luck case born.

But they don't make it easy.

Kudos to The Idiots for Game 3; congrats to Pedro for settling down and finding his rhythm, and pats on the back to all. At the end of it, just to remind us that they are, after all, the Sox - a Cards home run in the bottom of the ninth. Foulke, however, did what so many Sox have not over the years; he refused to collapse, sticking to a strategy of throwing strikes despite having just had one boomed over his head for a run. He still had a three-run lead, with no one on and one out to go, and he was clearly refusing to allow baserunners on via hit or walk even if that meant risking that solo HR. But giving it up didn't rattle him into changing his play, he just kept throwing strikes, and it paid off, taking down the final batter to end the game with that signature frisson (I love that word) of cardiac hiccup that The Faithful have come to associate with Sox wins; it just ain't the Sox without that last-minute panic.

One more, men. One more.

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October 21, 2004

House that Ruth built, my ass. Where's the bourbon?

Heh. I grew up in New York City. Always hated the Yankees. Damn good series, costing me fingernails and sleep...and now more sleep, 'cuz there's bourbon left in that bottle and I ain't done toasting. Good on ya, boys. Well fucking done. Where's that bottle, now...

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September 30, 2004

Stupidity play! RED CARD!

The title of this entry is a direct quote from a fondly remembered high-school gym teacher. It was his direct way of informing you that you had just done something that (again in his words) dropped you below Darwin's Breakpoint, and since he couldn't remove you from the gene pool, he could at least kick you out of the game. Just in case, he would thunder, stupidity is catching.

Bless you, Alton Smith; I have warranted the Red Card. Became so incensed at work today, from a long series of wearying travails I won't belabor here, that I was forced to redirect some rage upon a whiteboard, which (like a certain door) hadn't ever really done anything to me.

Unlike the door, though, the whiteboard (with the help of the wall it was hung on) came out ahead. It's undamaged. I, on the other hand, have been informed by the helpful folks at MGH that I have what is descriptively known as " Boxer's Fracture" - twice - of the metacarpal bone in my right hand.

This entry is hence being typed one-handed-lefty, which means I'm having to look at the damn keyboard for the first time since college. And it's slow.

Learned some cool stuff in the hospital, though. For example, I was chatting with a gent whose coworker had had his thumb sliced halfway through the base, cutting two tendons. They assured him he was in no danger of losing it. While he waited for the injured guy's wife to show up, we talked about his job - he's an elevator mechanic. I learned that the reason I have an unconscious affinity for old skyscraper elevators is that most of then are original equipment, with the exception of the motors and controllers - the DC motors are now AC, much more reliable, and the controllers modern. He told me the old elevator systems were overengineered, made of heavy steel; as a result, they are smooth and nigh indestructible, giving a superior ride. Modern elevators, using cheaper materials and engineered tightly to legal tolerances to save money, while safe, are not as rigid and solid.

Also, one of the main limits to building height has been the elevator shaft. The shaft must be true; no flex is tolerated, although sway is. As a result, extremely tall buildings have sky lobbies where you switch elevators so that the structure can have flex points where the shafts break. He told me that Otis has an elevator now that can move sideways between shafts automatically, smoothly enough that it is hard to notice - meaning no more switching elevators in extremely tall buildings! Turbolifts, here we come.

From listening to the tech instructing the medical student as he put on my cast, I learned that changing the temperature of the mix water in plaster will not only change the time to set (which I had known but forgotten) but thus change the temperature of the cast's exothermic period - which makes sense.

And from this experience, I've learned that broken bones hurt, and that having one working hand is startlingly annoying.

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September 5, 2004

Poorer by one small weasel

My word, I hadn't realized that some unscrupulous monkey had placed this blog into the PlanetNovell aggregator, but there you have it. Greetings to all those curious about what goes on at the Big Red N. Welcome and sorry this particular section is so thin on juicy technical details. I'll try to toss some more your way, but please bear in mind that I'm just an Op, not a hacker - I make the hackers' machines work (most of the time) rather than actually influence design around here.

At least, that's what they think. Muahahahaha.

On a personal and somber note, this week saw a lessening of my household - Slinky, Mustela putorious furo or common ferret of the aww-isn't-he-cute variety, hath exited the scene, stage left. Slinky was suffering from several common ferret ailments, including cancer of the pancreas, adrenal gland hypertrophy, and diabetes; when he stopped eating despite regular doses of steroids, I was forced to decide that since we couldn't make him comfortable, much less happy, it was time to send him on his way quickly and painlessly.

