This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.                             the guys: philogynist jaime tony - the gals:raymi raspil


Michael considered fate at 23:15   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Sometimes when I wake up late at night, bladder full and complaining, I climb out of bed and stumble to the toilet, do my duty, and if I've had time to become accustomed to the light and I'm not particularly groggy, I grab the scissors and just slice away at nothing. I put them up close to my ear so I can hear the nice long strokes of the metal blades, biting at eachother with a hizzing huzzah. Then, short snappy snips; the dull clunk of the plastic handle brilliantly placed as a period on the end of each staccato sentence.

There is a dream in every sound; a place you can go. A park, some wild nightlife, a pristine white-sand beach covered with seashells, a thriving public market, a quiet, quiet, clear cloudless evening. These sounds are obvious, though. It is the off-beat sounds that produce the real fantasies - dreams of places you've never been and you're not even sure you want to even go there. The can opener, the scissors, the low burp of a bullfrog, a high pitched hiccup, the clank of a cd falling into a jukebox tray - juxtaposed against the backdrop of trees swishing in the dark against a gentle night breeze, leno on real low late at night swimming out of your neighbours open second-story window. A penny, rolling circles around it's final resting spot, faster-tighter-narrower until it's a rapid beat and *snap* - down it goes.

In these sounds are a million dreams waiting to happen and I want so badly to dream these little dreams. I want to know where the can opener will take me today, what new space the pfft-pfft-pfft of my neighbour's lawn sprinkler is going to show me. Into these sounds, like a swimmer into a pool, do I dive.

Michael considered fate at 22:31   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Well you've heard of it, you've had friends who went through it, now hear it here for the first time: I am a proud member of the "Two speeding tickets in one day" club. Two within one hour, in fact, and each from their own state. Two states that don't even border each other, in fact.

I accidentally slid into Canaan, Vermont a little too quickly, chatting away with my passenger, not paying attention to my speed. 55 in a 30, but he didn't clock me till 43, me being the semi-charmed kinda guy I am.

An hour later, I'm cruising into Bethel, Maine near the Sunday River ski resort on a nice wide open stretch of route 26. I'm coming down a big hill, chatting away, and bang - nailed as a copper came driving by. 75 in a 55, but he said I was honest with him so he dropped it down to the next level - 69 (below 15 over, so less points and he saved me $100). See? Semi-charmed.

So sure, I got a few speeding tickets. Two in one hour. But they were cheaper combined than some single tickets I've seen my friends get. And in fact, the Vermont ticket won't even show up as points on my license.

Am I unhappy I have some fines to pay? Am I grouchy I am going to have some points on my license? Am I angry I let myself slip into these situations? Sure, yes, certainly, mmhm. You know what they say, you win some you lose some.

But I say as long as I keep losing the unimportant battles, I'm going to count myself lucky enough. You can't go expecting perfection all the time.


Michael considered fate at 15:12   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I would have posted this in the morning when I got into work but, surprise surprise, I've been busy working. I just found this open in my web browser under all those windows of spreadsheets, data dumps, conversion reports, and code. I swear!

NASA has, once again, grounded the shuttle fleet:
a large piece of foam insulation broke off from the fuel tank of the Discovery shuttle on liftoff... the foam did not damage the shuttle [Note: this is similar to what caused the previous oopsy]
I bet that makes the Discovery crew feel great. I imagine they are shaking their fists at the little earth in their viewport right this instant thinking why I oughta!. Well, hey guys, you can't win 'em all.


Michael considered fate at 10:52   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
*** NEWS *** NEWS *** NEWS

This just in.

While I'm not a super fan of television, what with it's many mild-reality incarnations these days, I have been known to get sucked into some old-timey favourites. Take, for example, last year's obsession with Seinfeld and my run through of all 180 episodes in the matter of a few months. While an average of 2 episodes a day is not exactly fanatical, it is dedicated, that's something to be proud of, right? Moderation?

Well fast forward to this month, when I purchased the first three seasons of News Radio for my friend's birthday. News Radio, if you don't recall, was a pretty decent little sitcom with Dave Foley (of Kids in the Hall fame) as a radio station news director, Andy Dick as a crazy guy (before he actually went crazy), Joe Rogan as a handy-man/electrician (since then having been swallowed by the dredges of reality tv - as a host for Fear Factor) and last but not least Phil Hartman as news anchor in what was probably his best role ever.

Well, birthday present or no, I cracked into this gem and, while my socializing, jogging, and adherance to ideas such as moderation all suffered, I certainly enjoyed myself. Averaging over 4 episodes a day I've finished off the 29 episodes like a late night snack. I only wish old Phil wasn't shot to death as he really did make the show.

News Radio, see it again for the first time. Still pertinent today with references to internet porn in the workplace, worker's compensation scams, and off color jokes about sexism and racism. Pick up your copy today.


Michael considered fate at 14:34   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
The latest from my intrepid friend in (as she puts it) J-land:

Subject: Japan is fun!

and crazy. never forget the crazy. latest nutty behavior was experienced today in was the main day of the famous gion matsuri. massive shrine floats are carried around by hand and turned corners with people riding them playing drums. pretty cool, but, i have to say, the gay pride parade it was not. what was crazy was the crowds...i would like to get numbers, but based on jazz fest crowds, i would estimate something like half a million people. mainly just standing around, but a lot of shoving and pushing to get closer to the floats. and by shoving, i mean old little obachans pushing past shrieking, with people so sweaty they just slip past each other, policemen saying "dangerous! please! dangerous! please!" as they try to pick up the people that have fainted or been knocked down. fainted. yes. not just one girl. heaps of people. HEAPS of 'em. picture it...crazy crowd, no way out, 32 [89.6 F] degrees plus 80% humidity = 47 [116.6 F] degrees. i would have fainted too, just to get away from them all. luckily i was well hydrated and kept alert by irrational anger due to people constantly touching me.

Michael considered fate at 12:00   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Oh yah, Discovery got off without a hitch today. If you missed it on the tele, they had some really cool camera shots this time around, with views from the boosters as they separated from the shuttle, etc, etc. In fact, they had 107 cameras overall carefully checking for problems during the launch. The shuttle reached over 17,000 mph in the first eight minutes aloft. Talk about a performance vehicle.

Michael considered fate at 10:59   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I'm back in the saddle, folks, after a few days hiatus - having had nothing of import to relay to you. I even stifled a mopey woe is me post last night because, heck, you can read the archives. I drank beer instead. In fact, I drank beer on a wonderful summer night enjoying a wonderful bar patio with some funny people and one too-good-to-be-true fashionable/hippy/hipster/down-to-earth/crazy/trendy/....girl. I drove home with her, had some herbal tea, and talked. Really. It's been sweet but no doubt we'll have time for those woe is me posts soon enough. Stay Tuned.

In other news..

The Family Guy movie was leaked onto the internet and is making the rounds via bittorrent. It was supposed to be due out in two months.

TV Guide is relaunching as a large format magazine? What the .. Somehow I don't think this one is going to work out for them financially, but what do I know. The whole point of a small form-factor is that it sits nicely out of the way on the end-table until you are dying to know: what's on next? So what is next, Reader's Digest goes R-rated?

