Christmas Accomplished

Painful as it was getting here - Verily, though I come kicking, screaming, wailing and gnashing teeth - Christmas itself has come off quite well. I am thoroughly satisfied with my long-tormented gift selections. Though I began with feeling uninspired and apprehensive to spend, my few inspirations now appear to have been dead on, and the time spent brooding over them, worthwhile.

If I can say this without sounding like a cock... I occasionally catch a glimpse of myself from a perspective not my own. And I don't think it's anyone else's perspective either. But it's sort of, what I'd call, a hypothetically valid perspective; a way of seeing me that no one does - including myself - but that we all could without necessarily being wrong. Today I saw how all the stress and frustration I suffered picking out gifts and deciding how much to spend, could be measured as a positive personality trait. I see, not in an after-school-special, day-time TV way, but in a real, serious, human being way, that the anxiety and pain I experience in life is often evidence of my legitimate desire to please the people around me; to see people happy.

I was chewing acid all month trying to find the money to spend on gifts worth giving, and at the end of it all I witnessed the seeds of my suffering blossom in the delight of the people I gave to. When I was wracking my brain for ideas, all I could see was the lack of them. But today it finally hit me that the lack of ideas did eventually give way to ideas, and the reason they did was because I spent so much time thinking about them. And the time spent thinking about them was really time spent in consideration of another person's nature. So when I say I see myself from a hypothetically sound perspective, I mean that I now recognize how I too - cold, selfish, fickle old taciturn me - could be measured a considerate, caring person.

Hey! I did it! I managed to compliment myself without sounding like a giant tool!

Why to Dance

I wonder when I learned to dance. I danced last night and didn't know I knew the steps until this morning. She took my hand, quite unexpectedly, a beautiful girl in a sundress. Soft face, rose pedal skin, catty, curly, gently smiling lips. She took my hand in hers; pulled me onto the floor before I'd even seen her. All introductions were made, mid-dance.

I don't know that I've ever danced with a woman before, though I'm sure I'd never truly danced before I danced with her. Together, somehow, we were lighter than one. We floated, fluid slipping through the people, chairs, and things around us. I imagine she was leading then. Anyway it wasn't me. I was being drawn - not pushed or tugged - but coaxed along by an invisible force, the way a fast-flowing river moves around you when you give yourself over to it. Then, a whirlpool! We spun so fast and free I let her go for fear I'd hurt her arm in holding on.

The people around us smiled, felt our joy, and all began to dance as well. At some point, music began to play. We hadn't waited for it, after all. When we came together again I tried to take some sort of lead -- as much as one can lead when two are in such blissful harmony. I put my hand at her waist and gently bucked the current around us, teasing the shores and eddies of the river in which we flowed. We danced so beautifully. When I remember it, I feel as though we must have kissed, the memory has that flavor, that touching, caressing delight -- but we didn't. The kiss my heart recalls, the warm embrace and shared release of one into another: it was the dance. The dance was her kiss.

At last I put my feet down deep into the sandy soil of the river pulling at our waists and held fast against its currents as I dipped her. The dip was not the will of the dance, but my own; my fervent desire to dip, to have dipped, this wonderful creature of freedom and beauty and life. I loved the shape of her motherly body, I loved the fabric of her dress, I loved her golden skin and curled cheeks. I loved this girl who had come and seized me by the hand, who showed me now - not how to dance - but that I had it in me to. So I dipped her with all my gratitude and love. And though it was not the will of the dance that I should stop and bend us so and look so into her eyes -- though it opposed the currents under foot, this too was beautiful.

The dance we danced was a pure, unselfconscious delight the likes of which I've never known before and cannot imagine ever knowing awake. For sooth we danced in dream. Still, until this very morning I would not have believed I could know such a lightness in my being, even in sleep. My mind and heart and spirit are so often divided, so often at war... I could not before imagine them capable of such an armistice; of granting me the inner peace to truly, freely dance.

I keep imagining that I was visited by an angel. That some other being descended from a high place, to come into my dreams, dance with me, and show me what was hidden within; what I had gathered in pieces, and was lacking only a beautiful stranger's dance to bring together as a whole. Under my angel's tutelage, in one night, for a moment, I mastered the art of dance. I don't mean technically. I don't mean the motion and maneuver or the precision of step. These are but measures of the inconsequent. It is the unfettered, child-like joy; the complete lack of self awareness... That! That is dance! To know no mirror, no reflection, no vanity; to sense no other self floating overhead, no critical observer casting judgment; no embarrassed ego, mindful of the thoughts of others. To dance and be one. To dance with another and be two being one. I wake from a dream and suddenly know that dance is the fusing of self into self, and perhaps at its highest, of self into other. It is a harmony of inner strings that, well-tuned, allows the music of unbridled passion and joy to resound within.

The freedom of movement! To be led! To lead! To feel the unseen current tugging at your hips, choosing your path of its own flitting whims. Truly this is God. God, the gentle artist full of whimsy, painting airy scenes with long, delicate fingers and fine, horsehair brushes. He painted a tree, made the tree to leaf and flower, made the leaf and flower to fall, and in their falling God painted the dance. And was much pleased.

But God painted man to dance better. For when leaf falls, its dance is its falling: its complete submission and perfect obedience to the master artist's stroke. Man's dance is better because his dance resists the fall. And even God knows not what dance will come when he deigns paint of man. Man twists and turns and grasps and leaps and dives in his fall, first against it, then toward it. He resigns to it in one moment, drifting with the painter's will, and in the next he stands in violent opposition; in running right and left; in climbing up again from where he fell before. Man's dancing is the stroke and flourish not even God's brush can create. It is the movement come of soul seeking heart and heart seeking mind; division's desire to oneness; separation's yearning to embrace. Dance is man's becoming God.

This dance is in me. I know this now. I've danced this union, if only in dreams! My heart has loved purely, my soul has felt the invisible's ebb, and my mind has known only the now. That is how I danced with the lovely girl in the sundress. That, I think, is what it really is to dance. I may surely never dance this way while waking, but it is great encouragement and comfort to my soul that some part of me knows this freedom and joy. I felt it in my dreams. It's there. Somewhere inside myself I know not only how, but why to dance.

Parkour Training - Day 2

So I'm a few years late to the party... I showed, didn't I?

'Parkour' or 'Free Running' is that crazy stuff those kids on the news get killed doing on rooftops. No, wait, that's crack. Parkour is moving through your environment with precision, strength, flourish, and art. Imagine, for example, you come upon some high fencing in your path. Do you:

A.) Walk around it.
B.) Climb over it.
C.) Run up the side of it, punch from the top, hit the ground, roll out, and come up running like Neo, and shit!

If you answered 'D' please review the available options.

Free running seems to involve finding the upper potential of movement; coming to an understanding of your physical capabilities as a biped; and putting body momentum to your ultimate use and enjoyment. All this appeals to me. As does the aspect of cutting new, unseen paths through the otherwise rigidly defined world at large. Tic tac'ing walls, Kong vaulting embankments; sprinting over rooftops... Aye! It's the sailor's life for me!

Then there's the exercise benefits. I merely started toying with some of the basics yesterday and I am sorer today - deep down muscle-sore - than I've been in a long, long time. I thought I'd been using most of the same muscles Free Running called for in my ritual exercise routine, but I do believe we've found a good dozen or so that were dozing on the job. I assure you they sleep no more! I am beat, bruised, and battered like you don't even know. And you can go right ahead and interpret that statement literally, an' it please you!


"Hairy back incoming, sir."

I haven't had a real, honest to god, yellow-brown, bruise in years. I have to say I'm quite proud of it. I earned the two large welts seen here practicing some simple rolls. Yes, basic tumbling. I haven't quite found the sweet spot that will keep the horns of my hips from catching the floor yet, and what you see here is the result. Funny I don't recall this five-point, shoulder-blade, hip-horn, spinal-column bruising pattern from my childhood -- wherein I'm sure I must've performed the bulk of my lifetime's tumbling maneuvers. Oh to be made of mostly cartilage just once more!

It being winter and all, I seem to have picked a bad time to become enamored with a running sport, but such is my way: the hard, desperate, bleak, soul-sick, self-deprived way. That's what makes Roy, Roi. (Or vice versa) But enough of this! Let them eat...

Beefcake!

Product shown does not represent actual item.

Fingers

I was jogging down the street just after dusk when I heard a shrieking; a cry of pain and torture. For a moment I hesitated to follow these sounds, slowly easing my way toward the cries as I considered them. Ahead I saw a man emerge from the side of one of the suburban homes dotting the lane. Finally, I took to a sprint.

"Does someone need help?" I shouted. "You tell me," was the extent of his casually delivered words, his eyes and gestures alone directing me to the scene.

At first I came upon a thirty-something man lying on the ground on a sheet of plastic. He was in a sort of collapsed position with his head set partially against a wall, either faint or asleep. He looked peaceful enough. I took him for drunk.

Blood had pooled in the alleys formed by the crumpled plastic beneath his shape, primarily at the ends of his arms; the right more grossly than the other. Several of his fingers were gone. They'd been chopped off, cleanly and in straight cuts. I knew immediately that he'd done it to himself; and not at all by accident.

I continued around the back of the building and found another man, older than the first; middle-aged; in the prime of middle age. He was sitting on a stool at a wooden table beneath the hot, yellow glow of a naked light-bulb. The ground around him was bloodied as well. All of his fingers were gone.

