Monday, January 31, 2005

the great list of quotes

This is a list of quotes from my posts that sound wonderful when taken out of context. These should be used by you daily in regular conversation.

rand the hatchet #2

In our last episode of Rand the Hatchet, our hero began his long and arduous quest of writing programs to replace the functions of his coworkers. Despite his brilliance and ability, very early on, he came across an incredible and unforeseen obstacle. Unbeknownst to our hero, the stupidity of others, which was the very thing that warranted their termination, would ironically be that which saved them. At least for now....

"Every noble cause is just a veiled struggle against the idiocy of humanity." -Rand Gray, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 2012.

"You're so negative!" -Humanity.
"Die, you fucks." -Rand Gray.

The limousine came to a delicate halt in front of the building. A nervous, yet excited, young man ran to the rear door to open it.
"Welcome, Mr. Hatchet. I hope your flight was okay." The young man offered a hand to help Rand exit the vehicle, but the offer was refused. Young Phillip was sharper than most; he quickly realized that Mr. Hatchet didn't like to be touched. He had heard rumors that physical contact with the man magically resulted in an unrelated termination, but Phillip wasn't one for superstition. Even so, the thought crossed his mind that the snub may have been an act of kindness.
Rand emerged from the limo, surveyed the area, and looked at Phillip. "Steve, right?"
Phillip blushed, "No Sir, Steve was recently let go."
Rand only responded with a knowing chuckle. Phillip wondered if somehow Rand's powers were strengthened by the news. The chuckling gave way to a very awkward silence that Rand also seemed to enjoy. The Hatchet then abruptly broke the silence, "Do we pay your dumb ass to just stand around?"
"No, Sir! Please follow me!" Suddenly energized by a fresh dose of intimidation, Phillip disappeared into the building.
Before following him in, Rand stopped outside the door for a moment to feel the wind gently blow through his hair and his cape; he had no idea that his direst foe waited for him inside.
Just beyond the range of Rand's ears, Human Stupidity cackled to itself evilly.

"Mr. Hatchet! You're finally here!" Walter Krondle was the head of operations at the building. He was a portly man, who had a habit of breathing heavily inbetween every sentence that he managed to utter. He approached Rand and Phillip as quickly as he could, but looked like a fool as his hurried wobbling showed all of his subordinates that he was at the mercy of the Hatchet. Fear struck the room as some employees became conscious of the fact that they had never seen Krondle hustle before this. They had heard that Rand was coming, but they thought it a rumor intended to scare them.
Krondle finally arrived at his destination. He appeared to not even notice Phillip, as his eyes were locked onto Rand. "I'm glad you're here; I think you'll be impressed with what we do here," he wiped some sweat from his mustache and offered his hand in greeting.
Rand made no effort to hide his disgust as he stared at the man's hand, which was dripping Krondle's facial sweat onto the floor. "Let's just skip the pleasantries and get started; I have a hooker and a bottle of vodka waiting for me at the hotel, and that vodka wasn't cheap."
Phillip almost let out a laugh in response to Rand's unusual dry wit, but managed to stop himself as he noticed that Rand wasn't smiling.
Krondle was used to having his large ass kissed, and Rand's blatant disregard for his authority left him somewhat disoriented. While he stood there, trying to figure out what to do, Rand made sure to get the procedure underway. "Phillip, your boss seems to have forgotten where his office is. Perhaps you could lead us?"
Phillip was put into a difficult situation, but with as little disrespect to Krondle as possible, he led Rand to the main office.
"Pick up the pace, Boy.... that fatass will catch up eventually."

By the time Krondle entered his office, Rand was already comfortably seated at the desk. "How kind of you to join us, Walter. Have a seat."
Exhausted from all the walking, and still at a loss for words, Krondle placed himself in the only remaining open chair. Phillip was staring intently at a list of names that was lying on the desk. The list that had emerged from the Hatchet's briefcase, and Phillip's name was on it.
"So, I understand that you have approximately one hundred and twenty workers here?"
Krondle took in a deep breath and wiped some sweat onto the sleeve of his suit. "Yes Sir, about that many."
Rand nodded slightly and pushed the list of names over to Krondle. "This is your new workforce; you're way over-staffed."
Phillip's eyes came back into focus as he realized that his job was secure.
Krondle looked briefly at the paper, coughed vigorously, and protested, "But there are only forty-five names on that list!"
"Thirty-nine actually, but don't worry, nobody expected you to be capable of counting." Rand, considering the discussion to be finished, started searching his pocket for something.
Krondle gasped for air before continuing. "But that's crazy! Do you realize how much work we do around here?!"
Rand continued searching his pocket for a moment more, before finding the flash drive that he was seeking. "Yeah, I'm aware."
Already flushed from all the exercise, Krondle was now turning red in frustration. He looked confusedly at Phillip for guidance, but Phillip was still recovering from the initial scare of seeing his name on the list. He had no idea how to prevent the axe from falling; he was trying to find the words to convince Rand that he was in the wrong, but he was too flabbergasted to even form a single syllable.
Having already placed the flash drive into the appropriate slot, Rand pulled up the file that made 66% of Krondle's workforce obsolete. "Pay attention, Krondle... I don't like having to repeat myself."
Krondle, feeling utterly helpless, allowed his will to collapse to the Hatchet's whims. He silently gathered what remained of his dignity, and looked at the computer screen. He was well aware of the fact that his name could easily be crossed off the now sweat-covered list that was still in his hand.

Having now been trained in the use of Rand's program, Krondle was amazed with how easy it would make things.
Rand explained, "The only reason that we can't automate the entire process is because the data is initially coming from facts gathered through telephone conversations. When one of your workers gets the information he needs, he'll just plug it into the program and hit the button. This eliminates all of the other steps that were in the prior workflow."
Krondle beamed. "That's amazing! Now we can get rid of all of those manual tickets and paper reports."
"Yip. Now come over here and see if you learned enough to actually use this thing." Rand got up from the desk chair, and allowed Krondle to sit at the computer.
"Okay," Krondle looked a the screen in confusion. "Now what do I type in this box again?"
"What does it say next to the box?" Rand attempted to have some patience; Phillip wondered if the Hatchet was letting his guard down, or if he was just a nicer person when training others.
Krondle slowly read from the screen, "It says.... 'Name'..."
"Very good. Why don't you put your damn name in the box?" Rand's patience appeared to have no tolerance for stupidity.
Krondle chuckled. "Yeah, that makes sense, doesn't it!" He then typed his name into the box, and slowly read the next words off the screen, " N..ame... What do I put in that box?"
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Rand looked over at Phillip to see if he was equally annoyed, but could tell instantly that Phillip saw nothing wrong with the scene. "Get out of the chair, Fatass; let's see if Phillip can handle this."
Krondle relinquished the chair to young Phillip very slowly, as he was noticeably still in deep thought as to how to solve the complex puzzle of what to type into the box.
Phillip rolled up his sleeves and looked nervously at the screen. He was being put on the spot, and was going to get himself in trouble no matter what he did; he decided that the best course of action was to simply do his best and attempt to use the program. If he was able to learn it, he could help Krondle with it in the future. "I put the customer's name here, right?"
Before Rand could answer, Krondle blurted out, "Ahh... that makes sense!"
Rand rolled his eyes and said, "Very good... get on with it already."
Phillip typed in a sample customer's name, and entered a value into the next field of his own initiative. "Okay, I filled out the customer's phone number too. How does that look, Mr. Hatchet?"
Rand glanced at the screen and sighed in frustration. "Do me a favor and dial the number you typed in."
Phillip nervously looked at Krondle for approval, but Krondle saw nothing wrong with what was on the screen. "Go ahead, Phillip."
The young man picked up the phone and dialed a few numbers as he read them from the screen, then hesitated. "There's no number 'Q' on this phone."
"Very good. That's because 'Q' is not a number," Rand answered as he looked at his watch.
Krondle spoke out, "Hmm... it seems that your program is pretty difficult to use. How long do you think it would take someone to learn this thing?"
Rand was getting annoyed, and the tone and volume of his voice began to reflect this fact. "Well, if everyone here's as stupid as you two, it could take quite a while." He then glanced over to see how Phillip's use of the program was progressing. "Go to the next fucking box before you start typing in the customer's address, you moron."
Krondle glanced again at the list of names. "Okay, if we had these people handling all the calls and writing down the information, we could have another set of forty people re-write the information into a format that would work in your program, and another forty people could enter them into the computer."
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Just have the dickheads who take the calls enter them into the computer directly." Rand glanced back at the screen to see if anything Phillip was doing reflected any sort of innate common sense, and became even more agitated with what he saw.
Krondle went on, "Although we're not cutting down the workforce, this does remove a good deal of human error from the equation..."
The Hatchet felt like the walls were caving in. He couldn't make sense of the stupidity that he was witnessing.
"This program is a godsend," Krondle proudly said. "Think about it, after a few years of adjustment, maybe the people who re-write the information can instead just type it directly into the computer.... that would leave forty people for filing the initial set of papers..."
Rand cowered as he began to hear something evil cackling, off in the distance.
Krondle kept going. "Yes... filing, organization... everything's going to start to really shape up around here. Maybe we'll even have enough people to help out with the phone calls. Conference calling even! This opens up so many doors for us...."
Rand wondered if this was a dream. He looked back at Phillip to find that he had begun verbally asking the computer why it wouldn't accept letters in the 'Tax ID' field. This couldn't be real.... it wasn't possible. He ran as fast as he could out of the building, and back into the limousine, hoping that a night of heavy drinking and wild illegal sex would help him to forget his defeat.

