rockin' jazz pianist in Montreal, Ayaz Quadir
Paul Allen is one of those accidental billionaires
of tech and he did it by co-founding Microsoft with Billy G. His philanthropy to date exceeds $800 million but that's not even 1/20th of his net worth. Nevertheless, in 2003 he launched the "Octopus" - the world's largest yacht at 416ft. It cost over $200 million, has a permenant crew of 60, two helicopters, seven boats, and a submarine that can sleep eight for up to two weeks underwater. Now, I don't blame a guy worth that much for spending what is essentially pocket change for a hopping pad on the water, but that's what I call excessive.
My dad told me about a wedding he went to once. I think it was a secretary or something from his work. She was (by the sounds of things) a homely gal, and from a poor lot. Somehow they managed to throw together a ceremony at a small church in a small town a hair off the beaten track, if I recall correctly. It was a tiny one room deal and when things were wrapped up it was back to the bride's parents house for buffet-style finger sandwiches (probably catered by the local supermarket). The groom looked proud in his coke-bottle glasses.
Long story short, it's one of those stories that kind of made me sad for him, my father. Sad that he sees the world that way yet somehow he really meant his story as, essentially, a happy one. When he told it I could tell he intended a certain sort of charm to the whole thing, like it was sweet or something.. to me it came across as mostly melancholy.
A part of me can't understand what prompts him to record the details in such stark colours; the sad pastyness of the mustard in the ham and cheese finger rolls, the small yellow house that needed painting badly which people would wander off into in search of the bathroom, the pale plastic lawn chairs set about (sometimes cock-eyed with a leg dipping into a low spot otherwise unnoticable through the tall scraggly grass).. but sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself from the outside, and there I am, painting a drab picture myself;
It's overcast, and drizzling. A small woman sits on a bus bench, no more than 21, staring at her hands folded limply in her lap. Her brown hair, probably curly when she once left her house earlier in the morning, hangs wet over her ears and down around her shoulders forming a flat curve like a tiny little slip'n'slide.
.. see? The art isn't even that good; the brush strokes are basic and uninspired.
In a study by noted Chicago smell researcher Dr. Alan Hirsch, women exposed to the scent of licorice experienced a 13 percent increase in vaginal blood flow. That compares to a 14 percent reduction from the scent of barbecue smoke.
In a related study by Hirsch on penile blood flow, topping the men's list was an interesting pairing of lavender extract and...pumpkin pie. The number two slot? Licorice and doughnuts.
Excuse me for a moment while I cringe..
Okay, done. Reasons behind that? A team made up of a geneticist, philosopher and chicken farmer claim to have found what came first, the chicken or the egg
Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal's life.
Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg.
Professor John Brookfield, a specialist in evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham, told the UK Press Association the pecking order was clear.
The living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it would develop into, he said.
"Therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg," he added. "So, I would conclude that the egg came first."
The fact that this is even news boggles my mind. The fact that this isn't plainly obvious to some people boggles my mind. The fact that they feel they have settled this horribly mind-numbing question once and for all? Oh, just great
. I can sleep at night now.
Ten Reasons To Blog
That You Might Not Have Previously Considered
- Writing is a skill, language is a tool, and communication is important in both work and play. By writing in a blog you are stretching your language muscles like a runner stretches their calves.
- By writing in a public space you are imposing certain (perhaps vague) restrictions on the sewage outlet that is your brain. This is as important as the practice of writing itself, as self-censorship is an ever-useful act in the play of self-preservation. Getting it just right takes time.
- By writing in a public space you are inviting an audience to observe and, perhaps, participate. Whether you allow comments on your blog or not, you will be exposed to feedback or a lack thereof. While a lack of feedback isn't necessarily a negative thing, feedback isn't necessarily a positive thing.. regardless, the two can be useful in gauging how well you are doing at point #1.
- Unlike a paper journal, it's hard to lose a blog.
- Expression is important and bottling everything up can result in a constipated mind or the belabouring of one particular point. If you don't have time for drawing, sidewalk art, or slapping the next Sisteen Chapel up on your bedroom ceiling, then maybe you can spend a few minutes a day thinking out loud, letting your thoughts bounce around on the keyboard like a pack of crazy pachinko balls.
- If, like me, you're stuck writing lots of computer code then it can be good to stretch the fingers out and write plain old english every once in awhile. It probably improves my typing skills, in the end.
- By writing down your thoughts and ideas "on paper" you are forced to communicate them in a realistic medium. Whether through verbalization or literaturization, fleshing thoughts out from the world of your mind to the world of your peers helps to make to make them more sound and concrete. This can sometimes even help you to clarify weak points or holes in your opinions/theories/emotions that you couldn't see before.
- A blog can act as a thought-repository. If you record as many of your interesting and/or important ideas and moments that you can, but cannot remember something later then you can always sift through your archives to remind yourself; like a stock ticker tape.
