JULY <-- AUGUST, 2002 --> SEPTEMBER
We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night, and the rapture of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forego. We shall forego the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown. And the conscience shall be thrust down; the light of life shall not be extinguished, but be put under a bushel, to be preserved for a generation that will live by it again, in some day not yet come; and how it will come, and when it will come, we shall not think about at all.
Cry, the Beloved Country
One time in high school I had to read and critique the poems of Edgar Allen Poe, compiling my commentary in to a booklet. I believe he had about fifty poems, and after going through about half of them I threw up my hands in frustration, concluding that the man was just trying to have a good time with some fun poetry, and, since nobody has ever been able to offer a good answer to this question, what is the point of all this English stuff anyway?
After all, it seems a fair question, because how are you supposed to do something well if you haven't a clue as to why you are doing it in the first place.
The Teacher, for whom I had a great deal of respect, wrote back that you have to do it, because it is part of the curriculum. I felt defeated and vindicated; Defeated because I had no answer to work with, but vindicated because, as far as even my Teacher was able to explain, this really was a just a pointless waste of time that nobody actually understands the point of, so I'm perfectly justified in rebelling against it.
And yet, because of my laziness, I have an English Degree, and I sometimes think that I may myself end up in front of a high school English class and have to answer my own question - why are we forced to study this stuff?
Today I might answer that we are creatures of language, and language is a very important tool, and a toy, and a device, something to fiddle with, just as you might disassemble some mechanical object out of curiosity, we're going to play with different bits of writing, and see what personal insights we might gain from the experience.
Oh, and by the way, it is part of the prescribed curriculum, so even if it strikes you as uninteresting today, you might as well bite down and get what you can from it, and who knows, a decade or so from now you might actually read Cry, the Beloved Country, enjoy the experience, and find some stuff to think about on a quiet Sunday.
So, I set out a table and chair on the lawn, where, thanks to wireless networking, I can relax with the laptop, browsing the web, or writing here. Stripey is chilling in the grass, about fifteen feet away, and now this crazy bird is by, making noise to scare him off, and dive-bombing my kitty.
Stripey is a little annoyed, but seems otherwise content in the grass.
One thing I've been doing from time to time, is a sort of free-flow writing, paying attention not so much as to what I have to say, and more to what it sounds like. So, I'll just go off, on an old-fashioned piece of paper, with a pen, and just start doodling words. I once even captured the process pretty well with a random little flow:
What the pen creates
the mind considers
the spirit devours
Indeed. It is all about flow. At a ninety degree angle from the above:
Why not try a limerick?
When those before have considered
the onus of a tall hallmark
withering within the light of
the sun framed by the telephone
poles and streetlights in
the crimson evening sky alight
with animals dreaming?
Then, if we go another ninety degrees, it gets outright crazy:
Frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frobby frought wi fright frown against on to p of against garment again again again again nary gone for again yest erday a day a day adia adion adiana adiana our adination nation your magination machin ation a gone fear
I'm biased and crazy, and I wrote the stuff, but I really enjoy reading these little doodles back to myself in my own head, even a while after I have done them.
One more for the fun of it. If you don't enjoy it, tough! If you do, then please drop me a line and try to account for WHY? Thanks:
Monroe street causeway interdiction because I cant hold on to the precept of fundamental teachings.
I was in Chicago this weekend for some fiftieth and fortieth birthday goodnesses. I'm back now. Worked at lunch, and I'm near done with my hour at the library before I return to the restaurant to serve more pizza before I'm first off this evening.
And then two days off. Two days to get my stuff together with regards to my world tour, details of which will be forthcoming for you, my dear readers.
I'm at the Mountain View Public Library, sucessfully logged in to my mail host, thanks to PuTTY, and I notice that the Internet is truly a god-awful ugly, horrible place. Animated ads, windows popping up when you least expect it? I run ad-blocking proxies and stuff, and tune down the functionality of my web browser on my own machines, but here at the library's computer lab, I can't do that. Instead, I'm stuck with a castrated version of Internet Explorer, that complains when I type a short-hand URL because I didn't prepend it with "www" or an "http://" so what could I possibly mean? So I go back and put a "www" at the front, and it is happy.
Now I understand why Caroline has this broken assumption that a URL is not a URL unless it starts with "www." "Lnk.to? Wazzat? Dannyman.toldme.com? Www.dannyman ... ? No?"
Yay dumb software user interfaces imposing broken assumptions upon the masses!
And these g-friggin' ads! Why in my day, back in '95, there were no ads on the web! And the web was just a fancy part of the Internet, but mostly we used telnet, ftp, and gopher!
Ah, gopher. You can tell if someoe is old-school if they know of gopher as something besides a furry animal that has a reputation for mucking up golf courses.
