by j-a

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Apr, 2003


The problem with the administration and the Pentagon having misjudged the Iraqi regime's tenacity and ability to resist is not so big a deal in and of itself. Okay, they made a mistake, but they've recovered well from it. The real problem is, how many other misjudgments did they make? If they made this one, why not more? It's a chink in their armor of credibility. Even I, one of their detractors, until now have had to admit that they were competent when it came to war. But are they, really? Are they wrong about thinking that interjecting chaos into the Arab governments and street is a good thing? Only time will tell. It's either a solution to the problem of terrorism, a finishing off of the Ottoman Empire and a checking of the rising of Islam toward world domination or it's the beginning of the Final War. We'll see. Or maybe you will. Maybe I'm too old.


The press is reporting that Bush is beginning to show signs of strain. His anger management is weakening as he begins to display in public what is privately known to be his personal weakness. He's becoming "frustrated" with the press. Well, all I gotta say to Little Georgie is "Aw, is daddy's wittle boy upset with the big bad news reporters and retired service officers 'cause they won't play ball?" Grow up, dude. You've been hyping and spinning the press for a year and a half and now that they're starting to catch on, you can't take it? It's been a free ride so far, but maybe it's time to pay the price. But probably not.


Since the invasion of Iraq, a new Bushism referring to reporters attached to a military unit has come to be so widely copied by the US media it threatens become embedded in our minds as a piece of normal usage. The notion of reporters "embedded" in a military unit implies a lack of freedom if not immobility on their part and the complete control of the military unit over what they do. Come on, now; let's not include the English language among our military targets.

Suggested Usage: We recommend a continuation of the use of today's word as we used it before the invasion of Iraq, "The arrow missed Wyatt's head by less than an inch and embedded its point in the tree behind him." This does not preclude correctly focused figurative uses, "A few whiffs of truth were embedded in the generally disinformative report to seduce the unwary reader."

Dr. Language,
That embedded thing has always bothered me, but like everyone else, I've been too blinded by the great "coverage" to see the truth. It's not a way to enable better news coverage, it's a way to keep reporters quiet. Look what happened to Geraldo, et al. One false move and you're outta there, pal.


Weird long dream extended through several awakening-inducing changes about my family and I being indoctrinated into a religious cult, first in the 6023 neighborhood, transformed to be a vacation spot somewhere in the mountains, and then at my grandmother's place in Swissvale. Far too complicated to render. Although I really want to try, I don't feel that I have the time or stamina. It's a novel, when it comes right down to it, if I am to do justice to the themes, and I have too many novels in progress already. It's enough to say that it was strange, full of social intimidation, and dripping with sarcasm and personal symbolism.

It's taken me a long time to realize that my life (all of our lives) is primarily about stories. I read them. I write them. We see them on the tv every day, even on the news, which is ostensibly about events, but what are events without people? When people become involved, events become stories. Everything is about stories. Without stories, we have nothing. Cosmic events in the deep reaches of space are perhaps devoid of stories, but even then, who knows? Science is about stories. Scientists make it all happen, and scientists are people (usually). And, of course, religion is about stories, but let's not go there. That's different kind of story. We can't even get away from stories when we sleep. Dreams are the best stories of all.

It occurs to me that this is what my web site is all about--stories. I thought I was doing something else, self-promotion or career-building or something, but all I'm really doing is telling more stories. The fact that most of the stories on the website happen to me is irrelevant. Everyone tells their stories in their own way. It just so happens that mine are about my favorite person.

Edwin Starr dies. War proliferates.
Coincidence? I don't think so.

There are some things that are meant to be left alone.
Loch Ness
Bullshit. This is the attitude that has kept science in the dark so long. Nothing is meant to be left alone.

The conditions were ideal for an Arab movement. The people of Nejef and Kerbela, far in the rear of Halil Pasha's army, were in revolt against him. The surviving Arabs in Hali's army were, on his own confession, openly disloyal to Turkey. The tribes of the Hai and Euphrates would have turned our way had they seen signs of grace in the British. Had we published the promises made to the Sherif, or even the proclamation afterwards posted in captured Bagdad, and followed it up, enough local fighting men would have joined us to harry the Turkish line of communication between Bagdad and Kut. A few weeks of that, and the enemy would either have been forced to raise the siege and retire, or have themselves suffered investment, outside Kut, nearly as stringent as the investment of Townshend within it. Time to develop such a scheme could easily have been gained. Had the British headquarters in Mesopotamia obtained from the War Office eight more aeroplanes to increase the daily carriage of food to the garrison of Kut, Townshend's resistance might have been indefinitely prolonged. His defence was Turkishly impregnable; and only blunders within and without forced surrender upon him.

However, as this was not the way of the directing parties there, I returned at once to Egypt; and till the end of the war the British in Mesopotamia remained substantially an alien force invading enemy territory, with the local people passively neutral or sullenly against them, and in consequence had not the freedom of movement and elasticity of Allenby in Syria, who entered the country as a friend, with the local people actively on his side. The factors of numbers, climate and communications favoured us in Mesopotamia more than in Syria; and our higher command was, after the beginning, no less efficient and experienced. But their casualty lists compared with Allenby's, their wood-chopping tactics compared with his rapier-play, showed how formidably an adverse political situation was able to cramp a purely military operation.

T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
So. The British fucked up a hundred years ago, and they've been bullying and blundering in the area ever since, and then we come along and do the same thing. We have a chance to enter Baghdad with the people on our side, but we choose not to, so that when we return twelve years later, the locals think, "Oh yeah. Here come the Americans with the British in tow to do it to us again." [Read a book review of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom here]


I've been chipping away for many weeks at this and that project like a junky conserving his stash to make it last, making little progress, but, hey, baby steps are better than a backward slide. I do this from time to time, unmotivated, but continually searching, almost out of habit, for that one idea that will start me off on a path in some direction. And then, suddenly, I'll find one, like, now, reading The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia, in case you didn't know). For two nights now I've been sitting up all night at my computer reading the free e-book. It's one of those can't-put-it-down deals, except this is a can't-turn-it-off one. I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and now that I'm deeply into it, I'm hooked. I don't want to do anything else, not even sleep. (I do manage to get up every few hours to drag some kind of foodstuff back to the computer to munch on as I read.


Our world difficulties are born out of our cultural heritage(s). Our advancement into international affairs has been a dubious enterprise thus far. Nation-states struggle to make sense out of a divided world. But it's perfectly understandable. We are neo-tribesmen, struggling to defend our rights and privileges. Sure, we think we're so sophisticated, but we're burdened with the baggage of the culture we've developed to help us along the journey from caveman to CEO. Somewhere along that continuum between barbarism and civilization we encounter tribalism.

To the ape man, tribalism is of such significant advancement that he can't even comprehend what's going on and stands in awe of cultural activity, as if it is some form of alien colonization, like the visitation of a species of space visitors, if he could even formulate such a concept. Tribal people have similar opinions of more developed culture, with perhaps a bit more comprehension since they have evolved a rational mode, of sorts. (I'm thinking of evolution here in cultural, rather than in physical terms, of course.) They see nationalism as an unnecessary bother and can't understand why they should pledge loyalty to an organization of people, any one of whom may extend beyond the reach of their ability to contact in person within a short period of time.

The Arabs have been tribal people who have only fairly recently (within the last century) been shocked out of their former way of life. They haven't quite adjusted yet to the modern nation-state and resist much of its "appeal," even as they desire after its productive affluence. Culture is a funny thing. It binds us to our groups and blinds us to greater truths. But lest we think that nationality is an advanced replacement for more primitive tribalism, consider: it is merely tribalism on a larger, grosser scale. As individual members of a nation-state, we pledge our loyalties to an abstract concept embedded within an extended territory in order to feel "security" or "belongingness" or whatever it is we get out of the practice.

But we feel the same, often detrimental (nations go to war) selfishness as tribesmen feel when it comes to outsiders; we don't want them in, or if we allow their entry [such as when we permit immigration because our businesses have convinced our governments that they'd make more money and pay more taxes (if they can't convince the government to lower them yet again) by admitting equally skilled workers in to supplant higher paid locals], begrudgingly, we think of it as a necessary evil of existence on a global scale.