- When work should be done, you can always procrastinate by writing dumb lists on your blog. This might be the one point on this list that everyone has previously considered.
- By blogging you will become more computer-savvy. For some who are already capable that may not be much of an incentive but I can say for myself - a non-webdesigning computer professional - that I've gleaned most of my CSS knowledge through attempts to improve the layout of this blog. Whether this is directly useful to you or not, it never hurts to know a little about other people's trades. A little knowledge can go a long way.
Three years ago, I couldn't get out of bed.
Somedays it's really really hard to get out of bed.
Sometimes it's easier just to go home.
Some years just feel like they drag on and on.
The problem with hope, with faith, with desire.. it's patience's worst enemy. And sometimes these things are just a pain in the ass.
Which is why it's hard to get out of bed sometimes and why, year after year, as people get older and the world around just stays the same age, it's easy to start to care less and less.
At first there is caring. Then, with each day and each week and each year there is a little less trying, a little less listening and not quite as well, no more effort. More weezing at the end of a run and more laying in bed - just a little longer. Now, when things are at their worst - that is, nothing is wrong at all but nothing is right either - bed seems like a pretty comfortable sanctuary.
Sure, it's the curse that is the cure. It's the one place where solitude and thought come together to make for hours and hours of woe-is-me commentary inside the brain. It's mentally painful just to think about but it's the human condition - tired and panting, waiting, always self-inflicting narcissssssistic and booooring.
No one wants to hear it. So climb in bed and curl up a little too hot a little too cold but always easy to solve - throw the blankets off. Wrap up in the blanket. All the other problems seem so gigantic but these little ones - this hot this cold - they are immediate and simple. Like mini-marathons it's a happy time to be warmer or cooler and have accomplished something, quenched a desire. Those other issues seem so far away.
Like a hot tub. Hot and warm and relaxing but oddly tiring, sapping the energy out from under you like a magician, like a carni, like pulling the tablecloth out from under the china before you even notice a thing and you're tired.. very tired. That's just the thing about bed. It's self-perpetuating. Sleep too much and become more tired. It's the depressive's dream. Self loathing and then loathing the self-loathing only to love it, to embrace it, like a victum embraces their kidnapper. Love. Self love. Self hatred. Hating the love and loving to hate. The mixing of the two like coffee and cream, the hatred as the black coffee, dark and warm sometimes hot - burning to the touch - but the cream, oh the cream - cool and silky and pure. white. clean. - mixing, always more coffee than cream. Always more hatred to make the love seem that more special - to embrace the love the little tiny nugget of self-love inside and hold on hold on hold on for dear life. To become one's own worst enemy. To feel defeated. To fall asleep.
Sometimes sleep brings dreams. Bad dreams - dreams of death or flying and falling, of holding on, scrambling climbing back up over the precipice, only to have to face the dragon the demon the decon the mother father sister brother. Sometimes. But it's special different not real - easy to wake up and smell the coffee and let it all go go go go away. And then it's back in the bed, the monster demon gone away and nothing left but self-loathing and self-loving and back to normal back to feeling like crap all over again - back to the comfort of feeling like crap. Back to feeling like crap because it's what is known, is familiar and comfortable and that's why we don't take the drugs it takes away the pain and what's the fun in life if there is no pain? How good is the pleasure the guilty pleasure of enjoyment without the sacrifice the hurt the guilt the self-inflicted pain? No good no good at all because it's hollow empty shallow - means nothing. Doesn't make sense. Like cheese without the wine. How can you enjoy the cheese without the whine? The whine is completely necessary - is a part of the cheese - is part of being part of existing. Part of hating and loathing and beating one's self up and loving and kissing and making out with one's self and not even bothering to wear a condom with one's self. Self-deprecating and self-inflicting and self self self self.
Like alcohol down a drain. Spiraling downward into itself, all of it's toxic and clear but poisonous self.
Like glue in a bottle. Sticking to the insides. Glomming onto anything and not letting go not letting go literally having to be squeeeeezed out, protesting every movement.
Like the simple form of a water droplet. A beautiful one-time water droplet sitting atop a rock, a leaf, a blade of grass. A droplet curved in on itself - it's chemical powers of attraction pulling tugging tucking into itself. It's self love. It's self. self.
WorldMapper skews landmass by statistics
such as Net Imports and Exports and Population.. It's an interesting visualization. The Royalties and License Fees exports
map really caught my eye as it was probably the most weighted towards the U.S.A. and only
the U.S.A. than any other map:
If you didn't notice, that bigass blog of purple is the U.S.A. the other three big ones being Britain, France, and the Netherlands
This Flickr Photoset of Homeless in San Fransisco
gives an interesting look into the lives of those less fortunate. Especially engrossing because of the anecdotal stories that accompany many of the pictures; it's certainly a time suck.. but it makes one feel less like complaining and more like appreciating that which life gives us.