He sat with a solemn slouch and his face held a complex expression. He had the look of a man who regretted having had to do something, but who refused to regret the actual doing of it.

Seeing both men now, I felt the pressing need to either take action or at least make some sort of proclamation. After all, I'd rushed to these men to aid them, not just gawk at the horrors found. But I didn't know quite what to do, what to say. Neither was bleeding any longer, and the amount of blood loss did not seem, to me, to be life-threatening. I knew, without a doubt, that both of these men had done this thing themselves, had self-mutilated. These were acts of free will undertaken by men who had fully known and understood the permanence of the losses they would incur when first they began whatever strange enterprise it was that brought them before me now.

I couldn't quite bring myself to say aloud that they should go to the hospital. It seemed too ignorant to speak such an obvious conclusion, like telling a man stood stoically at roadside, watching his house burn down, that he should call the fire department. If he hasn't already, he wants the house to burn.

"Well, you're not going to bleed out," I said. "That's what they tell me," responded the newly fingerless, middle-aged man, in a slightly bothered tone. All I could do was stand gaping at the sights before me, which I did for some time. Then suddenly the man's attitude took a lift, as though my presence had drawn him from his inner contemplations. Now he came upon me with the look of boastful satisfaction; the sort of gleeful pride a child takes in displaying a rare new toy he's only just acquired.

He held out the stumps of each hand, turning them in the light for my inspection. Then his own eyes settled on them, widened in wonder. His gaze seemed to peer right through the hands, as though he was looking not at the skin and bone and flesh of them, but at the thought and story, the secret meaning deep within and far beyond the hand.

With this glint in his eye he let out a chortle of a laugh, and as we both looked down into his digitless palms he said to me, with a little smile at the corner of his aging mouth, "This is the first thing I've ever done with my life." And I knew exactly what he meant.

Jungle Disk 3.04 - Update From Hell

A letter to Jungle Disk Support: (An Online File Backup Solution)

Yesterday my Jungle Disk Desktop software asked permission to update itself to 3.04. I allowed it. Because of this I spent half an hour recreating my backup set, reverifying my S3 information, and generally redoing and undoing everything the update did. This was a sloppy, mismanaged, poorly implemented, and unintuitive software rollout. Please consider all of the following.

You will surely agree that there is no situation in which any software update should wipe out all previous customization and user information, and yet that's just what this update did on my system. After the software updated itself and restarted the machine I was asked to enter my login information. It was poor timing that this coincided with your service outage yesterday, so I closed the program and waited for your website to go live again.

When I was again able to log in, my new Jungle Disk 3.04 asked for my S3 data again -- mind you this S3 data was known to my previous version of JDisk. Then it walked me through creating my backup job all over again, from scratch, as though it had never ever heard of me before; as though I hadn't done this very task when I first signed up! With all due aggravation I went through this tedious, and unnecessary process once more; again finding all the little check marks - invisible unless you click the "Advanced" radio button, hidden throughout the visually unintuitive Configurations tree - which describe my desired backup set.

"No, this is the only computer I use JDisk on, DON'T hit the server with a bunch of LIST requests every two minutes that I'll have to pay for at the end of the month." "No, don't store ten versions of every file that gets edited, 3 is more than enough for me." And so on.

When I complete the arduous and completely unnecessary task of resubmitting all my original preferences, I click 'Backup Now,' just to make sure that everything is working; to confirm that Jungle Disk still sees all those files it took me over a hundred hours, uploading to the Cloud at 90kbps, to begin with. To my complete lack of surprise, it doesn't! It wants to upload my entire backup set all over again!

Here is where I discover your new Vault format, and further that it is incompatible with your old Jungle Disk 2.0 file system. And, of course, if I'd like to use a Vault then I'll have to upload all my data all over again -- even though it's all right there in the same S3 account and could surely be moved laterally if your Dev teams were to invest that effort.

So, all the configuration I've just done is worthless because I'm not going to spend another whole week clogging up my bandwidth, uploading files that are already there! After reading the comments of some equally frustrated users at the forums I head back into the visual mess that is the Configuration tree, delete the Vault that JDisk just walked me through erecting, and again! again! go to work configuring my old Jungle Disk 2.0 archive. Again!

Thankfully, the JDisk 2.0 backup set recognized the files that were already in the Cloud and I plan to continue using 2.0 for some time hereafter. I have no interest in the Vault now, as it is the Vault that caused me all this trouble.

Summarily, when a user clicks "Update," they shouldn't have to worry that all their previous configurations will be lost, nor that their files might become stranded in a sudden obsolescence. And if you are rolling out a new format it should be stated over and over again in large font, on otherwise empty pages, that your current data will not transfer to the new format. "You will have to upload it all again." And thereafter the user should be given the clear two prong choice to upgrade to Vault or stick with JDisk 2.0.

Settings that I have used previously should follow me into a rollout of new service. If I didn't want to backup 10 file versions in JDisk 2.0, then I probably don't want to in JDisk Vault either! For that matter, you should have saved the configurations from my original backup set before the update and simply duplicated those selections for Vault service, if I wanted to use Vault.

I also suspect that had I just accepted the Vault transition and uploaded my data all over again, nothing would have been said about my old JDisk 2.0 data still sitting up there in the cloud, costing me $.15 per Gb, per month, for the privilege, and rotting away to no use. I'm guessing you don't have any system in place to notify or remind the user of the redundant data they'll end up storing after transitioning to Vault.

While I'm at it, I might as well add that I would like the option to update more often than once a week, without having to do so every single day of the week. Putting the scheduling option on a slider, like it is, instead of a series of checkboxes is plainly ridiculous. I don't know how you came up with that one.

I like your service. I like storing my backup in Amazon's Cloud. Your software has proven itself technically proficient, quiet, robust, and reliable. But this rollout was intolerable in every aspect. I couldn't possibly recommend your software to the average user as it is. Jungle Disk is presently for power users only. Anyone who doesn't want to, or hasn't the experience to dig through pages of settings and preferences cannot use this software reliably. It is visually unintuitive, the wizards are incomplete, the advanced settings all need tweaking right out of the box, and if an update comes down - God forbid you install it straight away: you might lose everything you've already done.

I hope you will take my experiences in this upgrade and the preceding criticisms to heart and make the kind of changes that would allow me to recommend Jungle Disk to friends, colleagues, and customers.

Windows Install Halts at 'Loading Files' or 'Inpecting Hardware'

The Problem


An HP 764c came in today for a new hard drive and a clean install of Windows 7. The install disc froze up early at the "Windows is Loading Files" screen. As soon as the status bar filled up all the way, the CD drive spun down, and nada.

After swapping out memory, graphics card, ribbon cables, dvd-rom, and disabling every bit of hardware I could at the BIOS, I finally tried booting a Vista install disc in place of Win7. It too froze at exactly the same spot. Then I tried XP. The XP disc halted even quicker at the "Setup is inspecting your computer's hardware configuration" line. At some point I tried booting a liveCD of Ubuntu. (a Linux OS) Ubuntu booted happily; I opened Firefox; browsed Newgrounds... Ubuntu was running like a champ. This made it seem like a Windows hardware issue -- presumably a hardware fault Windows couldn't deal with, but that Ubuntu didn't mind.

This would prove a red herring.

The Solution


In the end, having dismissed every piece of hardware that could possibly be at fault, I discovered the culprit in the form of a snapped heatsink mount. The heatsink was only half secured and apparently the CPU was locking up the machine as it overheated. I confirmed this by laying the computer on its side and applying pressure to the loose side of the heatsink with a screw driver. So long as I held it down, the installs all scooted right passed their earlier failing points.

Ubuntu threw me way off the scent for a good, long time. Having seen a non-windows OS load into memory, run applications, and shutdown - all without hesitation - had exempted overheating from my suspicions early on.

That Ubuntu managed to run on a system with an overheating CPU is perhaps a testament to its efficiency. I can only imagine that Ubuntu never put a significant load onto the CPU, even as it booted from ram, installed drivers, and opened applications. Where, in comparison, all three Windows discs couldn't so much as query the PCI bus without tipping the scales and torching the CPU.

The Spooky-Ass Internet

Right now, right this very second http://www.transferbigfiles.com/ is inaccessible, erroring 503. And at the same moment three other file transfer sites are not working correctly. All of them, every single one that I have tried to upload to, registers my 166mb upload in less than ten seconds. This is truly not the case. Even if I had that kind of bandwidth to go around, which I don't, these file transfer sites wouldn't receive any individual upload at such speeds either. After the upload bar shows 100% it just sits there like its waiting for something to happen. Meanwhile I can see from my packet activity that I'm transmitting up at about 30-40KBps, despite the 100% showing in the interfaces of these various sites.

I tried opening them in a different browser, thinking I had some strange file cache jam up in Firefox, but both Firefox and IE are affected, proving the issue to be browser independent. Add to these strange happenings that FileDropper.com's flash interface came up doubly broken - unusably broken - until I refreshed by clicking the header image of the site, and I'd say that the internet is acting pretty spooky out there, folks. Best stay indoors today.

I'd like to suspect Flash, as the common thread here seems to be Flash based interfaces, but I haven't installed a new flash engine in either browser recently, and I doubt all three of the file transfer sites I've tried would update their swfs to new code, only to watch it break. Still, it's possible that some part of my own flash client has been bullocksed without my consultation.