Enter internationalism, which can be a bad word in most national circles, because as nationals we see it as a potential infringement on our rights as citizens to do as we have been convinced we have the right to do and to believe that we are privileged, better than people of different nationalities, if only very slightly so, as some nationalities are so very similar to ours that it is difficult to make the distinction except along prejudicial lines. Thus, the IMF, NAFTA, etc. are seen as tools of the evil force that will carry us out of our national concerns and into a global world centralized into a monocultural society.

But most neo-tribesmen can't see a level above themselves, and even those who have developed the insight still struggle with the concept, substituting for internationalism, things like multiculturalism, which is the celebration of meta-tribalism, a mere continuation of the prejudices that allow the expectation of diversity and separation within a whole perceived as specious at best. Our true tribe, our cultural destiny, is that of earthling [not "human," because that conception excludes "lower" forms of life] and until we allow ourselves to advance socially and ethically to that point, we will remain strife-ridden neo-tribesmen guarding our extended local plains and wadis against invasion by others who would take away our produce and possessions, and murder us in our weakness.

These conclusions are solidified in my mind by The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Reading that account of the tribalism of Arabia, you can't help but see how those peoples are in the predicament(s) they are now in because they are not so socially advanced. [Gasp!] Okay, so maybe they have these great social and cultural achievements [not according to Lawrence, who attributes to them a lack of artistic temperament; and (my idea here, but maybe implicit in Lawrence's work) the great works of Arabian art may be products of Ottoman, not Arabian influence], but they lack the will (or desire, or perversity) to live together as a larger group, which is, here, my definition of advancement. This is all questionable argument, of course [they may have been developing the will ala the Arab revolt during WWI, but the Allies made sure that they were split apart into smaller nation-states to prevent their unification into a larger, more powerful one], but the point is that smaller collections of people are less globally involved and thus less "international." What's not so immediately obvious is how we (Americans, Brits, Russians, French) are in the predicament(s) we are in because we are doing the very same thing that the Arab tribes had done in Lawrence's day, but on a much larger scale and with more destructive weapons, tactics, and strategies. And then there's the Chinese. Look out. We haven't even begun that episode yet.


Today it is announced that the prison population has exceeded two million, blacks being disproportionately represented, of course. I'm afraid I have to agree with Bill O'Reilly's position on this one: Black leaders fail their people by making excuses for their incarcerated men instead of advising them to lead wholesome, law-abiding lives despite the social prejudices against them. I hate it when I agree with O'Reilly. It makes me suspect that there's something wrong with me.


It's near midnight. I'm working along at a productive rate when the space heater shuts off. I think nothing of it as I absently reach behind me to turn it up, but as the knob hits its highest setting and the heat doesn't come back on, it grabs my attention. Oh well, I think. I've been expecting for a while now that the variable switch may have been wearing out since I've been using the heater fairly steadily on less than full power all winter as it's been shutting off and on automatically and since over the last few days I've been noticing the odor of burning plastic. I wonder if I'm going to be able to replace the switch or bypass it and have it run steadily on full power. But I put the idea aside as I continue to work.

But gradually it begins to occur to me that something strange may be going on. Earlier in the evening, when I walked into the room and turned on the overhead light, the phone answering machine began to beep. I turned the light back off and it stopped. I thought that was unusual, so I tried turning some other lights on and off and the same thing happened. I noticed that only lights that were fluorescent bulbs were causing the problem and theorized that somehow they must be broadcasting some frequency that was interfering with the answerer, although I've never heard of such a thing and couldn't figure how that could happen.

So, after the heater problem begins to sink in and I start to get the idea that the problems may be connected, I get up and check to see if the plug to the heater is fully plugged in. It is. Then I check the answerer. I remove the power cord and reinsert it. Eventually, as I'm playing around with it, it stops working altogether and I can't get any power to it. I give up and go back to work, figuring I'm going to have to buy a new one.

Still later, near morning, I start to consider the problem again. I try to remove the tape from the machine and notice that it will not budge. Upon closer examination, I see that the recording heads are engaged. I can't get them to release. I manage to force the tape out, but nothing I do will release the heads. I figure I'm going to have to take the machine apart to see what's up before I end up going out and buying a new one.

Next, I take the space heater apart to see if I can bypass the switch. If I have to go out and buy a new answering machine, I might as well get parts for the heater at the same time. The screws that hold the front grill to the case hold the whole case together as well. As I remove them, I see that each screw holds four pieces of metal--the grill, the top or bottom, one of the sides, and an inner heat reflector. It's obvious that if I dismantle it, the whole thing is going to spring apart and be very difficult to align the holes to get it back together again. It's one of those cases of engineering that makes you wonder if they did it on purpose so that you will be encouraged to go out and buy a new heater rather than try to repair it. They must have special devices and procedures to put this thing together, special jigs or something to hold all the parts in place as they assemble it. But since the thing doesn't work anyway, I go ahead and dismantle it. As I remove each screw, the structure becomes more precarious. As I remove the last screw, sure enough, the case pops apart all over the place.

I examine all the electrical parts and connections. Nothing seems to be amiss. I smell the innards carefully. None of that residue burnt plastic odor. Just on a whim, I plug it into the socket above the sink and, presto. It works! The fan spins inside the dismantled case that barely hangs together. The heating elements light. I turn the knob and the switch works perfectly. Aha! A power problem. I plug it back into the extension that it had been plugged into and plug that extension into the outlet above the sink. It doesn't work. A bad extension? It can't be. It better not be. I just bought it, specifically for this heater because I needed a heavy-duty extension because I burned up the last one I tried to use, even as I used it anyway, figuring that would happen.

I remove the three-prong adapter from the end of the cord, because the outlet above the sink has a grounded socket. It works again! Not the extension. Must be the adapter. I plug it back in and try it again. And it works. Must have been not well-connected before. Thinking I've solved the problem, I plug it back into its original outlet. And it doesn't work. I jiggle it. (That's electrician terminology.) I go into the other room and try the overhead light, which hasn't been on since the recorder failed. It doesn't come on. At this point, I'm beginning to see a relationship. I shake my head, hoping to reduce some of its thickness. I get out my meter and test the outlet. No power. A blown fuse! How simple. I go downstairs and check all the fuses. None seem to be blown. Even though I know I'm going to have to reset all the clocks and electrical devices in the house (except the computer, because it has its own battery supply), I begin removing each fuse and plugging it into the basement socket to test each one. They're all good.

Now I have a real mystery on my hands. What could be the cause? A bad outlet! That was what I must have smelled. The burning plastic of the outlet. I go back upstairs and remove the outlet cover. No scorching. I get up close. No smell. I check the overhead light switch. No smell. I remove the cover. No scorching. I use the meter on it while I got it apart. No power. Then I am distracted with an aside: Hey! Maybe that's why the answering machine got jammed. I plug it into an extension cord. It unjams itself and rewinds, never stopping because there's no tape in it. I turn it off and put the tape in. It works perfectly. I reset it and move on to the real problem, happy that I don't have to buy a new machine, nor a new space heater. I take the ceiling lamp down and examine it, making another mental note that I'm going to have to install a box up there one of these days because it's not safe to leave wire-nutted wires inside a lamp base without proper protection, not to mention that it's a code violation. No signs of scorching. No odors. I struggle to put it back up again, pissed that I took it down in the first place. It takes me nearly half an hour because it's in a difficult position overhead.

By this time, it's nine in the morning... [so, I start a new journal date],


...and so, perplexed, I decide that I may as well call my brother. He's either not home or not answering. I leave him a message to call me, I have an electrical problem. I'm sure he'll think I'm just acting helpless, that if I really wanted to, I could fix it myself. But I can't fix it. I'm lost. It doesn't make any sense.

