Journal Archives - February, 2002
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February 3, 2002 ... Just goes to show that I really need to learn the virtues of moderation in video games. Somehow, I've managed to get three straight days of my life absorbed by Geneforge (thank goodness I can't afford to buy the full version; the demo only unlocks 17 out of 77 areas!), and the old Playstation port of the "Discworld" adventure game. (Ah, the good old days of adventure gaming; back when "notice the four pixels representing the pink worm crawling across the pink-orange pavement!" was considered a proper puzzle. Thank goodness for online walkthroughs.)
Erin and I saw "The Royal Tenenbaums" tonight. I will heartily recommend it as the best comedy I've seen in a long time that didn't involve either slapstick or fart jokes. (Read the Brunching Shuttlecocks' review.) I will also point out the curiosity that one of the paramedics -- a bit part -- was played by an actor named Brian Tenenbaum. Coincidence? Perhaps ... although I also find it amusing that the movie is based in Manhattan, and the U.S. surname tracker notes that the overwhelming majority of Tenenbaums in the United States live in Noo Yawk. Hmmm ...
Other than that, I am once again staying up far too late to write this; I think I'm just going to leave you all with something amusing to click on. Actually, I've got a huge backlog of "interesting links for my readers to click on" ... so, what the heck, I might as well make it into an event and send my site readership doubling to 10 people per day from 5. (drum beat)
... at tomorrowlands.org! That's right, folks, I will be posting a Link Of The DayTM every day this week as an excuse to get myself posting regularly again! I might well even throw in completely random links for nothing other than their entertainment value, like this one here! I'll even inanely gossip for several paragraphs about my life in a vague attempt to convince you that I do something other than browse the Web all day! WOW! blogging at its finest, yes indeedy, sir!
Today's Link Of The DayTM, then, is a little piece of "culture jamming" over at online media giant Amazon. As you know, they encourage reader reviews of all of their items. Someone wrote a hilarious review of the children's classic "The Story About Ping" -- anyone remember that one? About a duck who lives on the Yangtse River? -- and examined the book as an allegory of ... get this ... the TCP/IP network diagnostic utility ping. Tongue-in-cheek at its finest: Ping the duck!
I have to say, I've been having weird dreams recently. Perhaps it's got something to do with the wacky infighting between my immune system and the Mongolian Death Flu I've not quite caught; I've been lucky in that the symptoms haven't been any worse than waking up every morning with a sore throat, but I know that there is an underlying virus there, since it laid almost everyone in the house low last week. Of course, perhaps it's just due to the fact that I've been tossing and turning for almost 12 hours a night lately; my mind tends to get desperate for stimulation when I spend half of my time being unconscious.
This morning, I dreamt that I was playing in some sort of huge, weird, vaguely futuristic (in that Laser Tag/video-game/dream sense of the future in which it's all bright primary-colored plastic, and nothing has guardrails but nobody minds) game. It was kind of like a glorified version of tag, or maybe Capture the Flag, played in a huge multi-story warehouse. The rest of my team had been caught, but the other team still had to find me to win, and I was up on the third floor of the structure that the game was played in; I managed to evade them by wedging my way through one of the "walls" (the six-foot-high partitions set up around the edges of the structure), and I stayed concealed there, holding onto the outside of the wall, balancing on the struts that braced the third story of the structure up (since the play area wasn't actually connected to the warehouse's exterior walls -- it was kind of like a giant open-maze-thing within the warehouse proper). I was still quite legally in bounds, since the only way to go out of bounds was to leave the warehouse itself -- but nobody found me, because nobody thought to look outside the structure, except on the ground floor -- and the braces sheltered me from view from underneath.
Of course, that pales next to the weirdness of the day before: I dreamt that I met this bright, enchanting young woman in the library of some university that I was taking spaceflight courses in. After classes, she invited me to come home with her, in what seemed to be an innocent way -- perhaps for some homework discussion, or just a social dinner. I followed her back to her place -- a flat in a lovely, grassy apartment complex -- where her husband was lounging around; introductions were made, and I started settling in at the table. The guy sized me up, apparently approvingly. Next thing I knew, both the woman and the man had disrobed, and were both lying around in the living room in very unambiguous poses and looking at me invitingly. It was then that I realized that both of them were hermaphrodites.