Walter Krondle, Phillip, and the rest of the employees gathered together that weekend to celebrate the new software that would change everything at their office. Krondle toasted the great skills the Hatchet, and all one hundred and twenty glasses clinked together in response. Rand declined the offer to attend the party, as he had to hurry back home to recover from the experience, but the true guest of honor, Human Stupidity, was able to attend. Human Stupidity and his evil henchmen enjoyed the festivities that night; it was the perfect end to a great victory over Rand the Hatchet.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

faltering solipsism

In an effort become a more normal human being, I've been putting some energy into being moderately social. Really, I shouldn't take credit for this; I'm not so much putting effort into making anything happen, as I am putting less effort into preventing it. The realization that's become the core of the entire experience is that I don't have a firm understanding of the minds of others.

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with a few guys who went to college with my brother. One of them sometimes reads this blog, and thus knows just as well as you do what a nutcase I am. He's extremely externally focused, which obviously contrasts my overly-introspective nature. Numerous times throughout the night, he'd explain to me his perspective on the experience. Like a young child, excitedly showing a friend his favorite toy, he'd turn to me and explain everyone's role in the social dynamic, and would also explain why he enjoyed being around them. For one night, I was able to experience an interactive environment through his eyes, and I thus gained a strong appreciation for his perspective.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to forget that every person is unique and individually complex. My understanding of humanity had been simplified to the point that I could apply any person to a formula, and assume that I had him pegged. I'm not sure if this came about because of fear, or because I put greater focus on deciphering other aspects of the human experience, but for whatever reason, it happened. It's likely that I did this to feel more secure... it's hard enough to navigate through life when everyone else's actions and motives are predictably patterned, but when each person is seen as complex, there are just too many variables in play. The fact is that others can be figured out to a certain degree of accuracy, but when you forget that they won't perfectly adhere to the simplified formula that you've created, you forget about the beauty of their individuality. Now that I remember that each individual is interesting... that every person has a story, I'm drawn to discover what I'm not seeing on the surface.

Here's the main thing though.... I've always felt distinct from the rest of humanity. I've lived as an observer and narrator... to truly observe and understand the world around you, you have to gain a sense of separation between it and you. When this sense of distinction becomes overly developed, you forget that you have an impact on the world that you're observing. When I'm sitting in a room with a group of people, even when attempting to participate with the conversation, it never crosses my mind that my words will have an impact on anyone else in the room. I'm seeing you in terms of a simplified psychological formula, that doesn't factor myself into the equation. I never think that another might have significant thoughts or feelings toward me, and I'm blown away each and every time that I hear that another is affected in any way by anything that I've said or done. If I'm prodding you for information so that I can have a better understanding of who you are, it doesn't hit me that in so doing, I'm having an effect on who you are... that the very experience of our conversation will be one of the things that will shape and mold you as a person. In a room full of people, it never strikes me that I'm one of the people in that room... it's always been two groups in the room.... a bunch of people and me.

I'm beginning to see the other side of things now. I don't know your minds, especially when I haven't tried to discover who you are, and the fact that I don't know you makes me want to. I'm also beginning to see that I'm part of this whole thing... and that my actions can be significant to others. This directly removes much of the comfort that I found in life, but it also removes a great deal of the futility that I saw in it (from this perspective anyway... the futility of action and existence is a deeper philosophical issue). I'm not sure where this new perspective will lead me, but I'm curious to find out.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I really wish this was pissing me off

I'm heading to Philadelphia later today to see my cousin's new house. I figured I'd wake up, let a caffeine headache build up a bit, and just sit here and write something before starting my day. I try not to put too much effort into these weekend posts, because you fucks only seem to pay attention during the week, but I wanted to at least write something; I believe that I even had a topic in mind last night before I went to bed.

But there's a problem.... I woke up in a good mood. I know... what the fuck is going on here... what in the world is there to be happy about, right? I don't know.. but this just gives me nothing to write about beyond the analysis of this simple thing that most take for granted. If I was you, right now, I'd be skipping through the fields, trying to figure out what the shapes of the clouds above me remind me of... but I don't do those things.. this mood is fucking up all my daily plans. I had even just started working on a new song... if I worked on it now, it'd turn out so happy that I'd hate myself later; hmm... maybe I should do that so that the next time that I wake up in a good mood, I'll have something to pull me back down again. "Listen to this song, you fuck.. what the hell were you thinking?"

The day is pretty much going to be a waste anyway. I have to be ready to head out by 3:00 PM, and will be with my brother on a bus for two hours, and then around my cousin and a bunch of strangers until this time tomorrow. I'm learning to do the whole 'social thing' these days... it's one of my projects, but it competes to some degree with my other pursuits. I'm already far along enough with learning to appreciate spending time with other humans that it's not bothering me, but I wanted to be extra productive this morning to make up for it. Oh well... I guess being happy and useless will make me fit in more with the crowd... what the fuck.. I'm looking at the bright side of things now?

Okay.. here comes the headache... I love how it motivates me into action. I better go take a shower, get dressed, meditate, not touch my guitar, and grab some coffee. That will leave just enough time to run outside, spin around on the sidewalk with my arms extended, smile bright while looking up at the sun, and cry, "Hello, wonderful world!" I guess after that point, I'll frolic or do whatever it is that happy people are socially expected to do.

Friday, January 28, 2005

this is why we lock our doors

When I came home a couple nights ago, I noticed that the front door to my apartment building wasn't latching closed. Somehow, the mechanism in the door knob, that is projected into or retracted from the door frame, is missing. There are no other locks on that door, so it's basically wide open to the public.

This morning, when I was getting ready for work, I heard some fiddling at my apartment's door, but I thought nothing of it. It stopped for a while, but when I got out of the shower, I heard it again. I decided to leave the door closed and locked, hoping that whatever was causing the noise would get bored and go away. Eventually though, I'd have to leave for work.