The vet at Angell Memorial hospital who saw Slinky for his final visit was quite compassionate, and didn't attempt to convince me into any final decision. He gave me all the information I needed, and answered all my questions, and pressed me to make sure (once I'd told him what I wanted to do) that I was certain. When I explained my reasoning, he agreed, and asked if I wanted to be present. I did, of course; only proper. If I'm going to make that sort of decision for one of my pets, I need to be there if I can. He had me take care of the paperwork for the visit while they put a catheter in Slinky's leg, which was a good plan - this precluded fumbling for a vein later, and ensured that once the deed was done I could immediately leave the hospital.

When I returned to the room, already starting to tear up, he handed my my ferret. Slinky had a tube on his arm but wasn't struggling; he lay in my crooked arm much more peacefully than was his usual habit, and licked his lips a few times. I bent down to touch noses, and he licked my nose several times (I'd like to think reassuringly, but that is most likely me anthropomorphizing and wishfully thinking- most likely licking the salt from my tears). The vet gave him a quick shot of saline to clear the cathether, and as I held him close and apologized, telling him that this was the last thing I could do for him, injected a sharp-smelling drug into the tube. Slinky gave one sharp shudder as I held him and licked my nose again. I kissed his little snout, but he was already gone. The vet gently took him to check his heartbeat, but his eyes were open and vacant, so I kissed the top of his head between his ears and handed him over.

The vet told me he was gone and placed him carefully on a pad on the exam table. He asked me if I'd like to be alone with him for a while, but I shook my head; Slinky was gone now, I said, and I had gotten to say goodbye. I shook his hand, shook the veterinary student's hand (he'd been assisting). The vet carefully scritched Slinky's small head affectionately, and smoothed his form out, and I left the hospital quickly.

It was a bright, cloudless, perfect summer day.

I cried for fifteen minutes before going in to work.

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August 28, 2004

A Murderous Longing

O! When will Underworld tour?
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August 17, 2004

All Rise. Well, not *you*.

So I had jury duty. Which, for reasons best known to others, means you have to get to the courthouse at some ungodly hour, like 8 am. Given my present sleep schedule, this leaves precious few hours for repose the night before; hence, that morning consisted of a desperate lunge out of bed to silence the alarm placed thoughtfully across the room, then a Frankenstagger to the bathroom. A shower did nothing to help, save clean me; I pulled on clothes blindly and headed off. I managed to make it on time (yay me!) and was, of course, promptly handed a card and told to wait for the orientation film to start at 8:30.


At 8:30, we were given a well-polished briefing by the gent in charge (he had a uniform with a radio handset clipped to his shoulder, that's all we needed) and then he hit 'play.' Two TVs gave us a 17-minute video presentation in which several people with the demeanor of those in the airline safety videos walked through the process of a jury selection. Between that and the judge briefing us later during the selection process (oh, and the speech given at the start of the tape by some superior court justice) we were told our duty was 'sacred' something like nine times.

After the video, we were told we had fifty minutes break time and that this was normal (I got up early because...?) but to be back by ten of ten OR ELSE. So we were.

Finally, I was called (along with forty of my peers) to a courtroom, where a genial superior court judge gave us another pep talk - although that might have just been to irritate the surly-looking plaintiffs and defendants who were sitting along one wall in their best court clothes, looking annoyed. A civil case, involving a promissory note, thousands of dollars, yada, yada, default, yada. Well, if you've ever been for jury duty, you know what happens then - you're called up one by one to the sidebar to let the judge ask you questions while the lawyers (potentially cloned fat Masshole Italianates) decide how to bounce you off the jury if you're not white, mid-to-lower class and surly, just like their client. I watched this happen for about an hour and a half. Just as they filled the fourteenth and final seat with a white person, it hit 1pm - lunchtime. The judge dismissed us with his thanks, and the rest of us - free - filed out.

That's when the embarrassing bit happened...the judge, on his way out as well, came out a few minutes later. There was a bit of a wait for an elevator (we were on the 10th floor, and fifty people at once was a bit much, so I was still there) and he remarked to me, in a friendly way, that he had never seen the funny-looking animated character on my T-shirt before, what was his name?

I had totally forgotten the T-shirt.

So I was left to mumble my way out of explaining by saying something along the lines of "I beg your pardon, your Honor, it's rather obscene..." because better that than to admit I'd just sat in his courtroom proudly wearing a Fruit Fucker 2000(tm) shirt.

I am a loser.

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August 12, 2004

Hypo fulla love!