Perhaps coincidence, perhaps a snafu of another color, we may never know: Microsoft's MSN Virtual World online mapping tool would lead you to believe that the current Apple Headquarters do not exist. Time to choose sides folks:
a search for Apple's campus on Virtual World shows a largely vacant lot where the campus stands today. Meanwhile, a similar search on Google's mapping service verified that--despite Microsoft evidence to the contrary--Apple is still alive and kicking.
Who do you believe? Wheelchair-ridden granddad of Software companies with billions in the bank ("Come 'ere little child, give me your hand") or creepy mysteriously rich young search engine company with no revenue who just moved in down the street ("Hey, little kid.. yah, you.. do you know where the closest porn store is?"). I don't know about you but I have been laying awake at night for quite awhile now trying to figure out if iPods really exist..

And speaking of Apple, they announced their latest incarnations of the iBooks and Minis yesterday. While the iBooks didn't get better screen resolution (I never expected it but I certainly pined for it) they did get a bevy of new features including:
  • Built-in Airport Extreme (i.e. 802.11g), something I'm not at all surprised at given the current state of wireless connectivity everywhere. Not including wireless at this point would be a crime.
  • Built in Bluetooth. This standard isn't dead yet?
  • a scrolling trackpad - Just drag two fingers over the trackpad to scroll vertically and horizontally or pan around any active window - something I'm a little wary of, but at least you can turn it off.
  • And last but not least, motion-sensing drop protection? From the website:
    Now every iBook G4 is equipped with Apple’s Sudden Motion Sensor to help protect your most valuable asset: your data. The Sudden Motion Sensor senses change in axis position and accelerated movement. In the event of a drop or fall, the Sudden Motion Sensor instantly parks the hard drive heads so they won’t scratch the disks on impact, lessening the risk of damage and improving your chances of retrieving valuable data.

Despite new seemingly-elite features like the sensor-based drop protection, they are still choosing to outfit the low end iBook with a very anemic 40GB hard drive, though the standard 512MB RAM is an improvement. Come on guys, left over inventory? How much does a 60GB drive really cost over a 40 anyway? The Mini, on the otherhand, is starting to look a little more attractive. The mid-grade model at $600 gets a 1.42G4, 512MB RAM, 80GB of storage, and Airport Extreme wireless. The only thing these puppies are really weak on, if you don't mind the G4, is the graphics card; an ATI Radeon 9200 with 32MB RAM.

More on the entertainment front, Netflix second-quarter profits nearly doubled. Not so interesting in and of itself - I swear you can figure these things out if you just go down on the street and take a fucking pulse, people. I don't know a soul using Blockbuster and I know plenty trying out Netflix. Did anyone really think Blockbuster could wham-bam-thank-you-mame open an online rental store late in the game and take over Netflix's bidness? Nah uh, honey, you did not just do that. Go figure. Blockbuster, a nationwide chain who has been fucking people over for years now with higher prices than even most place's local mom & pop rental establishments thinks they can just buy in? Not with my money, you can't. Remember people, America is on foodstamps, we need our prime-rib on the cheap or our Grade C dressed up in sheeps clothing. Why do you think Wal-Mart is so successful? Nevertheless, Netflix has held Blockbuster off (no doubt with a bit of help from the Wal-Mart endorsement I mentioned in May) and it, apparently, didn't even effect them much:
Netflix didn't have to spend as much as executives anticipated to fend off Blockbuster in the second quarter, leaving the company in a much stronger position than almost everyone expected.
Which leads me to believe executives aren't, as I say, down on the street taking a fucking pulse. Even more worrisome are corporate executives who express these sorts of thoughts:
Emboldened by the second-quarter surprise, Netflix management predicted it will finish this year with a profit of $2.4-million to $11.9-million, a reversal from just three months ago when the company warned it might lose as much as $15-million with Blockbuster hot on its trail.
Makes you think they're playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with their revenue charts in the boardroom, doesn't it?


Michael considered fate at 13:24   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I've never been a big comic book guy or, alternatively, a graphic novel guy, but I did borrow my cousin's copy of V for Vendetta by Alan Moore years and years ago when I was visiting him and couldn't find anything to read. I ended up really enjoying it a whole lot and so it's no surprise, really, that someone else (The Wachowski Brother's) enjoyed it too - enough to make it into a movie. Of course the proliferation of comic content as action movie fodder probably has a lot more to do with it. Anyhow, Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from the Matrix movies) is the main character V and Natalie Portman plays the other main character, a young woman saved by V from a late night alleyway situation. I don't want to ruin anything so I'll keep it simple. Suffice it to say that V could stand for Vigilante and the movie has a strong revenge plot, only the people V is getting retribution from are the same people that happen to be running the totalitarian government.

Trailer here.


Michael considered fate at 15:18   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Today I found, snuggled inbetween snide comments and witty humor on McSweeney's, a juicy tidbit in the advice column (Dan Kennedy Solves Your Problems With Paper). It wasn't so much advice as it was response to a thank-you note. A reader had written in and thanked Dan for "facilitating procrastination" - i.e. slacking off on company time. And without further ado, here is the juicy tidbit (last sentence):
I have, at different times in my life, partaken in slacking off on company time ... sitting there pleasantly numbed with a head full of recycled air that's been filtered through 20 floors of stylish nylon executive carpet and assorted veneers and Formica; just taking big deep breaths of the pleasant, thin barrier between me and the outside world. I would pocket a three pack of Post-it® Notes (3-by-3, canary yellow, not packaged for resale), grab a free coffee, and make a couple of free long-distance calls. And while I spoke to family members and ex-girlfriends in rehab, I'd look out the window at passersby and think, "Look at those dumb bastards out there still dealing with silly everyday problems like love and death when I've got all I need right here." But let me tell you something about time: Life's odometer does not discriminate. That is to say, at the end of the line, it was all our time.

Michael considered fate at 14:25   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Though I haven't seen the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yet and I've avoided seeing any trailers -
sidenote: I remember, a long time ago in my burgeoning youth when the industry-insider term "trailer" started to leak out onto the streets where the proletariat quickly gathered it up from the pavement like free money, convinced it would make them cooler and more trendy. They have a word for these people now and it's called "hipster". Nowadays you can't get them to bend over even for ten spot.
- I enjoyed Tony's Review, which contained no spoilers, convinced me to definitely check out this film despite my earlier fears that burton would really screw this one up - though it may be a renter after all - and made a good call with:
and why the hell would you put helen bonham carter in this film if all youre going to have her do is say oh charlie and stir cabbage soup?

You Learn Something New Every Day
Michael considered fate at 12:27   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
For quite a few years now I have been calling my local drinking establishment by the nickname Tchotchke's, after the miserable chain restuarant of the Applebee's variety in the movie Office Space. Not because my drinking establishment is miserable, but just because it's fun to have pet names for things if only to confuse those who have no idea what you are talking about (being pretentious is fun!). However I was, until today, previously unawares that this is a yiddish term for trinket:
tchotchke \tchotch"ke\ n.
1. [Yiddish tshatshke, trinket, from Pol. czaczko. --MW10.] a knickknack or trinket; a decorative item or souvenir of little value. [Also spelled chotchke.]
How very fitting and in fact very blatant (had I known), given the annoying "pieces of flair" joke in the movie.

So how did I learn this bit of new today? Oddly, I must give credit to an article discussing the recent move by the Chinese to un-attach their currency to the U.S. Dollar:
... some economists worry that China may have unleashed economic forces that will eventually worsen inflation by making all Asian imports more expensive.

"In the scheme of things, 2 percent
[increase in the yuan] isn't a huge increase," said Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. "But China has a subtle way of punishing us." ...

... The value of imports from China rose nearly 100 percent, to $75.7 billion, between 2000 and 2004, with textiles and molded plastics leading the way.

