Friday, July 30, 2004

There is No Air

There is no air conditioning in my condo today. The thermostat is reading 84 degrees farenheit, I've drank a gallon or so of water and I'm still incredibly hot. I have the ceiling fan, the bathroom exhaust fans, and three floor fans all turned on. They say that they are "fixing an underground HVAC pipe." I haven't seen anyone digging. I haven't heard any sounds like someone's actually workig to solve the problem. Hopefully they pre-ordered all the parts that they would need.

It makes me wonder how people came to Virginia in the summer and said "hey this seems like a good place to live." I'll just deal with it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

What are dreams? Are they real?

What are dreams?  Are they real?  Are they indicators of the future or the past?  Do they teach us important life lessons along the way?  I'm not sure that I can answer any of these questions, but I will relate a few of my dreams as I remember them....

I was stationed in Camp Pendleton CA for a number of years as a young Marine.  In order to go to the McDonalds, I had about a mile long hike, as I didn't have a car.  The hike crossed two open fields, one of which was the General's Parade Ground.  This field was largely dark.  Also of interest, CampPen, like most if not all military bases was and still is a wildlife sanctuary, so the place is rife with deer, ground squirrels and coyotes.  Now onto the dream. . .

In this dream I was hungry, it was late and I had just a short amount of time in which to make my McDonalds run.  I left the barracks and hurried to my destination.  I ordered two 9 piece nuggets and a big mac or quarter pounder (I'm not sure which.)   On the way back I noticed a small group of coyotes was shadowing me.  It was dark and all I could really see were shadows.  Somehow, in the way that dreams do, the length of my return trip grew ominously large.  The coyotes were growing braver by the step, moving in closer always behind and to my sides.  I grew worried and began to talk to them. 

"You're not getting any food, so I don't know why you're there."  I said. 

After a few minutes of them gaining even more courage, I began to get scared.  I reached into the bag and started tossing chicken nuggets on the ground in the hopes that these canines would feel more attraction to the food laying on the side of the path than to me.  None of the coyotes went for the nuggets.  I continued to throw nuggets upon the ground in a desperate attempt to sway them from the ultimate target.

"You can have the nuggets but you're NOT getting my burger!"  I said more forcefully than before.  Still they came closer, now only an arms length from me.   I realized that the group of them was herding me to some certain point.  The trail ahead seemed clear so I worried that these coyotes might try attack me from the rear.  I kept glancing to my right, my left and behind.  They were so close that I could almost feel their breath on my legs.  I ran out of nuggets and they kept inching closer and closer to me.

"Here's the damned sandwich, now leave me alone!"  I screamed, flinging the burger to the ground.  None of them went for it.  It was as if they weren't hungry, as if they didn't even know that food should have been a prime motivator for them.

Finally I looked up the trail again.  In the middle of my path, the only path I could take was the largest coyote I've ever seen in my life.  He was the size of a wolf, with fur that was so dark gray it appeared to be black.  I stopped, paralyzed by fear and uncertainty.  This coyote displayed a sense of confidence, of knowing, of reassurance.  He did not growl at me nor at the other coyotes.  He merely sat in my path, waiting.  The others shepherded me closer to him and as I got within about five feet, he lifted himself off of his haunches and walked slowly towards me. 

This magnificent creature walked to me, his eyes never leaving mine.  A wave of panic ensued and then quickly abated inside of me.  Then he gently placed his mouth over my right hand and began to pull me in a different direction than my barracks.  I didn't resist because the halcyon atmosphere that pervaded me and the rest of the animals.  We walked for what seemed hours in this dream.  We crossed streams and walked along oceanside sandstone cliffs. 

The sun was coming up and I could see up ahead a chainlink fence, as the gravel crunched beneath my feet.  The other coyotes which had been keeping close to me as their "Alpha" led me along started running for the fence, which had an open gate.  The leader and I walked on, maintaining the same pace that we had all night and into the morning.

Inside the gate, there was green grass and coyote families with pups and adolescents playing and cavorting.  The leader released my hand and took 5 steps in, stopped, turned around and sat, staring at me.  I leaned on the fence taking in this most wondrous sight.  Finally I looked at my feet, and the "gravel" that had been crunching under my feet was money, coins and dollar bills all strewn about as far as the eye could see, yet none was on the green side of the fence.