Figuring my brother will probably come over, I get the sweeper out and start cleaning up the house. This place is getting rather disgusting. At least something good is coming out of this ordeal. I realize that the outlet the answering machine is plugged into also has the AT&T phone control center plugged into it. It's been running on its batteries all night. I get out another extension cord and run it to the phone box. Now I have three extensions running through my house. (The third is to the heater, the heavy-duty cord running in from the dining room.) If my brother doesn't come over, I'll probably leave things this way for a month or two. I mean, what the hell? Everything's working again, except the overhead light, and I don't really need it. And, oh yeah, the fact that fluorescent lights seemed to have been affecting the phone when I first noticed the problem and the incandescent lights didn't? Coincidence. The incandescents were plugged into a different circuit.

It occurs to me at this point that this problem didn't just happen. It came on slowly. When I turned on the overhead lights, they hadn't come on immediately, but glowed dimly for a few seconds first as the answering machine began to flash and click. Why? The power was in the process of cutting out. As I turned the switches of the various lamps on and off, I was overloading the circuit. But why? It's still a mystery. Something was drawing excess power or limiting its flow. But what? It couldn't be a short, or a fuse would have blown. I guess that a wire could have been slowly burning up somewhere. But where? In the walls? Oh, I hope not. I hate to fish wire. And anyway, think of the danger. I didn't check the wall outlets yet where the phone and answering machine are plugged in. I hope it's one of them. That'd be easy. But I'm not going to do it now. I'm too tired. I'm going to take a nap and fall asleep as I watch the Iraqis tear down all the statues of Saddam Hussein.

I don't dispute the Arabian point of view that the U.S. attack on Iraq is a [maybe (not so) subtle] form of imperialism. In my mind, the developed policies of the Rumfeld/Wolfowitz group fit very nicely into Bush Sr's New World Order, which is code for transformation into global capitalist "democracy." The only real question I have has to do with whether or not this imperialist endeavor is a good or bad thing. I can see it both ways. Although the Arabian (and other second or third world) countries have every right to assert their existence as autonomous states with whatever kind of government they want, nevertheless, many states are in fact, as the Bush administration contends, brutal dictatorships that oppress minorities and even majorities and carry out campaigns of genocide and terror. It's way beyond the time on this planet for the continued existence of these types of "social" organizations. They should be done away with. But the question is, how? By force? I am undecided. In one sense, I feel that what is happening is inevitable, given human history, psychology, and self-fulfilling prophecy. But in another sense, I feel we should be far better as a species than we are and have been at dealing with these kinds of situations. But I guess not.

It's easy to feel that Bush, et al. have been right, as the jubilant Iraqis, upon the coalition announcement that Saddam is no longer in charge, party in the streets and tear down the dictator's statues. It's easy to dismiss Arab criticisms now. Even they must be thinking, watching the unfolding events in Baghdad, that they might be wrong. But is might right, after all?

So, my brother calls late this morning, just as I'm about to go to bed. He says he'll be over this afternoon. So, now I have to stay up, exhausted.

He arrives at about two and we begin to trace circuits and examine plugs and switches. Pretty soon we have the whole house torn apart, furniture in the middles of the rooms, and half the switches and outlet boxes pulled out. But we can't find the problem. We unplug everything and get a little bit of power to the previously dead circuit, far less than 110v. So there must be some partially broken wiring somewhere. Just as he's about to give up and return tomorrow, I remember an outlet box that I'd forgotten was there, inside a cupboard above the microwave. He tells me to go back into the bedroom and turn on the breaker so that he can test it, but before I can even go to do it, he pushes his tester into the outlet and it disintegrates right before our eyes. That's what was smoldering. He says he'll return tomorrow afternoon to rewire it. As he's leaving, he mentions again (he's told me about it before) the 30 amp fuses I have on fifteen and twenty amp circuits in the basement. I say I know, but I need them to prevent them blowing all the time. There's too much on each circuit. He says that if I'd have had the right fuses, my outlets wouldn't be burning up, but I already know this. So I say let's replace the panel with a breaker box. I've been planning on doing this for a while now. He says we'll do it in a few weeks, which could mean months, or even years.


Got up before I wanted to (2:15 pm) to await the arrival of my brother, who never shows up. But it occurs to me that I could do the repairs myself. And I don't have even have to replace the outlet. I never used it anyway, and who needs a place to plug in even more appliances? I can just wire the connection together and put a junction box in later. That'll make three boxes that I need to install now, and the other two have been waiting for several years for their timely installation. I better get to it and stop fooling around before I burn this place to the ground.


Dead Tree

Outside the window
branches wave goodbye in wind.
But they never leave.

Inside my psyche
ideas struggle, to be
beyond the window.


Once you start compromising your thoughts,
you're a candidate for mediocrity.
Neil Simon, Biloxi Blues
Royce showed up, several hours late, and finished fixing the electric. Everything is back to normal--or rather, the electricity is back to normal. Not too much is normal around here to begin with. After he finished, we had a long talk about politics and the war and I got to show off my recently acquired knowledge of the Arabs. I think I impressed him. Big deal.

Now, I'm beginning to realize some things, about my brother and about myself. I start off by thinking about some misinformation he fed me: that Geraldo was fired for what he said while with the army in Iraq. I said that he was not, but Royce insisted that he was, so I came to believe that he had been, subsequent to the last reports I'd heard on tv. It was a natural conclusion for me to come to because a lot of the pundits had been calling for his dismissal, some of them reasoning that if Peter Arnett had been fired, then why not Geraldo? But now, as I write, I have my ATI TV player open in a window, and there's Geraldo reporting for FOX. Royce was wrong.

Next, I begin to think about all of the bad information I've gotten from Royce over the years, nothing significant, little erroneous details that he will make up, either because he's been misinformed, or because he's misinformed himself when he thinks he knows what he's talking about, but doesn't. I make the connection: our dad used to do the same thing. I remember once when Dad insisted that among the lyrics to the theme song for "All In The Family" that Archie and Edith sang were the words "Gee, were all those sour red grapes." Everyone else claimed that those could not be the lyrics, that they didn't even make sense, but Dad adamantly insisted that they were, even to the point of claiming that they read the lyrics on tv.

Coincidentally, a few weeks later, Parade magazine printed the lyrics. I confronted him with these, particularly with "Gee our old LaSalle ran great," but he refused to admit that this was right and went on insisting that his lyrics were the real ones. Royce is not this bad, often changing his mind when I am able to get through to him and convince him that some of the things he says have been wrong--when I am able to learn, discern, or intuit the truth. But he's heading in that direction.

Which brings me to my next point: I've caught myself doing this same thing [I've always wanted to use double colon constructions, but I've never thought it proper grammar, until I saw it used in T.E Lawrence's book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I know it could be argued that this was written a century ago and writing styles have changed, but I don't care. Any weak rationalization is good enough for me. So, here's the second colon]: I sometimes make things up, especially when I'm in a heated discussion and seem to be coming up short and losing the argument, and very especially when I know I'm right and others are wrong, but I don't have the ammunition to prove it. I have a talent for convincing people that dubious or out-and-out erroneous facts are true in order to make myself look informed or erudite. Lately, over the last ten or so years, I've been guarding against this tendency, usually by shutting up and allowing others to make their points, whether or not they are correct, when I see that I'm being dragged into a discussion not seeming worthy of "winning." It's not worth the penalty of later being found out and, anyway, my secretly knowing the truth can be an empowering position.

So I conclude that my brother will do this same thing, and that it may be a family trait. A few months ago when I was talking to my sister and her husband on the phone, I made a statement that I immediately thought could be misinterpreted. In response to some comment, I forget what, I said something like "The Jackson family is very good at pretending to know a lot more than they do." After I said it, I thought that my sister could take that as an insult. But to further qualify it seemed inappropriate at the time. But, now, I explain that this is what I mean: that we (at least I, my brother, and our dad) have demonstrated a talent for stretching the truth, at best, to make a point. Maybe it doesn't apply to the female members of our family. I can't remember any instance where my sister or my mother acted in this way, but then again, I never watched for it.