I opened the door to see a man in his late thirties trying to pick the lock. He was startled, as he was caught red handed.
Rand: "Excuse me, I need to get through here."
Man: "Oh, sorry, I was just... "
I didn't interrupt him... he had cut himself off. He clearly hadn't planned on this scenario.
Rand: "Right, whatever... just step aside so I can relock the door, and you can go back to your futile efforts after I'm gone."
Man: "No, no... there's no point. I'm not a burglar or anything."
Rand: "Well, what the hell are you doing then?"
Man: "I was just... I was lonely."
Rand: "Ahh... so you're a rapist."
Man: "Yeah.. I just wanted to rape someone."
Rand: "Next time, you might want to do a little research before you pick your targets. I'm a guy, and I live alone.. there are no chicks in there."
Man: "I know."
Rand: "Uhh?... oh."
Man: "It doesn't make me gay, you know... it's a power thing, not a sexual thing."
Rand: "Right. Whatever... step aside."
Man: "Really, I'm not gay!"
Rand: "Thrilling."
I checked my pockets to make sure that I hadn't forgotten anything for the day, and locked the door.
Man: "So, when are you coming back?"
Rand: "Bud, go find another male ass to rape... I have to go to work, and if you're here when I come back, I'm telling everyone that you're gay... whether it's true or not."
Man: "I told you, it's a power thing!!"
Rand: "Give them another ten years to figure out the whole gay thing before you start any parades for straight males who rape other males."
Man: "You just don't get me; that really makes me want to rape you. Will you be gone long?"
Rand: "I have to go. Have a good day beating off, or doing whatever else you had as a backup plan."
As I started walking down the stairs, the man immediately lowered his head and started sobbing.
Man: "Hey, don't you want to know why I'm crying?"
Rand: "Nope. Bye."

That was a close call... I was very lucky. Unfortunately, he raped me when I came home from work.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

trip to the doctor's office, version 3

I was barely through the door when the doctor and two nurses ran over.

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, what the hell happened?"
Me: "I'm not really sure, I just..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't talk... Let's get you to a room first.. I want that bandaged up before you lose any more blood."

After being escorted to a private room, the nurses wrapped up my arm. One nurse remained, while the other went to get some equipment. I was feeling a little light-headed, but I don't think that I was in shock. I seemed to be very cognizant of the entire experience.

Dr. Steinburg: "Are you in pain?"
Me: "No... I mean, there's a reason for that, but it's a long story."
Nurse: "Son, do you know where your hand is? If you have it with you, we might be able to reattach it."
Me: "I honestly have no idea where it is... I don't know what happened to it.. I was just trying to get my subway pass out, and knew something was wrong when I couldn't feel my wallet when I reached into my pocket."
Nurse: "Just sit back and try to relax."

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, if it was anyone else talking, I wouldn't believe it. I have got to hear this story."
Me: "Well, it is an interesting story I guess."
Nurse: "I can't wait to hear this!"
Me: "It all started yesterday, when I realized that there was no hot water. I don't know what was wrong with the water heater, but between it not working and it being freezing outside, the water was ice-cold."
Dr. Steinburg: "I have no idea where this is going... your stories that start like this are my favorites."
Me: "I couldn't bare to take a real shower under such conditions, so I decided to give myself a minor sponge bath. I can't handle going too long without washing my hair gets all itchy and greasy, but the last time that the water was cold, it was fixed later that day. I figured that I could just wash my hair when I got home from work. Now, I didn't actually have a rag or sponge to use, so I had to use a sock."
Dr. Steinburg: "Hmm, we'll have to discuss that later, but go on."
Me: "A sock isn't exactly an ideal instrument with which to wash yourself, so I was dying to take a real shower after getting home, but there was still no hot water. It was possible that the water heater was fixed, but just needed some time to heat up the tank, so it was possible that I'd be able to shower in the morning. As a backup plan, I filled the bathtub with water, figuring that it would warm up to room-temperature over night."
Nurse: "Smart thinking."
Me: "Thanks, I thought so too. When I finally got up this morning, I found the water still icey, and the bathtub empty... it had slowly drained out over night."
Dr. Steinburg: "Back to the sock then? Couldn't you have at least bought a rag after the first time?"
Me: "Yeah, I actually didn't think of that. I wasn't wild about revisiting the sock, and I definitely wanted to wash my hair, but you don't understand how cold it was."
Nurse: "God, you've really had a horrible day."
Me: "This actually bothered me more than the hand thing. Anyway, I leaned into the shower to wash my hair, but it was so cold that it felt like it was burning my scalp. After that experience, I was quite hesitant to do the same to my body... but the sponge-bathing is less effective every day that you do it. I went back and forth on this... I'd try the sock, stick my leg in the shower, try the sock again, etc."

The other nurse returned to the room with an IV drip and some other machinery.

Dr. Steinburg: "Loretta, sit down... Rand's telling us what happened. I'll fill you in later."
Loretta: "But..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Quiet, Loretta!"
Me: "Okay... this whole thing was getting ridiculous... I had to make a decision. In one scenario, I would be ineffectively bathed, but in the other, I would have to endure the cold, which would probably make me bitch about it directly or indirectly for three blog posts..."

The pager in Dr. Steinburg's pocket started beeping.
Dr. Steinburg: "Damn, I really should take this. Fuck it... go on with your story, Rand."

Me: "I was about to puss out and just stick with the sponge-bath, when I remembered my Jedi training."
Dr. Steinburg: "Ahh yes... here's where it gets interesting."
Me: "I knew that the cold water wouldn't do too much damage if I would jump in, soap up, then jump in again to rinse off.... but feeling cold really sucks. So I switched off my feeling of touch... when I do this, I can still feel things enough to function... you know.. I can feel the pen in my hand, but I don't feel pain. Pain becomes like a secondary thought that I have to concentrate to be aware of."
Dr. Steinburg: "Interesting... your powers amaze me."
Me: "It's just a focus trick really. After doing that, I had no trouble taking a shower, but I only like to do this as a last resort. Our minds are made to feel pain for a reason... it prevents us from doing things that hurt our bodies."
Nurse: "Wow... you really are intriguing. Do you think you could teach me things like that?"
Me: "You? No, probably not."
Dr. Steinburg: "Please, continue with your story.... I still don't see how this relates to you losing your hand."
Me: "Well, like I said... I find switching my tactile sensation off to be potentially dangerous... pain is generally a good thing. I had wasted so much time trying to decide whether to use the sock or the shower, that I was going to be late for work; I was so rushed that I forgot to turn my sense of pain back on. All I know is I did my normal thing... I had two hands when I left my apartment, and I only had one when I tried to reach for my subway pass. Anything could have happened during those five minutes inbetween, and unless I visually saw it happening, I'd have no idea that it happened."
Dr. Steinburg: "Another amazing story, Rand. You've really got to stop by more often... although next time, make it a social visit, rather than a professional one."
Nurse: "I wish I had known that you were this interesting before you lost your hand... we could have dated, but now..... well, you know... since you're a cripple and all."
Loretta: "Can I say something now?"
Dr. Steinburg: "No!"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

thanks are in order

The following clip is from a spam email that I received from my father... the '2004 Darwin Awards':

Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 am.

Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable lay nearby. One end of the cable was secured around Bingham's leg and the other end was tied to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy river water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. "All I can say," said Bingham, "is that God was watching out for me on that night. There's just no other explanation for it." Bingham's foot was never located.