But environmental problems now appear to have played a considerable part in the decline of the ancient world as well. Studies of Arctic ice cores, which let researchers track the presence on heavy metals in the atmosphere, reveal that ancient smelters and open-air furnaces released as much lead at the height of the Roman Empire as did Europe's factories during the Industrial Revolution. When Rome falls, the air clears. Both Greeks and Romans knew all about deforestration, agricultural decline, and urban pollution. "There are mountains in Attica," Plato wrote, "which can now keep nothing but bees, but which were clothed, not so very long ago, with . . . timber suitable for roofing the very largest buildings. . . . The annual supply of rainfall was not lost, as it is at present, through being allowed to flow over the denuded surface to the sea." Tertullian, centuries later, noted, "All places are now accessible . . . cultibated fields have subdued forests; flocks and herds have expelled wild beasts . . . everywhere are houses, and inhabitants, and settled governments, and civilized life. What most frequently meets our view is our teeming population; our wants grow more and more keen, while nature fails in affording us her usual sustenance." The ancient world, historian J. Donald Hughes reminds us, suffered from soil erosion, salinization of drinking water and cropland, wildlife depletion, deforestation, urban flooding, even the beginnings of environmental awareness: the empire's regions knew, but did not act.
Wild Nights: Nature Returns to the City
Man. Two shifts at the restaurant today. Sundays are totally random. Lunch had me at $50 in sales, and dinner left me at $800! It was busy, oh yes it was. Very busy.
Two more shifts tomorrow.
When I got home today, I found a check in the mailbox for $300. This was from a client I contracted for in May! It is kind of neat to be me. Well, if you dig the serendipity of fortune thing.
"'Tis grim, 'tis grim," the sorrowful object cried, lugubriously shaking from its forepart to an extremity. "Howso could it other be," it demanded.
"Whyfor it beens," awailed companion sooth, "why not velvel feltstops, in a nocturne bath? In keepsakes, not as a marble bunyon acclimpsed."
"Fromnist?" Could it not beckon the meen feanderings. "Arrow freems mourn harrowed field, and I not borrowing the watched imagining."
"The watched imagining in deed, but not in name. Only the worrying fears of empty bottles," explained the sooth. "In truth, may only bottles capped, by an opener, no less."
"Hrmmm, but why then, awakening felt," object could not demure. "In pain is kempt a hemlock, for obscure, and not fornistute its worrisome nature. The epitaths read mightily of future great mastications!"
Sooth forsook, and thus it was that frambling bumped.
Insomnia sucks, and I've in mind this totally stylin' babe, who along with her cool gentleman companion, made my last table for the night.
And a name on her credit card, that has a certain wonderful, memorable quality about it. Alliterative, and cross-referenced in the Stanford Directory.
It is impolite to stalk, and unprofessional. Even if you're impressed with the service, the memories of your meal are most practically left in the toilet, a day or two later. The waiter has Europe before him anyway. An enchanted adventure that's totally going to blow the mind, and its reassuringly finite resources.
Seemingly inexhaustible, at this hour. Well, not really, I can feel those little brain cells slipping away, one by one. "Pop!" "Aigh!" "Yawn!" "Zzz!" "Huh?" It will be dark inside the head soon, then after the corporeal maintenance has completed for the night, the twilight shift will punch in, and weave enchanting dreams.
Hrmmm. Perhaps now I have an idea for something to try out when I get back to town and on the dole.
Aug 22 CDC 6600 introduced, 1963
Last year, when I get layed off from Tellme, I rationalized the answer to the question "Why me," which basically went something along the lines of that I was this legacy one-off Unix admin, who was in a different part of the org chart and corporate culture from the upper management that came in over and after me.
Today I'm digging through old files so I can wipe data from disks, in
order to supply my desktop workstation to a friend in a more
user-friendly, Windows XP incarnation. I found a file called
SelfRev2001.txt from my Tellme files, dated six months before my
job was terminated. An excerpt:
We need better integration with the rest of Operations if we realistically want to share and re-use tools effectively. There is still a gulf. The newer people like Karl and JRA are more comfortable bridging this gulf. I need to pay attention to how I can help facilitate this process. This issue is all the more critical for the Enterprise team, which is otherwise completely un(der)-staffed.
It would be neat if all Unix admins in Operations were able to serve "on-call" with sufficient knowledge to bring a pod back in to service, AND fix things in corporate. I don't know if this sentiment could be realized practically, but it seems not un-reasonable. I'd prefer to be just be another specialist Unix admin on the greater team, rather than some weird old curmudgeon over in the corner who just sort of keeps corporate running somehow.
