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Archive for June, 2008

Le personal blog est mort, vive le personal blog

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The move from big blogs to [micro blogs such as Twitter and Jaiku] says a lot about our cultural attention span. One or two lines of text are about as much writing as we can handle—either creating or consuming it.

Rob Peters, quoted from “Is Personal Blogging Fast-Fading?” [alternet.org]

I think he’s right about our cultural attention span—even our personal attention span is quickly becoming so pop-culture driven that we will all be screaming Japanese girls soon. 15 minutes of fame is too much, 15 seconds is about right.

But I’m still here…

Not that anyone cares. I have 0 followers on Technorati [technorati.com] (and an authority of 2 if that means anything to you…). Twitter [twitter.com]? 12 followers, of which 2 are people I actually know, the rest? People trying to sell something or people obsessed with Facebook [facebook.com] like social status—how many connections they have somehow equals self esteem.

Really it does not depress me that there are very few people out there that hear my digital voice over the cacophony of other voices. I keep confusion going for myself. Yelling into the abyss is therapeutic, even if the abyss does not yell back (which, come to think of it is probably more scary that just silence in response, I don’t know what I’d do if I suddenly became popular.) I don’t force it, it’s still fun so I keep going. If only a few people ever read my rantings that’s OK. I have been having fun lately with the ‘random’ link I added to the menu (just next to the ‘archive’ and ‘search’ options at the top.) I get to go back and see old entries, some of which show just a how bad my spelling and grammar are (or where before Firefox added a built in spell checker, it’s much less atrocious now—see I could never possibly spell that word on my own.) Some are so out-of-context that I think it’s obvious why no one keeps up with the posts here; they don’t make sense unless you already know me and what’s going on.

It’s been almost seven years since this incarnation of confusion went live and three blogging platforms later I’m still going. The golden age of blogging may be coming to an end but I think I missed it anyway (and I think I may even predate it, judging by the fact that I was hand rolling posts in HTML before LiveJournal [livejournal.com] went live. I’ll keep posting my “dull personal commentary with a side order of self-importance” [zeldman.com] as Jeffery Zeldman would refer to my rantings. At least for now. You know, ’cause “I’m not dead!” and “I feel happy!”

Baby beggs or Little LumMY?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Picking names for your soon-to-be-born child is not easy. It is made twice as difficult by the fact that you don’t know the sex of your bundle of joy. With a month left till full term we have not chosen a name yet.

This is not due to lack of ideas. The problem is that every nice name you can think of comes with too much baggage for one of the parents; “it’s and exes name,” “I had a nasty coworker with that name,” “That’s my friends kids name,” or some other conflict. I suspect that none of these issue will be relevant for the objecting party after a few days of it being the name of your child, all other references will vanish until you are reminded of them by someone.

On top of all this we can add the interesting angle of Ang Moh (white people) names and Chinese names. Seems there are some sort of strange rituals involved with picking Chinese names here in Singapore but since the child will be half white and half Chinese I think it would be cool to give them both names. The fact that I know about five words in Chinese (mostly related to ordering food or expletives) and the fact that they are in Mandarin not Cantonese means I can only say “hey this word sounds cool, what does it mean?” And then I get the inevitable “it means ‘stupid white man who does not understand Chinese ask stupid questions.” This does not make a very auspicious Chinese name.

Of course anyone who has known me for long knows that I have always intended to name my child “Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Fertile Crescent” buy my wife objects to this. I could pull a Major Major and just put it on the birth certificate but I don’t want to pay for the therapy later.

On the other hand I’m not above accepting bribes. Currently Lord Jim I of Sol is offering:

  • 6000 head of cattle
  • 3000 goats
  • 2000 veggie dogs
  • 1788 pastries of your choosing
  • 1-16 rat(s) (tame)
  • 3 Cheetos

Anyone got a better offer?

The symbols of power

Friday, June 20th, 2008

IMG_0460

More Fragments From Hell

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I don’t know who wrote these but I found them on the old hell.com chat rooms. I like them. (Note: I ran a spell check on them and fixes some typos.)