I've had a pretty negative attitude toward Christian Americans so far on this thing, but let's face it... a miracle is a miracle. Our now-limping friend said it best... "there's just no other explanation". I sometimes get down on religious experts who seem to know nothing about the faith that they lord over others, but to be fair to them, they're always steadfast in their faith on the morning after. I once had a Christian friend who would joke about stealing cars to later repent, because it would 'improve his testimony'... he was joking, but maybe he was on to something. Maybe spiritual perfection isn't something to be attained, but it's something inherent in all humans. When I say this, I of course mean that it's only inherent to all humans that share your perfect views... everyone else should be nuked.

When I think of the possibility of a good little drunk Christian boy losing his life to a twist of fate that was unfairly brought on by his lack of forethought, I shiver slightly. Please God, don't let it happen to him... let it happen to someone who deserves it. Little stories like this renew my faith in humans and their sense of purpose... and the sense of purpose that they bestow upon their deities. Let's all just take a moment to thank the good Lord for the second chance that he gave to Kerry Bingham... Kerry's going to get a chance to hobble around the bar, telling the great story about the day that God saved his life. Why is it that after an experience like this, nobody contemplates for a moment and says, "Holy shit... I'm a fucking moron, and God wanted to teach me a lesson; I was lucky that bastard only took my foot." Kerry, in your prayers tonight, be sure to thank Jesus that I'm not your god nor your savior fisherman... I'd have let your crippled ass drown.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the tale of the pig

"I guess it all began when I was four years old, on the day of my aunt's wedding. This was when we were still in Mexico."

The woman in the chair was listening intently; she nodded as if she was trying to piece it all together. She was waiting for me to continue with my story, and although I had never told this story before, I felt like I could trust her. She'd never tell a soul, and for some reason, that simple fact made the whole situation feel very safe for me.

"Well, I had no siblings near me in age, so to that point, my best friend was our pet pig, Poco. It sounds silly to think that I was friends with a pig, but we were very poor, and believe it or not, pigs are extremely intelligent animals. Poco would follow me around and would play with me, but would never be too rough, as dogs can be sometimes with very young children. There wasn't anything special about him... he was just the first one who would spend time with me unconditionally... I feel very silly talking about this."

"No, please go on," she said calmly. I was trying to figure out her angle in making me go on like this, but I was new to this whole 'self-analysis' thing. I had to trust her judgement.

"Okay," I tried to regain my train of thought, so that I could lead the story in a direction that would help me to understand the correlation between this experience and my current behavior. "I was only four, and Poco was my best friend... he had been around for as long as I could remember, but it was the day of my aunt's wedding, and Poco was to be the main course at her banquet. My mother had seen how close I was becoming to Poco over the years, and always tried to prepare me for the day when this would finally happen, but I never understood what she meant. To me, Poco was like a person... the thought never crossed my mind that he'd one day be killed to be eaten."

"That's horrible, Manuel," she said with compassion that seemed to be authentic, but I wasn't sure if it really was or not. I decided to be optimistic about her intentions and continued talking.

"I think that this was a very traumatic experience for me... I was getting very mixed messages from my father. You see, to my father, I was becoming old enough to start doing chores and helping out with the family, and killing animals that were to be eaten was one of a man's duties. I don't think the thought crossed his mind at that point that Poco was my friend... he just wanted to teach me how to prepare dinner. We couldn't afford to go buy pounds of pork at the market, but feeding an animal scraps for a few years, waiting for a big occasion, was feasible. Now that such a big occasion had come along, my father wanted to make sure that I learned how to handle the process; it would probably have been a few years until I'd have another chance to learn this. He saw it as a father and son bonding experience... preparing the feast was a great honor, and he was trying to share something very special with me, but I think that I was just too young to go through this."

"I remember the experience very vividly... this may be the earliest memory that stuck with me with such clarity. I remember my father bringing Poco and me over to a spot of grass behind our home. He pet Poco and said a few soothing words to him, then got on his knees and braced Poco tightly. He was holding him still with both arms, and was leaning onto him, so that Poco would have no chance of escaping. Poco didn't even know what was going to happen... he had been the family pet for years, and had never seen anything from us but kindness... he wasn't trying to get away, and I didn't yet understand why my father was holding him so tight. Poco never ran from us... he would just stand by you, waiting for you to notice and give him some attention. My father continued to hold Poco tight with one arm, while he reached into his pocket with the other. He drew out a knife and handed it to me."

The woman started to show some signs of emotion at this point. She didn't say a word, but her eyes were darting around a little... I didn't want my story to make her uncomfortable, but I guess it's hard to hear a person tell stories like this without having an emotional response. It struck me that she was feeling more emotion from the story than I was... I was just telling a story... these were like words on a page to me.. this was simply what happened. It must have been sympathy that she was feeling; this touched me a little, but I didn't want to get caught up in the emotion of the scene... I wanted to make sure that I got through the whole tale.

"It wasn't until he actually handed me the knife that I understood what I was supposed to do. I remember standing there sobbing, but standing there strong with the knife in my hand... it's like I was two different people at once. Part of me was a child who didn't understand why something like this had to happen, and the other part of me was a tiny little man who was learning the ropes of his familial duties. I remember trying to reason with my father... there was never a question in my mind about following through with the act, but I had to know that such an act was just before proceeding. It was important to me to do the right thing, but I had to truly know that it was the right thing. My father himself was the one who taught me that hurting others was wrong, but when I brought that fact up, he told me that this was different. He could see that I was too young to understand that difference, so he told me that killing is only wrong when the thing you're killing has feelings. I remember standing there as he was saying this, thinking of all the time I had spent with Poco... I knew this animal very well, and I knew for a fact that he had feelings. This was a huge contradiction that plagues me to this day... killing something that has feelings was bad, but I'd have been bad if I didn't do my duty and kill my pet..."

I think that this was when I saw the first tear run down her cheek. I really was feeling better for even having told this much, but I was starting to feel guilty for upsetting her. "Are you okay?... should I continue?"

"Yes, I'm fine, please go on." Even as she said those words, and tried to engage my eyes, I had the feeling that she wanted to leave. I considered ending my tale there, but I had been running from this for so long... I wanted to put all of my effort into dealing with it once and for all.

"After a while, I gave in to my father's wishes. I brought the knife close to Poco's neck and held it there for a moment. Poco was staring at me with absolute trust and tenderness, even at that moment. I couldn't bear to watch it happen; I shut my eyes as tight as I could, and swiped the blade across his neck. After that, I remember looking down at the knife in my hand, watching the blood drip off the blade... it seemed like time stopped at that moment, and I couldn't see anything but the knife."

"I was startled out of my stupor by horrible sounds that I had never heard before. Poco was squealing louder than I knew him capable, and my father was screaming at me to finish the job; it turned out that the cut to Poco's neck wasn't deep enough... he now knew what was happening and was trying to escape for his life, and my father seemed so disappointed in me. This was all happening too fast, and I was completely overwhelmed... everything was so slow before that moment, but now it was like every second was another second that Poco would have to be in pain and my father would have to try to hold him in place. The worst thing about that moment is that there was now no question in my mind that Poco was capable of feeling... he was in such pain and was so scared... I had never seen him that way before. I'm not sure if my father could understand my words, as they were so heavily distorted by my sobbing, but I tried to tell him that Poco could feel, and that killing him was wrong; he just kept yelling for me to finish him off before he got away. It was then that I decided that it was better to end Poco's suffering than to let him go on in that state."

I now knew that my story was making the woman uncomfortable. Tears were streaming down her face, and she was making a conscious effort to not look me in the eyes. I felt a little betrayed... I was sitting there, pouring out my soul, and she seemed to be judging me, as if this experience was somehow my fault. I touched her hand lightly and said, "Don't you worry, little piggie... there's nothing to be afraid of." She probably thought I was crazy... I knew that she wasn't a pig, but I just thought I'd mess with her a little... just a tiny bit of revenge for taking advantage of my vulnerability.