Next, I begin to think about the claim my brother made that he was a college graduate, when I could have sworn he dropped out of school in his junior year after transferring to Pitt from the local community college and finding the advanced engineering math and physics too difficult. I call him on this, and he says, no, he graduated. This subject came up because he saw a Pitt alumni magazine on my kitchen counter and wondered why he didn't get one, and I wondered why he should, since he didn't graduate. But now, I'm thinking that he may have managed to convince me, and maybe even himself, that he graduated when he didn't. I'm not 100% sure about this, so I reserve judgment until I can ask someone. But the only people I can think to ask are my sister or Royce's wife, and I suspect that my sister may end up expressing the same doubts as I do.

This brings me to my final and most poignant point: I write a lot of stuff in my journals, especially about my family, that is somewhat delicate in nature, and so I will, from time to time, self-censor the material so that, on the off chance that someone in my family will discover this online journal, or someone who knows them will discover it and point them to it, they will not read anything so shattering to their egos that they will think that, from that point on, they must avoid me or guard what they will say to me. (Actually, if they do either, it will not bother me so much as it should.) But, the whole point is: people know that I'm a writer. What do they think I do, make stuff up? Even when I do make stuff up, it comes from somewhere, and that place it comes from is my life, which they share when they interact with me. If they don't want to see themselves in print, then they shouldn't associate with me, they should stay away from me, because if they tell me something or do something that I come to know of and I react to it to the degree that it makes me want to document it, then I may end up publishing it, in one form or another. It's my art. It's what I do. I write it out, to try to make sense of it, to interpret it, to make it more accessible to my ego when otherwise it might grate upon my psyche and cause internal dissonance. Through writing, I figure things out. And I justify the time I spend in this isolated pursuit by publishing what I write. And the more I choose not to publish, for whatever reason, the more sense of self is disturbed, in that I am not so forthcoming as I could be, which is not so good a thing for a writer to be. So, this is my new manifesto (I've decided this before, but my resolve always seems to drift unconsciously away, yet each time I decide, I make a little headway, publishing a few more pieces): I'm going to stop self-censoring my art. I'm going to go back through my "private html pages" and integrate them back into my online journals. Not to do so is a compromise I no longer want to make. I mean, what if I complained about them talking behind my back? (Which they will do.) What if I felt that they should censor themselves to prevent me from discovering their true thoughts and opinions of me? How would they take that insistence? Not very well, I think. It's their art, gossiping and back-biting. It's what they do. Should I be allowed to attempt to compromise it? Only if they're very weak-willed, which they certainly are not. And neither am I, when it comes into to my attention.


Thinking some more about my brother. He definitely wanted something yesterday. When he called the other day to tell me he hadn't forgot about me and that he'd be over the next day, I told him that I could install the junction box myself, now that I knew what the problem was. But he insisted that he come over and do it himself. Then, the next day, after he finished the work, he hung around, accepted the cup of coffee I offered him, which he usually doesn't do, always seeming anxious to get somewhere else, and he sat and talked for quite awhile, despite the fact that he said he had to go and pick up the kids at the hockey rink. He wanted to talk, and maybe not just about the politics we spoke of. Maybe he wanted to confide something in me (that's my intuition), but he couldn't find the opportunity, or the nerve.

Earlier, he had told me that the kids were playing in a tournament and asked if I wanted to go and watch them play, but I declined, saying it was too cold. He jokingly ridiculed me, saying that it was 55 degrees outside and asking me if I was getting old. I said that I always hated the cold. Actually, it was just an excuse. I just didn't feel like going out. I felt kind of tired from not having gotten enough sleep, and I either wanted to work at the computer or take a nap. But now I feel that he may have felt kind of disappointed that I didn't want to go, that maybe he wanted to use the opportunity standing around the hockey rink to warm up to confiding in me. But maybe not. It's just a feeling. It could be transference, but it could be pure imagination too.


Spent the whole evening and on until morning on the Net researching laptops, external hard drives, and RAM, and I finally ended up buying a used laptop (Dell Latitude) for (can you believe it?) $89, guaranteed (for 60 days) to work and returnable (less shipping) within seven days for any reason whatsoever. All I need it for is word processing and reading ebooks, so that I can work outside in the summer and in my bedroom under warm blankets in the winter, so I almost bought one of several 486's, selling for $125 to $150, but I held out and finally found this P1. I hope I'm not disappointed with it. I had to add another $19 for the OS (Win95) and since I was doing it anyway, I thought I might as well add another $20 and get the CD, just in case it had to be reinstalled. But then, too late, I realized that the laptop doesn't have a CD-ROM. Duh. But I'm already hatching schemes for connecting it to my desktop and/or adding an external CD-ROM. I hope I'm not disappointed with it and end up wishing I would have spent another hundred and gotten a P3 with a 2G HD and a modem. But this one's adaptable to the net via cards (2 slots), so I guess I'll be okay if I should want to do that, though I can't imagine why. Surfing the net in bed, maybe? But I'm seriously thinking about going Wi-Fi soon, so why put any more money into hardware now?


Went shopping this afternoon, and then came home and cleaned the counter around the microwave that got all messed up when the outlet burned up. It was a mess behind that microwave, so I took everything off the counter and cleaned the whole thing, and then I cleaned each little spice bottle as I put it back in place. I'm feeling kind of speedy now after all that and I want to keep on going, but I need sleep, so it's time to call it an afternoon and head off for a siesta. Adios, muchachos and muchachas. See you soon.

I had gone so long without sleep and had had so little even before that, that I slept deeply for six hours and then dreamed incredible dreams (that I can't remember) for the next two hours. Now I feel groggy and wasted, but somewhat satisfied. It's eleven at night and it's not likely that I'll be sleeping any more anytime soon, so I guess that shoots tomorrow too, unless I can mange to get a few hours sleep at dawn.


I spent the whole night rearranging the files on my hard drive, deleting stuff I don't need, re-filing things in their (more) proper places, changing directories and subdirectories, and transferring less needed files to CD-RWs. Before I did that, I started out by editing a song, cutting it's length down, eliminating the lame parts (it's from a musical where characters talk over the music in some places), fading out the end, and "dumbing down" the quality from 44,100 to 22,050Hz and stereo to mono so that it takes up less space on the server so that the download is faster. I've been planning to post this for a long time because it's referenced in my Dec '02 journal, but I hadn't gotten around to it until now, and that's about how far backed up I am, except that I've been posting my Jan, Feb, and Mar journals too, figuring that when I finish one, I'll be close to finishing them all and so be caught up. Did that make sense? Oh, well, never mind. No one's reading this stuff any more anyway. Traffic has dropped off severely.

Now, that spacey feeling is starting to return. I think I'll have a beer and go to bed. (I've been drinking beer lately...well...not lately, last night was the first one I had in about two months, but I figure if I'm careful and never drink more than one and pay close attention to my heart rhythm, I can afford a little bit of buzzy luxury once in a while).

But...instead of going to bed, I go outside for some reason, I can't remember what, and while I'm out, it just strikes me that I can mow the lawn. A completely spontaneous motivation. I check the gas, and it's low, so I go up to the shed to get the gas can, but it's empty. I figure I'll only mow the front lawn near the street, but I'm on a roll, and so I continue--too far, as usual. I push myself too hard. I manage to get the whole lawn done without running out of gas. But, overheated, I go inside, grab my water bottle, turn on the fan, and collapse on the bed. I've got to stop over-extending myself. When I was a kid, I did that all the time and never thought twice about it. But I'm not a kid any more, and I'm not in the kind of aerobic shape that I used to be.

Whew! After a six-hour "nap," I start up the computer and immediately get an error message. Windows won't start. So I go into safe mode, but no help. I fart around for over an hour, but can't figure out the problem. I manage to get it booted, but at 640x480 res, 256 color, and I can't change it. I sweat through the lame MS help files until I find the restore registry suggestion. I restore yesterday's registry works! Close call. I must have done something to the registry when I moved all those files around yesterday. Or maybe it was Ad-Aware that did it. I ran that yesterday and it found and deleted two "suspected" keys.