Here's what I'm thinking: Maybe all these sites are using Amazon's Cloud services for their file hosting and databasing (unlikely) and Amazon has just issued a system-wide patch with a major bug in it. (more unlikely) Or maybe my internet provider has done something wacky that's causing the errors. (really, very unlikely)

Or there is a great big spooky howling ghost in the internet! Holy hauntings, Batman, what'll we do?! Steady Robin, steady.

Fly on Napkin

Alternately titled: Kindness and Death.





Not to ruin the illusion but this guy was still alive, last I saw of him. He was either injured or ghastly cold when I got hold of him; not moving too quick, nor at all venturing to take up his namesake and fly. He kept tripping on things and rolling onto his back. I'd offer him the edge of the napkin to grab onto, whereupon he would right himself, crawl onto the napkin, and immediately turn his back to the camera -- the thankless little fuck.

Blogger's Word Verification form gets Cut Off

The Bug


When 'Comment Form Placement' is set to 'Embedded below post' the Word Verification portion of the comment submission form gets cut off and left partially undisplayed, making it difficult for users to leave comments.

This seems to be a problem in some of the default templates provided by Blogger (including the 'Rounders' templates) where the height of the area containing the comment form has been rigidly set, in my own case to 275px. This is enough to encapsulate the comment submission area, but not enough to accomodate the 'Word Verification' form. (aka: The Captcha.)

Workaround


Warning: You may wish to backup your current template before attempting these changes.

Click the Layout tab in your Blogger dashboard, then click the 'Edit HTML' option. Under the 'Edit Template' section click the 'Expand Widget Templates' checkbox. Press CTRL+F to open your browser's 'Find' dialogue and enter the text below:

blogger-comment-from-post


Hit Enter and your browser should locate and highlight the first instance of that text on the page. If all is well you should be looking at this block of text:

<iframe allowtransparency='true' class='blogger-iframe-colorize blogger-comment-from-post' frameborder='0' height='275px' id='comment-editor' name='comment-editor' scrolling='no' src='' width='100%'/>


The problem is in the "height='275px'" portion. 275 pixels is not enough space. I recommend you change the height value to 420px. This should be just enough space for the comment field and the Word Verification form to expand into. Once you've set the height value, click the "Save Template" button and you're done.

Flora

This Christmas is not faring well, so says the lining of my stomach; so says the tossing, wearied, sleepless nights. The money goes out and does not come in. My recent Florida vacation adventures cost me half a month's pay and resulted in little of the vacation-y goodness I'd hoped. Now comes Christmas to add insult to financial injury.

Last Christmas went so well, I recall. I had such good gift ideas, and felt so fiscally unhindered at the time. I stumbled onto coupons and was able to give more than I'd hoped. It all came off so gloriously.

This year it's all a flop. I haven't but the one good gift idea, and it's for my father, who - as always - is calling off Christmas this year. He'll get his nonetheless.

I've found a series of heartless, dispassionate gifts to fill the place of the good ones I lack and my Christmas is now typified by anxiety and discontent. I've had one good gift brainstorm and found that even this rare, good idea is out to get me. It's a damned expensive gift to give and if I give it I can't bring myself to give much more. This necessarily places a great weight and importance on the gift and if it is not up to snuff I might just as well count all my giving-efforts worthless. There is further, a dread possibility that this gift would need returning, and the only place I can find to buy it is Amazon.com, and it's heavy as all hell, so the cost of shipping it back adds one more barb to the wire flossing at my ear canals lately.

Winter itself is an expense. I'm forced to drive everywhere now, so come the cost of gas. And winter entertainment is a bit more expensive than the other kind. The outdoors turn inhospitable and barren leaving men to amuse themselves indoors where the luxury of walls and heat take on a premium. I'll soon have need of coats and boots and such that I have somehow failed to retain from winters passed. All must be bought. Each has its cost.

And all this want of money has brought me to the sharp, deep precipice that is my current income. I once made twice what I make now, doing the same work, at the same location, putting in the same hours. But I came and left and came and left, and upon my last return times were bad and my services could nolonger be afforded at the going rate. Spiteful of money, never much of a capitalist anyway, I was happy to accept a pay cut while our business waned. And there I have remained.

But times aren't bad now. Times haven't been bad for a while, in fact. Oh, maybe for others; maybe for the economy in general. But as far as I can see our little shop has been pounding away with just as much business as we've ever had, and for quite some time now. Meanwhile my pay has not raised; my income has not returned. And though my worth is often noted and my labors very well appreciated, this appreciation has not extended itself monetarily, but only at the lip. My labor is billed at $80 per hour and yet I see naught but pittance of that, even as business booms. Five years exemplary service to the same employer: and my reward is poverty-level income. If I worked for a corporation this kind of thing would be expected, but I work for a friend, so it's an insult.

All this and more has been weighing on my mind and resting like a rock in my stomach. The gifts and deadlines of the season, paired with my regular obligations, tied to the one-time loss of a misfit vacation, bound to the rising costs of the season, matched with my unrewarded labor in the form of a flat income... And this not to mention the physiological effects of sunless, gray skies, lack of exercise, and a persistent chill that haunts me indoors and out. Well, I'm depressed, anxiety stricken, and my mind is taking every chance it has to redouble the weight of my woes. Even my dreams are starting to attack me.

So I've decided that it isn't a coincidence, but a meaningful, and charitable act performed in the greatest, and most magnanimous spirit of sympathy, that the potted tree on the other side of the room - that sits outdoors all spring and summer, basking in the warmth and sunlight, but never flowering, has decided -- yes, chosen this very day and moment to cast open a single flower as wide and as beautiful as any, for my soft consideration and health of mind. It is its gift to me. That only I had one as good to give to it or any.






Fauna

Grandma made some experimental muffins to go with dinner the other day. They were really heavy and a shade too sweet to serve with dinner. I liked them anyway. She didn't. So out they go to feed the squirrels. And who come 'long to meat, instead of squirrels?


Hungry-Hungry Possum.


My best shot, after major enhancement.

As a Consumer, She is Complete

Anyone else having trouble coming up with gifts for people this year? It started last month with my Grandma's birthday. I looked all around her house, considered her hobbies and daily activities, her needs and desires... and found that she has everything in the world. Every thing she could possibly desire is in her possession already. Which is an odd situation, I should think. Not too many can say the same. But I believe it's more or less true in this instance.

She's got a computer that does all she could want of it, with a really nice flat screen my cousin gave her one Christmas, and a printer that gets the job done. Her TVs are just as she wants them. Her kitchen clock-radio is the only she has use for. She's often in the yard, when the weather permits, doing light gardening and heavy cleanup, but she has every utility and device that could assist her in these pursuits already. Her truck is pristine and she's loath to drive more than two miles at a time anyway. She plays bingo every Thursday - or so she tells us - but what am I going to get her a bingo marker? Clothes, furniture, kitchen appliances, toiletries, dishware, phones, electronics... She either has it or hasn't a need for it. As a consumer, she is complete. (There's an album title for you.)

So what do you do?

Meanwhile there's my mom who, as a new-ish home owner, has need and want of a number of things that spring to mind, but they're all just a few dollars outside my anticipated spending zone. I'm considering teaming up, to make the purchase of one of them, but the only other person buying for my mom this year is Grandma, and with two other daughters, each one baring her up another twenty-seven grandchildren, I doubt Grandma's fractional contribution would bring me any closer to my spending comfort zone. Maybe I'll just bite the bullet and spend the big bucks. It would do my miserly comportment some good.

Then there's sister Emily. What do you give to the child who would be queen? I feel that my gift should somehow express my disapproval of her generation's 'New Moon,' Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus mentality. But what gift could possibly contain all that? Maybe a Dead Kennedys - Mr. Bungle box set. (He said with almost no knowledge of either band's music. And then abruptly ended.)

Fossilized Chivalry

"[...]I will be his elder brother, and care for him and watch over him; and whoso would shame him or do him hurt, may order his shroud, for though I be burnt for it he shall need it!"

"Escape? Spare thyself discomfort, an that is all that troubles thee. For Miles Hendon is master of Hendon Hall and all its belongings. He will remain -- doubt it not."

Judge the Tree by its Fruits

In response to A Prayer for Ronald.
---

So just because Enron and Tyco and Worldcom and Haliburton and Blackwater are evil, doesn't mean I should assume they all are. And just because Ameritech, AT&T, Avon, B.F. Goodrich, Bank of America, Bank One, Bearsterns, Bellsouth, Citibank, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Cox Enterprises, Diebold, Dow Chemical, Eastman Kodak, Eaton, First Bank, GNC, Hershey Foods, J.P. Morgan, Marriott, National City, Nestle, PacifiCorp, Panera Bread, Proctor & Gamble, Sallie Mae, Sherwin-Williams, Southwest Bank, Southwestern Bell, Union Bank, Wachovia, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, Winn Dixie, and Zale Corp...

...secretly took out life insurance policies on their employees for the express purpose of turning a profit on their deaths, subsequently bleeding insurance providers and their legitimate purchasers dry with these statistically guaranteed "dead peasant" policies...

...Just because a couple thousand of the apples are rotten to the core doesn't mean I should assume the last half-dozen in the barrel are? Okay, well, I disagree.