The woman had very obviously female secondary sexual characteristics, yes, and the man was equally obviously masculine; but they both had dual sets of equipment and large erections. I must say, I took it rather squarely in stride -- letting them know that I was flattered, and that I had no desire to turn them down, but at the same time we had barely met, and I really wasn't the type to go around having unprotected sex-on-first-encounter flings with random strangers; and would they be interested in some erotic play not involving penetration? They agreed, and the rest of the dream involved -- I probably shouldn't be surprised here -- rolling large chunks of semiprecious minerals over each other's skin. It was very nicely intimate, completely non-erotic to me (although the two of them appeared to be really getting into it), and weird as all hell. About the only thing that I can conclude is that I had somehow gotten involved with some aliens indistinguishable physically from humans (albeit hermaphroditic ones) but with completely foreign social and sexual rituals. (I was taking spaceflight classes at the university, remember?) Of course, maybe I just managed to hook up with a pair of hermaphroditic petrophiles, and the science fiction speculation is unnecessary ... but, you know, I thought that I'd just about reached the maximum level of kink absurdity with arborophilia, and the idea of people with stone fixations weirds even ME out.
Today's Link Of The DayTM, which has nothing to do with making sweet love to rocks but a great deal to do with science fiction and the video-game/Laser Tag vision of the future, is an article by the incomparable author David Brin. He argues that "Star Wars," in all its heroic, mythic glory, is part of a relentless system of propaganda inflicting an outdated classist statist patriarchal oligarchy on us all. Except he doesn't make it sound quite so anti-bourgeoisie as I do. Power to the people, comrade: Star Wars despots vs. Star Trek populists!
... continues, here at tomorrowlands.org!
It's official: I have gone nocturnal. Over the last several days, I have taken the sunrise as a cue to scurry off to bed, in much the same way that many people view sunsets. Right now, it's an hour or two past daybreak, and I am feeling correspondingly rushed, as I urgently try to finish up my Internet activities so I can get to sleep.
I appreciate the night because, well, everyone's asleep. I can get done the things that I want to do without any interruption. (Of course, this often takes the form of "play video games for hours on end until my eyes start crossing," but it's nice nevertheless.) Granted, it would be equally nice if I could get this done during the day, and occasionally take breaks from my computer to go outside, stand on the porch, and bask in the sun.
Having run out of other things to say, and wanting to get to bed, I'll just move on to today's Link Of The DayTM. This one should appeal to those who, like me, are inveterate gamers; the backstory is that Ben Heckendorn -- who has engineered several home-brewed portable conversions of popular gaming systems -- was working to rebuild a Super Nintendo into a handheld case. (Story starts here.) In the process, he goes off on a wacky tangent which somehow turns into a very clever spoof of the game "Metal Gear Solid." Today's Link Of The DayTM: Into the Routing Shop!
... continues, here at tomorrowlands.org! Heaven knows why, because most of what it involves is keeping me from getting to bed at even vaguely reasonable times. I think there's a conspiracy involved.
At this point, some of you may take my allegations with a measure of disbelief, or even humor. "A conspiracy?" you say. "Great. Bax must be suffering from ... uhm ... what's the word for that, anyway?" Glad you asked, for I will tell you, in a vaguely topical and not terribly clever attempt to fill up space, blog-style: autoparanoia, or -- to be definitive about it -- "a psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of self-persecution." But, like they say, it can't be [auto]paranoia if they really ARE after you, and I believe I can show that my suspicions are indeed founded:
SEE?!?! This is my life, folks: Living in constant fear of what I will try to do to me next. But I know I will someday triumph; I will persevere in the face of my persecution, and keep trying to get my message out to the world, because I've got the truth that I know I don't want you to hear. And that truth, ladies and gentlemen, is that we've reached today's ominously titled but mathematically clever Link Of The DayTM.
DOOOOOOOOOOM! How does that catch your eye? What about the words "doomsday algorithm"? What could it be, you ask? One of the conspiracy's secrets? The plan that will infallibly bring about the complete destruction of mankind? Some improbably mysterious schemata of the world's final hours? ... Well, actually, it's just a way of quickly calculating the day of the week of any given date, but don't let that stop you from speculating. Today's Link Of The DayTM: the doomsday algorithm!