At that moment I awoke.  I realized that I could never possess pure and simple happiness and riches at the same time.  I had to make a choice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Hockey this Hockey that...

I'm in love with a game.  I know it doesn't seem fair to any of my friends.  It isn't fair to my family.  It isn't even fair to me.  I don't care.  I'm in love with the game of hockey.  I can relate most occurances in life to hockey.  I can relate most real life situations to "in-game" situations as well.

I can't say that I'm a high skilled player.  I probably couldn't say that I have "soft" hands, nor that I have fast feet.  I'm a role player.  My job is to go out there and play hard, prevent the other team from scoring, and occasionally put one between the pipes or set up my linemates.  I relish this role.  My other role is to irritate the other team and eventually get someone to retaliate.  I draw penalties.  I also spend a fair share of time in the box myself.

I've been on good teams, and on bad ones.  The difference isn't so much skill level, but the difference is in teamwork and effort.  I'd rather have a team where everyone has less skill but tries hard and puts in maximum effort on every shift than an overtalented team that believes it can score at will.

People ask me what I enjoy the most about hockey.  I cannot single out one specific part of the game that I don't like.  Well maybe the referees, but that's another rant.  I enjoy watching the fluidity of the game.  I live for that perfect pass that sets up a linemate for a tap in goal.  I like the power of a slapshot, the control of a wrister, the sheer surprise of a snap-shot.  The brutality in the corners is my domain, my bailiwick if you will. 

Of course I have teams that I follow;  The Washington Capitals are close to my home and close to my heart.  ( )  I play in a roller hockey league in Maryland ( )  And if I could afford to, I'd play ice hockey year round as well.  But alas I don't have enough money to afford such a luxury.

I guess the moral of this entry is that if you are ever asked to go to a hockey game, you should experience it for yourself.  Hopefully the person that invites you is fairly knowledgeable about the game and can fill you in on who to watch, what to look for, and some of the rules as well.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Damn you Robert Pirsig

Damn you Robert Pirsig.  The world used to be a simple place.  I didn't have to think about anything, I just accepted everything for what it was.  Damn you three times! 
About 13 years ago I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig.  I began to think in depth about the world around me, about the huge concepts that we just accept with out true definition, without true knowledge of what our acceptance means.  Concepts like freedom, life, justice, and of course the everpresent "quality."
I have spent sleepless weeks lying in bed, staring at the shadowy ceiling hoping that there was some answer to what I sought.  Generally there was not.  I came close to insanity, I think.  I've read "Zen..." about a dozen times since then.  It's always nice to rehash some of the basest thoughts that I've had, and compare them to Pirsig himself.  What's the point, you may ask.  The point is that I've never truly recovered from my intellectual "skinny dip" in the great ocean of underlying conceptual mystery.  There are times when I still lay awake, never finding answers to the questions which I have.  University professors don't help.  They are part of the problem, actually.  (refer to one of my earlier postings.)
Now I've taken the intellectual plunge and purchased "Lila."  Big mistake.  Damn you Robert Pirsig.  I read two or three pages and I cannot proceed until a few hours have passed.  My mind is awash with all sorts of inquiries into more and more concepts.  I have undefined concepts hunting me.  I may be going insane.  I think therefore I am.  I don't drink but if I did, I'd be drunk before I picked that book up to read it.  My head is spinning right now.  I am Phaedrus: he is me.  I live inside of both worlds, and though I see both worlds clearly in my mind, Pirsig seperates them and makes me choose one or the other.  Damn you three times!
The scientific method isn't objective.  It's as subjective as one can get.  There's no real way for a human being to be objective.  NONE AT ALL.  But we can't see that because we are still in "our" world.   I'm enraged.  I cannot explain myself due to the intricasies of my biased observations.  Because my observations are mine.  I can make myself write the words but the words only mean what we want them to mean.  It's like a musician being asked where the music comes from.  They cannot adequately explain it.  I cannot adequately explain myself, my reasoning, my insanity to anyone.  Damn you Robert Pirsig.
I cannot accept reality for itself.  Reality isn't reawl, it only appears real to me.  My reality doesn't belong to anyone but me.  It's all about perception.  But a person's perception doesn't really belong to them.  Perception is colored by your experiences and the wisdom that you have garnered along the way.  Perception and morals are the same thing.  They change the way one views the world.  I'm not saying that is a bad thing, neither am I saying that it is a good thing.  It just is.  I cannot place value judgements upon perceptions.  I cannot see the value in placing value upon someone else's world.  Damn you, Damn you, Damn you Robert Pirsig.
Who is to say what is good, what is bad?  Who is to say that one good outweighs another?  Who is to say that reality isn't just a bucket of shit mopped from the floor of a fly infested slaughterhouse?  Who is to say that these hand are real?  In reality the universe is something like 99.99999% space.  Atoms are almost 100% space.  Everything is made of atoms, with the exception of gravity, light and the event horizon of a black hole.  (We're not sure of the last one, but it stands to reason.)  So if I am almost 100% space, what am I doing walking, talking, consuming and exhausting? 
Oh and we don't know what life is yet either.  We can say, almost with certainty, that we are alive.  But we cannot define life in any acceptable way.  As it stands now, life is the fundamental difference between an object and an organism.  That isn't an acceptable definition.  But we have nothing else that will stand up to the passage of time.  Perception again.  Time changes perception.  Damn you Robert Pirsig for making me realize that despite what I know, I know nothing, yet I know everything.
There is an ideal world out there which has been closed to me.  A world which I can see, hear, smell and touch but cannot assimilate fully into.  A world where reality is real and concepts need no definitions.  Damn you Robert Pirsig for exiling me into the world in which everything has underlying form, and that underlying form proceeds function.  Damn you.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Life is like that