My government has, throughout the years, imprisoned it's own citizens in concentration camps, murdered church goers who sought only to escape the 'ways of the world,' poisoned its own soldiers on the battle field, illegally stripped citizens of their birthrights to citizenship, physically tortured captured soldiers and civilians alike in an effort to gather information known to be unreliable, secretly surveilled their own electorate's communications and then pardoned themselves of the crime, corrupted election results, redistricted voters for political gains, erected road blocks and denied people of certain colors and persuasions access to ballots, invented fictional international incidents to facilitate fiscally desirable wars, armed and sponsored terrorist forces to overthrow sovereign governments, entrapped and arrested civic leaders... COINTELPRO... Bay of Pigs... The Cuban Five... Yearning for Zion... Jose Padilla...

And these are just the documented, proven acts of my government. No conspiracy or conjecture in the list above. But I should withhold my cynicism?

The Summer of the Shark, Super Sunday, Shock and Awe, Howard Dean's red face, "Torture and the Ticking Time-Bomb" the lack of single-payer options in the healthcare "discussion," no footage of Bradley Tanks in the US, '60 Minutes' withholding video of ATF forces firing on the exits of a burning building, G.W. Bush pelted with eggs on inauguration day never shown on TV, Fox News refuses to show building 7's collapse, no images of death from Iraq and Afghanistan, "terrorists have weddings too," the term "religious extremists," Obama's peace prize...

Listen, you can deride the individual who shouts "there's poison in the well" without a reason to suspect it - go ahead - but we've all seen more than enough evidence of corporate evil and inhumane greed. We've all seen more than enough evidence of government plots to subjugate and/or outmaneuver the will of a populace. We've all seen more than enough evidence of media propagandizing, tabloidism, and self-censoring journalism. And the incidents have become steadier and more egregious than ever before in the passed ten years.

We have every reason, at this point in time, to approach any and every corporation, government, and media outlet warily and with suspicion of mal-intent, remitting trust only once these have overcome their own much deserved, and well-earned reputations of corruption, collusion, and outright evil.

Ronald McDonald may want you to like him and trust in his products, but no more than the crack dealer on the corner desires the same. Both will be your best friend right up until their mutually addictive and poisonous products eat your insides out and leave you for dead. Then it'll be your fault for buying it from them.

Black Friday is Murder

Here's to those who die this day, who soon shall breathe their last beneath the footfalls of the slathering, beast-like, obese consumers of this nation; who die, trampled to death, year in, year out, each Black Friday, a witness to America's naked greed; a justification to her enemies.

In mere hours human lives shall end, cut short in the pursuit of what need? What cause? Savings. Yes, in moments men will die for discounts. They will be killed for coupons. Awash beneath the blue of morning's first light, mindless mobs shall murder. Them less sure of foot shall fall and end.

So here's to those who stumble when the mall doors open, and here's a curse upon the heads of all the rest, who pushed and shoved and knew not, and cared not. May they die worse deaths, slower, still more meaningless, than those they kill this day.

May your savings rot and fall off.

'Brand New Day' from Dr. Horrible


Yep. I did another one from 'Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.' I'm a sucker for quick, tongue-twisting deliveries -- I couldn't resist.

This is my most successful performance to date, acting-wise. In fairness the role was written for me, so... BTW: is that not the best still capture ever? I look like a freaking madman. Awesome. Eat your heart out Heath Ledger.

'My Freeze Ray' from Dr. Horrible



[EDIT: The video here is not the original posted. It has been replaced with the "strong contender from the high seventies" mentioned below. For the moment I've decided I like this take slightly better.]

That's right girls, I'm doing musicals now! Get out the hot pants!

This is the first number from 'Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.' It's absolutely brilliant, of course. It didn't really have a choice in the matter, being the progeny of Joss Whedon and crew. I'm not saying Joss Whedon is God or anything - because that would just be sacrilege - but I have noticed that you never seem to see the two of them in the same place at the same time, if you know what I mean.

Incidentally I did around ninety takes of this song before quitting; most abortive, but still... The one I used for the final cut came from somewhere in the fifties, though it was up against a strong contender from the high seventies. I'm still not certain I chose the better of the two. But cuts must be made!

I'm surprised how smooth my voice is in this register. For nine years of smoking I had no idea these dulcet tones were in me. There's the reason to quit! Fuck your health kids, quit smoking today: it'll increase your vocal range.

'Hopeless Bleak Despair' by TMBG


That's They Might By Giants to you. By the way...

On Mondays I never go to work. On Tuesdays I stay at home. On Wednesdays I never feel inclined; work is the last thing on my mind. On Thursdays it's a holiday and Fridays I detest. Oh it's much too late on a Saturday and Sunday's the day of rest! Oh no, no, I never go to work.

Roy vs Halloween - Halloween Wins

This will be the second in three Halloweens that I've gotten all dressed up and spent the night sitting at home. At least this time it's by choice. I thought I had something going here with the pumpkin carving and the mask. I've been making a papier mache mask for the last two weeks, when I had time, in hopes of pulling out some sort of crowd stopper this year. But two weeks spare time hasn't been nearly enough to craft anything worth putting on and the mask sits entirely unfinished.

Tomorrow I'm set to help my dad move the last of his big furniture into a new apartment. So the anticipated early morning heavy lifting ain't exactly encouraging me to get out and get rowdy tonight. It's mostly mood though. Call me Boll Weevil, I just don't feel up to it. I might manage some cheap-ass pizza and a rented movie, but a full-on human gathering sounds to be more burden than anything else right now.

Anyway, here's what I might've looked like had I attended your gathering. I did not.


Honey, you can't afford me.

Extremism is Required

A year or two ago I read the teachings of Jesus and discovered that they were nothing at all like Christianity. That they were much better and more profound than anything the Christians in my life - including two years Christian schooling and my father's life-long Seventh Day Adventism - had ever led me to believe.

Aside from being an unflappable peacenik, Jesus, it turns out, was a rabid anti-capitalist. Who knew? Certainly the Christians didn't know. Not by the looks of their opulent homes and driveways full of consumer toys. Not according to the contents of the church parking lot, for sure.

I was so overwhelmed with the image of a spiritual leader who advocated the development of -- can you believe it? the spirit! over the stock portfolio... over the body or even the mind, that I decided to take this Jesus fellow up on the challenge.

He said to forgive everyone, so I did. He said to love everyone. I made a best effort at that. It wasn't easy but it wasn't quite as hard as you'd think. He said to sell off everything and give the money away: Done. "Take up your cross and follow me." Right-o, where we goin'?

This isn't the time or place for my story, but what I gained from doing as Jesus taught was a life rich with challenge, suffering, and most importantly, reward. I gained a life where the world was a game, at some points a sad and desperate game that could still fill the players with despair, but always a game. Life was innately foolish, and yet I was indeed living it. I was a participant! I was alive. And I realized just how often that hadn't been the case.

I eventually lost grip of the fundamentals that led me to the road and kept me in good spirits and good stead throughout my asceticism. When I look back I can see a number of personal weaknesses, challenges I failed to overcome, that eventually amounted and chased me back to our present ease of death. But one of the most surprising deceptions that led me from the good path was the very self-deprivation prescribed.

Maintaining my own lack of goods became itself a distraction from my goals. The struggle to remain poor in the face of opportunity and the good-will of a community became an impediment to the cultivation of my spirit, much as capitalism had been before it -- though surely to no equal degree. I felt guilty when I had more than ten dollars in my pocket and when someone offered me work I regressed into intellectual capitulations. This guilt-laden inner turmoil served only to shrink my otherwise expanding outer awareness back down to the blind, pin prick of self; quite the opposite of my intent.

I've read tales of 'Bud' the Buddha and 'Sid,' Siddhartha. Both end in the same conclusive phrase: "The Middle Path." I hate that term. Maybe it's the phonetic resemblance to "middle class" or "middle ground," but the verbage seems to me to lend itself the air of an enabling device; of a justification for lethargic conformity. It turns my mind to the bourgeois: that race of men who've made a whole from one third chastity, one third sin, and one third vacant opportunism. "The middle path" is so easily misconstrued that the phrase itself may be to Buddhism what Christians are to Christianity - a red herring.

One of my favorite books is 'Siddhartha' by Herman Hesse. Hesse's Siddhartha isn't a prince, but simply a well to do young Brahmin. You might say he's an upper middle class kid at the top of the pyramid, ready to go far in his family's aristocratic circles. But he quickly realizes that the path he's on doesn't go anywhere. Accruing all knowledge, as is the practice of his peoples, hasn't led any of his elder counterparts to true enlightenment, and his own studies have done little to soothe his aching soul. So he heads into the wilderness and joins those who seek enlightenment through suffering; who pursue their inner peace by numbing both body and mind to all the world's woes. They think every thought, suffer every pain, deprive themselves of all comfort until no misfortune can move them one way or the other. Of course, Siddhartha soon decides that for all his pains he is grown no closer to enlightenment and that any relief he has found in these practices, be they of his father or of the wild monks, is merely temporary. He muses, most entertainingly, that he can see no difference between such lofty meditative methods of silencing the ego and drowning his soul's confusions in a bottle of rye. Both Brahmin and drunkard awake the next morning to meet their pains renewed.

His path is long and wild and soon enough he decides to taste the richness of what he calls the child's life, embracing the more common paths of sexuality and commerce. It begins as a game and it is very entertaining and fulfilling when played as a game. But these worlds slowly infect him. He starts to take them seriously and they lose their charm. After some time he awakes to find that he is nolonger pursuing his goal of enlightenment but that he's been indoctrinated into a cornucopia, an orgy of the self -- exactly what he first set out to overcome.