I have not yet received any comments on ... BLOG WEEK! (Sorry for shouting, but I have traditions to uphold.) This makes me sad. So very sad. My efforts must obviously be going to waste. Either that, or I get people so distracted with the random scribblings I direct them to that they get too distracted to say anything.
Either way, this disturbing trend must end! So I'm going to add extra incentive to the system! Look:
Whee! ORAL SEX! Wouldn't that be a COOL incentive to write me a comment? Of course, that's kind of the reverse of the way the system works, but you should click it anyway; I have a bet going on with Lonita, and the loser has to make up a dirty limerick. (If you're nervous about being misinterpreted, just write "To help you win the bet!" in the comments section. If you're nervous about being misinterpreted, on the other hand, you can include your phone number.)
So stop, take a moment to click the thingy (doesn't it turn you on that I'm using such a detailed technical term?), and help me out.
... You know, I've just figured out that maybe the reason I'm not getting responses to my silly blogging is due to a general lack of controversy. Hmmm. (*rummages through links*) Well, how about this: BLACK PEOPLE ARE TERRORISTS! CHRISTIANS ARE RACISTS! There, that ought to stir up some action. Write, darn you, write!
... Eh, whatever. It's blogging; I'm not allowed to take things seriously. So, moving to to today's Link Of The DayTM ... actually, hey, why do I have to give you a LotD? I just posted three really spiffy things to distract yourself with (plus a button soliciting fellatio). ... Oh, wait, there's that whole "tradition" thing. Sigh. Okay.
Uhm, let's see. We've covered "Ping the Duck," so how about we turn that concept on its head -- an actual Internet ping performed using birds, in the world's first implementation of RFC 1149? Today's Link Of The DayTM: Carrier Pigeon Internet Protocol!
February 8, 2002 ... That's right, kiddies, it's still ...
... And it has officially driven me over the edge.
I was looking up my old Nov. 2 entry to find some arcane detail of my life back then to reminisce about. And I recognize everything that I wrote ... but none of it makes sense. Help me out here: Read the page. Am I the only one?
... Do you think this has anything to do with the LSD that The Conspiracy keeps slipping in my drink?
Anyway, while I'm staring at the pretty colors and trying to keep the room from spinning, I'll just skip forward to the Link Of The DayTM. I'll give you ... hmm ... let's see. A page about some weird, arcane mathematical crap that nobody's going to want to read; that way I can retreat to the corner and babble in peace. So this guy is describing some computer program he wrote that calculates Markov chains or something. He talks some nonsense about "Alice in Wonderland" and "Shakespeare" and "The Bible", too, but I think those are the drugs speaking. Anyway, today's Link Of The DayTM: Fun With Markov Chains!
February 9, 2002 ... Wow! I can hardly believe it. We've actually reached the end of ...
... and somehow I haven't driven away all of my readers! It's time, I think, for a self-congratulatory pat on the back and a little bit of nostalgia. I can go back over the highlights of the week -- like the running gag about The Conspiracy of me out to get me, and that dream about petrophiliac hermaphrodites. So, let's just set the Way-Back Machine back seven days ... (*fiddles with controls*) ... and do a recap.
... Should the machine be smoking like that?
One second, folks; it looks like we're experiencing technical difficulties. ... Oh, wait. Here's the problem -- I twisted the wrong knob. Ha! Ha! Seven years instead of days. Silly me. I'll just fix that, and ...
Oh, crap, it's stuck.
Where's the off switch on this thing?
Too late! IT'S ACTIVATING!!! AAAAAAAAIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!
wwwwhhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrmmmmm GGGGGcrnk kerTHUNK bbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzPHUT!
... My stars.
Okay, so, apparently, today I'm going to be talking about who I was at 17. The Way-Back Machine has replaced all of my standard web research material with the contents of eight floppy disks that have been sitting in a box in my room since high school. And I'm finding it pretty creepy. Not creepy like a respected scientist who spends years stalking you, merely creepy like remembering that you locked your dog outside two weeks ago to punish him for clawing at the curtains. There has been one bright spot in all of this, which is that I have discovered I was a much more diligent programmer than I gave myself credit for; over the course of high school, I turned out (among other diversions) five games and two surprisingly full-featured applications -- a music composer and a pseudo-instantiation of the "Dissociated Press" I tweaked readers with in yesterday's entry. On the other hand ... my writing ... well ... geuugh.