According to the suspiciously-named BetterHumans.Com, researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Mental Health have apparently discovered that by blocking a dopamine receptor in the brain, 'procrastinating' monkeys can be turned into 'workaholic' monkeys. While there are no reports on any potential side-effects, and indeed the technique does seem to involve injecting a genetically-engineered substance directly into a region of the brain (ouch!) I can't understand why they won't give this to me in consumer-friendly inhaler form NOW. SO much of my depression is manifested by, based on or in some way linked to a complete inability to marshal the ability to do anything anymore that I feel fairly safe in stating that I'd happily accept some fairly evil symptoms if only that problem could be solved. Hell, I've been involuntarily single and celibate for years, now, so what would I care about most anything it could do to me?

Sorry about the whining. Should've tagged this one better. Hm, a 'whining' category...there's a thought.

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July 30, 2004

The Up Song

Note: This is an Everything2 daylog from June 18, 2003. I just had the daydream again while working on sharp tools.

Today I realized what my most common daytime idle fantasy is. Yes, this writeup is office-safe! By 'idle fantasy' I mean 'what my mind drifts to when I'm not thinking of anything in particular.' This does not mean 'what my mind drifts to when a woman walks by who...' but you get the idea.

If I had to name it, it would be The Up Song.

How best to explain it. Let's see, what is it composed of. Well, I drive a Toyota MR2. I like playing Descent. I am a spacenik. I hate traffic. I believe that certain events/activities call for particularly appropriate, crushingly loud music.

That's about it. It does fit together, really. See, I'll be in traffic, which will frustrate me. Then the scenario clicks in:

I flip the Magic Switch.
The car shudders slightly as it reconfigures, contours sliding smoothly into a new convex hull that is, if anything, a more violent red. At the same time, the car lifts perhaps six inches off the pavement, just enough to retract the tires (yes, like in Back to the Future Part II) and the dashboard flows in front of me, the steering wheel vanishing into the instrument cluster, the shifter sprouting a top end with several buttons and a 6-DOF ' coolie hat' that fits naturally under my thumb.

I pull back smoothly with my right hand, using my right thumb to slightly 'blip' the coolie hat upwards. My left hand moves to the large thruster/ throttle controller that has extruded from the door in over my left leg.
The MR2 pulls its sharp prow upwards, rotating around a line just at the back end of the doors. The nose now points at Deep Blue with an eager tremble. The vehicle shakes itself slightly, bobbling in the windstream of its motion and passing cars; from the taillights, a single wedged surface extrudes itself into a perfect aerospike engine and the blue flame begins to flicker along the base edges.

I reach for the dash with my right forefinger, just in front of the stick, and pop the MP3 play button that resides there waiting.
There is a crackle of the stereo system clearing its little solid-state throat, and then the opening strains of The Up Song pour from the speakers, the entire world waiting for the breakbeat and the drums and the Loops of Fury to commence. Expectation precipitates from the surfaces and shapes around me; I can feel it being pulled into my vehicle from the frightened faces of those in cars around me as they watch this strangeness, unable to escape, their cars locked into the same traffic mass as I was until a few seconds ago. A suggestion of quiet, calm yet eager voices can be heard behind the tones of music as my steed's systems talk to themselves, making sure that all hands are shaken and all of its various parts are ready to taste air.

As the Up Song hits the opening of the beat, my left hand of its own free will slides the throttle up forward, past the ignite point and past the Cruise detent into Launch-
Blue flame pours from the edges of the 'spike, meeting at the edge and morphing into a blurred, rushing thunder of power as it batters at the asphalt beneath the back of the MR2. There is a crackling roar, the sound of systems, air, and human ears stressed to the point of distortion, and (to quote William Gibson), gravity comes down on me with great soft hands with bones of ancient stone-

I flip up the shielded release button on the stick, press it down, ride the SLAM back into the seat and watch the world fall away beneath my windscreen, a lost forgotten lover-

and like that, I'm gone.

This, then, is the 'Up song.' I use Magic Carpet Ride as an example, because the initial seven or so seconds of the launch of the Phoenix ( Zefram Cochrane's Warp Ship) in Star Trek: First Contact is the best example of the feeling I want. Barely controlled power, riding the wave rather than directing, knowing that the Earth is back there behind me, made behind rather than beneath by the howling of my engines.

But what is my Up Song?

I don't quite know, yet. But you see, I plan on getting off this benighted rock at least once before I die, which means I'll have to undergo a launch of some sort. When I do, there will be music playing on my headphones, or better, directly into my skull if I can manage it - and I need to know, in advance, what that soundtrack will be.

I sometimes wonder if Shuttle crew and other professional Super-Uppers ever sneak music feeds into their headphones during launch. Especially if you can hear Mission Control, and they you, it seems like it'd be a crime not to have music at that moment - the sounds of human spirit in a moment of pure, bond-breaking freedom.