"And it's the tchotchke makers (pens, flashlights, etc.) that are going to be paying the price in the future," Kyser said.
Needless to say, Jack Kyser seemed to understand that I wasn't smart enough to know what the term meant he included some useful context (pens, flashlights, etc.)

The second definition of tchotchke? A mistress..

Update: Blogger The Agonist wins best headline award on this one: Yuan, Forest, Yuan!

Michael considered fate at 10:54   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
G'damn I hope they pass this daylight savings bill. If you're out of the loop it looks likely that DST could be extended by as early as this fall from it's usual April-October spread to a wider March-November spread. I've been arguing for something like this for years, but then again a lot of that has to do with the fact that I live in a State that is piggybacking on our neighbour's timezone, leaving us with darkness at 4pm in winter.

The DST provision, along with the rest of the bill, is geared towards improving energy usage in the U.S. Nevertheless, they're still too chicken shit to touch on one important area: oil usage (vis-a-vis vehicle mileage):
Consumers could see more energy savings thanks to a proposal adopted by Congress on Tuesday calling for tougher appliance standards, voluntary efficiency improvements by industry, and extended daylight savings time

But lawmakers shied away from including controversial policies that would improve vehicle mileage or dramatically cut U.S. oil demand in order to reach a compromise on one of several pieces of a broad energy bill they are trying to iron out.
Personally, I am impressed with resources like, a government website that let's consumers compare cars based on mileage, pollution, and other factors, but there is a problem here: What good does mileage-comparison shopping do when every car get's shitty mileage?

Okay okay, sour grapes. I called GM and Ford, ready to tear someone a new asshole, but I was quickly appeased - "We're working on it".

But what really gets my goat is that one of the best categories of high-mileage vehicles, that of the two-wheeled variety, is completely neglected. I'm not sure why, but motorcycle manufacturers never advertise mileage and, while they may mention it as a selling point to get you to sign on the dotted line, they are not designing their bikes for better fuel economy either. My 1998 Ducati 900CR - not particularly old nor poorly made - gets somewhere in the range of 45 miles to the gallon. This despite the fact that it is somewhere in the range of 14% of the weight of my last vehicle, a 1993 Honda Prelude weighing in somewhere north of 2900lbs. The prelude, in contrast, got 32 miles to the gallon on one particularly good road-trip, and averaged 26. Certainly nothing special for a small four-banger like that, but then again it's a weight-to-mpg ratio of 111, whereas the bike eeks out a paltry 9.

45mpg, however, is pretty good at the end of the day; it could just be better. Meanwhile, the government is not requiring these companies to publish mileage ratings, are not encouraging the use of these vehicles in high-congestion areas such as big cities - something that could reduce both traffic and parking issues - and the media makes them sound unsafe. Take a trip to Rome or Hong Kong and you will learn a thing or two about what is possible with two-wheeled transportation. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. the proliferation of shows like American Chopper have resulted in just more "weekend warriors" - crowds of big-bore low-mpg harleys rumbling around one day a week and otherwise sitting unused in a garage. Bravo, America. Bravo.

Finally, despite the (meagre?) rash of media attention for electric and hybrid vehicles, we never hear about hybrid bikes. For years now I've been following the progress of a prototype hybrid from a small electric-motor company in Pennsylavania called eCycle. With promises like 80+mph capabilities and miles per gallon somewhere up above 100 who wouldn't want one of these things? Unfortunately I still haven't seen a finished prototype. Here's to hoping, a pastime I am sure everyone who reads this blog knows is not my favourite.

Oh and hey, look, even the Canadians are on the DST-extending bandwagon. But it's just cause Canadian business leaders fear major economic disruption if [Canada] does not fall in line..

Michael considered fate at 10:33   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
A few months ago I heard a story on National Public Radio about a professor who was showing that a carefully placed "brain pacemaker" can have some miraculous curing effects for those with previously insurmountable depression. One of those who received the implant described the feeling he had when it was first turned on: "I felt a feeling of wellness".

Nevertheless, a similar method previously used for epilepsy has now been approved by the FDA, despite questionable effectiveness:
Cyberonics began a 200-patient study to see whether VNS could treat depression patients not adequately helped by other therapies. An FDA review last year found no difference after three months of implant treatment. Cyberonics argued that a year later, a significant number of the VNS recipients had had their depression ease.
Placebo? All I know is that if I had crippling depression I'd probably feel a lot better with a hole in my head and a wire hanging out of it giving my brain electric shocks, whether or not it had any physiological effect or not. Wires in my head just gives me the warm fuzzies all around.


Michael considered fate at 01:16   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
In my head, I was somewhere in northern canada marching across what appeared to be a pretty barren tundra. Not completely frozen or snow covered, but certainly suffering from a pretty bad case of perma-frost. Tufts of brown grass held on here and there and, despite the strong wind, it wasn't particularly cold. I had some sort of animal skins thrown over me as a sort of shawl and under that just jeans and a white long sleeve t-shirt. I was wearing mocassins. As I trudged along I had to lean a bit into the wind, holding the animal skins tightly around me to keep them from whipping around in my face.

The destination was Greenland. I don't exactly know why but I knew for certain that there was more opportunity there. I knew if I could just get to the coast and find a boat, borrow an eskimo's kayak, I could make it. Never mind that it was hundreds of miles across the open waters of the North Atlantic. Never mind that I wasn't a good seamn, didn't have supplies, and didn't actually know where in Greenland I was heading. I just knew I had to get there. This, at least, was set.

I kept walking, stumbling forward through the strong gusts of crisp air, but nothing really changed. I was staring at a dark blue horizon, the sun setting behind me in the west, but there was nothing out there. No water, no trees, no towns.. nothing. Then, suddenly, there was a great and blinding light to the north. As it glarred into existence in an instance, I snapped my head towards it's direction, startled. It pierced through my skull like hot metal through butter. I reeled back, caught myself, and realized I was up against a wall of some sort. I was facing this wall, which had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and I had my arms up high over my head, my hands pressed firmly against the smooth surface. I was, I realized, trying to climb the wall. As my eyes slowly stopped throbbing in their sockets and I became accustomed to the light I started to see all sorts of new things around me. A bedside table. A book. A radio alarmclock. I looked down and saw that I was crouched on a small wooden dresser. In the center of the blinding light stood a figure, tall - maybe six feet or more - and broad. I saw only it's outline, nothing more. My mouth opened but nothing came out. I froze, waiting.. One second. Two. And then it spoke.

"Go back to bed, Michael," my father always was a no-nonsense sort of guy.

I nodded. Numb, stupid, still half way between dream and awake, but aware. I began to climb down off the dresser but then I stopped and looked up. My right hand was still firmly planted on the wall, high, over my head. Underneath it was a National Geographic Explorer world map - old enough to have U.S.S.R. plastered across Eurasia. Directly above my hand, where my finger tips were still unconciously inching, stretching, reaching for, lay Greenland.


Michael considered fate at 19:43   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I had a long hard talk the other night about empowerment, emancipation, feminism, foreplay, sports, image, society's evolutionary directionals, racism, and all other things generally difficult to speak of without getting a little personal.

Luckily there was no blood boiling that night.

But regardless the whole thing irked me and I had to ask myself what the point was. Why were we talking about it? What did we really think the outcome was going to be? After all, solving world hunger we were not.

This, combined with my own crippling hunger on my ride home, was annoying.