I have been called "a damn good writer", and having spent the last eight hours poring through my body of high-school work, I think that compliment (to the extent that it is true) is testament to nothing more than the improvements that time and persistence have made. There is a world of difference, for example, between "But The Garden Has No Apples" (which I don't even think is all that good; I'll probably be shuddering at it in another seven years) and "Sir Lucky". Oh, for the days when I thought that "characterization" meant giving different names to people! The days when a gripping action sequence was all that was necessary to establish audience identification with the main character!
That theme seemed to drive a great many of my early stories, actually, including the novella that I finished at 16. ("Alien Nightmares" is a bit out of the scope of this retrospective, but maybe I'll share it. Someday.) Nowhere is this more obvious than the would-be science-fiction action-movie story called "Gun Control". Oh, for the days that I could talk with a straight face about pistols having "ammo feeds" -- and the range to outshoot sniper rifles! I don't want to spoil the surprise ending, but suffice it to say that it could charitably be viewed, in retrospect, as existentialist.
Fortunately, I at least had the grace not to get stuck in a rut. For all my obliviousness at those inconsequential details like "characterization" and "plausibility," I still had a fair grasp of language and a little talent at the construction of the craft. Most of my non-fiction at the time tended to be in pursuit of schoolwork, as one would expect, but I still turned out a few pieces like "Thoughts of a Dragon in Retail." Surprisingly, very little of my writing tended toward the self-absorbed; this, however, was the exception. I like many of the descriptive passages, though, so it wasn't a total loss. (For reference, I wrote this story after I had started thinking of myself as a dragon, but before finding the dragon community. Explains a lot, I'm sure.)
I'll leave you all with something to wash the bad taste of the previous three stories out of your mouth with -- "Echoes". What you will read was actually intended to be the wrapper around a story that undoubtedly would have been of as dubious quality as its predecessors; however, I never got around to writing the story itself (save for a few paragraphs that aren't nearly as much of an embarrassment as the other links I've posted), and the ambient prose itself survived fairly well.
At any rate, let me close off BLOG WEEK! with a Link Of The DayTM to gently remind you all how much worse it could be. (I've already plumbed the depths with observations on the golden quality of the bottom 1% of writing, and mocked one author who went through his teens without learning the lessons I did, so I won't cover that ground again.) Today, I will spotlight a very interesting piece about the mythology of street kids, to remind everyone that while I may have been a poor writer as a teenager, at least I wasn't a poor writer with oddball spiritual delusions.
... Uh, actually, never mind.
One way or the other, though, today's Link Of The DayTM: Myths Over Miami!
February 12, 2002 ... I apologize in advance for the utterly gratuitous nature of this post.
Happy Mardi Gras, y'all.
So much for my secret dream of someday owning an firstname.lastname@example.org vanity e-mail address.
February 17, 2002 ... This was definitely an antisocial weekend for me. I had enough trouble just dealing with other people in the house; I'm surprised I managed to work up the energy on Friday night to post at all. Mostly I just sat around and played Starcraft. I wasn't really up to much else.
Today was much more interesting, though. I watched the movie "The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat" back-to-back with the Jackie Chan-directed "36 Crazy Fists," or whatever the heck it was called. 1970s reefer-inspired cartoon porn and 1970s ultra-low-budget kung-fu. Damn, if a situation ever called for finding some high-quality acid and getting fried out of my mind, I think that would have been it right there. Too bad I don't know the first thing about buying drugs.
How bad was it? How much did one need to be in an altered state of consciousness to enjoy these movies? Let me put it this way: The most memorable thing about "Fritz" was the main character getting anally violated by Adolf Hitler. The most memorable thing about "36 Drunken Punches" (or whatever it was called) was the MiSTed line I called out near the end of an extended fight scene (paraphrased): "They're really sparing no expense for this movie -- they just added a third sound effect!"