(homeless drifter and blues musician, sf, 5/8/06)
...homeless drifter stephen from alabama. stephen is a musician; plays guitar and sings. haven't heard him play yet, but i've seen him around for about a month.
asked if he's any good: "i better be. i've been playing since i was five. started playing classical piano." but now it's only blues: "they say once the blues gets you, it's got you! i don't want to play anything else."
stephen has tattoos up his back and shoulder and up to the top of his head on his left side.
says the best way to know someplace is by foot. he's getting his knowledge of the west coast right now. he's off to alaska next. how long will he drift?
"i guess till the end of my days"
Almost a year ago, I played frisbee here (buzznet video)
Here in Montreal they have these silly constructs where two streets are one, one is divided in two, both one and the same but separate. It's called East and West, or as they like to say Est et Ouest. Basically, you walk along a street counting the address numbers off looking for that hotel, apartment, storefront you're going to visit.. 100.. 200.. 300.... aha, 500! Perfect. ONLY to find out that in fact this is 500 Ouest
and what you required was 500 Est
. Somewhere, the world is split in two, a dividing line that breaks apart everything into two paths, two pieces, two halves of a whole.. in Montreal that line is St. Laurent Blvrd. aka The Main, argued over and over by journalists from here to Zanzibar to be the heart
of the city, the real working man's
haven, the bread and butter; meat and potatoes of the real city that never sleeps, it's very soul
Life is kind of like that: you wander off in one direction to find what you think you are looking for only to find that what you found is
exactly what you need but not necessarily what you want. You're on the wrong side of the street, opposite end of the park, across the pond, Est
instead of Ouest
It's this experience, I think, that gives a true clarity; impresses like the view of a seeing eye dog imprinted onto the hand that holds the leash. If you've never lost your way how can you know you are on your way? - It's this question, these black and whites of one-line philosophies, that sit so glaringly as dividing lines - Main's
of the mind - that finally get torn down when the whole view is put together (after an adventure of collecting pieces one by one, jagged on their edges and lacking any uniformity). Like puzzle pieces, outlines compared and images overlapped, you put them together and out comes a clearer idea, a more concrete truth than ying or yang or black and white or good and evil, and it is this: things just aren't so cut and dry.
Like an intensely strong precipitate, the journalists "truth" (the one which says the Main splits the city into two, forms it's Mason-Dixon) is really the boiling down of a complex solution of thoughts and ideas and conceptions; the mathematical equivalent of taking an average; like the chemical creation of the essence of Main.
It's not truth. There is no truth that is so simple and square with clear edges and well-defined corners, flat surfaces so even you'd think God himself bothered to go all the way to Home Depot and get one of those fancy electronic levels. No, the truth is a blur. An inexact sum. A supersaturated solution of complex chemical integrity.
So sometimes, as you curse your wrong directions, looking back Ouest
when you've travelled so far Est
you may think luck has cursed you but maybe it's blessed you, instead, with soft spoken words of wisdom. If life is a line we are meant to walk, whether wiggling or wavy or simply straight, we can walk that line as exact as we can but the fact of the matter is that it's an unknown line at the very best.
Saturday was, well, mostly a blur. In true substance-abuse fashion, a birthday boy was found who considered Edward 40 Hands
to be a perfect replacement for the too-tame pin the tail on the donkey, and thus it was made so. Procurement of Colt 45 (trivia fact: brewed by Pabst Brewing Company) commenced at 7pm with a quick trip to the marche.
After a sidetrip to the local grease-dive for a well-considered base of frenchfries the true event got underway. A total of three brave souls believed this 8% malt liquor to be a reasonable boisson for this drinking fiesta (studies have shown malt liquor to be favored by homeless and unemployed drinkers) and so without much further ado, the bottles were strapped to the participants.
With antsy anticipation the first few drinks were taken and, while it is a tasty beverage, the tension rose with each subsequent hoppy gulp. The birthday boy was by far the early leader, bursting from the gate with what little was left of his child-like enthusiasm for all things innane, pointless, and perhaps debillatating. The others sat by, thoughtfully sipping, while the bboy quaffed in large doses.
Other than my own one-time puke-burp right at the end of the first bottle due to excessive consumption speeds (at that point I realized there was pee-urge building and things were not looking good so I was pushing up the schedule a bit) I was fine...... other than being basically useless and unawares of my own name by the end of the night. Apparently
my roommate got up in the middle of the night to find an unattended pot of boiling pasta and nobody was around, including me who, it was noted, was not passed out in bed. I'm convinced it was somebody else's midnight snake if only because another roommate witnessed me coming home thirty minutes after
the pasta incident. I truly can't imagine leaving
my apartment to go back out into the rain after managing to get home and begin a dinner making session (of which I remember none of).