In Hesse's 'Siddhartha' the key is not the middle path, but the fullness and wideness of the Buddha's life that enable his enlightenment. By old age he has seen so much of samsara - the endless cycle of life and it's worries - he's walked through so many of it's layers that he finds his final peace in embracing it all. All is samsara. All is life. All is death. All is suffering. All is joy. All is ignorance. All is wisdom. All is hate. All is love.

It is not the moderation of some middle path that brings Siddhartha home to eternity, but the sheer extremity of his existence; the breadth of his life. In the end he knows compassion and understanding for all men because he has walked a day in every shoe. He finds freedom from want by having embraced the wants of all; by knowing the sincere pursuit of every foolishness; by knowing all samsara to be a necessary elixir that must be tasted in full.

From my personal journey I've learned the greater happiness there is to be found in the absence of the comforts modern existence demands. To those who seek it deprivation is a comfort to the soul, for what's sake they are wise to let the body rot. But where deprivation ceases comfort it becomes penance for uncommitted sins. It is pain for pain's sake and there is no rationalizing it.

Between opulence and destitution lie a better way, perhaps. But it is surely not an equidistant. Extremism is required.

The Pumpkineer


Pumpkin of Doom

Maw and I caught us a twenty-two pounder today. Boy, I tell you, I widdled him something fierce, too. Sure enough'll last him, I reckon! Chaw!



One love.

Summer of the Shark

You people are really fucking stupid, ya' know that? Are you aware? just how ridiculously goddamn retarded you are? Yeah, you nibble-nuts. See me pointing? You!

Just want to take a quick sec to put things in perspective for all you dipshits at home. Every year, I'm told, six-thousand people in the US die falling off of a ladder. There are 1500 accidental deaths by firearms. And around 1600 people win no less than a million dollars playing the lottery. This all per annum.

Now put those factiods in your pocket for a minute (you dumb motherfucker, you) and follow me back to the oh-so distant year of 2001. In 2001, prior to a couple of planes flying into a couple skyscrapers, the news - not the tabloids, now, but the Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, "You're watching CNN," tick-tock 60-fuckin-Minutes, news - was out there for months, screaming at the top of their shameless dollar-whore lungs, about shark attacks. Did you hear me right? Yes, I said "shark attacks."

Early in the swimming season they latched onto an attack survivor's story and for the entire rest of the summer could not shut the fuck up about sharks, attacks, and shark attacks. They were so adamant in espousing the danger to the world's swimmers, that they dubbed summer 2001, "The Summer of the Shark." Yes, I'm serious. I was there. It happened. Look it up.

The results? Coastal beaches everywhere received less swimmers. In other words: You ignant' fucking people actually believed this shit about shark attacks. You actually believed that sharks had suddenly decided to go to war with human beings. Oh, you can try to say you didn't believe it - that you didn't fall for Walter Cronkite's horseshit lies - but the numbers tell a different story. You and yours weren't at the beach in '01. You were at home, on the couch, tuned in to the sensationalist, ratings driven, propaganda that passes for American journalism. You were buying, reading and consuming the very media that was unabashedly lying to you, and in the most blatantly obvious manner. You were enabling it! You were tuning in and paying their sponsors. You were feeding the beast that was eating you alive you stupid human-fucking-waste.

And in retrospect? What really happened in the "Summer of the Shark?" Shark attacks were down 15% from the year before. You were more likely to win the lottery; You were more likely to fall off a ladder and die; In fact, you had a better chance of being struck by fucking lightning than being attacked by a shark in the summer of 2001. They were lying to your face the whole time - all summer long! And you, because you're such a rubbernecking, trailer trash, 'Faces of Death' renting, professional wrestling fan, idiot - lapped it up like a kitten at a leaky cow udder. You ignorant asshole, you.

Now this year, with just two months left out of 2009, that same media that advised you so well about the imminent threat of sharks growing legs, coming up on land, and eating your babies while they're still in the womb, is pulling out all the stops to make sure that you don't forget for a minute about the massive viral outbreak what presently threatens to sweep the nation snuffing out your childrens' lives in a tidal epidemic that's sure to leave more bodies than survivors! Look out America! Run for you fucking lives! It's H1N1! It's 2009, "The Fall of the Flu!" Boogedy woogedy woo, dipshit!!!

As of this very day, H1N1 - aka "the swine flu" - is reported to have claimed all of 1000 American lives this year. Now since you're so fucking stupid, I'll go ahead and do the math for you, and project a total of around 1200 deaths by year's end.

In other words: You are more likely to be accidentally shot to death by a neighbor cleaning a gun; you are more likely to win a million dollars in your state's lottery; you are way, way more likely to kill yourself while changing a light bulb than you are to die of this H1N1 that the media is skull-fucking for ratings' sake.

And so long as it's stuck in there, let's give it a twist and see if we can't break it off by pointing out that 30 times more people will die this year thanks to the good old fashioned, every day, over-the-counter strains of influenza that don't nobody give a shit about right now, because they're all too fucking retarded for this month's "7 Action News: Special Report - Death by Swine" hysteria bullshit.

If you got an H1N1 vaccine, you are dumb. I'm using simple words now; I think I've run out of other ways to express your intellectual lackings. You are dumb. You probably voted for Bush and against socialized medicine. You're dumb. You probably own a Swiffer Sweeper and drive an SUV. You're fucking dumb! You probably think eating at 'Subway' is a fucking diet, because you're really, really fucking dumb, mang.

They have got you! They own your ignorant, cowish ass. You buy whatever they're selling. You lap up whatever they pour in the bowl. You are one ridonculous fucking numbnut motherfucker, you are. And you're the problem, by the way. It's you. Oh, it's all you! You're why democracy don't work anymore. You're why capitalism has eaten the soul out of this nation. Put it this way: You're the shit-for-brains that talks up how evil Walmart is, then turns around and goes shopping there. Cause you "just can't beat the deals. Sure I know it's run by Satan, but it's 2 for 1 on Swiffer pads this week! Who needs self respect when you've got coupons!"

It's the Summer of the Shark, you dipshit. Tune out! No. Not in... Out! Yeah! That's an option. Yeah, if you press the red button again, it actually turns the TV off. No shittin' ya. You know what? "H1N1" is just "leet" text for hiney - as in butt. As in, "We be fucking you good tonight, America. Tune in at 11 for more major-market consolidated-media dick up yo' ass."

God! You're just so fucking dumb!

(That 1600 lotto millionaires figure seems high, don't you think? I'll bet the internet is lying to me... again!)

'Distance' by Long Shot Party


Yep, I'm covering 'Distance' again. This time I've ventured to sing it in the original octave and register. Look out! As always I have little idea what it is that I'm saying here, but I like it just the same! More so, in fact.

After much study I've decided the lyrics to this song, as subtitled by the fansub group Dattebayo, are just wrong. I've come to this conclusion by comparing an alternate lyric sheet to the album-version of 'Distance,' finding the words much easier to enumerate there. It is clear, by the lyrics heard in Long Shot Party's music video, that Dattebayo got tripped up somewhere, presumably by the steady mixture of Engrish and Nipon-go throughout the song.

It certainly wasn't happy news to discover this fault in Dattebayo's translation, since that's how I originally learned this song. It meant breaking myself of the first delivery, which is none too easy - mind you - when you don't speak the language you're singing; when you first learned the lyrics phonetically! Well, eventually it sunk in... as evidenced by the absolutely flawless performance above.

Yes, you are welcome, mankind. You are welcome indeed.

OMG U GUYZ!

I met it first a few weeks ago, I don't know where. Then a few days ago Ian and I were at a bar, skillfully unweaving Aristotelian precepts, when all our labors fell and shattered - we lost our place - and lost control, overcome by hysterical laughter at its sudden, unanticipated presence.

Now, I don't know why, but today - days later - it finally happened. I should've seen it coming. I woke up this morning and there it was at the foot of my bed, whispering in my ear as I drug myself out and up and toward the shower. I rode the bike to work today, thinking I'd lose it in the cold, hidden beneath coat and scarf; let it chase me naked through a brisk fall morning at a 12mph wind chill. But it managed even nude, it was with me there as well.

And as soon as Kevin walked out the door just now I couldn't help it. Alone in the shop I finally lost control. It got inside me, took over, and I saw myself... I heard myself singing:

"I've got a feeling... that tonight's gonna be a good night. That tonight's gonna be a good, good ni-i-ight. [...Got a feelin']"

It's the slight overlap at the end that seals it for me. I'm helpless in the face of rounds. Like red heads and innocence they disarm me.

Well, let's live it up.

Wild International


"
They say that in war the truth be the first casualty. So I dig in: Selector - I, the Resurrector - fly my shit; sever your neck wider than ever with my tongue dipped in funk arsenic. Burn this illusion, this lie, with straight arson shit! Your arsenal's stripped. Power aint full jackets and clips, it's my ability to define phenomenon. Raw Crenshaw, '84. Boogie down before L.A.

When the war break off, where you be? Take off? Stand in full face off? with the M1 millimeter, let the rhythm of the chamber hit 'em. Let the rich play catch with 'em. Better yet, make 'em, eat 'em, and shit 'em till they so full of holes that they drown in their own.