This morning I opened my inbox with the expectant click that I always do. Whoops. Not what I was expecting. Somehow, every day, I manage to convince myself time and time again that it'll come, some message or sign or note. A memo even. A TPS report. I don't know why. Hope springs eternal? Perhaps. I am, maybe, too tired to care.. but I still check anyway since it's a matter of great importance - a matter so monumental in it's fleetingness that it decides the very fabric of my daily life - whether I leave my proverbial home through the front door every morning or sneak out the back, whether I see the world through a grey or purple filter, whether I believe.

Belief, you see, does not spring eternal. It doesn't have the childish faith of hope. Hope is belief suspended.

A good friend emailed me the other day and asked "Are you still alive?" and I said yes, Ross, yes I am. I was glad he asked though. Hope and belief are, afterall, two different things. I'm still alive and though I replied to his email with a rundown of my recent activities I wasn't thinking nearly as much about the words that I was typing as I was about the words that he had told me last time I had seen him, which were that I should forget.

Forgiveness, however, must come before the forget and I'm still struggling with that first one. Forgiveness isn't my forte. It's an elusive beast I manage to tame only when I feel there is true regret. Regret is belief as apology is to hope.

And in the end apologies are only words, as thin as the paper they are written on, as filling as ribbon candy in an ice castle, like hope they are fleeting and cheap.

Regret, conversely, is a heaviness of syrup and molasses, a saucy emoticon of remorseful delight. A hearty meal, indeed.

Michael considered fate at 13:00   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
It's nice to see The Big Lebowski in the top ten List of films ordered by uses of the word "fuck" at #8 with 281 fucks (2.4 fucks/min).

And as long as we're getting fucked, check out the FUCK this website. The creator explains his obsession with plastering "fuck" stickers on signs everywhere:
I don't know, just had the idea one day and thought it would be funny. So I printed out stickers in a bunch of different sizes, took them everywhere with me, and started taking photos. It quickly turned into an obsession, and now here we are. Now it's your turn. Let's see what you can do. Believe me, once you start, you'll never look at signs the same way again.


Michael considered fate at 21:41   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Holy shit

Michael considered fate at 11:14   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I mention this only because I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and therefore carefully testing some theories of mine: From WSJ (via Slashdot) Web hypochondriacs are calling up doctors with requests for prescriptions for all sorts of diseases, since they discovered some similar symptoms on the Web.

So they say that people are being overly hypocondriatic by using the WWW? Well no fucking kidding. I googled foamy urine to find out I probably am going to die of kidney failure. Last year I googled swollen testicle to find out I probably had a testicular torsion and, since I hadn't caught it in the first six hours, I was probably going to have to get an amputation.

Well, I still have both my boys downstairs and, knock on wood, my kidneys are doing fine.. But we'll see. I think this issue is more a case of too much (negative) information.

From the WSJ article, a doctor says: "It seems that traditional Western medicine based on scientific evidence is less and less trusted by the general public. Meanwhile, some dubious theory from the Internet will be swallowed hook, line and sinker nine times out of 10."

Yet, based on the fact that all of my personal WWW diagnosis have been done through WebMD, a site clearly based in the science of western medicine, I have to disagree with him a little bit.

Challenge of the week: Using WebMD, Find a symptom that is not associated with some horridly awful disease and/or possible death if not treated immediately. I dare you.

Good luck.


Michael considered fate at 22:47   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
P.S. How's this for creepy slowly-reducing semi-sinusoidal site hits? Explain that one to me.

Michael considered fate at 21:52   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I sometimes think my problem might be that I'm too aware. None of this living in the moment crap cause I'm thinking way too much about it. Like I can see myself from the outside and I'm just playing a choose your own adventure. I'm looking at the options as if it's not me that will be suffering the consequences but it's like a game so I need to win - need to make the best choices - need to be logical and smart this one out. Points. Need points.

The problem with that is our hero rarely ends up going down the interesting path. If it's between a) jump down the dark hole and follow the man in the spacesuit or b) return to your ship for supplies, well, it's friendly and smart choice (b) all the time.

This is fine when it comes to certain aspects of life, like how you're going to pay the next phone bill. When confronted with such financial responsibilities the option "jump down a dark hole", while appealing, is rarely effective. Work, pay your rent, take care of yourself, get lots of sleep, eat your vegetables. These things aren't what's interesting but it certainly gets you to the next day.

I suppose there is an argument in there somewhere for moderation. Moderation in all things logical and illogical. Moderation in the amount of fun, craziness, and even sanity because every person - even me - can only handle so much sanity. I guess the problem is the moderation part. I can't grasp a handle on it in the same way that I can't grasp a handle on the next day - planning planning planning but not really knowing what's coming. Basically crazy on both ends of the spectrum.

Too much too little never enough but always a little more than you'd hoped for and meanwhile, always thinking thinking too much, way too much, thinking that thinking about it will think it right away. Over-analysis. As if life can be thunk into perfection, as if nonsense can be made clear as glass if only enough smarts are applied.

When finally it all sinks in and the answers appear exactly where they really are - far away and in no way obtainable unless you just live it, figure it out as you go - this is when shit really kicks in and, fuck it, let's live a little, drink a little, swim a little, soar into the oblivion because it's all become oh so obviously out there that the only way to even think about it anymore is to not think about it so straight anymore. Look askance, apply oblique obtusity until everything is crooked and fainting and then, almost, things come clearly into focus. As clear as mud.

And so it is I swim through the thick fog of summery humidexity, squinting through the fog hoping for a glimpse of something real, someone obvious, somehow perfect beauty right there in front of me having been missed by all the others, completely passed by, waiting as if a wet dewy flower sweating in the morning sunlight, waiting as a sucide man waits precariously perched upon the ledge of life, waiting as we all do on the precipice right before we tug on the straps and bound into the unknown. Waiting, ultimately, for someone to come along and maybe, just maybe, tell us it's alright.


Michael considered fate at 16:01   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
May 13th, 2005, I was working at my computer at the office, minding my own business. It was a Friday. Friday the 13th.

And today, from Gawker:
Nuvo is a new Japanese robot. It costs $6,000. It plays New Age music. It takes pictures. And it makes little whirs and clicks and flashes that are supposed to feel companionable. But it doesn’t clean, it doesn’t cook, and, while it will apparently sleep with you, it won’t, you know, sleep with you.
Which is funny because, well, I am known (on occassion) to make little whirs, clicks, and even flash people. Isn't that companionable?

Of course I don't cook or clean either.

I want to be a concert promoter...
and sign Dave Matthews Band, The Strokes, and Tool for the same show...
and bill them in that order

yeah, because those three obviously have such similar fans...

No no
I just want the ticket stub:
Dave Matthews Band Strokes Tool

Michael considered fate at 13:31   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
So my foot is practically as good as new. Surprisingly, despite the "deep cut", or "puncture wound", or "laceration", depending on which medical professional you talk to, I was able to walk fairly comfortably on it from the get-go. In the Jamaican airport, it was sort of uncomfortable in a squishy-skin-tearing sort of way, but not hurty by any means. To look at it you'd think you were staring at a sausage in a frying pan with it's side split open, hammy bits poking out like kids crowded in the back window of a station wagon. Wide-eyed with delight. Only these weren't kids, they were meaty chunks from my arch having a party with some sort of infectious bacteria. Later, back at home the next day, I went to work as usual and hobbled around - mostly because I didn't want to walk on it so it had time to heal.

By the next day, however, things were looking pretty sad, what with all the skin around the star wound having completely turned white, the hammy bits hanging out of the star having become more like slimy-rotting-flesh bits, and oodles of bacterial waste in the form of puss. The area surrounding the wound for two inches or so was red and tender to the touch.