As I was cooking lunch (a rump roast cut up into thick steaks and fried in a skillet; I'm back on Atkins again and down to my ideal weight), I wanted to cut up some garlic, but I'm out of it. So I made a note to buy some at the store. But then, I remembered: it's growing all over the place in my yard, having spread out of the beds I put it in tw years ago, and when I cut the grass yesterday, I intentionally avoided mowing it, so that it looks like I left tiny high patches of grass uncut in the middle of my yard. I'm going to have to go out and harvest some of it, the stuff most centrally located, so that I don't have to avoid cutting around it.


...the flight or fight response hasn't changed. Sometimes it is still useful; a demanding job can lead to a sense of pride; a bout of precurtain jitters can motivate a spectacular performance. But many modern stresses are continuing, not acute, and arise in situations we can neither fight not flee: an unreasonable boss, a harrowing commute, a stormy relationship, a plummeting stock market, a general sense that life is out of control.

While some stress hormones can't stay elevated indefinitely, glucocorticoids can and do. Cortisol in particular can weaken the immune system, potentially making...infectious diseases worse.

"The Power of Mood"
Michael D. Lemonick,
Time Magazine,
Jan 20, 2003
I awaken thinking about social anxiety:

When I was young and actively socially anxious, I walked around consciously cut-off, separated from the world--not really, but that's the way I defined it, unconsciously, so that I consciously came to see myself as an independent entity, pretending, especially to myself, that I didn't need anyone. This was my defense against the anxiety, excluding people, which resulted in steel-hard stomach muscles tensed amid a wiry frame. I was definitely affected by an outside world peopled with busybodies and assholes who continually tried to execute conscious and unconscious agendas designed to manipulate me. I felt continually assailed in this regard, always guarding against it and retreating from it, never quite knowing why, only that I wanted to be away from these kinds of people, which most people were.

I took me a long time to figure out what was "wrong" with me, and I eventually concluded, perhaps not quite so accurately, that there was more wrong with the world than with myself. Meanwhile, I restricted myself to close friends, never wanting to meet or associate with strangers, yet genuinely gregarious with people I knew well. This pathology (or self-protective strategy) extended even to the telephone. I hated to talk to anyone I didn't know on the phone, especially if I had to call them, and very especially re a formal business matter.

Now, I am no longer so affected, although, as in the past, if I were, why wouldn't it still be unconscious? Mostly because, I do feel it, when it happens, occasionally, when I am tired and want to retreat and be alone, not feeling "up" to taking on the world. I can still suffer from social anxiety, but not so much any more. Mostly, I am (more) comfortable when I am out among people than I had been when I was younger. I attribute this to a natural aging process, to successful therapy, and, not at all least, to the fact that I associate with people far less than ever in my life, even when I was a reclusive teenager, which keeps me from having to remain in stressful situations for long periods of time with no respite.

I think of this in light of Royce's visit the other day. He said that his son, Roy, has a fear of talking on the phone. I already knew this, and I've observed in him (intuited/transferred) a far deeper anxiety than simple phone phobia. In fact, he spends a lot of time on the phone with friends, and he's developed a certain social charm to cover up the anxiety he feels, not so much for his own benefit as to control his public appearance, much in the same way as I did when I was young (and still?)

And I see that Royce also has this same kind of problem, as when, for example, he had me calling for prices for the Dumpster and to arrange for it's rental when we cleaned out that house a few months ago. I feel like he had me call because he felt a certain anxiety about calling himself.

And Dad, he felt it too, I can see now, in retrospect. But, like all of us, he could be charming. In fact, he may have outdone us all in that regard, although Roy may prove to be his equal as he grows older and "assimilates" into society. No one would ever have imagined that Dad suffered from social anxiety and a desire to retreat. He was that well covered up and disguising it via an outward gregariousness. (I should have seen this a lot earlier than I did, knowing how personality traits have their origins in their opposites.) Often, out of self-defense, what we are is exactly opposed to what we pretend to be.

I finally got enough sleep. Nine and a half hours. And now it's eleven-thirty at night, and nothing to do but write. Hey, that rhymes! I should write some poetry.

As I lie in bed, half-awake, I hear a deep pulsing sound as if in the far distance. It's the new neighbor kid again, adjusting his bass speakers in the trunk of his car.

It's a very disturbing sound, when the trunk is open. When he drives up the street, you can hear him coming (that's the whole idea, I guess; attention).

But when he's in his driveway with the trunk open, it's a whole other thing. On the street, it's a tolerable sound. In the driveway, it vibrates the house timbers.

But I'm at the back of the house, groggy, and it doesn't seem to be affecting me now. Besides, he only adjusts them for a few minutes and then close the trunk.

Lots of dreams, too many to enumerate: here're the highlights:

1) I am John Travolta (I was watching Get Shorty as I was falling asleep). I can't remember what I was doing, but it was very empowering, whatever it was.

2) Mason is "relaxing" in a "yard" (more like a tamed piece of leveled hillside at the side of and above Poketa Road, adjacent to a hillside house. He's brought a couch and has set it on the lawn. There's a huge (2x3 feet) AT&T box at side of house. I plug an extension cord into it and run it over to the yard and plug in a printer, which immediately starts printing out a huge amount of 8.5" accordion-fold paper. The text is some kind of esoteric and "significant" material generated by AT&T. A guy comes out of the house. I figure he'll be mad, but he isn't. Anyway, it turns out to be AT&T's power, not his. And it's not his yard either, although it is adjacent to his house. He's very interested in the printouts. He's some kind of a liberal computer programmer. Mason winds up his lounging activities and leaves. I follow him through a door and down stairs that is the hallway of apartments along the road. At the bottom of the stairs at the end of a long hallway, a door opens onto Verona Road. I say goodbye to him there and begin to return to the area above, but I can't find the door at the top of the stairs. I check a door to the right, knowing as I do it that it's not the right one, it's someone's apartment. So I close the door, but instead of being careful so that no one hears me, I slam it. A voice from inside shouts "Is that you, ___?" [The landlord.] I hurry away so as not to be discovered having opened the door. [I'm looking for something, but wary of it being discovered that I'm looking. But I slam the door, thus calling attention to myself. I'm not being very secretive. Is this the way I write and publish, not really wanting to be read (i.e., known), but wanting the attention nevertheless, i.e., wanting to be known as a writer? In other words, is this a schizoid reaction (identical with the attention/withdrawal above)?] I hurry outside and walk up the hill to the yard, but everything is back to normal, no couch, just a plain, abandoned hillside. I walk on up the hill.

I guess I remembered more of that dream than I realized. I hadn't intended to write so much.


Actor Tim Robbins pleaded with listeners at the National Press Club yesterday to "defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism" after calling some members of the press "Aussie gossip rags" and "talk-radio patriots."
More and more I find myself alienated by the administration's wolves as they continue to foist their agenda onto the American public. Is this The Fourth Turning beginning to take a stronger hold? I want to develop a series of comprehensive arguments against the current warlike mindset. But I just don't have the energy. I could, if I so chose, take a completely rational, even empirical position toward life, like Gus, for example, who demonstrates in his journal the result of the best of a liberal/scientific education applied to everyday life. But that would be no fun to me, to be always so logically correct. I could do it. I have the penchant for it, and the background. But if I chose to do it, I might be ignoring nuances that are only guessed at (or ignored) by our established and advancing sciences. Maybe these "suggestions" are nothing more than ephemera, but if they are not, I do not want to be excluded from a potential revelation by a strictly scientific mindset.

In any case, to discount phenomena because they might not exist in "reality" is to disregard a segment of (post)modern (and ancient) thought, and I am, after all a psychologist. I don't want to disconsider what might be affecting this world of humans, even when it is not "real." And I am a writer too, one who prefers to incorporate others' ideas into his work, no matter how outlandish they may be--in fact, the more bizarre the better, because I am also a rebel who will use any hair-brained idea to stir up a populace of trouble if I can, even if I don't believe or only half-believe the craziness I use to do it; and I feel the ideas of others impinge upon my psyche, even when I disbelieve them.

