APRIL <-- MAY, 2002 --> JUNE
So, I'm up late today, the last day of April. Let's see, I went to finally transfer ownership of the car to my name, and get the registration renewed, because the tags on the back say APR on them. Well, I gotta get it smogged first. Joy. Hopefully I haven't killed the engine by vigilantly filling the leaky radiator with water every few trips instead of getting it fixed proper. I'll get it smogged tomorrow morning.
When I got home this evening, Brian and Tori were watching anime. I went to my room to listen to NPR, and restart natd on the firewall since it hadn't started properly since we shut it down for the morning's planned electricity outage since PG&E had some work to do. I came back out and watched some of the anime with the kids, and it was the really cute anime, written for young Japanese girls. I remarked that I'd once seen a girl, well, to be sure, a woman, dressed like that - long white tights on long white legs leading up to a short skirt, big eyes, blush cheeks and pigtails. It made me feel like even more of a dirty old man than I actually am.
I bantered with Miho, my Japanese pen-pal, over MSN for a little while, about the goings-on in the other room. She mentioned that her fifteen-year-old german girlfriends were enamored of the same anime that Brian and Tori were watching, and then went on to talk about her home-made mochi. After the anime was over, I explained to Brian how Joe had once lamented over Brian's terrible vice for overly cutesy anime. Brian's response was that his vice was not nearly as terrible as Joe's inexplicable fetish for Dragonball Z, which is a truly awful cartoon. I agreed with this and then pointed out that Brian is pretty vice free, and if his dirty awful bad habits are going to manifest themselves in hilariously cute cartoons in Japanese about magic playing cards and tea parties, then he could be a lot worse off.
I'm up late because I drank two cans of pop at dinner, because I wanted the sticky sweet carbonation to combat the effects of spicey Indian food. Hot Dang! I got some other writing done this evening, so I feel better about the energy spent. I also tried unsuccessfully to get this box that work provided to install an OS so I could VPN in and work remotely from this terminal here. Even the stable version of FreeBSD has issues with the hard drive, for some reason. Ah well!
At work today, I started cranking out some pretty documentation about help desk processes based on a text file the boss handed me that other team members had collaborated on. It is nice to have an important, easy-to-accomplish project handed to you once in a while. Yesterday I hooked up some Sun machines to serial consoles, which was educational because I had to deal with weird issues like what ports are what on the console server, and how the heck are these DB25 to RJ45 converters supposed to pin-out in order to support a serial console between the two hardware devices in question. Another guy started teaching me about the backup system today. He wants to have a backup backup guy when he goes on vacation in a few months. Keep on learnin', dannyman!
I was thinking to myself in the shower about how I've been letting down a number of social obligations these past few weeks. This journal, my private e-mail correspondence, inviting people to this event for the Oaks Project, Spanish Class, and petting Stripey.
And I've noticed that this happens from time to time. I retreat inside myself and don't deal so much with the outside world. I think it is the symptom of serious change on an unconscious level.
So, what's new? I think it is that I'm more comfortable in the Transmeta environment, and I'm pretty much re-organizing myself around the fact of where I spend most of my day, and how I want my outside life to work, based on that. It is interesting that incumbent social obligations fall by the wayside during this time of hermit-like reflection. Perhaps I can improve on that during times of change.
Man I nearly got squished about 20 minutes ago.
By Pac Bell.
I was trying to turn left by riding up to the crosswalk from a middle lane and getting out of the street, but once I hit the crosswalk, the light went green.
Live, fortunately, and learn.
I actually felt an earthquake this evening.
I like riding public transportation because it gives me a chance to expand my consciousness. This morning, on the Light Rail, my mind was in the Phillipines, wrestling with subcontracted manufactoring at subsistence wages:
"But in the case of those from the provinces, from the lower areas, they are not exposed to the big-city lifestyle. They feel more comfortable just working in the factory line, for, after all, this is a marked improvement from the farm work they've been accustomed to, where they were exposed to the sun. To them, the lowly province rural worker, working inside an enclosed factory is better off than being outside."
I asked dozens of zone workers - all of them migrants from rural area - about what Raymondo Nagrampa had said. Every one of them responded with outrage.
"It's not human!" exclaimed Rosalie, a teenager whose job is installing the "backlights" in IBM computer screens. "Our rights are being trampled and Mr. Nagrampa says that because he has not experienced working in a factory and the conditions inside."