I know that someone has asked you "do you know [insert name here] ?" The truth is we don't really know anyone.  Let me rephrase that, if you truly know one or two people in your lifetime you are quite fortunate.  If you let yourself be known by those people then you are equally as fortunate.
Knowing someone is power.  Being known is surrender.  It's like a type of love, perhaps.  I'm not sure how it goes.  It's hard for one to surrender control over one's intimacies, one's foibles and idiocyncracies.  There are truths to ourselves that we only begin to realize as we grow and there are those truths that stay with us for as long as we live.  Life is like that.  A distant hill that resides in our close conscious.
I've never been one to surrrender myself easily or completely.  Which is why, I guess, that the meaning that life holds for me is different than so many of my friends.  I live for myself mostly, and for others minimally.  Yet it's been so long since I realized what it is like to relax that life has jumbled itself into many little mini-knots.  Life is like that, a gordion knot that takes a sharp sword to sever.
But what do you really know about the people that you call your friends?  Do you know the color of their eyes, the shoes they like to wear?  Perhaps you know their preferred foods and movie choices.  Do you know their worst fears and their highest hopes?  Do you know when they are feeling poorly versus when they are not?  Is it possible that you don't know your friends at all?  Life is like that, never knowing what should be obvious.
Mostly what I'm trying to get at is do you even know yourself?  Up until about 4 years ago I thought I did.  Now I know myself much better, and in some ways that has diminished my abilities to maintain independent thought processes.  In knowing myself I have lost some creativity, some individuality, some mystery and some, if not all, of my spontaneity.  Life is like that, as you learn you adapt.
Right now I am listening to flamenco music and reacquainting myself with those neurons that used to write and write, never thinking of surrendering to the doldrums of conformity.  I need some inspiration from time to time and it's been a long while since I had any.  When I read, and I read alot, I don't feel inspiration.  I feel identification and justification.  Life should be subtitled "looking for in all the wrong places." 
I also get frustrated at the reason we humans know nothing.  We are programmed to accept what is told to us as truth.  That acceptance is wrong.  It fosters a sense of security in thought and provides a warm cozy blanket that blots out all originality and novel ideas.  The truth is not that syrupy sweet.  I refuse to swallow the party line for or from anyone.  I refuse to memorize tables, charts or graphic notations.  Where is the learning in that?  There should be reawl application of learned processes, not rote recitation.  No one agrees with me, not on a large scale.  University used to be a place that fostered new ideas and approaches to problems.  Not any longer.  University is where adolescent children go to be groomed socially for whatever station in life they have carved out for them by their parents money and standing.  Life is like that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

It shouldn't matter

Life is too short. Today I filed my taxes for 2 years ago. I find it amazing that I didn't send in the forms when I filled them in such a long time ago. But if the IRS says I didn't, then I guess that they are right and I'm wrong. The good part of that filing is that they owe me money. The bad part is that I owe them more. I hate taxes.