I reflect the world I live in, even as I often disagree with it. I express myself as world opinion, to be a part of it, to fit in, when I will feel I don't, even as I extricate myself and stand (what I think is) apart. Yes, I could be a sensible and levelheaded, rational, reasonable, scientific sort of guy. But what fun is that? It's so boring. It's so unpoetic. It's far more (self-) entertaining to be outlandish. So, instead of developing logical arguments against the warmongers in charge, I take controversial and radical stances and incite dissent and thus dissent against dissent. It makes the world more interesting.

The bass is back again, this time from a different vehicle, an SUV that sits in the driveway next door with the doors open and a guy's fat ass hanging out the back seat as he works on his speakers in the back. This is even worse (or better, depending on your sense of music/sound/radical approach to life--I'd appreciate this tactic if it weren't right next door) than
the previous noise. The windows vibrate. Dishes rattle in the cupboards. It doesn't go on for so very long. But it keeps returning, now and again.

What I need is a big time version of a noise reduction device. I wonder if that technology is perfected, waveforms generated by negatively amplifying signals and re-broadcasting them to exactly counteract the original sound. I'm going to have to research that on the net.


Easter Day. Kim called last night at 9:30 and invited me over for Easter. Now I've got to be careful. If I eat a good healthy breakfast, maybe I can avoid sucking up all the Easter candy and not have to crash on Atkins again.

We're sitting in my brother's living room, watching tv. I hear tires squeal, but think nothing of it, but Royce asks if I heard a crash. I say, no, I didn't. But he thinks he did, and Randy comes downstairs to see what happened, so we go outside. Up on the main road there's an accident, so we walk up. Two cars are at the light, the one that had been traveling up Verona Road having plowed into the side of the one pulling out from the traffic light. Two old ladies in one car, a woman and her eighty-five year old mother. A middle aged man in the other.

Paul Truschel is standing in the middle of the road, next to the two cars. I walk up to him and ask him if anyone was hurt. He says, no, everyone seems to be all right. That's the extent of our conversation--matter-of-fact and terse, like it always is, a kind of shorthand acknowledgement of each other's presence. We're both too cool to take it any further, usually, unless there's something more to say, some bit of business to transact, some reason to say something more.

Then a car pulls up and a girl gets out, fairly young, but dressed in her Easter best, a beige knit dress that hugs her body and makes her look thin and trim (which she is anyway). I mean, she looks good and I can't keep my eyes off her, even though I know that she's way too young for me. She's got this adorable face that's difficult to describe, like Ellen Barkin's, but darker, and rounder, yet slim, the roundness created by the way her dark brown hair frames her face. I've seen this kind of face before, but I can't remember where. It's ideal.

The girl is related to the women in the car, apparently, and she goes to them. But she keeps looking over her shoulder at me. I can't get over the fact that she's taking an interest in me. It's very intimidating. Her beauty overwhelms me. Later, as she's standing by the EMS vehicle, she turns and stares at me for a long time.

Later, back at the house, Kim and I, as she prepares dinner, begin a conversation about movies that transitions into homosexual sex and then theology. And we pick it up at that point later in the living room. She tells me about James, the brother of Jesus, about the fact that they think they've found his tomb, thus proving his existence to the consternation of traditional Catholics. She asks me my opinion, and so I start out on one of my favorite lectures about Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, etc. I impress myself. I haven't talked in this inspired way in several years, and my throat starts to get sore from all the talking I've been doing all day. Apparently I impressed Kim too, not perhaps with the material, but with the quantity, because she commented about how much I've been talking. Usually, I'm not so readily vociferous.

On the way home, I drive past a ten-speed bicycle that's being thrown out in the trash. I'd seen it earlier that day. I think that I should get it, but I don't. But by the time I get home, I decide that I want it, so I go back out. It's in good shape, missing a seat, but otherwise street-ready, and there are two extra wheels with it, in new condition.

When I get back home, I see that my neighbor has thrown out a complete set of free weights, so I go and get them too. I figure I can use the dumbbells to replace my gallon water bottle that I use to exercise my arms to try to keep them from deteriorating any further, since I'm losing all of my muscle mass from lack of exercise. And I can give the rest of the weights to my nephew if he wants them.


Sometimes things just fall together. Today is such a day. I'm typing this on my new (i.e., reconditioned--purchased for $89) Dell Latitude XPi while sitting in bed. This laptop is far more than I'd hoped for. I just finished reading a chapter of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom on it. I'm pleased as I can be and grinning from ear to ear. This is too much. I'm going to regret it later that I am being so self-satisfied, I just know it.

I got up at five-thirty this morning and worked at the (desktop) computer until noon (my ideal day; when I put in this much work in half-a-day, I figure that's a full day's work). Then I got ready and went up to the bank, because I had to transfer some money out of my passbook savings account in order to pay some bills. (My checking account had been run down to almost nothing, and my statement savings account also.)

So, while I was at it, I planned out my finances for the next year or so and put as much money as I could into U.S. Savings Bonds, because that was where I can get the most interest without tying my money up for a ridiculous length of time for a few tenths more of a percentage point.

On the way home, I stopped at Big Lot, just on a whim, and I found the glue sticks for my glue gun. I'd been looking for them for over a year. I also bought a pair of linesman pliers for $1.39 and a pry bar for $1.15. Great prices.

When I got back home, I looked around for something to do, even though I'd rather have taken a nap. But I'm holding out so that I can get onto a schedule of sleeping nights. So I went out and patched the roof. I don't know why I avoid doing that. It's so easy, especially since I've left the ladder sitting out beside the house. I patched about ten feet along the edge by the kitchen, which is where the leak is, but I want to redo the whole edge and create a drip edge into the gutter, because I think the water is seeping up underneath the edge and getting in down behind the fascia.

Then, after I went back inside, UPS arrived with this new toy. Great day so far, and it's only six o'clock.


Angels, if they exist, would be well "in tune" with another world, which is a dimensional extension of this world, but on a finer scale and "connected" (ala 'meta' levels) with other parts of this universe (ala the theory that light can be on two sides of the universe at the same time) as well as other universes. Thus, angels, if mistaken for humans, might seem "distant" or "detached," when in fact they would be "super-attached," but to a realm that humans cannot perceive. This is all, of course, predicated upon the fact that they exist at all, which is arguable. But it's good material for fantasy and points to a human mental condition that causes us to need to believe in such phenomena.

A more realistic, or perhaps more plausible (but not much), possibility is that angels are projected aspects of our own (less than) individual psychologies, meta-levels of experience where we interact with each other on a more intimate level than our grosser earth-bound mentalities allow. I like this theory better from a "scientific" point of view, but it's not so good as fodder for the fantasies.


My recent electrical problem has caused me to think a lot about my brother. I wrote an e-mail to my sister asking her if she knew for a fact that he'd graduated from college, and she replied that she didn't think he had. When he was over here fixing the electric and saw the Pitt alumni magazine lying on my counter and wondered why he never got one, I said they probably only sent them to graduates. He said he was a graduate. I said that I thought he'd dropped out in his junior year after he transferred to Pitt. He said, no he had a degree. I asked him what kind of a degree, and he stumbled, as if he were trying to think what it was called. I said "A Bachelor's?" and he said "Yeah."

At first I believed him, thinking I had been wrong. But after he left, as I thought about it, I concluded that he was lying. Once, a while ago, when we were working in Eastern PA for CVS, he'd said that same thing to a pharmacist when the guy was being a dick and bragging about his college education, acting as if he were better than us because we were only electricians. So, I made sure that the guy knew that I was a college graduate too, and Royce said the same thing, but I figured that he was just helping to put the guy in his place.

Kim had told me that Royce felt threatened when she finally got her degree, and he even told her that he was worried that now that she graduated, she might decide to leave him. So, I wonder if he feels he has to lie to make himself look good. I can understand how he might want to do that with people he doesn't know, but it's kind of strange that he would try to convince me.