Immediately, she started sobbing uncontrollably, whipping around, and screaming. It was like she had been saving all her energy for that moment to try to wriggle her way out of her bindings. I pulled out my father's old knife... which was given to me after he passed away a few years back, and looked down sadly at it. I really wanted to finish telling my story, but I couldn't stand to let the moment last too long. The woman now knew that she was going to die, and I didn't want to let her suffer like that.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I like apples!

I received this email yesterday:

Dear Mr. Existence,

Your site has come to my attention, and I am very excited about your writing style. You seem to have a unique take on things and are able to articulate your perspective well. I think that you have the potential to write a successful regular newspaper column. Your style is unorthodox, but I believe that it has a place in our newspaper. I'd like to see how you do with writing about assigned topics. If you would, please write an article explaining why you like apples. The topic may seem silly, but this is a standard technique that is used to get a feel for a writer's capabilities. Please send the article back to me, or simply post it to your site.

The best of luck to you,
Thomas Warner
Editor, New York Chronicle

Naturally, I'm thrilled to have received this letter.... I would love to write a daily or weekly column professionally. I'm not classically trained or anything, so I can only hope that my 'entrance exam' is up to par, but I did consider the topic carefully, and believe that I know where I want to go with it. I've decided to post it publicly, since I tend to keep all of you readers up to date with some of the events in my personal life... and my chance to have my own column in a newspaper is big news. Well, here's my article... I hope everyone likes it. Wish me luck, guys.

People often ask me why I like apples so much. They know why they like them, but for some reason, it's my interest in apples that intrigues the populous. Thanks for asking... let me tell you the answer... I find that apples are perfectly suited for shoving up Thomas Warner's ass. I've gone through the list of objects, and really, nothing but an apple will do.

For rectal intrusion, of all commonly known fruits, bananas seem the logical choice... but really, what's the challenge in that? I'll sleep much better knowing that I managed to squeeze a ripe red apple up Thomas' ass... you see, bananas are for recreational activity.. if I managed to get an apple in there, I've accomplished something. I'm a big believer in the old saying, 'where there's a will, there's a way', and when it comes to this one, if there's not a way, I'm going to do my damndest to make sure of that fact. The New York Chronicle isn't looking for a quitter, and I ain't no quitter!

Here's where there's room for debate... an apple's skin is nice and slick, but if you peel it, it has natural lubricants. It's a tough call on this one... would I bother lubing up the apple before trying to shove it into Thomas Warner's ass?... no, probably not... so after a few hours of trying and failing, I can always peel the apple before the second round of fun. That's a lot of variation in technique right there, and it's really quite easy to peel apples... what a wonderful fruit!

The cheater's way to accomplish this task is to slice the apple into wedges before attempting the procedure. Apple wedges have narrow ends, which make them slide in quite easily, and getting an apple's core into Thomas would be a cinch. Apples are great because that's an option, but that's not an option with me. Sorry, Tom... you're going to have to swallow that sucker whole.

In conclusion, I like apples. I think they're great for whatever reasons your parents gave you, but I also think that they're structurally ideal for shoving into Mr. Warner's ass. For some reason, that's an activity that I don't think I'd ever tire of. Give me a high-five, Thomas.... come on... don't leave me hanging!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

trip to the doctor's office, version 2

I was barely through the door when the doctor and two nurses ran over.

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, what the hell happened?"
Me: "I'm not really sure, I just..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't talk... Let's get you to a room first.. I want that bandaged up before you lose any more blood."

After being escorted to a private room, the nurses wrapped up my arm. One nurse remained, while the other went to get some equipment. I was feeling a little light-headed, but I don't think that I was in shock. I seemed to be very cognizant of the entire experience.

Dr. Steinburg: "Are you in pain?"
Me: "No... I mean, there's a reason for that, but it's a long story."
Nurse: "Son, do you know where your hand is? If you have it with you, we might be able to reattach it."
Me: "I honestly have no idea where it is... I don't know what happened to it.. I was just trying to get my subway pass out, and knew something was wrong when I couldn't feel my wallet when I reached into my pocket."
Nurse: "Just sit back and try to relax."

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, if it was anyone else talking, I wouldn't believe it. I have got to hear this story."
Me: "Well, it is an interesting story I guess."
Nurse: "I can't wait to hear this!"
Me: "It all started yesterday, when I realized that there was no hot water. I don't know what was wrong with the water heater, but between it not working and it being freezing outside, the water was ice-cold."
Dr. Steinburg: "I have no idea where this is going... your stories that start like this are my favorites."
Me: "I couldn't bare to take a real shower under such conditions, so I decided to give myself a minor sponge bath. I can't handle going too long without washing my hair gets all itchy and greasy, but the last time that the water was cold, it was fixed later that day. I figured that I could just wash my hair when I got home from work. Now, I didn't actually have a rag or sponge to use, so I had to use a sock."
Dr. Steinburg: "Wait a minute... why don't you have a rag?"
Me: "I don't know... I just moved into my apartment, and haven't gotten around to getting one. If I had known that this was going to happen I'd hav..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, you've been in that apartment for over six weeks. Now, I know that your father is on the west coast, and isn't here to nag you, but you've got to start getting things done."
Me: "Yeah, I know."
Dr. Steinburg: "What if you had a girl over... do you even have a second towel for her to use?"
Me: "That's on the list with buying some rags."
Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, you're twenty-eight years old, and I know that you weren't brought up like this."
Me: "I know."
Dr. Steinburg: "How much work does it take to go buy a damn rag. Do you tell people that you do this kind of stuff? Sponge-bathing with socks?"
Me: "Well, it usually doesn't come up."
Dr. Steinburg: "Was the sock clean at least?"
Me: "I was sponge-bathing... soap and water were involved... that's what you use to clean clothes, right?"
Dr. Steinburg: "So you didn't have a rag, and you didn't even have a clean sock to use?"
Me: "I had some clean socks... I just didn't want to waste them on sponge-bathing."
Dr. Steinburg: "Jesus, son... do you even have a bed in your apartment, or are you sleeping on the floor again?"
Me: "I bought a bed off the last tenant."
Dr. Steinburg: "Well, that's a start at least. How many years were you sleeping on hard-wood floors because you decided that it wasn't worth the trouble of buying a bed?"
Me: "I don't know... five?"
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't you see anything wrong with this kind of behavior? Do you want to be single forever?"

The other nurse returned to the room with an IV drip and some other machinery.

Dr. Steinburg: "Loretta, welcome back. Quick question... would you date a man who slept on the floor and sponge-bathed with dirty socks?"
Loretta: "You sleep on the floor?!"
Me: "No... I have a bed in my apartment that I sleep in."
Dr. Steinburg: "Tell her about sponge-bathing with a sock, Rand."
Loretta: "You're doing this to pick up girls? I'm not sure that's the best strategy."
Me: "I'm not telling girls that I sponge-bathe with socks, and it was just a quick fix for an unusual situation..."

The pager in Dr. Steinburg's pocket started beeping.
Dr. Steinburg: "Damn, I have to take this. We're not done talking about this, Rand. Loretta, make sure that his wound is cleansed thoroughly, and do all the preparations."
The doctor left the room, and the nurses began working on my arm.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

come quick kids, it's snowing!

It's snowing right now; we're supposed to get a foot this weekend. As I sit here writing this, I have so many layers of clothes on that I'm concerned for my circulation. The radiator's on full blast, but so is everyone else's... meaning that we're competing for the steam that powers them.

I think something's wrong with my windows. I know that windows are horrible inventions that leak the cold in through the glass, but I think that that there's a bit of a gap between my windows and the frames that they slide through... I think there's a slight draft of outside air leaking in. For the record, these windows are taller than I am. "Haha.. you're short though!"... Clever.. regardless of how tall I am, the fact remains that my apartment needs more brick and less glass. I'm indoors and yet I'm freezing my ass off.