Anyway, I remember almost
finishing off the last of the second bottle before finally giving in and tearing them both off in a fit of intense rage as I stood in the cramped bathroom in what one would call no less than "child-like glee" at the thought of forcing large quantities of urine through my urethra. After that there was a number of experiences which left me feeling as though life had juggled me in the air, split into three pieces, and sent me spinning into the night. Eventually I took off from the birthday boy's house in one of those moments of premonition where the old indian knows he is dying and thus slinks off to do so alone.. at which point I think
I just went home. I do have a vivid recollection of walking in the general direction of my house and I do have a roommate-witness who saw me coming home in what he described as a "lucid state".
Who knew two 40s could devastate one to such levels? I guess it should have been obvious. The true problem arises from the fact that there was pressure to finish by 9:30 in order to arrive at a pre-determined bar, a truly impossible feat which we nonetheless pushed for and let's think about it.. 2 colt 45s? That's roughly 6 and half 8% beers, or 10 and a half normal beers. TEN BEERS in TWO HOURS??! What were we thinking?
Anyhow, I survived. I felt surprisingly well after getting up on Sunday, ate six strips of bacon and three fried eggs just to be sure, and called it a weekend well done but I will nevertheless not
be performing any circus-like acts in the vein of Edward 40 Hands anytime soon.
Our boy Georgie Porgie isn't doing so well, and the numbers reflect it. You can find a breakdown of presidential approval ratings by state here
, as of May 15th, 2006. I took the liberty of graphing things for you, so you can see the general trend. Bright blue/red bars indicate states who voted for Bush in the 2004 elections. Darker colors signify Kerry. Of note, Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas seem to have made some progress in pulling their head out of their asses and only three states
approve of Bush more than they disapprove: Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming with net approvals of 7%, 5%, and 1% respectively. Accounting for state populations, the weighted average over the entire United States is a 64% dissapproval rating. Ouch.FYI
, it's hard to tell because they're at the top of the graph, but RI and NY have the lowest approval ratings both at 23%.
Who knows what approval rating Bush will leave office with, but looking back at recent presidents ratings at the end of their reigns, it looks like he's in line to be among the absolute worst:
- Bill Clinton 65%
- Ronald Reagan 64%
- Dwight Eisenhower 59%
- John F. Kennedy 63%
- George Bush (elder) 56%
- Gerald Ford 53%
- Lyndon Johnson 49%
- Jimmy Carter 34%
- Richard Nixon 24%
Someone put together a graph of gaming console prices over time
. Most interesting is that Nintendo has always kept their machines at $200 and, adjusting for inflation, that means that their consoles have actually gotten progressively cheaper as the technology has improved. Compared to such outright failures as 3DO and Neo-Geo, which set their price points far too high, it would seem Nintendo has found a perfect price point..
That means that the new Playstation 3, at a whooping $500 or more, might prove to be simply too expensive for people to justify buying it. However, it's worth noting that the aging gaming population (more 25-35 yr olds play video games these days than any other age group) may in fact want
more expensive hardware. bling bling, baby. Add that together with Nintendo's cuddly personality and the Mario brothers boys might find themselves sinking in a competitive market.
Nevertheless, with the Nintendo Wii, PS3, and Xbox360, it would seem that the market is certainly going to be saturated come xmas '06. Me, I'll just wait for those ebay specials in a year or two.
After spending what started out as a grueling battle of apartment-sans-internet, things are finally back to normal - or at least my email is accessible from my bed again - and while this feels good in some ways, I spent Sunday evening trying to figure out what exactly it was I used to do with all the freedom that is online-connectivity. Surfing the highways and byways of the big bad innernector used to seem so.. comfortable. Last night, however, I was just sort of confused. Like a junky after months of being clean I was presented with my drug again and, of course, a conversation was presented in my head. It went something like this:hi, I'm back. You can surf me now.
Uhh. yeah. for what?for everything. for useless human interest news stories, for loads of porn, for stock quotes and for stupid little tetris clones with which to waste away what little time you have on this earth.
Super. You make a real swell argument. Sign me up.you don't have to like me, but you know you're going to do me anyway. it's a beautiful little form of escapism. turn your eyes towards the glow of the screen and away goes your messy bedroom, away goes the filthy bathroom, your piles of laundry melt into the ether, your broken friendships and soulless mates fade into black while internet radio soothes your broken self.