I'm not one to be a hypocondriac but nevertheless I had visions of pale gangreneous feet being chopped off with hack saws and bad civil-war movie re-runs.

So, finally, I sucked it up and went to the pseudo-emergency room. Well, actually, I went to the dentist. Then I went to the pseudo-emergency room. No stiching, of course, since it had already been 48 hours at this point, but I did receive a juicy antibiotic cocktail in my ass and a tetanus shot. They insisted on an xray to check for any bits or pieces of broken seashell lodged inside the wound. My wallet cringed. The words "open the wound" and "lance" were whispered close to my vicinity. I cringed. Luckily, nothing definitive showed up in the images. Within about 4 hours the swelling around the wound had receeded by half, the white skin around the wound had turned back to a nice fleshy pink, and my hammy bits had started to climb back into the wound. Talk about modern medicine.. they might not be able to cure cancer but shit, can they kill a bacterial infection. I almost felt bad for the little guys.

A week and a half later and the wound has been reduced to a funky-looking mound of tough tissue - it's still clearly a wound, but it is sealed up on itself and the three-pointed star is now on it's way to becoming a nice lumpy scar of sorts. This will go well with the tiny bit of lumpy tissue still remaining over my left eye from my halloween stair-diving and the lumpy tissue on the bottom of my chin from my drunken valentine's day marathon.


Michael considered fate at 19:08   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Tony is talking about blog ads today and it got me wondering. A little voice inside my head said do it, do it but the normal, manly, deep voice of reason said what the fuck are you talking about, are you stupid?. Not only do I get no hits whatsoever but the ones I do, I'm not so sure I could sell those suckers anything.. I can barely get them to stay long enough to comment.

So I did a little quick research. Tony gets about 60,000 hits a month. Six Tee Thou Sands. That's a muckload of hits for an unemployeed ex-stoner washup who has a hard time leaving the house except to go to pf changs or bang anna k. So what the fuck? Well, whatever it is I don't got it so my measly 600 hits a month isn't going to be shaking any tables in the blog ad world. It'd be like a midget trying to tilt a pinball machine.

Tony just got a payment from blog ads for the amount of $420. The same amount of time, presumably, would have net me $4.20. Granted, four twenty is prehaps a bit more serendipidous of a number than four hundred and twenty, but it's not going to be paying any of the bills I have, that's for sure.

The one upside of all of this? I guess if I had 60,000 hits a month, 2,000 hits a day, 80 hits an hour, which is over a hit a minute, then I'd probably be slightly more freaked out about the sorts of things I'd post on here.

Not that I got anything to hide.

Michael considered fate at 15:40   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
michael doesn't get jealousy very often. he views it as an unattractive and mostly useless quality. however, on occasion, he has been known to feel a bit desirous of other's belongings. most recently: super duper slk digital cameras that take (assumedly) gorgeous pictures of just about anything you point at. this particular jealousy can be traced back, not to the slk camera, but to the particularly under-powered canon elph that he currently owns. oh, had he known then what he knows now about digital cameras.

granted i am not of the mind to spend dollars in the hundreds approaching double-digits for a rounded piece of glass, some electronic hoo-ha, and a usb cable, but i am of the mind to spend a few of those hundreds, and given my current level of knowledge in the matter i feel as though i would be far more successful now than i was then.

michael is particularly disenchanted with the battery life of his little pipsqueak elph and also the miniscule offerings in the optical zoom area. be forewarned ye camera shoppers of the digital variety: digital zoom is a mirage, an oasis of the most imaginary proportions. while michael was aware of this at the time he was shopping for cameras, he was unaware that he would be interested in zooming so much. apparently he fancied himself an unzoomy sort of guy.

i will henceforth refrain from making sweeping generalizations about what i want. i will not compromise my quality of life for cheaper product (except in the realm of such items as beer). i will set forth and research those items i so desire as if it were a crusade for the holy grail itself: accept no imitations, no copies, nothing but the golden chalise itself!

this pep-talk brought to you by the makers of french fries - enjoy a potatoe like you enjoy life: with ketchup - and by the generous donations of mindshare from readers like you.

Michael considered fate at 12:50   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I try not to be just another slashdot filter, but this one is worth posting for it's laugh-factor alone:
Contradicted and Initially Stronger Effects in Highly Cited Clinical Research

In other words, According to the new study, about a third of all major [clinical] studies from the last 15 years were subsequently shown to be inaccurate or overblown.


Michael considered fate at 19:22   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Sometimes things appear more complicated then they ought to be because people like to think that things have depth to them. Unfortunately, a lot of people associate that which is complicated with that which is detailed. I'm of the mind that they aren't necessarily the same thing.

In fact, as complicated as people will try to tell you everything is, ultimately it's not. Clear borders can usually be discovered if they are sought after and if the proper mindset is adopted. Given the "deep" inner workings of most people's minds, an obvious modus operandi is usually, nevertheless, fairly transparent if viewed from the proper angle.

The true complications arise, however, when you cease trying to understand and begin trying to control; i.e. your modus operandi is a dirty window through which parts and pieces of the world can be seen clearly, others only partially so, and still some are blocked from view altogether.

It is this dirty window, then, that is the barrier to a clearer perception, not the complicated actions of others. Stop. Think. Listen. If you are concerned that your windows may be dirty, they are. Step 1? Maybe stop stenciling your ideas of right, wrong, and whichever onto your neighbours.

To be charismatic is not necessarily to be wise, to be intelligent is not necessarily to be smart, and to be sophisticated is not necessarily to be a savant. As we judge our surroundings by our outer senses sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell, we often judge people only from afar, appraising them from the outside like a tax-assessor trying to count the bedrooms in a home without entering the abode. This is where the rift between sophistication and savant makes it's home.

At the very least we should clean our own windows or throw them open to the breeze lest we gaze upon eachother through the fog of two panes of filthy glass. With hope, we may come upon others with windows likewise flung wide to the world so that we may see eachother - eye to eye - as naturals.

Nevertheless, a wiseman always carries windex.


Michael considered fate at 19:33   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I completely forgot to iron my dress shirts yesterday. And by forgot I mean avoided. And by avoided I mean, well, avoided. Conciously. With extreme effort. I have had a pile of about 10 dress shirts in a laundry basket waiting for the hot metal of the iron for going on months now.


I kid you not. Almost exactly two months. Don't I you hate me too? You I am knowing what you and them are talking about, me. Goddamned laundry.

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

File Under: Geek Speak
Michael considered fate at 13:36   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
For you regular readers, this will be either a bore or make no sense or you won't give a rats ass, so you might as well skip it. However, if software design and creation methodology is something that peaks your interest, tune in:

I was reading about The Joal Test: 12 Steps to Better Code today and I ran across this tidbit, where Joel tries to figure out why programmers are pretty lazy spec writers:
I'm not sure why this is, but it's probably because most programmers hate writing documents. As a result, when teams consisting solely of programmers attack a problem, they prefer to express their solution in code, rather than in documents. They would much rather dive in and write code than produce a spec first.
And I have to disagree with him; strongly. I am clearly labelled a developer (aka programmer) at my current place of employment and therefore I am in a position to offer up an opinion on this:

I dislike doing that which I am not rewarded for.