First fragment:
: should he sacrifice for the progress of technology and knowledge and science, or should he escape from the system and live in peace and solitude
: he didn’t really believe it
: just repeating cliches of reassurance
: he told his self
: don’t let these insecurities slow you down
: never any answers
: always more questions
: is she the one?
: is it wrong to enjoy life when there is so much suffering in the world
: is it happening now somewhere else?
: has all this happened before?
: do the ends justify the means?
: what is the ultimate goal of humanity?
: what is the nature of the self?
: when death comes, will i remember life?
: who was i before i was born?
: is there such a thing as free will?
: he asked the big questions
: what was he sent here to do?
: it rang through his thoughts instinctively
: seek first the kingdom seek first the kingdom
: always in the depths of his mind lurked the remnants of his religious leanings
: he knew he did

Second fragment:
: was she just another habit
: a habit he lived for
: the dangers of love
: when your reason for living can leave
: what did he really want in life?
: why was he here if not for her?
: its not like she was the first girl to be his life
: he had to better his self
: he knew he did
: always in the depths of his mind lurked the remnants of his religious learnings
: seek first the kingdom seek first the kingdom
: it rang through his thoughts instinctively
: what was he sent here to do?
: he asked the big questions
: is there such a ting as free will?
: who was i before i was born?
: when death comes, will i remember life?
: what is the nature of the self?
: what is the ultimate goal of humanity?
: do the ends justify the means?
: has all this happened before?
: is it happening now somewhere else?
: is it wrong to enjoy life when there is so much suffering in the world
: is she the one?
: always more questions

We are all atheists…

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

Richard Dawkins, more on RichardDawkins.net [richarddawkins.net].

Over the edge

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

… Once you’ve gone over the edge and you realize what’s on the other side, it changes your perspective.

George Lucas, from “The George Lucas Saga” by Kerry O’Quinn, Starlog, August 1981. Quoted in “The Secret History of Star Wars”by M—— Kaminski

Fish Fetish: Breatharianism

Monday, June 9th, 2008

It was a slow Thursday afternoon when we met the breatharian. Matt, Eddie and I were in the fish shop browsing a livestock list from a big west coast supplier with Mark. Mark was looking for some bread-and-butter fish for one of his high powered lawyer clients tank. Nothing too exotic, just some color please. So, Sgt. Major Damsel’s at 15¢ each, minimum 10? And Yellow Tangs $1.00 or Coral Beauty’s for $1.50?

Pricing livestock is a tricky business; you have to pay a fortune in shipping costs when you ship live fish; fish have to be in water, water ways a lot, express shipping is by weight. Combine that with the loss rates of shipping and holding till the fish is sold and you can end up with a Damsel that cost 15¢ wholesale costing $2.00 in store. High powered lawyers in plush law firms don’t care how much the fish cost as long as it swims around in the tank to pacify the socialites waiting for to sign their divorce papers at $500 an hour. Hence Mark’s $2.00 Damsel’s being sold for $5.00.

While we were debating the ethics of potential markups on the various fish one of our regulars, Sandy, came in. Sandy was a slightly butch skinny-minnie ex-marine that topped out at about 100 pounds. With a huge colorful tattoo of an octopus covering her right shoulder and neck as a memento of her time in Okinawa. Her fish tank was at the heart of a bitter divorce and custody battle. Not that the tank was the cause; maintenance was the issue, because when Matt did the maintenance he did Sandy too.

Besides being a slightly butch ex-marine heterosexual girl, Sandy was a Wholefoods nut. She regularly came into the fish shop raving about this or that new diet fad; One month she’d be macrobiotic vegan, next month it was raw foods only. It was always going to be a miracle cure for her chronic lethargy and insomnia. We all laughed behind her back about it; and as Mark once said, “there’s nothing wrong with that girl a Big Mac wouldn’t fix.” And Mark was a vegetarian.

Today Sandy had a tag-along; an even skinnier girl who stood a head taller but looked more like Skeletor than a real person.