I'm pretty sure that when someone is successful there should be some sort of reward. Apparently the US government does not agree with me. For every extra dollar that I've made, the IRS seems to want more. Either that or they want me to buy a house sometime soon. They certainly don't want me to succeed.

I'm too depressed right now to write. I'll be back later.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Next time be real (the lesson of truth)

There's very few people I call true friends. I've no need for a huge network of people that are there simply to hang out and be "buddies" with. I'd prefer to have a very few close relationships that maybe mean something and are mutually beneficial. In all honesty I think I hate people. Not as individuals but as a collective. I read something in "The Brothers Karamazov" where a priest says something to the effect of "The more I love man, the more I hate mankind. The more I love mankind, the more I hate man." I think that sums it up. Kind of paradoxical, but so true.

I'm still getting used to this whole blog idea. I think if I make interesting titles maybe someone will actually read it. Probably not, but it's an entertaining thought.

Thats it for now.

I'm not sure

My friends told me to get a blog. What's a blog? A place to publish some thoughts and ideas, I guess. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to say, in fact I'm not sure if I'm supposed to say anything at all. I guess it's all cool. It's something to do while I download music. Oh, I'm not supposed to say I'm doing that, downloading music that is. Apparently it has become a huge crime. Which is interesting to me. But I'll not digress further from where I was digressing from to begin with.

I like to write. I like to read. I read alot. I don't get much of an opportunity to write. So I guess I'll take this chance and write here. If noone views my blog I probably won't get depressed and psychotic over it. And of course there's no big sell here either. I think I'll use this space for my rants, my thoughts, my tiny little insectlike ideas and insights.

Ok, so a friend of mine gives me a computer. It's older, but hey it still works. I'm thinking damn what a great deal. I get a free computer. I take it home and hook it up. Wow, this is really something! Then reality hits. I cannot connect to the 'net without an ethernet card, as I have a cable modem that was leftover from my former roomie. So I go and buy one. Great now I'm all set. Wrong. Since the computer was like 5 years old (a baby in my book but an ancient wrinkled mass of obselecence in the computer field) the OS (which means operating system for those of you who, like me have no clue about computers except how to turn them on and how to unplug them when things go madly wrong) wouldn't support my new ethernet card. So what that means is that I must now purchase either a new motherboard or a new desktop. I bite the bullet and purchase a new desktop. Great! I'm all set. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I hook everything up, plug in the plugs, and hit the power button. The monitor flashes once and then blackness. What could that be? So I take the desktop back to where I purchased it and have them benchtest it to see if the video feed is screwed up. Oh that monitor lit up like the 4th of freaking July. A gigantic "e" one the monitor proudly proclaimed "GO BUY A NEW MONITOR you cheap sonuvabitch.!"

The kid behind the counter was like maybe you have problems with your monitor drivers. "Do you have an old monitor you could hook up to see if you have a driver issue?" Apparently the guy popped out of the womb within the last few days, or he was the product of a public school system.

"I have an old monitor, that is the problem." I replied to him.

I go over to the open box displays and find a monitor that doesn't look like it was dropped more than twice and try to haggle with the guy over the price. I win and get another $10 off. Oh and I got another pair of speakers in the deal too (free of charge because the monitor salesman heard my story and felt sorry for me.) I get home and VOILA! everything works like a charm. When I log onto my email, one of my techie friends has sent me a message telling me not to spend anything on a monitor because everyone sells them for next to nothing on Craigs list. A bit late don't you think?

So my free computer cost me about $600. Lesson learned.