I knew I shouldn't have been gloating. When I started up my new laptop today, I got the error message: "hard-disk controller failure." I putzed around with it for hours. The problem was intermittent and I figured I was going to have to return it for repair. I composed an e-mail outlining all of the details, including how ScanDisk would not complete its tasks and how the machine, when I would manage to get it to boot, would suddenly lock up or shut down for no reason. Then I discovered the problem: the removable hard disk would disconnect itself when the lock down was fully engaged. I had noticed the lock button not fully pushed in and had pushed it in, and that's when the problems began. Something about pushing in the lock button causes the hard drive to unseat itself. Not a major problem, unless you don't know what it is. I expect minor maladies like this when I buy a used machine so cheaply.

But a more important matter is: my reaction to this "crisis." Far from considering it a fault, and unlike many of my other traits, I take pride in my social reticence and ability to withdraw and exist as if entirely on my own, separated from society. I consider detachment a virtue and relish my long bouts of doing without this and that and that other thing, society included. I can remember times past, fasting for days, holding out against some prevailing social manipulation or (what I had considered an) indelicacy, forced upon me by a world in which I, of necessity, had to participate. Those days are long gone, but I still keep in practice by retiring into my house for days on end, or even into my bedroom, coming out only for meals and closing down normal mentality by filling my mind with tv, stupid movies, and fantasies.

Consequently, when I come upon days like today where something goes wrong and I feel the subtlety of stress begin to take hold in reaction to something like the hard-disk failure, all I want to do is retreat, instead of dealing with the problem. I want to make the problem go away, and I do, by retreating into a personal world that I totally control and pretending that the real world doesn't exist at all. But it is a far more difficult thing to decide to do this when there is money involved. When it's going to cost me socially, hey, no problem. Fuck society. But when it's going to cost me financially, I stand up to the world and face the stress, in order to save the money or to minimize its loss.

So this is what I did: I began to write an e-mail outlining the problem, figuring I was going to have to return the laptop for repairs and call my credit card company and put a hold on payment until the repairs were made. And as I set about to accomplish this, working with the laptop, tracing through each individual step and documenting the results, I managed to discover what the problem was, and how I could live with it by not quite fully seating the hard drive and leaving the lock down unlocked. So, satisfied, and a bit worn out, I retreated into my bedroom and watched tv until I fell asleep.

I seem to be in a delicate condition right now, susceptible in ways that I usually have not been recently, feeling that I need to hold out against the onslaught of the world, which isn't being so difficult of late. But I am. This will happen in the spring, the transition between having accustomed myself to a winter mentality and now unconsciously (I suppose) wanting to get out and about, but fighting it. It's an internal conflict, to which I apply the tactic of retreat, abandoning my goal-oriented behavior and turning inward, meditating upon fantasies (or is that fantasizing on meditations?) and leaving until tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, the work I feel that I must do.


Worked all morning and then thought that the day was done, because I didn't feel like doing anything, especially going out shopping before it rained, which I thought I should do because this is going to be the last nice day for a few. I figured I'd go to bed, but I forced myself to go out, and then keep going, and I got a lot of stuff I've been planning on buying for a long time, but never got around to it: material to patch the roof, outdoor fluorescent bug bulbs for the porch light, a case for my new laptop, four loaves of bread at the Brownberry Oven discount outlet, four pounds of cheese (on sale; guess what I'll be eating for the next few weeks), a cover for the junction box we put in last week, a three-pack of CD-RWs, and a tool caddy that wraps around the inside and outside of a five gallon plastic pail--pretty cool. I've already got it loaded up with my tools. I was really getting fed up with having to dig through that old toolbox and never being able to find anything. And I've only been doing that for ten or twelve years. It was a great day outside. Great weather. Like summer. I really miss the summer weather and look forward to it so much.

If you would see the model for the World Government that is to rule your grandchildren, look to Europe. For it is rising there.
On top of the national governments of Europe has been added a new layer of transnational government. A new and more distant socialist bureaucracy has arisen to be piled on top of the old state bureaucracies. With this difference: These new bureaucrats have no loyalty to any country.
Moreover, as the EU has evolved, it has expanded its powers, intruding in areas formerly the province of parliaments: labor law, social policy, budgets, environmental policy, immigration policy.
Comes now the demand for "harmonization." This means that all rules, regulations and laws written in Brussels are to be imposed upon all the nation-states of the EU.
Why have the peoples of Europe surrendered their independence and sovereignty to bureaucrats over whom they have no control? Because they are being bribed with a promise of cradle-to-grave security. The promise of the new regime is this: We will guarantee you a job, unemployment insurance, medical care, pensions for your old age, and free time to enjoy the bread and circuses of modernity: TV, sex, sports, films, travel.
Patrick J. Buchanan
"Tony Blair: President of Europe?"
April 21, 2003
But Pat, Europe is only motivated to coalesce because it feels it cannot compete with the U.S. (and now China). We, America, are a transnational government, with federal bureaucrats disconcerned with states' rights. We took a number of disparate states and formed them into a union, much as Europe is doing now in order to compete, so that we will not dominate them so very much. We did this in order to provide Americans with all of the things that Europe now wants. All of your criticisms against transnational government are those same criticisms made by libertarians against the federal government. And anyway, a global government is inevitable. The real question is not whether there will be one, but whom will it disenfranchise when it arrives?


i think perhaps most of us have narcissistic tendencies to some degree or
another as this society is pretty narcissistic. and it's hard to be

contrary to popular belief, narcissism doesn't mean that you love yourself.
narcissists actually have very low self worth.

an obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
a lack of psychological awareness
difficulty with empathy
problems distinguishing the self from others
hypersensitivity to any slights or imagined insults
vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
(taken from here: )

i can pretty much meld and mold
myself to any situation and become whatever anyone wants me to be. i study
my narcissists perpetrators like gods. almost as if i have a telepathic link
to them and i, through sheer observation BECOME them. i sit and think...who
are they and what must it be like to think like them and BE them? because i
have had my boundries infringed upon in the most violent of ways...i become
my attacker so that maybe through this i will get their validation OR at

ana voog, e-mail

an obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges [me]
a lack of psychological awareness [not me, at all]
difficulty with empathy [not me; pretty much the opposite]
problems distinguishing the self from others [me; but only in theory]
hypersensitivity to any slights or imagined insults [me, big time]
vulnerability to shame rather than guilt [not me; I'm a guilt person]
i can pretty much meld and mold...etc. [that's all me, all over again]

I don't care what the grammar rule is if it doesn't sound right to me. You have to have an ear for language. Rote memorization of grammar rules only gets you to a point where you may appear to be educated. If you don't have an intuitive sense of your language, you can never be truly free to adequately express yourself, which is, after all, what language is all about. That's why the best writers always break the rules. Humans, in the ordinary course of their existence, utter coarse noises that are understood. Everything else is academic.


I sat out back in the sun this afternoon and began reading (again; I half-finished it last summer) Steven Pinker's How The Mind Works. Heady stuff. After a while, I went and got the scissors and began trimming and clearing out the grass between the garlic plants and tulips on the terraced wall that abuts the porch. I had no intention of finishing it, doing it out of boredom mostly, but I did finish, and now it looks so good. It'd be nice if I didn't have to redo it every two weeks to keep it that way. Plastic grass'd be nice. I wonder if they make plastic mulch that looks like grass. Next, I swept the back porch and picked up all the dead leaves that'd accumulated over the winter, so you know I'm really, really bored here.


I finally finished Winona (more or less; I'm thinking, now that I'm done, that it needs a lot of rework--so I guess I'm not done). It's turning into a real postmodern piece, and that makes me happy. I thought it'd be a conventional story when I started it last year.

Sat outside and read some more Pinker today, but the sun started to get too hot and I was afraid I was starting to burn, so I got out the round plastic picnic table and umbrella and set it up. I'm turning into a real suburbanite here, with plastic porch furniture that I get out in the spring and put away in the fall.