I'm like a nail stuck in the wrist of they Christmas. Don't need radio to leave their family a witness.

Muhammad and Christ will life? ...will lay your body down to a tune, so wild, international. In the desert, full of bullets, let your body rot. With my chrome, with my verse, with my body. Rock!

In this era where DJs behave - be paid to be slaves - we raid airwaves to be sane. And what's raining from the station? Cash fascination like living dead.

Fed agents distract us fast from a disaster's wrath. For sure, air war was flooded like the 9th ward on the AM. On the AM! Turn and face them. Hatred and mayhem! "Slay them!" "Dangerous!" I take razor steps. It's the swing from the bling to the bang on the left! It's the murderous return: boom back, full strap. Your six that got clipped, you can't clap back.

With minimal lift and criminal flow I'm killing 'em soft and billing 'em fo' everything stole. And once again I'm that nail in the wrist of they Christmas. Watch me make their family a witness.
"


Here I've transcribed Zach De La Rocha's lyrics for the song 'Wild International' from the band and album One Day as a Lion. I've attempted to give it a traditional paragraph form and remove some of the signature lyrical flow. By adding punctuation and breaking the lines on the thought, rather than the beat, the ideas distinguish themselves more clearly.

I shall now, in pompous arrogance, interpret these lyrics. I will expound upon them, putting things in that aren't really there, and freeing whole volumes of thought and text from just a few syllables. I advise that you stop reading here and go form your own opinions instead. (I should consider the time taken to write this a self-indulgent waste.)

The first verse sets a violent tone for a song considered on whole to be a blisteringly angry threat and a call to armed revolution. The first line, a simple derivative quote, ("In war, truth is the first casualty") sets the stage for a few of the song's prevailing notions of thought control and military media warfare. De La Rocha builds himself up a little at the beginning, annointing himself the resurrector of truths lost to the veil of war. Slitting the enemy's throat is symbolic of an inability to make rebuttal. Stripping him of his "arsenal" is as well, a claim that there can be no argument to the ideas that follow. Power lie not in military might but in thought. Wars are born of men and minds, not means. No army on Earth can withstand the might of its protectorate. Power is reason and who controls their own mind is more powerful, and dangerous, than all armies.

The second paragraph is much benefited by punctuation, almost that it need not be further considered. It begins with the challenge: When the war between man and his oppressors begins, where will you be? Will you run from the fight. Will you desert mankind to the shelter of them who promise you only subjugation. Or will you stand against the powers of the world that have so long bound you. Will you seize and hold the will to stand and kill the capitalist oppressor as he and his have so long been the murderers of men, and worse?

The pitch to chorus is tough. A nail through the wrist of Christmas... Well, that would be a disappointment to anyone, to say the least. The truth and death of Jesus as received during the celebration of his birth. Forced recognition of sobering truths despite an effort to remain blind to them.

"Don't need radio to leave their family a witness." An incredulous threat, intended to remind the consolidated media and Pentagon propagandists, brought to flog later, that no amount of media censorship, hype, or spin can wipe away the real images of death and destruction when they land in your own backyard.

The third paragraph and chorus is a challenge. I've transcribed the first line as "Mohammad and Christ will life?" And I've followed it immediately with "...will lay your body down." If heard correctly, I find this an unexpectedly poetic and intoxicating pun, capturing with a masterful terseness the hypocrisy inherent in both religions. The collective gods of Christian and Muslim world alike espouse doctrines of peace and life, while in practice Jesus and Mohammad, God and Allah are all equally likely to spray your blood across the sand impiously, unbothered even to grant sport a grave, leaving corpse to rot in open air. All these gods are more often the trumpet heralding war than leading to peace.

"to a tune so wild: international," begs mention here as it distinguishes the type of war being condemned in the chorus. De La Rocha is a militantly minded artist, and I believe, an advocate of violent revolution. Thus it is not war in general he is deriding, but these foreign wars of aggression, empire, and capital gain. A civil war of liberation and self determination would presumably be just fine by him.

The last line of the chorus ("With my chrome, with my verse, with my body.") may be less thought out than I will suggest, but I imagine it the sudden juxtaposition of the speaker to the position of the dead. De la Rocha is here entertaining the notion of himself dead or dying on the sand of a foreign nation, and so the listener is juxtapositioned with him. All to die and disappear, mind and body, on foreign soil, with none to care; least of all them that led us to the fight.

The second verse begins with the consolidation of media. I suspect some personal ire in this songs mentions of radio. One Day as a Lion can't be getting any radio play from the Clear Channel syndicate. Of course they mustn't have expected much airtime considering the lyrical content of the music. I know well the great frustrations suffered from beneath a glass ceiling and One Day as a Lion along with Zach De La Rocha earn the right to their anger as poets and musicians only allowed so many decibels, so large an audience, and so far a reach by the consolidated media interests at large.

So while it is as likely that the second verse's opening lines regard the Pentagon's hypocritical propagandizings in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those populations' attempts to publish and air their own responses without being detected and destroyed for it, I enjoy these comments as a more domestic affair. To be clear, I find these statements regard widely the consolidation of media, the lack of intellectual diversity, and the absence of perspective and individuality across mainstream outlets. I do not mean to imply that this is purely, or even first, a personal slight by a poet scorned. But that scorn may feed the flames of the song's overall vitriol.

"And what's raining from the station? Cash fascination."

In the bible Jesus says that you cannot serve both Mammon and God. Mammon is the personified representation of greed. No one can serve two masters, says Jesus, and he teaches that too friendly a relationship with money, goods, comforts, and convenience is enmity with God. You cannot be spiritually sound, says Jesus, and know the want of money.

Today our current policy in Afghanistan is outwardly and unashamedly to "whip a little industry on 'em." I have heard the opinion voiced by an average news anchor - not a crazy, fascist, CNN talking head - but by a run of the mill, wallpaper reporter that in order to stem "religious extremism" in the middle east, America's policies should be to increase the capital opportunities available; spur entrepreneurship; and encourage new fiscal markets. In other words, "we can destroy the belief system that leads them to resist us so zealously, by slow and unnoticable means until all that remains of it is dogmatic ceremony, if we can erect a middle class of relative ease."

It's a perfectly logical conclusion. I've seen it work wonders to those same ends here at home in America. And I cannot believe how unrepentantly Satanic capitalism and America really are. Nor how acceptable this depth of evil has become to the average citizen. When "America's enemies" say that we are the great Satan, it's because we are. We are trying to destroy their culture. We are trying to drive a wedge between them and their God. We really truly are the modern embodiment of Lucifer's will. Nice to meet you. Beverage? Towel? Hot poker in your ass?

I'd like to think that the two word phrase "Cash fascination" embodies all of this and more, both abroad and at home. It also sets up the next few lines of the song as they regard the racist attempts at deflection and Marshall law following hurricane Katrina. These being the "looting" claims of the fascist capitalist demon fuckwad cocksuckers.

A merchant city under water; no meaningful response from the Federal government; tens of thousands of unrepresented people sleeping in a sports arena, and under armed quarantine for the disease of being poor in a disaster (and therefore libel to do anything!); civil rights abuses piling up one after another; and all the media can talk about or show is a few opportunists running off with soggy stereo equipment. So much so that enough heads turned from a city in peril, unassisted by all the systems supposedly in place to help them, to the "need" for Marshall law and national guardsmen. The need to start shooting down anyone walking out of a Piggly Wigglies without a receipt scotch taped to their forehead. Finally we see this government's concern! Not people. Property! "Quick get the guns and protect the lifeless inanimate sundries that those cold, wet, hungry, homeless people are trying to walk off with!"

"the swing from the bling to the bang on the left." The media was able to blow up a few incidents of looting to the point that America was able to accept the use of military force for the purposes of policing an American city. This leads right into "the murderous return." That sacrifice of constitutional grounds that can never be undone. The powers-that-be winning another precedent enabling them to come in and hold the peace by overwhelming intimidation and lethal force.

An alternate interpretation might leave De La Rocha speaking from the perspective of the media throughout this latter half of the verse; mocking their fear mongering and laying bare the racism innate in all those suggestions of an impending danger posed by a large black community suddenly homeless. Like animals the white man caged but wishes he'd just gotten rid of, broken loose and threatening now - this race of dark savages - to infiltrate our nice, white villages and carjack us all to death for fried chicken and watermelon money.

Another interpretation of this last section could leave it spoken on behalf of the people: A violent outburst of hatred toward the establishment. The "swing from the bling to the bang on the left" could prophecy the shift in the populace from their obsession with comforts and goods to the stronger desire for a just and humane world. This leaves the rest of the song as a string of threats against the establishment.

The last line before the pitch to chorus is a beautiful enigma to me. He could be speaking from the perspective of the authority, who, during a crisis, is hovering around in helicopters gunning people down over a stolen TV. I prefer, however, to think that he's returned to his earlier push toward violent revolution; that he's speaking on behalf of the people, as they regard the powers of oppression. The proletariat, finally armed, having found it's resolve to seize control, is at last "killing 'em soft and billing 'em fo' everything stole."

Or it could be a song about puppies. One of those two.

Prosimian-Man

I am man and you are not. This is your world. You belong to it. You are sated by it, happy of it, and none to your fault. But I am an accident. This is not my world and I am not happy of it. I'm not meant to be here. But I am stranded. I am made myself the butt of a woeful cosmic joke.