Salvador, in his 90210 T-shirt, was beside himself: "Mr. Nagrampa earns a lot of money and he has an air-conditioned room and his own car, so of course he would say that we prefer this work - it is beneficial to him, but not to us. ... Working on the farm is difficult, yes, but there we have our family and friends and instead of always eating dried fish, we have fresh food to eat."
His words clearly struck a chord with the homesick Rosalie: "I want to be together with my family in the province," she said quietly, looking even younger than her nineteen years. "It's better there because when I get sick, my parents are there, but here there is no one to take care of me."
Many other rural workers told me that they would have stayed home if they could, but the choice was made for them: most of their families had lost their farms, displaced by golf courses, botched land-reform laws, and more export processing zones. Others said the only reason they came to Cavite was that when the zone recruiters came to their villages, they promised that workers would earn enough in the factories to send money home to their impoverished families. The same inducement had been offered to other girls their age, they told me, to go to Manilla to work in the sex trade.
Several other young women wanted to tell me about those promises too. The problem, they said, is that no matter how long they work in the zone, there is never more than a few pesos left over to send home. "If we had land, we could just stay there to cultivate the land for our needs," Raquel, a teenage girl from one of the garment factories, told me. "But we are landless, so we have no choice but to work in the economic zone even though it is very hard and the situation here is very unfair. The recruiters said we would get a high income, but in my experience, instead of sending my parents money, I cannot maintain even my own expenses."
And I, the 14-year-old, felt kind of thrilled and kind of like, what do you expect? You worship a naked man on a cross all day? This shit's bound to happen.
Thank you, salon.com.
Maybe the church should recruit homosexuals, and encourage them to indulge in anonymous gay sex, to "get their rocks off" so they can think clearly when on the job, and not be distracted by their sexual tensions. Why gay? Well, to make a blanket statement about a minority group, gay men are better at the whole anonymous sex as a biological function thing, where heterosexual pairings that involve women are more likely to open up questions of commitment. Priests can't marry, and we'd like them to not molest children, so this seems like a very good outlet for their sexual energy.
Of course, it'd be better if that sexual energy were channeled in to a religious fervor to save souls, but I never bought in to that idea in the first place, and I'm not sure how many people actually do, whatever their contrary claims.
So, I got the car smogged on Saturday. Then I took off for San Francisco. Then I smelled something burning. Then the "AMP" light went on. Then I pulled over. Then I saw black smoke wafting up from under the hood. Then I called AAA. Then I peeked under the hood, and saw wires melted together that had been connecting to the alternator.
Then the tow truck came. Then he took me to the shop. Then the guy at the shop freaked out and said that he doesn't do Ford wiring, take it to a dealer, it might be under recall. Then I asked if he could check if it was under recall, and he said he had no time. Bastard.
Then we towed it down to Palo Alto. Then the dealer said that even if there was a recall, it would have expired, since the car is old. Then I paid the tow truck driver for the extra miles. Then I called Jessica, and suggested we meet at Pizza Chicago. Then I had some stuffed mushrooms, and a hot dog. Then Jessica came and we went to visit Lisa's gallery opening in Sacramento.
A happy ending to Saturday.
Turns out the alternator's fried, and they have to splice wires in to the harness, plus some suspension work I'd put off ... well that puts my Credit Card debt freedom off for two weeks. Boo hoo. I asked if they could look at the radiator, but they'd have to tear stuff apart, and it's not leaking too horribly bad yet, so I said I'd worry about that at the next break-down.
I appreciate the irony of Bush demanding that Cuba select a leader through a popular election. Castro just might have enough of a sense of humor to implement an electoral college.
* dman is an adherent to the principle of layered procrastination. <dman> If you have one important thing to do, it is hard to do it, unless it is at the expense of other, less-important things that you could be doing instead. <dman> The flip side of that is that when you get burnt out on the big stuff, you can spend your time on the smaller, less-important projects as something of a catharsis, and you're still getting work done. <dman> So, a cluttered queue is condusive to a certain work ethic.
One of the tricks there, is that you wouldn't express it quite this way in a job interview. Instead, you explain how you have a variety of responsibilities so that if you get stuck on one thing, you can focus on something else for a while and then revisit the other task with a fresh approach.