Two shifts, slightly hung over. Friday lunch can be busy, but before noon, I was still mellow and super friendly.
Paycheck! Two or three hundred dollars, I can't recall. $300 in sales at lunch means I'm prolly up at least $30 on the day so far, and I'll be back at four.
An hour and a half from now.
Meanwhile, an excerpt:
"Well, fella, I wish I could help you. God knows I don't want you to go back without a story and get fired. I know how it is - I'm a journalist myself, you know - but ... well ... I get The Fear ... can you use that? St. Louis Gives Young Men The Fear - not a bad headline eh?"
"You're deranged, Kemp! You'll come to no good end! I knew people like you back in Tallahassee and they all ended up -"
Yeah, they all ended up like Puerto Ricans. They fled and they couldn't say why, but they damn well wanted out and they didn't care if the newspapers understood or not. Somehow they got the idea that by getting the hell away from where they were they could find something better. They heard the word, the rotten devilish word that makes people incoherent with desire to move on - not everybody in the world lives in tin shacks with no toilets and no money and no food but rice and beans; not everybody cuts sugarcane for a dollar a day, or hauls a load of coconuts into town to sell for two cents each - the cheap, hot, hungry world of their fathers and their grandfathers and all their brothers and sisters was not the whole story, because if a man could muster the guts or even the desperation to move a few thousand miles there was a pretty good chance that he'd have money in his pocket and meat in his belly and one hell of a romping good time.
Hunter S. Thompson
The Rum Diary
I guess the essence is:
The cheap, hot, hungry world of their fathers and their grandfathers and all their brothers and sisters was not the whole story, because if a man could muster the guts or even the desperation to move a few thousand miles there was a pretty good chance that he'd have money in his pocket and meat in his belly and one hell of a romping good time.
Money in the pocket? Check. Meat in the belly? Well, I can grab a hot dog when I get back to the restaurant. One hell of a romping good time? It is on the itinerary.
Airtreks.com say that my tickets are ready to be picked up. Yay.
Ten hours. Thirty six tables. Just over a grand in sales, leaving $125 in my pocket, plus a paycheck, and you know ten hours means overtime salary. Yay.
I figure the slaving away at The Pizza Place this month pays for my airplane tickets, pretty much.
As an American, I view the War with Iraq as unfinished business - the people there suffering under sanctions are suffering because we can't decide whether to shit or get of the pot, as it were. For that reason, I'm not opposed to Bush Jr. finishing what his father was too pussy to finish.
But it has been twelve years already, and now seems a poor time to worry about it. Why? The current president flaunts our nation as a unilateralist one. Instead of attending a conference on sustainable development, he's back at home talking war with Iraq, without the support of even his closest allies. If we do hit Saddam, he's going to fire the best missiles he has at Israel, and Sharon is hawkish enough to retaliate, and invite, finally, the Mother of All War, perhaps ever.
I say, let Saddam fuck his people a little while longer: in a couple of years when we have better international relations, a sane Israeli Prime Minister, a good example in a recovering Afghanistan, and a democratically-elected President of our own, go ahead and let him have it.
In retrospect, we should have had Clinton finish this mess during the impeachment.
Something's going on at work, where it seems that black socks are going to symbolize some power struggle between the servers and the strict execution of management policies.
We all wear our black pants down to our black shoes, so as to avoid the issue of sock color. Who cares?
Well, if anyone's going to send me home over my socks, I'll make it a point, on general principle, not to return. Easy for me, of course, because it just means a little extra time to divest my stuff anyway. I'm on the train Sunday morning.
In other news, a friend got layed off today. Family man. Some of us got together and had lunch at the restaurant between my shifts. Pretty nice. Everyone figures it'll turn out okay. After all, this is not last year's job market. Even I could find work, cared I enough to do so.
But for me? No, it is all personal growth. Colleague nods his head at a lovely customer who walks in, "Can you help her?"
"Repeatedly," I reply.
I gave her great service, and as a symptm of personal growth, I left her my digits with the bill. She tipped 20% and took my contact info along with her.
Helping customers repeatedly, even if I'm not working there any more. Oh yes, personal growth.
I just heard on the radio that some of the scrap metal that was, a year ago, the World Trade Center, has been shipped to India, where it has been melted, with considerable solemnity, and is now serving that nation's factories as high-quality machine parts.
I have my tickets, now.
My desktop computer, with a fresh Windows XP install, has just left the house.
Now, it is time to sleep. Just me and the laptop. Three boxes of books, a few, ever-diminishing piles of clothes, and some other random stuff to sort through ...
Two shifts tomorrow, one on Saturday evening, and 9:35AM Amtrak Sunday morning. Zoom Zoom Zoom !!!