As a programmer, I am expected to write code, develope new features, and fix idiosyncracies in the software (I hesitate to call these issues bugs because, truly, very few are). I am not expected to, nor appreciated for, writing specifications. Even simple feature documentation goes mostly unread. I am not playing the blame game here, either, but when I speak of being "rewarded" I am speaking as much about job satisfaction as I am about co-worker appreciation. There is little, if any, satisfaction in creating tools (reqs, specs, docs, etc) that no one will ever use (and, consequently, no one knows you created).

Certainly, there is a unique set of variables in play at the company I work for. Each software house has it's own way of doing things. Some implement piles of security, others have stringent guidelines on what new code can enter a source tree, still others create mounds upon mounds of documentation for each line of code that is modified or added. The bottom line is that everything does not work for everybody. I highly doubt there is a single software group in existence that incorporates all of the management and housekeeping processes published and that's because they simply can't. Some of these processes even contradict eachother.

The key here is to find what works for you. Blindly implementing 12 points on a list or converting to the latest developement paradigm will not give you the best productivity or quality. Stop, think, listen. DO identify the weak points in your processes and address them. DON'T change something that already works for you.

As a great example, let's look at source control. If you operate well without source control then there is probably not a need for it. I've worked for small software companies (less than 10 developers), some of which used Microsoft's SourceSafe, some of which used the free CVS, and this last one that I currently work for uses NO SOURCE CONTROL. This might sound scary but the truth of the matter is: it works. Of the companies I have worked for it is the most efficient. The lack of source control actually works for me since it's least intrusive to my coding and debugging, and the way us coders interact with eachother, we rarely if ever step on eachother's code. The problem at the other shops I've worked for was constant source control database crashes, incorrect versioning, confusion as to what versions contained what bug fixes, and a lot of reading update comments to make sense of things.

This isn't an agruement against source control. I think it's a very useful and powerful tool. It's far superior to manually maintaining multiple versions of software. But it doesn't mean it works best for everybody. I'm sure some people would disagree, and they are welcome to.

I think the thing to remember is that there is no hard and fast rules in this business.

A few things I definitely did agree on from Joel's 12 steps (although certainly not the only things):
Debugging GUI code with a single monitor system is painful if not impossible. If you're writing GUI code, two monitors will make things much easier.

If your compilation process takes more than a few seconds, getting the latest and greatest computer is going to save you time. If compiling takes even 15 seconds, programmers will get bored while the compiler runs and switch over to reading The Onion, which will suck them in and kill hours of productivity.

Michael considered fate at 11:37   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Living the semi-charmed life on the Connecticutt coast.

I call it: Bike Girls .. Money?

Michael considered fate at 11:11   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I've said over and over that I live a semi-charmed life, and I do. It had been a long time since I had to wander into a hospital but this year - the only year I've been healthcare-handicap in my 27 short years - I've seen the emergency room twice, and could have gone more.

I'm the last person you'd see at the emergency room, too. I'm an anti-hypocondriac, and I despise over-medication (of the medical kind). I barely ever use ibuprofen or tylenol.

Last week, however, I had to suck it up and head on into my local healthcare facility to beat down a nasty infection brewing on my foot. I'd sliced/gouged/chopped the arch of my left foot open on a seashell in the dark in Jamaica and I was too stupid or lazy to track down someone in that country to figure something out, so I stuck the lame foot in a shoe and spent the next 15 hours traveling through the friendly skies, sitting in airports, and driving home.

By my second day home it was clear that this thing wasn't going to get better on it's own. All the torn skin around the wound had turned white and a rainbow of colors bubbled forth from my wound. Yellows, greens, dark reds, you name it. The area around the wound was tender and red, hot to the touch, and my toes were cold and clammy. During the night, I would wake up with cold sweats.

At the hospital I got an antibiotic cocktail in the ass, a prescription for antibiotic pills, and I was sent on my way. Within 4 hours a nice pink color returned to the skin around the wound and it stopped weeping. Here it is at that point:

At this point, a week after visiting the hospital, all swelling has disappeared, the wound itself is pink and healthy, and I barely notice it's there anymore. It never even hurt much but now I can walk normally on it and it doesn't feel uncomfortable or like I am tearing it open anymore.

I'm normally not much of a klutz. I'm far from an invitation to join the Russian ballet, but I'm no Kramer either. This year has been a rough one and, if life were a cartoon, I'd be a good laugh right about now.


Michael considered fate at 18:16   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Researchers at Brandies University seem to have coaxed a Parrot into understanding the concept of zero:
Alex, a 28-year-old Grey parrot, recently began — unprompted — using the word “none” to describe an absence of quantity.

Oddly, it seems he may have achieved the feat during a temper tantrum, the scientists say.
It gives a bit of creedance to this article I posted a long time ago about a parrot with a 950 word vocabulary and, apparently, a sense of humor:
When another parrot hung upside down from its perch, he commented: "You got to put this bird on the camera."

Michael considered fate at 01:13   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Michael considered fate at 17:44   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Oi, I don't know how to start this. It's been a long time, I think, since I've written anything here that even sounded like I meant it, let alone anything I really did. It's been a long summer of mild yet empty prosthetizing. A few months of empty breeze coming through the window and sweeping out the back door. Light, airy. Not even strong enough to take anything with it. Here one minute, gone the next.

I'm wondering.. wondering. Doing a lot of wondering, if it means something.. anything? Is this really what being numb is? I really can't say.

I'm not depressed or happy or sad or angry. I'm not upset or pissed off or displeased or elated. I'm not excited or mad, moody or melancholy. I'm just here. I know that, at least, but I still don't know why.

Growing up on the tail end of a giant dragon named The Cold War, the one your daddy killed and is dragged home for supper - as you played on it's scales - leads one to a strange and different place. It's called prosperity and here, in America - though we have had our ups and downs - it is called the American Dream and is published in the very air we breath, a promise and a privelege, nay - a birth right for anyone who steps foot on this great soil. It's the sugar and the gold and everything precious inbetween and we all are welcome to it, have it, take it, need it, use it, flaunt it, show it, breath it.. but. but.. but... we already do. we aleady are. we already have.

We just want more.

It's hard to get anyone to believe it but we are still slaves to our own code, our evolutionary path. You can't get a stock brocker to stop and scrumagge for food in an alleyway dumpster anymore than you can get a bum on the street to stand up and say 'Less Taxes!'. You can't stop a person from being who they are and if you think you can there is a whole lot bigger can of worms around the corner: the people.

We may be advanced, evolutionarily superior, smart, intellectual, but we still overeat. We still strut our feathers in showy-delight like peacocks to their enemies. We still impress eachother with shiny objects of no more innate worth than their very rarity. And all this? - Individually. The collective, the borg as it were, is a whole different can of worms that is so writhing with self-confusion over the ideas that order is impossible, sense a fantasy, and logic a foreign concept.

Sometimes I fear that we are so engrossed in our own little realities in and around us that the bigger picture, the giant painting over our heads goes unnoticed, unattended, and unfinished. Marketing is psychology and pscyhology is just the study of the marketing that goes on inside our very own heads, subconciously, on a daily basis. Success is belief in the product. The product is something we all have nothing of, happiness, which is a fleeting idea at best.

So what are all those grins on everyone's faces that we see on the streets, in the bars, on the stages. This is synthetic goods. Knock offs. Generics. A drug manufactured that is not even 1/10th as powerful as it's naturally grown cousin, but oh so much cheaper. Economies of scale, after all, is a natural phenomenon.

It's easy, very very easy, to shake your head and ignore all this, play the game, move your piece when the dice are handed to you. I do it all of the time. When you are stuck in a game there is only so much time you can spend trying to get out of it. The rest of the time you have to play.