And then, from this week's status report:
Team has established that if I say "hrmmm." then that means I might disagree, or have reservations, or just not quite understand, but am not sufficiently inclined to pick a fight, or dig deeper. Haverje values feedback, though, so "hrmmm." is an invitation to coax an opinion from me.
I love to argue, but I don't want to waste everyone's working hours, you see.
I feel bad enough wasting my own.
From Squid's configuration file:
# If none of the "access" lines cause a match, the default is the # opposite of the last line in the list. If the last line was # deny, then the default is allow. Conversely, if the last line # is allow, the default will be deny. For these reasons, it is a # good idea to have an "deny all" or "allow all" entry at the end # of your access lists to avoid potential confusion.
So ... ?
There is a weird thrill to walk in to a Hardware Store, the pinnacle of our Capitalist, free-market system, and purchase perfectly legitimate goods and/or services for the purpose of engaging in miscreant activities. Especially when you receive an unanticipated 25% discount at the point-of-sale.
<dman> Funkadelphia. <dman> Fulminate Vericose Mutilations <dman> Orwellian Police State Dramaturgy <dman> Born Again Fundamentalist Hudlims <dman> Brown-Skinned Paperback Monkey Fist <dman> Your Mom Says Sex Peels Peas <dman> Osteopathic Mendicants Chant Sutras
I wrote this a while back, but it seems appropriate today:
There are those among us, who have spent a period of several months or years of their lives, in which every waking moment was concerned with survival, for themselves and for our nation. It is because of them that there is a flag to wave, and it is for them that you should display our flag with pride.
If you wish to fly the colors, please present them in the morning, and retire them at night, and in inclement weather. Just as you wouldn't wear tattered, wrinkled clothes in public, neither should our people display a tattered, wrinkled flag. When it is worn, please mend it, or dispose of it with dignity.
Miho likes to tell me about Japanese holidays, so it is only fair that I should mention that today is Memorial Day. In America we're taking the day off to remember those who have died for our country.
Today I walked to the coffee shop, and there were many, beautiful flags out, along the way. People working on their gardens, or in their garages. The birds were singing, and I tuned in on them. I'd heard that in some places mocking birds were immitating cell phones and other man-made noises. I'd never quite caught that, but as I listened, I could suddenly catch the warning beep of a truck backing up. A few moments later I was in the middle of a riot of police cars and other sirens. I've never been a big bird fan, but they are not without their endearing qualities. It was a wonderful, free, concert, paid to an attentive listener on a quiet day.
On the way back, I walked past a Lincoln Navigator. Big, big, black SUV. Out of proportion. I have to wonder at someone who'd spend the money on such a huge chunk of metal. Then I walked past a Honda Accord, with it's plush interior and nice features. The practical luxury car of the middle class! Mountain View is full of newer cars, and exotic old ones. Cars tend to be foreign. The Accord is the next step up from a Honda Civic, the backbone of our local car culture. My car seems slightly out-of-place, because it is so "old" ... but then, it is a luxury car, not designed for mileage. And, I thought, it suits me really well, because most days, if I can avoid driving, then I don't drive. If I am going to ride around, it might as well be in a certain laid-back, stylish, inexpensive luxury.
The Insight was a lot of fun, I have to say, but it is for the sort of person who knows that they will drive a lot, and has to make up for it somehow. A public transportation / bike junky like me can take an opposite position. So, I guess, if you don't drive much, and have more money than sense, go ahead and buy yourself an SUV.
I suspect, though, that my thoughts are not widely held by other people. Story of my life. I'd also thought about my ambivalent feelings about moving to the city. On the one hand, I really prefer to live in a city. On the other hand, I'd be lengthening my commute a great deal, and insulating myself in a culture that I prefer, much as people move to the suburbs to insulate themselves from that same sort of culture. Diversity is a personal value, and I can either get along with the city types, or be exposed to the suburban lifestyle, which holds its own peculiar, exotic, qualities, for me. It is good to be capable of functioning in different ways, and Mountain View is not sufficiently alien to freak me out, or anything.
Though, there are more chicks in the city. And interesting bars, coffee shops, museums, buses, trains, hills, homeless ...
Just got home. Stopped by Lisa and Barry's to pay my respects to the new baby, and because Barry has some fancy frozen foodstuffs to give me, including a Lou Malnati's pizza, and ribs. We talked about mutual friends from Tellme. It was nice to catch up.