“Hey guys. This is Anne. My tang died.”

“Hey.”

“So sad, which one?”

“Yellow one. I brought some water to test.”

“OK. Test kits in the back.” With that Matt took the zip-lock bag of fish tank water and lead Sandy to the back counter. No real need, there was a test kit at the front counter. This of course left Eddie, Mark and me alone with Skeletor.

Mark, did the dirty work of starting the conversation with the third wheel. “So, Anne. Have a fish tank?”

“Not since fifth grade. Sandy says you guys are all vegetarians?”

“Yep. Except Matt, he’s a vegan. We all make fun of him.”

“That’s cool that your vegetarians. Cruel that you make fun of him. I’m training to be a breatharian.”

None of us had ever heard of this term before. Mark looked at Eddie and then Eddie opened the wrong door; “What’s a breatharian?”

“It’s the science of living on the nutrients of air.”

I watched too much PBS as a kid to let that one go. “You can’t live off air.”

“Oh no, see that’s what most people think. Really it’s just fear that kills you…”

“… Not starvation?”

“No, just fear. We’ve all been taught for so long that we can’t live without food and water that when we don’t have food and water we become scared and our minds cause us to get ill and die.”

“So,” Eddie took the bait, “if I stop eating and drinking today, I won’t die, as long as I am not afraid of death?”

“It’s not quite that simple.”

“Oh,” Mark said, “it never is.”

“To succeed,” Anne continued, “you have to unlearn all that you know about food and nutrition and all the science mambo jumbo. You have to train yourself, you can’t quite cold turkey.”

“And where did you learn all this from?”

“There are a number of people all around the world that have been teaching this system for years. It goes way back.” By this time Anna was really into it, her eyes were starting to light up in a remarkablySkeletor like way, “but the media doesn’t want to report on it. No one in the media believes it, so it’s hard to learn about it from TV or newspapers.”

“So how did you learn about it?” I asked.

“I met this guy in California who was just back from Australia where he was studying under a wonderful woman who is like the high priest of breatharianism. She hasn’t eaten or had to drink anything in almost seven years.”

“Seven years?” We all said that, more or less.

“Yes, really. Isn’t it amazing? Seven years, but it took here a lot longer to build up to it.”

“I still don’t believe you can live on air.” I said. Again.

“So how is your ‘training’ going?” Mark asked.

“Well, I’m quite week. I went two days last week without food, but I did drink water. I felt so tired…”

“There’s a reason for that…”

“… I had to.”

“… because you have to eat.”

“I hope that by the end of the year I can go a whole week. Next year a month. It will take at least a few years to be off food and water forever. Then I’ll be so much healthier None of the man made chemicals, no death hormones.”

By this time Sandy and Matt wondered back from testing the water.

“Sandy,” I started, “what do you think about this living on air thing?”

“Breatharianism? I haven’t looked into it too much,” She said.

“You think that will fix your health issues,” Mark asked.

“Maybe. I don’t know. I just started the raw food diet.”

“Does sashimi count?”

“No, vegan, of course.”

“Yea.”

“Well, we’re off guys, I’m going to drop Anne at Wholefoods. So I can pick up a new tang next week Matt?”

“Yea if nothing else gets sick.”

“See ya.”

“Bye.”

“Nice to meet you guys.”

We watched the breatharian walk with Sandy to her ancient Volvo. They got in and drove off and we all started laughing hysterically.

“You know,” I said, “if you could live without food or water, the ‘Ethernopians’ would have figured it out in the ’80s.”

“I think she needs more than one Big Mac to fix her issues,” Mark concluded, “that girl is Darwinism at work.”

7 Months

Friday, June 6th, 2008

7_months_scan

Faded Childhood Memories

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

bjb_13months

… Riding up and down the escalator at Leggett’s in Barrack’s Road shopping center …

I was about 2 or 3… We went shopping at Leggett’s (much later purchased by Belk) at the Barrack’s road shopping center in Charlottesville. Within a few years Leggett’s had relocated to Fashion Square Mall (which was ‘the new mall’ for me for years). Today there is a Barnes & Noble in the ground floor of the old Leggett’s and a M——‘s Craft Store in the upper floor. The old escalator, which was located in the middle of the store (I think…) is gone, now there is one in the front to one side so you can get to the M——‘s.