I wonder.

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Wanderer Falcon

The peregrine falcon, falco peregrinus or 'wandering falcon', is a beautiful bird. It's the poetry of sudden death fused with effortless grace that only Nature can really pen, iconified in a brownish-white sleek shape that even across a two-hundred-yard gap and sitting on a perch looks like it's moving at high speed.

There is a pair of peregrines that have apparently taken up residence somewhere near my office building. At random intervals, we can see them perched on the parapets of buildings surrounding ours - it's a perfect hunting ground for them, as this part of Cambridge is mostly single-digit-high office 'wedding cake' buildings surrounded by open spaces for roadways, lawns and park.

They're tantalizingly just out of reach of the naked eye's ability to discern detail. I know they're peregrines; several times, they have flown/soared past our windows, only ten or fifteen feet out and unable to see in by virtue of the energy-efficient mirrorcoating and hence unconcerned by our presence. They're the absolute top of their food chain around here, and act it; lazily wheeling around the sky with one eye cocked for pigeons or just sitting perched on buildings fluffing regally. Dark brown wingtops, with light tan/cream undersides, with dark grey/black spots on the breast and throat, which in flight looks like a slightly blurred spacecraft. They hold their wings out rigidly straight when soaring; almost perfectly perpendicular to their bodies. Rather than warping the whole wing, their flight feathers at the ends actually bend up in little winglets, which they twitch almost sub-visually to change direction in the airstream. From the front, they look like the Air Force's most persistent wet dream; stealthy, narrow, sharp, lethally hard to see, and from that angle consisting entirely of weapon (beak and talons) and sensors (eyes).

They don't make much noise, as befitting hunters. Still, I'm reminded, every time I see them, of my seventeenth birthday, which summer I spent working in the Raptor Research Center on Sapsucker Woods Road at Cornell University. There, I learned to talk to falcons perched nearby, or on my arm, or even how to cajole them down from the tops of their three-story-tall cages to have dinner or allow themselves to be moved so I could clean the cage. They are no less beautiful perched than in flight, although they are much, much sillier. The true silliness that is the stupidity of a bird (they have very small brains) is most apparent when they are attempting to interact with you at your own eye level when they're not in flight - and not least because when they're not flying, they're as awkward as a taxiing 747.

I hope they have a nest nearby. The fact that there's two together makes them a mated pair; I wouldn't think they'd be able to leave young in the nest alone this time of year, but my dad (raptor expert) assures me that by end of July, the young falcons are large enough to not be bothered by intruding small birds or squirrrels or what-have-you, and both parents will take off to hunt. So somewhere, around here, is (no doubt) an eyrie; whether it is busy with the gawkish rustlings of young birds or not I don't know, but I'd like to think so. Only a few years ago, these birds were on the top of the Endangered Species lists due to their vanishing habitats and hunting grounds; unlike most animals in that situation, however, falcons were saved because some smart people noticed that cities should be heaven for them (no predators, lots of pigeons to eat, tall buildings to roost on...) and they were right.

Posted by jbz at 4:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Ross's Book Thing (as per Dave Camp)

I saw this on Dave Camp's blog, and thought it was cool.

The instructions are: Grab the nearest book, open it to page 23, find the 5th sentence, post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"The French repeatedly warned that they could not furnish troops for European defense without generous American support in Indochina, a ploy Acheson accurately described as 'blackmail.'"

I don't know if you're supposed to identify the book, so I won't.

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No no, my friend. The first one is always free with P-to-the-N-U-T.

There really is just no way to win. I had, in recent weeks, managed to wrestle my hypertrophied videogamer gene down to a dull murmur by restricting myself to perhaps twenty minutes per day (max) of fast, simple Counterstrike rounds. At the end, I had further tightened the noose by only permitting myself to play on 24/7 Assault servers, eschewing map diversity for speed and efficiency. All well and good. I hadn't even installed the Halo CD my roommate had left, enticingly, on the hall table.

Then all hell broke loose. Another monkey at work broached an old, old, evil; a nearly-forgotten addiction. A scourge that I had sworn would never darken my sleepless nights again, my resolve hardened by the way in which the curse itself did SUCK.

Yes, those fateful words came sliding across the porches of my ears, to posset up my thin and wholesome blood: "Dude, have you checked out AO recently? I started up a 'toon again a week or so ago, and it's sweet..