In eternity they gambled, "What do you think would happen if we took one of us - a spiritually developed being; a consciousness who desires meaning and virtue, life and love; whose goals would not abide the comforts and trivialities of a life lived only for the sake of living still... What would come if such a being, unawares, were bore upon a planet of hairy, tick-eating ape, and left there to believe in it his natural home?"

The pot must ever grow among my kindred, casting bets on how it all shall surely one day end for me; or yet how it must one day still begin. For it can not be fairly said that my life has much begun, though false-starts do amount in me aplenty.

But what should happen to a spiritual being set among the squalor and feces of a race of primates? What mechanism might he find by which to cope amongst a peoples dedicated in every proposition to acquiring the largest bunch of bananas readily available, be they either on the tree or in some fellow other's apish paw. To always seek and take the largest cache, by lawless force as needs shall be, and spiting every meal come them of the un-bunched abundance budded, budding freely over and about.

Then to guard the loot's the thing! First to heap up treasure, then to lay aground the thicket, sharpen claws, beat chest, howl thunder. For peace among apes is only come of sinew's fear; of the one's supposed death and loss upon the other's much labored image of insurmountable virility.

And last to gorge! When gathered and preserved, to overwhelm the senses with the excess of the ill-got gains. To have as much and more as can be had, that some be lost to vomit. The primate's life: to live for sake of living. Every carnal comfort bought to ease the road to death, and nothing more pursued.

What becomes of man as born to ape? So decrees the cosmos to test the supposition and I am born. Though true the pool slows growth as I grow older. The odds, at first predicting a romantic teenage suicide, have long since turned to favor natural death, as there to be preceded by long and pitiful, unlikely, apish life. Such even that the parlour of heaven's gamblers has turned from roguish curiosity to the laments of guilt and despair.

They expected more of me. I am one of their own and here they find me lived amongst the apes; choosing here to stay. The suicide was much preferred to this. They would have found it just and right and beautiful, and I'd returned to my compatriots to cheers and laughter; the multitude's hands rapped upon my back. But fearing death too greatly I taught myself, instead, how well to suffer and remain. And heaven suffers with me for it.

They meant to see me killed - a god amongst heathens, man amidst ape. "A flame too alighting of the truth to be politely tolerated must be squelched at hands his own or otherwise." So they thought and right they were. But I have out-stepped their suppositions, hiding what alights of me beneath a bushel. I have thinned the air that feeds the wick and learned to breathe in shallows. I am a disappointment to my gods. So do I apologize. I must be putting on an awful show.

I am a man set among apes and I have likened it to a great cosmic wager. It is nothing less! though at once it may be more. Perhaps the ancients planned that I'd alight in these prosimians a thing or two before my passing... before they killed me for it, or I myself. Perhaps it were a task to come and do and die and then go home, and be again among my kind in joy and love and laughter of the trip; failure no disgrace so long as prodigy return me home to kind.

Oh fear of fear that heaven is not something I must earn my place among but one to which I first belonged. Fear of fear that, here beneath the bushel, walked among the monkeys, my posture doth decay. Fear of fear of fear that on that day I die, I die too monkey to go home.

Television is Like This

Television is like this:

Imagine you're fourteen years old again. Imagine you are a fourteen year old male. You've hit puberty. You've thought you were in love once or twice. You've experienced a lot in fourteen years, really. And lately you've become painfully conscious of other people. Nolonger do you run and play with mindless, uncaring joy as a child does. But now you are all too aware of the outer world's assumptions, expectations, and opinions of you.

Your tastes are changing. You've become interested in music and art on a new, perhaps more spiritually profound level. Sure, you're still just a dumb fourteen year old, and you probably think whatever they play on the popular radio station is great, but you are learning to experience music and other forms of art in a new way; a way that seems to impact you personally; that speaks to you directly.

And you've just begun to entertain a sort of rebelliousness and angst. You now find yourself unconsciously probing the boundaries of your world; bringing challenge to the so-called conventional wisdom, and to those authority figures who, until now, guided and predisposed all your understandings.

You are a fourteen year old male. You're evolving. You're growing. You're becoming spiritually aware. You've been on this planet fourteen years and there's a million miles ahead of you, sure, but your personal journey of self-discovery has undeniably begun.

And let's suppose that as you are undergoing all these changes and awakenings, the outside world, all your friends, all the people you've been told are cool, whose footfalls are to be noted and imitated, are all at once telling you, in the friendliest, most sincerely compassionate manner, about all these things they think you would really, really like... as a fourteen year old male.

They give you names of bands and television shows. They give you authors and movies. They give you artists, games, women, foods, and flavors... So helpful are they to point you at those things which they believe you, in your present state of mind and at your level of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development, would find illuminating, intoxicating, diverting, and entertaining; that would make your world - your very life - a richer, more prosperous, more meaningful and enlightening journey.

And with all these kind suggestions overflowing the basket of your open arms you take yourself to a video shop to pick up the number one film, that very gem of celluloid theatrics that all your friends and peers joined together to laud above all other works, as that which would most pierce the fourteen-year-old male soul.

You bring it home, put it in the player, and press play. And it's fucking Barney. 'Barney the Purple Dinosaur - the Movie.' Or it's an hour and a half installment of 'Elmo's World.' You're a teenager, the bud of a man, and they've got you watching 'Hannah Montana on Ice.'

Then you turn on the radio to the sound of the DJ pitching you into one of those "great songs" by one of those "awesome bands" your peers mentioned. And it's an 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' cover.

You look again at the list of foods to try, and they're all Gerber brand. The women meant to satisfy your raging hormones are boyish and dull, the games are peg-in-hole, and the artists all color-by-number.

Television is like this: Imagine you're a twenty-eight year old male and the whole world is trying to give you just what it thinks a being of your emotional, intellectual, and spiritual maturity will want; will desire to see, consider, and discuss. And every single one of them is so sure they've got it right that they all, a thousand different media outlets, each employing hundreds of thinking, reasoning human beings to choose and produce the content they find worthy, all of them independently but simultaneously conclude that what will benefit you most, what will most endear you to them, what you really truly want to see and hear is "Dave Letterman had sex with staffers."

...

Lord send me boyish women and Elmo's World.

HijackThis crashes on Event 1000 - msvbvm60.dll

The Problem


I've seen this twice now. HijackThis crashes after being open for a bit, to the tune of a nondescript error message. In Windows Vista: "HijackThis has stopped working." Sometimes you'll get a few minutes use out of it before the crash. Sometimes just a few seconds. Sometimes it won't crash at all. It's only ever a problem on a laptop (I think) and this time I encountered it on a Gateway M-2626u running 64-bit Vista.

The Details


The application error log reads like this:

Faulting application HijackThis.exe, version 2.0.0.2, time stamp 0x466838c1, faulting module MSVBVM60.DLL, version 6.0.98.2, time stamp 0x4791a724, exception code 0xc0000005, fault offset 0x0005d26c, process id 0x114, application start time 0x01ca43853341371a.

At first I figured there was a virus on the machine crashing HJT on a timer event. Wrong. I figured msvbvm60.dll had been corrupted and so I tried replacing it. No change. I finally noted that the application seemed to crash when I was dragging the scroll-bar or maybe resizing the window. With this in mind, I thought the video drivers were somehow the problem; 64-bit hardware drivers are always suspect. But again, no.

The Solution


In the end the culprit lie in the touchpad, or rather Synaptic's touchpad drivers. HijackThis crashes, for whatever reason, when you trigger a mouse-scroll event using the right or bottom edges of the touchpad. It's very difficult to come to this conclusion unless you are intentionally trying to scroll this way. I wasn't, but I must have been catching the edges of the pad as I used the mouse and triggering a scroll; that made it very hard for me to see what was causing the application to suddenly die at such odd intervals of use.

The file that enables the scroll functions in question is the "Synaptics Pointing Device Driver" at "Program Files\Synaptics\SynTP\SynTPEnh.exe"

Disabling it in the startup routine via 'msconfig' will prevent HJT from crashing, though it will also disable the scroll functions of your touchpad; something most people never use and that only gets in the way, anyway. (Much as it did here.) I say turn the thing off.

My Golf Swing at 60fps



There's probably as much or more virtue in recording an off-day to see what's wrong in your swing as there is recording and reviewing your best. This is notedly an off-day for me. I've just started playing with a looser grip, which was working wonders for me at the range and on the course yesterday, but which is probably throwing off my timing today. Excuses, excuses...

I'm hitting whiffle balls here. Little pink, crappy ones that dent easily and seem to lack the weight needed to accurately represent an arc. I eventually split or crushed all my good ones and thought I'd give the cheapsies a try; half thinking they were marked down because it's probably hard to sell pink golf balls. But no. They're just light-weight junk is all.

I'll also note to the unfamiliar viewer that I am 'pigeon-toed.' So if it looks like my legs and hips are doing something impossible or unnatural, it's because they are.

And, yes ladies, those are my triceps bulging and rippling. And I'm sorry, but no, you can't have any of this delicious carnal hotness. Deal with it.

An Irreverent Hypocrisy

Continuing comments at You Are Your Television - Kill Everything.

"
It sounds like you are trying to excuse the people [...] for playing along; for voting against their own interests; for tuning in to a consolidated media that lowers their standards and keeps them stupid; for allowing atrocities to be committed in their names and under their flags.