The snow outside is 'sticking'; I just learned this word. When snow 'sticks', it means that when it hits the ground, it remains as snow, rather than melting because of the warmth of the ground. This means that right now, even the earth itself is conspiring against me... the ground has very few jobs that I expect of it, but one such job is to provide enough warmth to clear a fucking path for me to walk through. Everyone and everything is slacking right now.

I'm wearing two pairs of socks right now, and my toes are still cold. I'd be wearing gloves too, but I need to be able to type.

"Rand, you're lucky... I've never even seen the snow.. I envy you." Funny, I envy you... well.. I envy the fact that you've never had to see snow... I don't in any way envy your stupidity in wanting to.

I've been skiing for as long as I can remember... I probably started when I was five or six years old. The last time I skied was in high school. Yes, I enjoy skiing, but I hate the cold. Finally, I made the decision that my hate for the cold outweighed the enjoyment of skiing... a wise decision.. I never question it. I'm sure as fuck not questioning it now.

"Snow's fun, man... there's gotta be a kid in you somewhere." Grow up, you moron. You throw your snowballs... I'll throw a rock. We'll see who wins that one.

This isn't my first 'real winter'; I also lived in Boston for two years. The winter has a magical effect on me though... every time's like the first time. Hell, every day's like the first god-forsaken day. I'm purposefully not looking at the calendar right now... I don't even want to know how long this shit's going to last.

"God, Rand... you're so negative. Are we going to have to hear this all winter long?" You wanted to see the snow... I'm just making sure that you get a chance to see it through my eyes. Take a good fucking look.

Friday, January 21, 2005

trip to the doctor's office, version 1

I was barely through the door when the doctor and two nurses ran over.

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, what the hell happened?"
Me: "I'm not really sure, I just..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't talk... Let's get you to a room first.. I want that bandaged up before you lose any more blood."

After being escorted to a private room, the nurses wrapped up my arm. One nurse remained, while the other went to get some equipment. I was feeling a little light-headed, but I don't think that I was in shock. I seemed to be very cognizant of the entire experience.

Dr. Steinburg: "Are you in pain?"
Me: "No... I mean, there's a reason for that, but it's a long story."
Nurse: "Son, do you know where your hand is? If you have it with you, we might be able to reattach it."
Me: "I honestly have no idea where it is... I don't know what happened to it.. I was just trying to get my subway pass out, and knew something was wrong when I couldn't feel my wallet when I reached into my pocket."
Nurse: "Just sit back and try to relax."

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, if it was anyone else talking, I wouldn't believe it. I have got to hear this story."
Me: "I don't want to trouble you... I know that you're a busy man."
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't be silly."
Me: "Really, your job is very important, and people's lives are in your hands."
Dr. Steinburg: "I always have time to talk to you... you know that. Any time you want, you should just stop by."
Me: "I know your schedule... it feels selfish to take up your time when it's so demanded. I wonder if you take your position for granted; people need you."
Dr. Steinburg: "Being a doctor isn't just about healing the body... I care about my patients. Besides, whenever I talk to you, I learn the most interesting things."
Me: "Don't say that. You must have tons of stories that you could tell. I can't even imagine some of the things you have to deal with on a daily basis. You're just being modest."
Dr. Steinburg: "Son, you just walked in here with a hand missing... I think that you might have a story or two to tell yourself."
Me: "Well, that's true I suppose. Still though, I don't want to keep you from your other patients. There seemed to be quite a few people sitting out there waiting to be seen."
Dr. Steinburg: "They'll be fine; don't you worry about them. They saw you come in... I can gaurantee you that they'll want to know what happened just as much as I do."
Nurse: "That's true; I'll be bombarded with questions all day as well."
Me: "Heh, that's kind of flattering. I never think my experiences to be all that interesting, and I'm a horrible story-teller. Man... there's too much pressure on me now.. I couldn't possibly tell the story."
Nurse: "Please do... I'm very curious. I've been a nurse for six years, and I've never once met a person who lost a hand without realizing it, let alone one who was able to be so casual about it."
Me: "Oh, I'm probably just in shock... the reality of it all will kick in later."
Dr. Steinburg: "No, you're not in shock... that was the first thing we checked for."
Me: "Hmm."
Nurse: "Have you done any drugs today?"
Dr. Steinburg: "Rand doesn't do drugs. Once you get to know him, it'll all make sense... he's just a very unusual character."
Me: "I feel horrible stealing the spotlight like this... really, I'm fine... come back when you have whatever equipment you need, and I'll just wait here."
Dr. Steinburg: "Please, Rand, as a personal favor to me.... you've got to tell us what happened."
Me: "You sure that I won't be troubling you?"
Dr. Steinburg: "No trouble at all."
Nurse: "Yes, please... do tell."

The other nurse returned to the room with an IV drip and some other machinery.

Dr. Steinburg: "Just in time, Loretta, Rand was just about to begin telling us what happened."
Loretta: "Oh, wonderful! I've been dying to hear about this since you came in."
Me: "Well, it all started yesterday, when I realized that there was no hot water...."

The pager in Dr. Steinburg's pocket started beeping.
Dr. Steinburg: "Damn, I have to take this. Rand, you just sit tight; everything's going to be fine. Loretta, make sure that his wound is cleansed thoroughly, and do all the preparations."
The doctor left the room, and the nurses began working on my arm.

it lives

Joseph Shepherd Dadlez was the most peculiar of the triplets that were born that day. When the other two first emerged from the womb, they cried and writhed, in fear of the world they had suddenly been thrust into - Joseph's first act on this earth was to look up to the heavens and laugh. "Now you're in for it, you fucker... this isn't even my blood!" It wasn't until adolescence that Joseph learned to confine his mocking of God to his head. It was a similar scene when his teeth grew in, allowing him to bite off his mother's nipple.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

an important visitor

When George W. Bush visited the nuclear missile facility, those who worked there were at their best. The entire place was spotless, all were in their military uniforms, and every missile was in perfect working order. This wasn't a shabby crew - things were always well taken care of, but today, there wasn't a thing left to improve on.

Colonel Klemens had mixed feelings about the President, but Klemens was a soldier, and President Bush was the highest person on the totem pole. Soldiers like Klemens were well-trained to respect their superiors, and the President was his superiors' superior. After many years of dedicated service to his country, he wasn't going to let his personal feelings interfere with one of the greatest days in his life. He pushed his judgments from his mind and saluted as the President entered the room.

President Bush sauntered in with noticeable dignity. He had an appreciation for the respect that the soldiers showed to him, but George didn't think of himself as their leader. He was simply another true American, and all Americans were in this together. He shook the colonel's hand, signaling for the tour to commence.

Klemens began, "This is the command room, Mr. President. In an emergency that called for a nuclear response, this is where you would be."

The President casually looked over the many panels and screens, and nodded to the colonel in approval. "Very good." Instinctually, the President stood where he would in a crisis and took a deep breath. "How much firepower we got here, Soldier?"

Klemens smiled without letting it show on his face. Bush had a commanding way about him that made him a natural leader. Any doubts of Bush's worth were lost to the moment, as he looked at his leader with admiration. He answered proudly, "Enough to take out an entire continent, Sir."

"Good." The President was a man of few words, but had a reputation for action; an abrupt utterance from George Bush provided a certain comfort to all who beheld it. "I assume this is the button?"

"Yes, Sir! That is the fabled button that triggers the launch of... Sir, please don't press that."

President Bush continued to press the button, constantly looking over at the monitors, hoping for a response. "Why aint this thing workin'?!"