If you say so.. but what if I've had enough? What if I want to retreat back to a time when four channels of tv was all that connected me to the outside world - 4pm scooby doo re-runs, 7pm Magnum P.I. and occassionally, Nova on PBS? What if I've finally accepted what I always knew, that interacting with this medium is like swimming through sewage looking for a few floating jems? What if I just don't wanna..i told you that i don't require you to like me. i'm not in love with you. i don't have feelings. i'm not a living being. i'm just here to absorb you and, whether you like it or not, i will do just that. nevermind the lackluster broadband in north america. never mind the outages or the page-loading delays. nevermind that the sun (or rain or snow) is right outside your window waiting, ready to be experienced. get wet once and you've done it all.. but you can never do all of the innernector, all of me.
there is a secret that i sometimes see, on the back of my eyelids that i cannot explain, which describes how i'm feeling all the time and that secret self knows, sadly (it cries in it's sleep) that you can't
do it all, you can't see the tops of mt. everest and sail the seas of south asia and hike the pacific crest and ride bareback through the andes and fly a solo around-the-world record-breaking flight and scuba-dive to the bottom of the mariana trench and make millions at the craps tables in monaco and bang all the chicks that your chick-detector ever even considered banging (the detector that fires before the realism sensor kicks in and tells the detector that it's full of shit and that
chick is a really really bad idea
it's a melancholy fruit we find our food rations consist of but it's what we're given regardless. you take the lemons and do your best to mix up lemonade, you take the good with the bad and make it better, but to give in, give up, walk away.. it's just not a choice we're programmed to take. it's ingrained in us as an evil choice, walking away from life in the corporal sense, so why should it be any different to walk away from our minds or souls.fine. have it your way. you'll be back
And surely, I will.. time and again, to mix it up and keep things flowing, change directions and try new things. Stagnation creates inflexibility and tightness; I've had about all the tightness I care to have. I'd prefer to remain agile and limber, loose and ready. After all, not every chick delivered through the detector is rejected by the sensor, and I got life to live.
From a Washington Post article about this NSA nonsense
Out of a total of 502 randomly selected [American]adults interviewed last night, 63 percent .. said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort . Even worse, 66 percent said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made.
I had basically this very discussion at the bar last night with my buddy and he insisted that this was a "Very Bad Thing"(tm) but in it's current incarnation it's hard for the average American (who, remember, is presumed to not
be a terrorist) to see the danger in this sort of program. People are short sighted and don't think about that illegal shotgun they have in their shed for hunting wabbits and how, one day, the government might eavesdrop on them to discover and expose and persecute that illegality.
Of course some people are very farsighted and seem to think this means no more taking a shit without uncle sam knowing about it and that, too, is a stretch.
In my discussion last night I played the devil's advocate for the NSA but if the Washington Post called me
to ask what I thought about it all I'd say without a doubt that I think it's a bunch of bullshit. If a you have to paint a house that colour to make it stand up then you have deeper problems all the way down in the foundation, my friend.
A few weeks ago I came home to find jazz in my house.
A Rhodes was pumping out melodies through a full range of action, a sax painted the walls with sound, and drums laid down swishy brush rythmes.
People sat all around, some stood, people intermingled, and some even danced.
The bassist modestly worked out the undertones of the evening and, when they were all done, smiles for getting the chance to play.
What is a frisbee if it is not sailing through the air?
Another look at the numbers: The top ten hybrid-drivin' states
. On a per capita basis it still looks pretty dismal:
Alternately, here is the distribution of hybrid cars, in pure numbers, for the top ten states, including the percentage of total hybrids nationwide.
Now if we want to get really interesting, let's look at gas prices compared to hybrid use. This chart shows the ratio between gas prices and per-capita hybrid use, with California (being the best) normalized to zero. That means higher values are worse and, in the end it sort of makes Virginia, Maryland, and Mass look a lot less altruistic.. especially considering California's $3.37 average gas price far outweighs any other states on the list.
Halloween ought five I didn't feel much like "dressing up" so I just dressed up. Forced to throw an impromptu party, I gathered together my loose pocket change and switched it up for a few jugs of appleton estate rum. When the guests began to arrive I climbed into a deep mug of hot toddy - the time of year seemed appropriate.
It happened to be fallback
, that curmudgeonly beast of daylight savings in which light is shown down upon wee little school children walking to school in the early morning dawn but the rest of us sleepers and slackers are stuck with darkness at 4:30pm sharp as winter sets in.
Nevertheless, we tried to think of things less morbid, like pederasts.
When the cops showed up at 1AM cracking their knuckles in wide-stance authority mode, I informed them kindly that it wasn't 2AM
as they so desperately wanted to assert. They informed me that they had still received a noise complaint. I informed them that I lived above a dance club and it was Saturday night. They cracked their knuckles. I said I'd turn the music down.
Half the party-goers were locked in after this, thanks to our friendly neighbourhood enforcement officers who swung the metal gate shut on their way down the stairs. Looking very much like jailhouse bars, it was somehow fitting in that time of tricks and treats and hobgoblin nonsense.
Whatever it was, something was definitely in the air. When the dust cleared and cleanup began the next morning, a few leftovers were swept out the door with the empty beer bottles and cigarette ash.