But whether they made the problems themselves, whether they built the world in their image or someone else rammed it down their throats, they still live there. It's still their world and nothing can exempt them from the responsibility they bear for failing to respond to the real problems of their age; much less for playing along and paying homage to them. Example: Governor G.W. Bush didn't magically conjure a hurricane or personally poke holes in the levies, but when Louisiana flooded he damn well should've sent help. That's civic responsibility.

"We didn't want great big SUVs poisoning the atmosphere, unnecessarily depleting unreplenishable natural resources, increasing the demand for oil and thereby encouraging principalities of war and unrest to fits of murder in the middle east... But hey, now that they're here, fuck it. Look, honey, there's a TV in the headrest!"

If you're saying the people are too stupid to be responsible for their own actions... Okay. I can feel you. But if that's your point you should probably hang onto the stones of cynicism and defeatism, as panes of glass are rather expensive a material to build a house out of.

And if the people are too stupid, or ill-informed, or uneducated (oh the many diplomatic ways of calling people 'stupid') due the machinations of wealthy industrialists and capitalist oppressors... Good, great. We agree. So where's the beef?

Better yet, let's try something constructive here (since "troll" seems to be everyone's new favorite word to bandy about with irreverent hypocrisy) what do you think could be done to remedy the unaddressed evils in a world full of people too indoctrinated to recognize them? Let's talk solutions here. Let's pretend to hold ourselves to the same standards we claim to hold the rest and pause to look inward and ask of ourselves, "What are you going to do about it?"

Personally, I've got a 12 step plan which I'd love to outline for you now. Oh, but "Lost" is coming on, and it's sweeps month! Fuck it, I'm sure someone else will straighten it all out eventually.
"

Slow Boot at XP Logo

The Problem(s)


A machine came into the shop this week with a litany of issues, starting with a corrupted BIOS, an overheat problem that eventually led to the power supply, and an inexplicably slow boot time, hanging most notably at the Windows XP logo and scroll bar. The latter of the issues proved a challenge worthy of my efforts.

The Flailing Hunt for a Fix


We start with the basics. MSConfig, Hijackthis, and Sophos Anti-Rootkit (bullocks to RootkitRevealer) revealed no significant abusers. A defrag set the bits in order. Services and start-ups were reduced to good measure. And all without change to the incredibly long boot.

Some quick reading introduces me to a program called Microsoft Bootvis: A tool for recording and visually analyzing the sequence of events taking place during XP's boot cycle. In many circumstances, I'm told, Bootvis can cut startup time in half just using it's automated procedures. Though in my case, automation did not yield significant results.

The visualizations, however 1.) told me that the boot sequence was taking around 90 seconds start to finish, and 2.) about 70 seconds of that was dominated by two processes: an 'AVG Antivirus' dll file and fltmgr.sys.

First thing, I uninstalled AVG, immediately shaving twenty-five seconds off the boot time. This still left fltmgr.sys eating up fifty seconds all by it's lonesome. And on a 2.8Ghz Hyper-Threaded P4 with a gig of ram... Uh-uh. That boot is still way, way too slow.

I looked into fltmgr, of course, but found it an underlying construct of the OS - one that, in all likelihood, was supposed to be there, doing whatever it was doing throughout the boot.

I then turned my eyes to the visualization in Bootvis that showed the Prefetch process overarching the drivers sequence and taking just as long as any of the drivers. So, after some reading, I deleted the contents of C:\Windows\Prefetch and changed the registry to prefetch only boot items thereafter. This yielded no change in boot time.

More reading... Someone mentions the file indexing for XP's "high speed" search as a cause of slowdowns. I turn off indexing on the c:\ drive and disable the service. No change.

Disable print/file sharing. Nope. Network drives? Nope. Disable all superfluous hardware in the device manager: Out goes modem, network adapter, floppy drive and controller. Nope. Physically detach secondary IDE channel along with CD/DVD drives. Nope.

The Solution


In the Device Manager, under IDE Controllers, I finally found - stumbled onto really - that both channels had somehow reverted to PIO mode. This can prove a bit of an annoyance when it happens to your CD drive, and you suddenly find that burning a disc takes an hour or more; But when it happens to your hard disk... Well, you've lost gobs and gobs of bandwidth to an inferior data transfer mode, the likes of which the word 'bottleneck' cannot begin to describe.

The desired mode here is DMA and the easy fix to get your IDE channels recognizing their DMA capability again is to simply uninstall them by right clicking the offending channel in the Device Manager list and selecting 'Uninstall.' (They will reinstall themselves on reboot.)

After uninstalling both PIO-moded channels and rebooting, DMA 5 capability was detected once more and my customer shall be happy indeed to report - to friends, colleagues, and total strangers alike - a reduction in OS boot time from ninety to thirty seconds. I say again, :90 to :30. (That's with AVG reinstalled.)

And all this regards merely the boot time. Imagine how slow every other operation that required a call to the disk must have been. I wouldn't have noticed it in a few hours doing a repair (especially while simultaneously working on two or three other systems) but the disk access must have been insufferable!

Once a program is loaded into memory, of course, even the end user wouldn't easily notice a difference in performance, but that first double-click to open a program must have been taking... Well, by these figures I suppose it was taking at least three times as long to perform every disk operation!

The more I think of it the more I think this woman owes me some baked goods for figuring this one out, don't you?

In my Six-Fo'

...my eight-nine to be exact. But hell it is a red Chevy so - six of one, half dozen of the other.

Today I began a full-scale tune up on my G20 Chevy van. I say "began" because it remains now in pieces and I have retired for the day. I started this project with a visit to Murray's. The man behind the counter had a sort-of permanent smile and upbeat attitude that seemed incredibly sincere, though extremely unlikely. I noticed myself being wooed by his smile, suggestions, and helpful demeanor. A half hour later I walked out with $75 worth of a tune-up. That guy will be President in 2012.

Seriously though, he was a great help and pointed me in some necessary and worthwhile directions I hadn't then considered. I walked into Murray's planning an oil and filter change, new air filter, and spark plug afternoon. I walked out planning an oil change, an air filter, spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, and distributor rotor. Or in other terms, every single act of vehicle maintenance I know how to do without a guiding hand.

The oil change went off smoothly; I even managed to drain the filter without splashing crude around. Then was the challenge. As an old-school cargo-style van, the engine is not so much under the hood as it is three inches to the right of the driver's right knee. Access to the engine is basically behind the ashtray on the dash, and it's a bitch to get behind.

On the contrary, once you've spent a good quarter hour prying the plastic back it's actually kind of nice to be able to sit in a captain's seat while you tinker with the engine. Though it does make a helluva mess.

With the engine exposed I first wrote down the orientation of the plug-wires to the distributor cap. Then I started pulling wires, and here's where I am especially indebted to the fellow at Murray's who told me I was going to need new wires once I got under there. For with each wire I pried back came a puff of blue dust; oxidized copper. A closer inspection of the plug ends thereafter would not have allowed me to, in good conscience, put them back on, feeble and broken as time had rendered them.

Then we pull the plugs. But wait, I don't have a socket deep enough. Back to Murray's. Cha-ching... Up to $80.00 now. I pull the plugs, install the new ones, and decide to tackle the distributor cap and rotor. A stripped and rusted screw eats up another fifteen minutes all on it's own, but I prevail and reach the rotor.

But the damned thing won't come off. A rotor basically just slides into place and this one won't pry off with a foot-long flathead. Fuck it: I break it off. Now we slide the new one on... We... We slide the new... Damnit... Get on there... Motherfucker won't go on. Maybe a little tap with the hammer. No. Pull it back off for a minute and let me look this over. Shit, I cracked the new rotor with the hammer.

What's happened is, the gear shaft on which the rotor sits has gathered some rust over the passed twenty years. No? Really? Sure has. And that has expanded it's foot print such that the old rotor couldn't release and the new one isn't really big enough to accommodate the extra millimeter of oxidized metal.

Sandpaper! I cleaned up the surface with some sandpaper, and the new rotor - though cracked - at least proves that it will now take the shaft. Now I'll just need another rotor... 'bout up to $90 with that, but I'm not going back to Murray's tonight. Evening is settling in and I'm getting hungry.

I finished running the new plug-wires and as I left it I need only slide on a new-new rotor, top that with the distributor, plug the wires back in according to my diagram, and reinstall the ashtray/firewall. All of which I shall complete tomorrow after work, having swung by Murray's yet again for my 2nd rotor in two days.

As of now I am sweaty and tired, covered in rust, grease, and electrolytic gel. So I'm off to shower, but don't worry, then I'll come right back here and regale you with all the details of how, where, and in what order I lathered.

Come to think of it I might just forgo the shower and have sex with your mom instead. Boosh! (See 'cause she's a dirty whore.)

Ant vs. Spider - Spider Wins

I was heading outside to film my golf swing when I noticed a congregation of crawlies on the screen door. A trio of ants - one grounded, two with wings - and a deuce of spiders that included our old friend Spider-Hunter! He's gotten even bigger, by the way.


You can see his Armpit Hair!

I didn't get any passable shots of Spider-Hunter this time, but made great labors trying to take just one good shot of his counterpart, what had caught itself one of those flying ants I mentioned and held it in a death-grip. Despite three or four dozen snaps I just didn't have the combination of light and angle I needed to get a decent shot. This one will have to do:


That's just Creepy.

Next time: My golf swing at 60fps.