Unfortunately, I often get stuck. I fall into a rythme of trying to think myself out of it, trying to unwrap the gordian note, lay it flat, and if that doesn't work then I work on it with a bit of occam's razor, see-sawing back and forth, back and forth, trying to make progress through the thick rope. It never works. I make no progress. Like a multi-faceted optical illusion I learn new things yet nothing gets me closer to a full understanding. I'm a gazillion licks to the center of this tootsie pop and yet still, there is nothing but a tongue-smoothed surface of hard candy.

So here I am. I have had a crazy and busy summer already and it's not even mid-July. I've been to the west coast, the east coast, down south, and into the carribbean. I've been to the middle of the woods and into the middle of one of the world's largest cities. I'm still numb. Deaf and dumb to the world like I am watching a silent movie - it's familiar, like one I've seen before, but I still don't understand what's happening.

On the movie screen inside my head debutantes march around in a large mansion. There is some sort of dinner party going on. I'm wearing a tuxedo, cut in a 20's style. I don't know where I am, why I am there, or who I might know yet somehow they all seem to know me. I don't think they do. They're all lying. They're just doing a better job of it then me.

Christ they adapt fast. Evolution really is a kicker. Right in the gooser. How'd it work up to me so fast? Already, a lady in a red sparkling evening gown - bleeding bright colors onto the otherwise dull screen, is approaching me with drinks in hand.

"Do sit down, darling," she purrs.

"Um. No. No no, I prefer to stand. Thank you," I say, trying to be pleasant.

"You always were difficult, Michael"

Michael. Michael. Michael. How the hell does she know my name? How do any of them know my name? Fuck you. Fuck you for thinking you can trick me by playing my own game for me. You can't. You can never win.

Then, from a dark balcony somewhere, an owl hoots at me like an old man at a comedy club. He's got a monical. And just like that I am back at my job, sitting in front of a computer, typing a blog post in mid July. It's hot out, a nice sunny Sunday afternoon, and somewhere a couple is lying on the deck of a sailboating sipping margehrita's and making bad Jimmy Buffet jokes. Somewhere, a 14 year old has lied about his age and is working as a line cook in a tourist town making $5 an hour under the table. He'll use some of it to save for college and the rest of it will buy him and his buddies weed for the summer. Out front, a woman - whose boyfriend pretends to dislike her because he is afraid of what will happen if he does - runs back and forth between her wait-station and her customers, frantically filling in checks, refilling after-dinner coffees, and presenting the menus to yet another table. The bartender flirts with her when she goes to make drink orders.

This is the American dream, ripe and plump and ready for the picking. It's practically dripping off the tree, this is humanity in it's Sunday finnest. It's society doing it's best to order up a heaping plate of thank-you-very-much. It's life, screwing up the order.

Wearing my heart on my sleeve - just above the cuff, on the inside - I march around, practically begging to be taken advantage of. It never happens. People - on the rare occassion when you stop to look - are a lot better than most would give them credit for. They don't necessarily mean well but they don't especially intend to screw people over either. We're not measuring the number of boy scouts at busy intersections, here.

It's the harsh collective of being in the borg that really runs people through the wrecker. You know that dream where you're running, and runnning, and running but you don't know why? It's life. Sometimes, I stop, but I always start running again because I don't know where I am and I figure if I keep going maybe I'll end up in a place that I do know. Sometimes I stop for a little bit, and sometimes I stop for longer; just walking alone for awhile.

There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine. I'm not depressed or happy or sad or angry. I'm not upset or pissed off or displeased or elated. I'm not excited or mad, moody or melancholy. I'm just here.

And that's okay, because I know that I have some work to do and you probably do too. So let's get to it.


Michael considered fate at 14:04   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
and you, you are a thousand miles away,
there are always two cups on my table.

-Tang Dynasty, China


Michael considered fate at 01:05   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Michael considered fate at 14:56   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
There was news today, somewhere in the world, but I was too lazy to read it. Someone woke up, cried "Eureka!" and cracked their head on the side of the tub. An old man died. A young woman cried. The earth continued to spin a million hundred thousand miles.

I was too busy in the waiting room of our healthcare system to worry about these things. Running an experiment involving infected puncture wounds and no health insurance. I'm trying to prove that a guy like me - 26.5 years with full health coverage - can beat the system for one year. From age 26.5 to 27.5, approximately. I am claiming that despite my severe increase in healthcare needs this year, I will nevertheless come out on top having opted not to have health insurance - or, alternately, having accidentally not opted for it.

I won't bore you with the details of why I didn't opt for it - suffice it to say there was a loophole and I fell down it. Such is the way of our wonderfully modern world. I absolutely adore handling new technology - the fact that it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling is a ripe blog post topic for the picking, but not today - yet at the same time I abhor being handled by technology. The very thought of my numbers being wisked through the inner workings of so many information systems makes my skin crawl with horror. The idea that I am, myeself, just a number is refreshing. The fact that my number is being tracked, traded, compared, contrasted, and generally manipulated by so much alogrithmic buereacracy, however, is scary.

Moving onward. I was smart enough to use my trip to Jamaica as the perfect opportunity to further inflict pain on myself - pain that even I would be unable to keep from the hallways of the healthcare system. This time? A puncture wound. Aka a deep cut. Aka a laceration. Or three, depending on how you're counting. A nice star pattern. The long and the short of it is a big puss-y mess on the bottom of my foot. It's bright red and yellow and white and grey all at once like a bad boat trip with Willy Wonka.. except I didn't get any candy.

Back in October I paid $420 just to be able to sit in the waiting room of a hospital in Quebec. $420 to enter an emergency room seems a bit steep but then again the Canadians are trying to provide free provincial healthcare so I guess I can see the hospitals trying to stick it to the provinces - institutions the hospital is probably never getting enough funding from in the first place. The catch-22 of free healthcare?

When I finally got in to see a doctor I did get a free ultrasound, a free consultation from a specialist, and a lowered-bill of $50 from the doctor. In the end, it could have been worse.. then again, in the end, I could not have been a student at the university who funds the place as it's teaching hospital. Maybe things would look bad if they turned away an uninsured student, no? I can imagine it now - french and english students alike uniting in the streets of Montreal to march against the atrocities the system has wrought upon me..

Okay, maybe not. In the end the problem did take care of itself. It's not like the ultrasound fixed anything.

There were two other situations of possible hospital care I've encountered over the last year - these were head wounds mostly, concussion type stuff, and in the end I toughed it out, watched for signs of serious damage, and drank myself into oblivion. One morphine helped, too.

This time, however, I do not yet know the financial bottomline on this trip through the healthcare system. If I knew better, I might even have given a false name. With a missing wallet and no ID, it's the perfect cover. I wouldn't even be lying (about the wallet). Yes, I need to return to the hospital tomorrow for a follow-up. Yes I had to get a prescription. But so far no one has blinked and I could be Willy Wonka for all they know.

Anyhow, one tetanus booster in the arm and a nice big fat antibiotic needle in my ass later and I'm back on the street. I probably cost them more in electricity to light the exam room while I was there then I did in medicine or care. No doubt, however, they will pile on the costs like good American healthcare providers that they are. This will be interesting.

The over-under, folks, is US$1060. That is the price for 12 months of coverage by the student health insurance plan that I do not have because of a clerical error made by my university. (Later I will perhaps research the copays and other deductibles I would have had to pay as well, and add that into the fray..)