It was nice to see the folks who stopped by that night: Axl and Slash, the drunken pirate, a few pedophiles, the absinthe girl, and even a fork..
.. but I gotta say, I probably won't be throwing a halloween party next year.
An otherwise pointless news article, Wal-Mart tries to trademark the Smiley face
, is worth noting if only because of Wal-Mart's spokesman on the matter:
Until now the smiley face had been considered in the public domain in the US, and therefore free for anyone to use. Wal-Mart spokesman John Smiley told the Los Angeles Times that it had not moved to register the trademark until Mr Loufrani had threatened to do so.
The thing about blogging, life, the universe, and everything is that goodness
, those elusively unclear beasts of ying and yang (related, existenially to the brothers black and white), aren't always so statically and definitively declared to us as we would hope, dream, or like things to be. In fact, our whole lives are basically spent wondering (directly or indirectly) whether it is good or whether it is bad that these two peas in a pod, goodness
, are even real or if maybe they don't even exist.
It's a nasty 22
and one we've been throwing at each other (in a perpetual game of catch) since time amoral - yes, amoral. When we do things, create and tear down edifices, act on anger, or even cry out at the lack of substance and what seems like the pure ether of it all, it probably seemed like a good at the time - what we essentially considered a self-preserving or even self-promoting action. Later, things sometime come crumbling down or walls are built up in defiance. What once seemed obvious, even perfect, might now look like a fools errand which you dutifully pursued.
The existence of recorded history is difficult for this very reason. It is not always easy to look back and see the fool you once were for the fool you now embody is far less a simpleton; prone to attacks of self-doubt which initiate dangerous expeditions down dark paths and shadowed valleys. Why else are history books rewritten over and over till the answers match our questions and the soothing voice of i-told-you-so
fades into the distance?
Difficulty is that which presents an obstacle in the path of least resistance. No doubt the very building block of life; that evolutionary baby step we all call annoying because nobody would climb up when they could climb down. History is just this and an obstacle to clearer thoughts but an obstacle
nonetheless - difficult; a rockface to beat our hammers against a door which hides behind it the truth of good and bad, a shade on the lamp of light and dark which muddies our thoughts and confuses our understanding.
For these reasons, and though it may be sometimes painful and sometimes pointless, I record this blog. Sometimes useless hardly amounting to a pile of beans, an island who is oceanless, floating with questionable reasons for existing in the first place, unsure of where to go how to see or what to do other than just sit there
.. but mostly difficult
- an obstacle. A lesson learned, a log of events which point to the seemingly goodness and seemingly badness of it all which, like a prizm in the light changes as the sun rotates around the earth; a weather vane which attempts to measure at least a tiny corner of the moral ineptitude practiced by the human race.
And today, it seems like a good idea to blog.
Some wharehouses burned down in Helsinki
The disused Finnish Railways warehouses in the centre of Helsinki were destroyed in what on Friday evening appeared to have been arson..
.. The warehouses had been due to be demolished beginning Monday. The site was the scene of a violent demonstration, with violence against police and rescuers and arson, on May Day.
So my burning question is (sorry, couldn't help myself) whether or not you can get an insurance payout on a building that was due for demolition in a few days anyway?
Anyhow, there is a few good pics in a flickr set:
Does anyone else get the feeling that the content on this blog is getting more and more outsourced and less and less pointful? Can you even say
pointful as an antonym to pointless? Whatever.
Onwards and upwards. WFMU's blog has a posting of 39 versions of Stairway to Heaven
for download from artists as varied as the Foo Fighters, Dolly Parton, The Doors, and ..uh.. Dusty Cowshit. Not only that, but a rockin' animated Jimmy gif:
It's nice sunny days like today that make me wish that I, too, were out making castles in the sand
So it's come to this.. Not surprisingly, people worldwide trust their media more than their government
at 61% to 52%. What's worse is the most trusted source by Americans is Fox News. That sounds sort of bad until you realize that they only had 11% - perhaps more than any other service but far from dominating. The egyptians are far more single-sourced, with 59% saying they love them some Al Jazeera.
fyi: the slight changes in design here are done on linux or os x using firefox, so all you internet explorer folks out there just know you're missing a bit of the refinement.
National Geographics found that in a survey of 18 to 24 year old Americans (they call them "young adults"):
[not to mention back in the early 90's as well] 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest country in Africa.)48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It's Hindu—by a landslide.).. and the real kicker:
- Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
- Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map.
The report is here (PDF)
hey jerg-off, nobody likes parquet or
parkay or whatever you might like to call it to maybe make it sound better than it is: it's cheap knock-off wood flooring and it's annoying as fuck and when you try and tell me that it's nice wood flooring
I'm littterally forcing my tongue up against the back of my teeth so hard that blood is spurting out between the cracks, I'm so angry with your insenstive forced-smile advertising campaign of destructive tendancies that I'm trying to hide
this fact from you instead of exploding right there in front of you because you're so insidious as to not warrant knowing
that your insidious.
and there is lousy water pressure too.