It is cool among web people to make "pure css" sites. This means that if you look at the source of this page, there will be no tables and other junk that controls [sic] presentation. Instead I put all that in a style sheet...
I have found myself unwittingly caught up in this same hype. There's nothing wrong with tables, just like, before their falling into disfavor, there was nothing wrong with frames. Like frames, tables can be used subtlety, even invisibly. Or they can be used in a grossly obvious and tasteless way. It has nothing to do with the coding, but with the coder's esthetics. This attitude towards frames, and now tables, is nothing more than computer elitism. Geeks used to be so cool. What happened?

In July of 1838 a young radical by the name of Ralph Waldo Emerson began his address to the seniors of Harvard Divinity School thus: "In this refulgent summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life. The grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers." His admonishments to the seniors in the radical cause of human individualism led to the banishment of his writings from the college for decades.
Dr. Language,
It does not pay to be too hip. At least not in the short run.

You can be intransigent but not just "transigent"; the latter word does not exist. The negative, however, has two accompanying nouns, "intransigence" and "intransigency" with identical meanings. The adjective itself may be used as a noun referring to someone who is intransigent. The adverb, of course, is "intransigently."
Dr., Language, Word-of-the Day newsletter
Whenever someone tells me I can't do something, I always want to try to do it. That's the way I am. But I'm not immediately intransigent. Instead, I'm a passive-aggressive sort of guy. I do things in my own way, in my own time, mostly disregarding people's opinions and feelings, yet careful not to directly offend anyone so as to provoke their immediate negative reaction. If they become irate when they are out of my sight, that's okay with me. I don't care. But I like to get along with people who are in my presence. It's an ideal I pose for myself, and to this end, I keep mostly quiet, for fear of unduly stirring things up. Let the stirring begin after I am gone, when the subtle, apparently banal things I have said begin to sink in. So, I guess, I could be called, in this light, among people, transigent. I've always been this way, going along with the established order, or appearing to, while within my mind I work to decide how it is that I am going to quietly rebel. Transigent seems to be a perfect word for this process, defining the overt behavior while connoting its opposite.

He went the way that go he must, a little idly, a little irregularly, whistling to himself, gazing into space with his head on one side; and if he went wrong, it was because for some people there is no such thing as a right way.


[Writing] sharpened his eyes and made him see through the large words which puff out the bosoms of mankind; it opened, for him, men's souls and his own, made him clairvoyant, showed him the inwardness of the world and the ultimate behind men's words and deeds.


But his love of the word kept growing sweeter and sweeter, and his love of form; for he used to say (and had already said it in writing) that knowledge of the soul would unfailingly make us melancholy if the pleasures of expression did not keep us alert and of good cheer.
Thomas Mann, "Tonio Kroeger"
This is a test of the installation of my old Lotus word processor on my new laptop. This isn't so bad. In fact, it's quite okay. Now all I have to do is type my journal entries here, then transfer them via MS's Briefcase to the Compaq desktop. Then I can cut and paste them into the .wps journal.

Or, I can go back to using Lotus as my main journal app, and copy the entries into .wps to check grammar before posting them to my website. I don't like that idea so much, because I like to fix the grammar as I write, but maybe it is a good idea at that.

I wanted to cut the grass this afternoon, but I didn't have any gas, so I went down to the station at the bottom of the street to get some. I hadn't been there in quite a while, not since it's been remodeled, transforming it from a tiny mini-mart to a super-mini-mart. As I'm pulling in, I see a girl dressed in the station's uniform walking across the tarmac. So she's an employee. I look at her. She's not so cute, kind of fat, but something about her is attractive. She looks young, like a teenager with a fat, but cute face. Then, she acts as if she recognizes me and smiles and raises her head. I do likewise, completely out of a responsive habit, because I don't know yet who she is; and then it hits me: it's my ex! I didn't recognize her. She's so fat now, not that I didn't know she had gotten fat, but she has also gotten old. Somehow, I didn't expect that. She looks like someone else. Yet despite her age, she's retained something of her youth. I mistook her for a teenager at first. She's a paradox of youth and age.

I talked to her briefly, after she walked away and did some work-related stuff, and then returned. She's the manager of the store, which she had been even when we were together, but she'd moved to a different store during the several years it took the company to completely remodel the place, having even gone to the extreme of digging up and replacing the tanks. And now she's back, rewarded for her excellent service (she didn't tell me this, I just know) with the greater responsibility of this new station.

She asked me if I was still living in the old place, and I told her yes. She said she'd moved into the plan down near where my brother lives--her old neighborhood. I found that interesting, but didn't comment. While we talked, I pumped gas into the five-gallon plastic container. I hadn't meant to fill it up, but I was too distracted. Oh well, I can always dump it into the car at the end of the summer.

I looked into her eyes just once, and she quickly looked away. They didn't seem to be as blue as I remembered them. Between me being half-preoccupied with the gas and she being... whatever she was being, we didn't make too obvious a contact. Or did we? Maybe. Semi-consciously. She asked me about my car. I said it was my mom's. She seemed surprised and asked me how old it was. It told her it was an '83. She spoke about her car, and pointed it out, a 2001 Honda. She said she got it because her husband told her that the engine and head were all one piece and she's blown the header on her last two cars. She says she's hard on cars. I don't remember that being the case. Sounds like a macho stereotype that someone is perpetuating, with her as the victim.

She says she hears that I'm working for my brother now. I tell her, no, I just help him out once in a while when he needs help, I'm not working for him, and I wonder to whom she's been talking. I want to explain to her how I am retired, but the conversation moves in a different direction.

As we spoke, I lifted the gas container and put it into the hatchback. As she spoke she was half-turning and drifting away, back toward the flowerbeds where she had set out to work when she first saw me. I asked her how long she'd been back here. She said since it opened. I said, what, about two years? She said, no, since January. I said, oh, I don't pay much attention. She said "You ought to get out more." Again I wonder to whom she's been talking.

She volunteered that she had twenty years in with this company now. I asked her if she were getting ready to retire. She found this amusing. Not her, she said. She doesn't know what she'd do at home alone all day; she gets bored at home alone. She is almost fully turned away now and I am heading toward the driver's seat. I say "Not me" over my shoulder. Completely turned away from me, she says "Yeah. I'll see you, down here." I think it an odd response. As I'm driving away, I think she'd heard me wrong and thought I'd said, "I'll see you." But why the "down here" qualification?

At home, I think, did she mis- (or correctly) interpret my behavior/motivation? Did she get a message I did not intend to give? I think how different she is, how the fat pads on her lower face so much change her appearance, how ordinary and commonplace she now looks, whereas before she looked quite unique. I also think how inappropriate my retirement remarks were as I realize how much younger she is than I am, and I wince at what that reveals about myself, that I had been acting out an ego-agenda, hoping to show off to her how I retired so very early, thus my defensiveness when she asked me about working for my brother.

I realize that only the day before I had been thinking about her and imagining that she had been working at the station again, but I immediately dismissed the idea that she was not and, in fact, began to wonder where she actually had gotten to by now and if I would ever see her again. Is this clairvoyance? Or merely coincidence? Much (all?) of what we call psychic phenomena is merely reality-testing, a form of fantasy based on intuition that we engage in frequently all the time. Each day we have thousands and thousands of thoughts, many of them imaginative conjecture, fulfilling inner needs that we disregard as they pass us by. If only one or several of them happen to "come true," we want to call it a "psychic experience." (Of course it's psychic experience, but not necessarily in the sense that most people mean when they use that phrase. It's psychic in that it happens within the psyche, but it's the nature of that psyche that is in dispute. Is it discrete and separate, or is it somehow intimately interconnected with all (or some) other psyches?) But it could be mere coincidence after all. But it sure doesn't feel like it. So, which is more important, feeling, or reason. I used to think it was reason, but I'm not so empirical any more.

Okay. It's done. Enough of all the MS over-engineering that slows everything down in the name of progress. Lotus Write is now my word processor of choice. I transferred my desktop system over to it.

I still have to use MS Works, though, as a temporary pasteboard between the journal and my website so that I can do a grammar check. No biggie. Not much more of a hassle than doing the check within the Works word processor itself.