So far we are at about US$380. This leaves me with $680 of cash I will need to burn on healthcare from now until August 30th in order to lose from not having healthcare.

Although I may have used a large chunk of that money today, I'm still betting under.

I will take bets, in my comments, Price is Right style, on how much I will spend in healthcare by August 30th. Specify + (over) or - (under) and a dollar amount. Winning will get an interesting package from me in some unreasonable amount of time. Which is to say, if and when I get around to it.

Sidenote: My dentist charges a $30 missed appointment fee if you do not show up for your appointment within 15 minutes of it's start time. This morning, my hygenist was not ready for me until 20 minutes after my alloted appointment time. Question: Can I bill my dentist $30 for a missed appointment?

Michael considered fate at 00:50   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment


Michael considered fate at 18:51   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Today, I'm not happy about:

1) the fact that blogger can't get it together and actually tell me how many posts I have written, how many words I have written, how goddamned awesome I am.

2) What I ate today: nothing.

3) My throbbing foot. Pulsing, even. Feeling like it will fall off shortly.

4) The fact that I am too stupid to visit a doctor.

5) I still have no pictures.

6) "My wallets gone! My wallets gone!"

7) This Karl Rove asshole.

8) My inability or refusal to launder my pants.

9) The limited information I get from my website hit counter. Who the hell ARE you people?

10) Artichokes.

Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
Michael considered fate at 14:23   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Since I just had to go through the ordeal of canceling all my credit cards, let me share my experiences.

1. Credit Card Customer Service 1-800 numbers almost always have an automated system that asks you to enter your Credit Card number before you reach an operator. This is not exactly possible if you DON'T HAVE YOUR CREDIT CARD. In most cases, I had to bumble around the menus for a few minutes before finding the option to report a lost card. Of the cards I cancelled, only Chase had a phone number that was specifically for reporting lost cards.

2. It is almost impossible to find these phone numbers using 1-800 directory assistance. If you do find it, it is likely offline during the night (at, say, 2AM when you are trying to cancel your cards from a hotel lobby). The only card I was able to find 24hr service for was American Express, which also provided the most friendly service.

3. Banks merge ALL THE TIME and tracking down the number for your card can be a pain in the ass. I recently got an Visa because they had a $30 rebate offer.. but the card is issued through a third party bank (Bank One... or Chase.. or First USA.. apparently all the same). It took me a bit of time to track down the correct bank.

Having had this problem, I might now do what I *should* have done a long time ago: save a copy of all the 1-800 numbers from the backs of my credit cards in an email on my yahoo account so I always have access to these numbers if I can at least get to a computer.

Michael considered fate at 13:35   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Honestly been dreading this post since it's not going to be the happy-fun 'I just returned from Jamaica' sorta thing that I was hoping for. I didn't take any pictures.

I'm not sure what it is with me and the digital camera but 95% of the time I'd just rather be living life than trying to record it. I don't know if that makes me.. well, I don't even know if it makes me anything. I just know that part of it bothers me and the other part of me is pretty damn happy about it. But I still don't have any pictures.

Flew into Montego Bay like a million other tourists and took a shuttle to our resort. It was a 1.5hr drive and what did I notice most about the country side? Construction. I'm not up on my Jamaican history or politics - heck, I don't even know the last time they hankered down through a hurricane - but I know that they're damn busy building stuff. Practically every house we passed was mid-way through a second story addition or the front yard was being dug up for whoknowswhat. The people not doing construction were walking on the street but I didn't have time to stop and ask where they were going. Occasionally, I saw a rasta-mon (as they would say) in heavy dreads and looking older than their years, sitting on the side of the road. I'm pretty sure what they were doing.

When we got to the resort we were showed around by a chirper young bellhop and then directed down the beach to the other resort where I would be attending the wedding we were there for in a few days. The 15-minute beach walk was like walking down a postcard. Even the weed dealers selling their "monkey skunk" were chummy and chatty despite loosing a sale.

"Hey mon, how long you been here?"

"Just got in yesterday."

"Yah mon, good times. You like Jamaica?"

"Oh yeah, nice place. Great beach."

"Yah mon, fun place, Jamaica. Good times."

He urged me to enjoy the 'free' booze at the all-inclusive resort. I did.

The second day there was overcast and a much more reasonable temperature for my northern blood and I spent the day in the ocean, in the pool, floating down the waterpark's 'lazy river', and sitting in the hot tub. The wedding day, however, was a sweltering sweatfest of blue skies, broiling sun, and groomsmen struggling in their ties and white long-sleeve dress shirts. I was soaked through in 20 minutes.

The sun, the hot tub, and the free booze conspired against me and on my final night in paradise I found myself turning towards sleep early, no later than midnight. I said fairwell to the wedding guests, I gathered my things - khakis and dress shirt, tie, shoes, and socks - and proceeded down the dark beach to return to my room. As I walked at the edge of the ocean I stared up at the stars and took in the scene. The ocean lapped gently at my feet. The sand squished between my toes. I watched a sailboat bob gentle on the water, it's running lights barely defining an outline for me.

Then I stepped on a seashell, directly down on top of it's spike. My leg immediately gave out from under me and I dropped into the water. My clothes went flying, and I was left strewn out in the waves, limbs akimbo in a sort of awkward pose of painful surprise. I collected my pants and shirt and then went fishing for my shoes as they floated on the surf. It wasn't until after limping back to my room that I discovered my wallet was gone.
MORTY: My wallet's gone! My wallet's gone! I had my wallet in my back pocket. It's gone.

NURSE: Are you sure?

MORTY: Yes, I'm sure. I went in to get my X-Ray, Somebody takes my wallet. Is that the operation here?
If bad things come in threes then I might finally be out of the woods. Or, depending on how you count, I'm into my 2nd set of three. Damn.

As I rode back on the shuttle to the airport the next day, foot throbbing, I considered my position. I considered how I would get back into the U.S. of A. without a photo ID. I considered who or what I could blame all this bad luck on. First choice: Alcohol. Always the convienent fall-man for the misfortunate sons of this world. But I hadn't been drinking too much. I was clear headed and in fact drinking too much and passing out at the first resort would have saved me all of this trouble. I tried to accuse the seashell for being there, washed up on the beach, but it was an unsatisfactory blame game. In the end I could find nobody but myself to blame for carrying my wallet with me when it wasn't necessary - I should have left it locked in the room. I'm angry with myself because, as you know, I've mentioned before how lucky I (used to) feel for never having lost my wallet or keys.

We got to the airport at 2:45 and after sitting in the lounge for 3.5 hours our delayed flight finally boarded. We waited another 30 minutes while a sick child was attended to and finally taken off the plane. By the time I got my car out of the long-term parking lot it was almost 2AM and I trudged home down the lonely lanes of I-95, passing no one but late night truckers. When I got home I doused my foot in rubbing alcohol, staring fixedly at the star-patterned gouge just in front of my heel. It's pulpy and protruding and probably on the border between bandage-and-let-it-heel and go-get-some-stitches but I can't imagine stiched on the sole of your foot is any fun. I'll wait this one out. I finally limped into my bed at around 4:00AM as the birds outside my window began to sing.

And I still don't have any pictures.

What the heck is Noodling?


Michael considered fate at 00:05   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
As promised, a few more pics. Once again, the plants are Santa Barbara, California. The puppy in the penguin suit is in York, Maine. However, he is the one responsible for getting me to Santa Barbara to take pictures of plants. Thanks, Alex.

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Check out heroecs, the robotics team competition website of my old supervisor's daughter. Fun stuff!
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