Klemens responded, "In order to prevent unauthorized or accidental firing of the missiles, two keys have to be inserted into those slots. One of the necessary keys is worn on a chain around your neck, and the other... Sir, I'm going to have to ask that you don't insert that key into the... Sir, please stop pressing the button."

President Bush began to show his agitation. "My key's in the slot, Soldier... why aint I hearin' nothin'?!"

Klemens maintained his composure and answered, "A second key must be put into the slot. Only the Secretary of Defense has the abili..."

The President pulled out his cellphone, dialed a pre-programmed number, and put his finger to his lips while looking at Colonel Klemens. Klemens fell silent so that the President could make his phone call. "Yeah, it's me. I need a secmatary of.... " President Bush looked at Klemens for guidance.

"The Secretary of Defense?"

Bush continued into the phone, "You hear what'd he say? Get me one of dem." Bush paused while the person on the other end of the line spoke. "Well, I need one dem here now! Get me a new one den!" Bush nodded in response to what he was hearing. "That's fine, you get me Tommy." President Bush put his phone away, looked around in a confused and distracted manner for a moment, then returned to pushing the button.

"Sir, normally, it's customary to delay a nuclear launch until a crisis demands that..."

A soldier escorted a boy in his teens into the room and said, "This is the command room, Mr. Secretary." The soldier then saluted the President and the new Secretary of Defense before leaving the room.

Colonel Klemens, becoming a little nervous, inquired, "But we already have a Secretary of Defense."

President Bush stopped pushing the button to congratulate Tommy with a firm handshake. "Yeah, dat one was too far away. Tommy was in the parkin' lot, in the church van." The President straightened Tommy's collar and pulled the key out from under the boy's shirt. "Right there in dat slot, Secmatary."

Klemens was starting to lose his cool. "Sir, if you have both keys in the slots, and you happen to accidentally press the button... Sir!!... Please don't press that!!!" Klemens stared at the main monitor in disbelief.

Finally seeing that things were operational, the President took his finger off the button. "So who we aimed at anyways?"

Klemens, who was in shock, failed to answer. Another soldier in the room, not wanting to speak for his superior, but also not wanting the President's important question to go unanswered, said, "I believe that the missiles were still pointing at Russia, from years ago."

For the first time since he had arrived, the President smiled. "You hear dat Tommy? We just brought freedom to them Russians."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

a fairly useless announcement

Since I'm totally slacking off today with my writing, I might as well fill in some space and mention the shit that I added recently to the webpage. If you'll bring your eyes to the right of the screen, you'll notice a link to a guestbook and one that says 'tell a friend'. The guestbook thing is pretty self-explanatory. The 'tell a friend' thing contains pre-designed emails that you can use to invite your friends to visit the page. This thing has been up for over a month, and right now, the counter is at 1108... fucking pathetic. This means that you guys are slacking off.. which means that I have to start getting violent. One of these days soon, I'll put up a way to send me anonymous emails... and very soon, I'll start filling in the links section. This is your money hard at work... you better start making use of it.

checking in

I feel entirely out of it right now. Nothing interesting... my mind isn't in its 'special place' or anything... I'm just unable to concentrate whatsoever. Why am I writing this?... excellent question, however I don't have a good answer. I just wanted to take a break from programming for a minute to write a love letter to my nameless and faceless, faithful readers out there.

So what's up with all of you guys today? Anything interesting going on? Yeah... I didn't think so.

Fucking losers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

the FBI now has my fingerprints on file

I had to get my fingerprints taken this morning for work. They already took my prints when I was first hired, but for some reason they had to be redone. Can you take a hint people?... Maybe I don't want my fingerprints on record... maybe my fingers weren't cooperating for a reason.

When I signed up for this job, I wasn't aware that it was going to directly compete with my aspirations for murder. Yes, yes... I can always wear gloves, but this is America... what happened to my god-given right to kill people with my bare hands? I've been trying to get a corporate discount at the gym across the street, and I'm running into snags... apparently, the only perk that I get from this job is having a more detailed file with the FBI. What's the point of even joining a gym if I have to resort to using weapons when I kill people.... I was really looking forward to doing the bare-handed strangulation thing. I wanted to be able to get a firm grip, and every man wants the last thing his wife sees, before she takes that last breath, to be his enormous pecks.

Murder's always been sort of a hobby of mine... you know, murder and music... I intend to do one or the other someday. My mom has a saying when you're in a bad mood, "Oh, someone's a crabby apple." Yeah... she's definitely a cool one. When I was growing up, she had a special saying for me: "Oh, someone's thinking about murder." It was like she could read my mind.

Shit's getting out of hand these days. With all this DNA crap, unless you're an athlete, all the rules for killing have changed. It used to be that investigations would be based on pure common sense... you had to literally be Sherlock Holmes to solve the crime. Then they figured out how to dust for fingerprints... pure genius... and lucky for all of those in law enforcement, only one in twenty people had the common sense to wear gloves. Now, they just have to be able to narrow it down to a few people, get a DNA sample, and solve the case. My job doesn't have my DNA on file (that I know of)... ironically, in the very room that I was getting fingerprinted, I had gloves in my pocket. I could have strangled that bitch right then, and they wouldn't have known who to narrow it down to, because the single hair that they found at the scene could have been anyone's. The only way they could catch me is through good old fashioned detective work... by calling everyone on the appointment list in for DNA sampling.

So now, not only do I have to wear gloves, but I have to limit my activity to random acts of murder. Half the fun of this whole thing is killing the people that you know. I don't want to kill some chick that looks like my wife... I want to kill my wife! "Very clever, Mr. Gray.... you wore gloves when you strangled your wife. Ten years ago, we wouldn't have been able to prove your guilt, but now, although we're too stupid to have country-wide DNA samplings on file, we were able to narrow it down to you... the husband. You see, Mr. Gray... here's what you didn't plan on... we always take DNA samples of those who are closest to the victim." Now it's going to be your wife that I have to kill instead, and you don't even know me - hey, I have to take out my marital aggressions on someone, and thanks to DNA matching, I can't kill the person who really deserves it. That's not fair to you, and it's certainly not fair to me. I swear, everything's going to shit around here.

"Mr. Gray, please come with me."
A large man in a security uniform drags me by the arm to a private room.
"We just scanned your work terminal, and found a document about murdering people."
"Oh... is that what this is about..." I was nervous for a moment, but now I'm relieved. "I'm just talking about planning for murder... I haven't actually killed anyone yet. I'm not even married, silly!"
The security officer chuckles, "Boy, you really had me worried there for a second... there's nothing wrong with a little healthy planning for murder."
He let me get back to 'work', but stopped me on the way out the door.
"Mr. Gray, a little piece of advice... wear gloves... that still foils about 90% of the detective-work out there."

That's one thing that I've never understood... why is it that planning out murders is cute, when executing them is considered to be obscene? In elementary school, we had to do writing assignments in which we'd have to plan out the murder of someone we knew well... they said that these exercises were good for creative planning and problem solving, and the desire to kill comes naturally to most children. It seemed like such a contradiction when I got sent to the principal's office for stabbing Suzy McLellan in class. I wasn't even trying to kill her... I just wanted to stab her a little. I almost got suspended over that... what a crock of shit.

For the record, I found out from the fingerprinters, that the prints from fingertips won't give them the information they need to see who it is. What they look for are the points that the grain circles around... like a knot in wood grain. This is good news... if I happen to forget my gloves, I still get to go ahead with my random killings... I just have to make sure to hold everything with my fingertips. Yes, if I drink a glass of water, it's going to take two hands, but I can handle that. Also, I have a pretty sweet move where I jab your trachea with my fingertips. That move doesn't provide the intimacy of the eye contact in strangulation... you know, where the wife just looks at you helplessly, as if to say, "Why?" The good thing about this move is that it's a bit ninja-like... which is also pretty cool.