With the world as large and complex as it is, main-stream forms of journalism will never be able to give you a real down-and-dirty picture of life in other places. That's why I always enjoy those notes from abroad from friends and acquiantances who are experiencing things first-hand; at ground zero so to speak. Here's a snippet from the far east, in the mountains of Nepal and India, far removed from our New York Times:
Hello family and friends, fellow travellers, dreamers and seekers. It's been a long time since I've been in touch, especially with personal emails (my apologies) but perhaps you will understand the lack of contact after hearing about this my latest chapter of the divine experience we call life.
i can't even remember when my last message was so I don't know where to start. Crossing the border into Nepal is a good place because that's pretty much when it all started.
border town, ghost town, hot, dry, dusty, shuttered up, boarded up, waiting out the political storm. Stuck there for one week with a slew of other travellers trying to figure out what to do and how to get out of that shithole. After a week of greasy chowmein, neurotic second hand chain smoke, and way to many speculative political conversations, a friend and I decided to take a cycle rickshaw (the only transportation allowed on the roads during the strike) 25km to Lumbini, birthplace of lord buddha. Rumour had it the Korean temple was providing hospice from travellers there. This guy I met was wearing the exact same clothing I was when we met, instant sort of connection. Anyways, after he tried to drive the rickshaw and crashed off the road we arrived in Lumbini which was like paradise. There was a psychological feeling of imprisonment because we couldn't go anywhere, all travelling agendas were on hold, but at the same time wherever you are, there you are. and schedules seem to be a western concept. the outside world faded away. no phone, no internet cafe, no idea about anything, just the peace of lumbini and the company of three other travellers. temples from all buddhist countries set in fields and forests with wild deer, herds of grazing cows, jackals, eagles, owls, trees.
The four of us spent about a week discovering the beauty of living without the need for purpose, for activity, for accomplishment. just breathing, eating, walking, sitting, looking, mostly in silence. The two other guys that had joined my friend and I left to go try to sort out their visa for India. The day they left my friend fell ill. He had been a bit feverish before this, but now it really started. full diarhea, vomitting, crazy fever/chills. He didn't leave the room after this started. He didn't eat, barely drank, didn't move except to the toilet. Everyone has seen this, even been through this before, so no big deal, just wait it out. but it just kept getting worse.
on the fourth or fifth day i left the dining hall to discover that he had managed to stagger down to the landing outside the dining hall and collapsed in seisure like spasms. The monks were tending to him, and had called an ambulance. Now it really begins. His body was ruined already, wracked with fever, hunger, dehydration, fatigue. Every bump on the ambulance he looked like he had been shot in the stomach.
We arrived at a small village hospital in Bhairawa, not the most modern facility. The nurse in the emergency was an absolute butcher with the IV, and the doctors examined him with the urgency of an afternoon chai break. They intended to take a stool test but pumped him full of antibiotics without actually knowing whether it would do any good or not. We were finally admitted to a private room where he continued to pour forth what little fluids were left in his body from both ends. After a third chai break-like examination the doctors realised he was jaundiced. They continued to haphazardly pump him full of medicine.
The whole time I was running like a madman to get supplies. For every syringe, IV drip, antibiotic, pill, lab test, everything, I have to go to a pharmacy and buy it, bring the blood to the lab, everything. Thank god the monk from the monestary gave me a fistfull of cash otherwise we'd have been totally up shit's creek. so, morning and night, my friend is exploding, and i'm running back and forth getting meds, trying to reach the insurance company, his parents etc. He is worse every hour. The room is full of mosquitoes at night, flies during the day, syringes on the floor, bloody gauze in the hallways. it is a dark few days, but thankfully i'm franticly busy enough not to dwell on it and he is in too much pain to notice anything.
another morning conference with doctors who non-chalantly announce that "the patient's condition is not improving and we can't help him. we advise discharge to higher centre in India." damn, shouldn't have given our passports to the travel agent to send away for visa application. this is turning into an unmanageable problem. no money, no luggage (back in lumbini still), no passport, no appropriate medical treatment, no ideas... only option to fly to Katmandu, but how the hell is this guy gonna get on a plane? he's half dead already and the slightest disturbance is like pure torture for him.
the doctors jovially debate about the impossibility of this guy going anywhere in his condition. no choice, have to manage. i call the Korean temple, out of options. the monk saves our lives - again. he buys us two plane tickets to katmandu that evening, arranges for the temple ambulance to come to the hospital, pick me up, take me back to the temple to get our luggage, bring me back to the hospital to pick up the ill party, and take us to the airport. he gets us past the military security at the airport leftover from the strike, and arranges an ambulance in katmandu. i'm a waterfall of sweat by this point (it's about 45 degrees). the only doctor who seemed to give a shit the whole time seemed really worried when we left because of the fever and total dehydration but inability to keep water down. no iv on the plane, so she tells me to keep him cool and drinking. hard to do in 45 degree heat when he can't drink.