In other news, I have started a contest in my forums! All you have to do is decipher a paragraph of disjointed and incomprehensible rambling and you could win a fun and possibly even valuable prize! Go take a look before I run out of exclamation points!
With that, I think I'll get to bed, and try to erase the memory of "36 Smashed Hands." Maybe I should go play Counterstrike until my eyes cross; heaven knows I've had nights where I dreamed about it after too extended of a play session, so it might be worth a try. A low-level brain format doesn't sound too bad right now.
February 22, 2002 ... Apparently my antisocial weekend stretched somehow into an antisocial week. Consider this a post just to say "I'm still around"; I just got back from a gothic-industrial club (which I will write about tomorrow, for my usual value of "tomorrow") and am a little too beat to do anything more than a quick virtual wave at my readers.
February 25, 2002 ... I have been singularly devoid of inspiration for my journal posts lately. Anti-social week, heck; I think I'm going through a bona fide dry spell.
Fortunately, I've been able to turn my creative energy in other directions -- and, fortunately, other people have been creative in my stead. I spent the better part of the day switching between routine site maintenance and fiction editing; consequently, after updating the Chibi Jesus page with two new pieces, I added two Tomorrowlands stories, one of which is even my own (and has been sitting around since last millennium).
As usual, I need to get to bed. So take a break from reading about my life and go check out the above-linked items, both of which are more entertaining than listening to me blather on about llama sausage, anyway.
February 27, 2002 ... I must say, it's nice to be poor in America; our country's safety net has got to be the finest in the world.
Consider this. Over the past several months, no less than six non-profit organizations have sent me donations. Completely unsolicited! I guess they found out a little bit about me by word of mouth, or from similar groups, and decided I was the sort of person they wished to contact. So I receive a strange envelope in the mail one day, and open it up to find that, once again, I am the recipient of an unexpected gift.
What surprises me isn't the generosity; Americans are some of the most charitable people in the world. What surprises me isn't that I was chosen instead of thousands of others potentially more deserving. No, what surprises me is the sheer diversity of the groups that have seen fit to share the wealth with me. I would think that environmental organizations, animal welfare groups, and international health charities would have better things to do with their money.
It all started last year when the Veterans of Foreign Wars found me, I think. I opened my mail one day to find not only a stack of address labels, but also a wall calendar that they'd sent me. "These are yours! No obligation!" the enclosed letter stated, although they did -- perhaps sensing the discomfort most people feel when faced with acts of charity -- allow that they really wouldn't be averse to receiving a small contribution in return for their generosity. I can understand this; the idea of "pay it forward" is alive and well, and who better to ask for a contribution to ease others' suffering than those who they know have felt the pain of poverty?
The Sierra Club was next, and equally generous. They sent me several beautiful full-color postcards and a top-of-keyboard-sized calendar sticker. Unsurprisingly, they also asked for a small donation in return, and were equally laid-back in their request, respecting my current poverty. While I was pleased to have been the recipient of these two groups' generosity, I figured it would stop there. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that this has not, in fact, been the case.
I have since received gifts (and, not incidentally, donation requests) from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Doctors Without Borders, some Native American group, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Every single one of them -- as well as my insurance company and some classical music club -- sent me free address labels. I now have more address labels than I could use in a year. At the current rate of giving, I could double my consumption and still never need to buy address labels again. Truly, I am blessed.
I just hope that the next organization to give me charity sticks with something a little more traditional ... like money.
February 28, 2002 ...
Recently, Ore-Ida (a subsidiary of Heinz) released a bunch of
It's obvious to me that this new trend -- of blue french fries, purple ketchup, etc. -- is designed to cater to the market of "children who want to gross out their parents." (Okay, not exactly an original thought; I just can't remember where I originally read it.) Heck, we've got a bottle of purple ketchup in the refrigerator -- it's been sitting there for approximately four months now, as it was bought for Dave's kid Korray back when Dave was still living here, and nobody has touched it since. A little too disturbing for general consumption.
As such, I think Heinz really missed their opportunity with this expansion of "weird-colored things" from the condiment market into the food market.
I humbly submit to you the marketing campaign that would blow 'em right out of the water:
Hey, Heinz, have your people call my people. (And in case you decide your current marketing team lacks inspiration, you can always check out my resume.)
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