There was nothing to be done about it. In a last grasp at salvation, I decided that if I was to truly proffer up my credit card and re-explore the world of Rubi-Ka, I was going to do so with some limits in place on myself. I moved my Wintel PC over to his house, rendering my own home Windows-free. Then, and only then, did I log on to the system, giving them my card, finding that my 'toon (Gregg "Deltavi" Guynes, Level 106 Fixer) was still there, sleeping, faithfully awaiting my return since that last time those many months (a year?) ago that I logged out and left him crosslegged, sitting in Old Athen Backyard 2.

And my friend was right.

While we may, in fact, give up on the game again in disgust in a few weeks just like we did the last time (our second run at it), for the moment, it's entrancing. Whole lists of quests we haven't even heard of, items we haven't even imagined, scenery that makes you drool and play several hours just to go look at it. The Shadowlands pack is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that the Planet Rubi-Ka, once a bustling mecca of sci-fi mayhem, is nearly a ghost town. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is over in the Shadowlands, kicking strange Unredeemed ass.

So I only put in like seventeen hours this weekend. Really.

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February 19, 2004

Congratulations Random Gay People

Today I sent flowers. I never send flowers, since it seems an ephemeral way to waste money, but the idea was so…good. This person on LiveJournal posted the notion that ‘hey, we could all send flowers to the same-sex couples waiting to get married in San Francisco!’ Others thought this was a good idea. I came across the notion on BoingBoing, and it tickled my fancy. Sure, the originators and others who live in less liberal states (they’re from Minnesota) are making more of a point, but an unknown couple, waiting to get married despite what must seem like a nation of millions trying to hold them back, will get roses today (or tomorrow morning) from another American. Not me in particular, just another American, one who wants them to know that what they’re doing is important and that the fact that they now can (even if it gets challenged later or otherwise dragged across the coals) is important.

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December 8, 2003

Women, Biology, Social Structures and The Hell That Is Online Dating. Danger: Personal Crap.

As the subject warns, this is completely personal and useless stuff, so YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Spent an inordinate amount of time the past few days living in complete awe of the mistaken images that women apparently have of the life of a single guy trying to date. Case in point: Internet dating.

I have now had three different women (whom I know) all tell me in the same paragraph that they “understand what it’s like because they’re going through it too” and that they “don’t understand where all these losers are coming from who send them messages.”

See, that’s the trouble right there. They quite obviously don’t understand. Allow me to offer a personal example by way of explanation.

Yes, I have a profile posted on a couple of dating sites. Yes, I actively surf them once in a while. Yes, I respond to profiles. I tend to respond to profiles with individual messages, usually responding to questions asked in the profile, or commenting on some point or other made in the lady in question’s listing. To date, I have sent out (on one popular service) seventy-four responses. I know this because they all sit in my ‘OutBox’ on that service. Each was to a person whose information claimed that they had been logged on no more than 36 hours prior to my messaging.

I have had one reply. That reply came from a woman who I had asked, explicitly, to respond to me even if she wasn’t interested, because I wanted to know if the messages were actually getting through (this was around message 40).

Now, this isn’t meant to be a rant on how pathetic I am (although you can have one of those for a nickel if you want). It’s to make a point. I don’t think I’m alone in this sort of experience; I’ve seen plaintive messages on all the services I use, from men, either wondering if this was normal or berating women who had posted flip messages about how all us guys just suck.

This ties into an argument I frequently end up having with women. It goes like this: I state a particular observation I have made over many years and which I (to date) have never seen any evidence to contradict. Then the woman/women to whom I’m speaking flip out and tell me that I’m completely off base and have a distorted view of their lives to boot.

The observation is this: In the United States, today, if a woman goes to a bar or other public social arena with the intent of getting laid, she can. The only thing that stands in her way is her own decision on how far she is willing to lower her standards if required. In essence, however, if a woman goes into a bar which contains single guys, guess what: she can, if she chooses, leave with one of them.

Now, I’m not saying this is particularly safe. I’m not saying she’ll find her lifemate. I’m just saying that if she really wants to badly enough, she can (and will) find someone to hook up with.

Guys, in the same situation, have the opposite default. They’re going to go home alone - unless they win the audition. It’s not a sure thing, and it’s sure as hell not going to happen unless they work at it. Sure, there are guys who can make it look easy - but even if it’s unconscious, they’re working at it. Because the way biology organized us, it’s the woman’s job to guard the gene pool - and it’s our job to just audition.

Same holds for internet dating. Every woman I’ve ever spoken to (this is perhaps a dozen) who participates in this delightful technological arena of ego pain has said the same thing - even the ones who are completely convinced that they’re hideous hags and that no man ever will want them. They have spoken of the hordes of losers whose messages they had to sort through in a (usually futile) attempt to find someone worthy to answer.

See the problem?


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