I'm carrying my luggage and his, plus pushing him in a wheelchair, plus wiping his fever wracked body down with a wet cloth, plus trying to pour water in his mouth because he can't move. waiting for the airplane he starts shaking and his arms and hands seize up in wierd contortions. he is soo yellow with jaundice i get scared every time i look in his eyes, but he is totally out of it. waiting for the plane. "dan, i need ice" - "no ice man" - "wipe my forehead" I do "my temples" i do "my arms, quick they're burning" "now my feet" the desperation in his voice is traumatizing. i begin to contemplate him not making it. how are we going to fly like this? everyone around is staring at us not knowing what to do.
plane arrives. we get on, he collapses in the back of the plane. i'm squating on the floor next to the row of seats he is stretched out on frantically trying to bring down his fever, it seems critically high. he is totally delirious, his hands are cold, purple, contorted, his face and chest are scarlet red and searing hot, and his face is now contorted permanently. I'm dripping sweat, trying to keep him cool. the flight attendant tells me to take my seat and buckle up for takeoff. i tell him that ain't gonna happen. he looks at my friend and sees what I mean. as we get higher the cool air starts to flow in through the visible space in the seal of the door on the plane, he is wretching, belching gas, the flight attendant is in disbeleif. ---turbulence--- suddenly i notice i'm also feeling sick, motion sickness... too bad, i ignore it. just keep fanning, wiping, pouring water in his mouth. scared shitless...
we land... ambulance waiting, we go to the hospital. this place seems much more hightech, but the emergency room doctor has the same "I'm on a chai break" attitude. He is losing it, deliriously freaking out at anything that moves. They get him on the drip again, take some blood and run the initial tests to get him admitted. I start running back and forth between the hospital cashier, the pharmacy and the emerge room to bring meds, syringes etc. My friend tells me I smell bad and am making him feel sick. I agree. what to do...
we try to get checked into a private room. I go to make the deposit and they ask for 24000 rupees. the monk gave me another fistfull of cash at the airport, but not nearly that much. I have to go talk to the hospital director and assure him that i can come up with the cash by 1pm tomorrow. he agrees, and lets me off with 5000Rs for the night. almost out of money again.
finally we get into a room. it is quiet ----so nice and quiet--- and there is hot water. wow... after a few more runs back and forth to the pharmacy I clean up. my friend seems a little quieter now, it is about 1am, so I throw a sheet on the floor beside his bed and collapse. Shortly after, woken up by the nurse. need medication. go get it. come back to sleep.
continuely ill, he is up all night vomiting. he looks like a corpse.
this continues for two more days. he doesn't seem to be getting better. the doctors say typhoid and hepatitis, and continue to run tests. He has not eaten in about 7 days now.
finally that night he says he wants to eat something, porridge. The doctor had advised he should try to eat some porridge and the hospital could provide it. I ask the sisters (nurses) if he can get porridge. They tell me it is unavailable and i'll have to manage from outside. I reply that they had advised he shouldn't take food from outside because that's why he's sick in the first place. They reply I"ll have to manage. This arguement carries on for a while and finally they give in. he gets porridge. then he wants tea. same arguement with the nurses. finally they give in. same thing for breakfast the next day.
he finally starts to improve. i'm still running around calling his parents, calling the insurance company, calling the travel agent to get our passports in case he needs to fly home to england, calling the indian embassy to find out where the hell our passports are, going to the pharmacy, carrying open viles of his blood to the lab, rubbing his back while he vomits, pouring water into his mouth, going to the bank to get more money... stop to eat... back to the pharmacy, you get the picture.
well. the worst is over now. he's still really yellow, but he can move around, and no barfing so much anymore. he's eating and talking. i got him the hobbit to read so he is occupied. things are slowing down a bit. maybe 3 more days here, then he needs to rest another week before travelling. as for me, I'm not making any plans. plans are based on the assumption that we are in control of what happens. that assumption seems somewhat flawed to me. I'll just wait and see what happens tomorrow.
anyways, this story may sound bad, but on the contrary, I've never been more alive, i've never been more appreciative of a smile from a stranger, I've never had more confidence in divine intention, I've never been more grateful for each breath of air, life has never been more real.
I don't normally post hot and steamy pictures but this one is a hoot
. (prepare for bad-pun-realization)
ABC, seemingly bent on being the forerunners of this revolevision (that's television revolution) are now in a 2-month trial period streaming "free" shows (with ads) including Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Alias