… Watching time laps of a dead bunny decaying, being eaten by ants and maggots …

At the time I was maybe 4 or 5? We (at least my mother and older sister) were in Portsmouth, Virginia, staying with some friends of my mom’s from the Navy. I don’t really remember who, but my sister was friends with their daughter, Michelle, for a long time. I got up early one morning, must have been about 5 AM. Mom was sleeping on the couch in the living room (this was military housing; a long row of red-brick townhouses.) I turned on the TV but didn’t know how to change the channels. I guess it must have been Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom or something. All I really remember is sitting on the floor watching the dead bunny.

… Eating candy carnival peanuts at the babysitters …

This one takes place in Portsmouth too. In the house of some babysitter just down the road from the house my parents owned when I was born. This was after we had moved to Charlottesville (when I was 6 months old) but we were back in Portsmouth for something (most likely my mom’s two weeks active duty for the Navy reserves.) I remember having a bag of those sickly sweet candy carnival peanuts, the milky orange ones that are about two inches long and flat on one side. I think I ate too many.

… Seeing a tug boat one night after leaving a movie theater where we watched “The Aristocats” …

I have no idea how old I was or where we where… being that there is a tug boat I suppose we must have been in Portsmouth or Norfolk. There are no tug boats in Charlottesville. I don’t even know if this memory is real. But I associate tug boats with The Aristocats…

… Sitting in the sandbox at Vicky’s and hearing her yell something. Looking up and seeing a bull in the back yard …

Yes a bull. A big black one. It had escaped from the farm next door and somehow ended up in the back yard of my babysitters house… while all of us were playing. I don’t remember much else, don’t think anyone was hurt. The farmer came and got the bull.

… Getting a concussion because I was on one of those over-sized playground balls with the big looping handle for bouncing when an earthquake hit Charlottesville …

I was a bit older, maybe 4 or 5 when this happened. I was in the basement of the neighborhood babysitter, Arlene’s house. I was bouncing around on the ball and then everything started to shake. I bounced myself right into one of the metal support polls for the house and knocked myself out for a few seconds. I’ve written about it before [confusion.cc].

… Collecting giant pine cones and then eating taco salad from a salad bowl made of a giant taco shell …

I was in Portsmouth for this one (I seem to a have a lot of memories from Portsmouth which is funny as we were not there very often.) I don’t know how old I was 4? 6? 9? I was with my mom and we were visiting some Navy friends of hers for dinner. They had collected these giant pine cones (and I mean giant; some of them were close to 8 or 10 inches tall) from some trees in their yard and piled them around the base of the tree. I took several of them home, they were around the house in Charlottesville for years. Later we had dinner inside. They made taco salad and served it in these giant edible salad bowls made by deep frying tortillas.

… Getting sick from too many strawberries and too much riding in a hot car …

This is why I don’t eat strawberries to this day… I remember the smell of the strawberry vomit in the car. We had gone to Rapidan Farms to pick strawberries. Me being two or three ate more than I picked. The long hot car ride home and a belly full of strawberries did not agree.

… Daddy changing the tire on the old blue car one afternoon in the parking lot of the old seafood restaurant on top of Pantops …

Pantop’s mountain is just over the river form Charlottesville and the seafood restaurant was one of the very few things on that side of the river at the time (the others I think being; a Shell gas station, a Exxon gas station and the White House Motel…) The old blue car (same one with the strawberries above) had a flat tire. I don’t really remember what day of the week or time of day it was but the parking lot was empty. That old seafood place closed and sat empty for years; now it’s an Aunt Sarah’s

… The county fair at Pantops …

I just remember all the rides and games. They held the county fair there a couple of times in the fields behind the Shell station and next to the river. I must have been young because there has been a shopping center there since I was about 8.