So what does it all boil down to? I pretty much have to wear gloves now (which really fucking sucks), I can't kill the people I know well, and I might have to get that gym membership at a 'blue-collar' rate. This job is really starting to suck ass.

Monday, January 17, 2005

why the fuck is it so cold?

I looked at my watch... it was already a quarter past eleven, and some stragglers still weren't in their seats.

Michael was diligently making sure that everyone in the hall remained seated, but there were plenty of other archangels handling the situation. I looked at him, indicating that he should come close. "Michael, where the hell are the rest of the deities?"
The situation was a bit overwhelming for Michael... as it would be for anyone in his position, but he was doing his best to keep everyone in line. "I believe that some of the greater deities are out in the hall chatting."
I frowned slightly... this was the typical divine short-sightedness that made meetings like this necessary. "Let them know that the break is over, and that I'm getting agitated."
Michael's eyes widened slightly before he hurried toward the main door. He went as fast as he could without bringing his pace to a jog; he didn't want to cause a panic among our honored guests. He knew that I was just giving him a threat that would enable him to put some fear into the deities in the hall, but Michael knows that I don't deliver empty threats... and he also knows what happens when I become angry.

All of the deities who were having trouble holding to the schedule rushed into the room, quickly taking their seats. Many of them glanced over at me stealthily, before averting their eyes, attempting to gauge my level of anger, without drawing my direct attention.
I waited impatiently for them to finally become situated, and said, "Are we all ready to continue then?"
None dared to respond. They all sat with their hands in their laps like good little children, doing their best to seem attentive. Most managed to look directly at me, removing any indication of fear or distraction from their facial expressions, but some couldn't stop glancing over at the 'staff of deicide' that I was holding in my right hand. They all knew that I didn't need any such tool to exert my power, but that I just liked having a physical reminder for them to look at; their knowledge of that fact wasn't enough to keep their eyes off of it... they had seen it used in the past.

"Now that orientation is over, let's begin discussion of the issues at hand. I assume that you all know the main reason that we're here today?"
Buddha was in the back rifling through the itinerary, trying to find the answer to the question. Nothing is as distracting as someone quickly turning pages in an otherwise quiet room. At a silent gesture from Michael, another archangel respectfully tapped Buddha on the shoulder, helping him to realize his folly. Buddha was on his last straw with me... I had already force-changed his nature a few months prior, to make sure that he was directing his followers toward true enlightenment, rather than directing them toward his own glorification. He was grateful for the alteration, but I don't like having to fix deities... it's just as easy to scrap them and start with a clean slate. I don't think that Buddha was aware of the thin ice that he was standing on, but he soon would be if he kept slowing the meeting down.
Buddha blushed slightly, and awkwardly said, "I'm terribly sorry."
I frowned at him then turned my head toward the raised hand that I saw in the third row, in the group to the left. "Go ahead."
The Unnamed Deity of Modern Science boldly answered, "We're here because the temperature in New York was not to your liking yesterday."
"That's right. I'm glad to see that at least one of you is taking this seriously." When I'm angry, everyone in the room knows it; you can't be subtle with gods.. they won't catch on in the slightest.
A few dirty looks were directed toward the Unnamed Deity of Modern Science. He was the new guy, and he was a bit of a kiss-ass. There was also an obvious resentment toward him, considering that many other deities were quickly losing followers to his religion, because of the loose 'scientific' backings that reinforced his doctrines. Of course, his religion was just as false and as silly as any of the other ones represented in this meeting, but at this point in time, humanity didn't know any better. It was the same story as always in human history... it was just this god's time to shine.

"Now, I want to know what the fuck's going on around here. Which of you assholes made it so cold where I live yesterday?" My temper was getting a little out of hand, but it's just a technique that I sometimes use to speed things up.
Gaia delicately answered, "Uhh, sweetie, that's just nature's pattern. It's always been that way in the winter."
Gaia and I were on good terms... we've done some work together in the past, and she'd never tried to put her needs above those of the greater good. I find that to be a very rare quality among gods. I didn't take her response as an offensive contradiction, but rather as an honest, unbiased answer that served to educate me. That's fine... I don't claim to have all the answers... I'm just the guy with the big stick in his right hand, who makes sure that shit gets done.
"Okay, I guess that makes sense... " I took a moment to figure out which new direction to take this in. While I was thinking, the tension in the room started to ease up; the deities had a moment to remember that I'm a very reasonable man. "Hmm.... which of you fuckers created this planet, and started this winter shit in the first place?!" The tension immediately returned to the room.

Everyone was looking around the room for someone who had an answer to that question. I was amazed that they didn't know this one... every human has a quick answer for it... the all-powerful gods of the earth certainly should as well. "You've got to be kidding me.... none of you know?"
Yahweh cleared his throat. "I think that I might have created the earth, but I was only born about five or six thousand years ago, and the earth is clearly millions of years old. I mean, I might have done it, but I can't seem to remembe..."
I rolled my eyes and made a motion with my hand that instructed him to stop talking.
A forgotten Aztec god spoke out, "I once read a poem that said that the sun and the moon made love and had a child that was the earth. It was well written, and was once very popular... I've always assumed popular beliefs to have some validity."
I shook my head. "Okay... you guys clearly don't know shit about this one.. I suppose it's not your fault." I was disappointed, but you stop expecting too much after dealing with this bunch for a few lifetimes.

"Well, while I'm freezing my ass off, what exactly are you 'almighty' gods having your followers do?"
The Unnamed Deity of Modern Science raised his hand and answered without waiting for me to point at him, "Well, you know what my followers have been up to." He smirked proudly to himself, but he was certainly going to get an extremely painful wedgie from his peers as soon as the meeting ended.... I'm only a lowly mortal, and even I could foresee that one.
"Thrilling," I didn't want this young dipshit to slow my meeting down. "How about all of you Jesuses over there... have you guys ever accomplished anything worth noting?"
A few Caucasian members of the Jesus section, who all looked perfectly identical to me, looked at eachother quickly in confusion, until one of them answered, "Well, most of us have been busy squabbling over baptism issues... "
Another one of the quintuplets (I call them the quintuplets only because I don't know the name for identicals who number in the thirties) interrupted the other one, "Also issues of homosexuality... that's a hot one right now!"
A redneck Jesus from the group yelled out, "I've got my boy nukin' dem Iraqis dat few dem planes into dem towers!"
From the other side of the room, one of the Allahs yelled out, "Well, my followers are going to kill yours first!!!"
Redneck Jesus said, "God's gonna make sure dat..."
"That's enough!" I was so sick of hearing this shit among the morons on earth, that hearing it from their gods was just nauseating. "You're all fucking useless. If your IQs were any higher than that of your followers', I'd explain it to you... since things are as they are, I won't."
The Redneck Jesus looked over toward the Allah who had spoken out, and stuck his tongue out at him.
I hit my head against my staff. "Why couldn't I have been an atheist?"

I was starting to get worn out... dealing with children does this to me. "Does anyone here have a solution to the winter thing or not?"
A hand toward the back of the room slowly raised up; I signaled for him to speak. "Well, this is a little embarrassing, but.... "
I sighed. "Could you please just fucking spit it out already?"
The Unnamed Lesser-Deity of Environmental Awareness continued, "Well... it turns out that the burning of oil is harmful to the ozone layer, and the only thing that was nullifying its effects was the use of aerosol sprays. I swear I didn't know this at the time, but now that non-aerosol spray cans are used so much, global warming has been escalating."
"Okay, now we're getting somewhere..." I honestly had been losing hope that a solution would be found. "So all we have to do is fully eliminate the use of aerosol in New York, and the ozone will dissipate to the point where things will warm up... and my balls can come out of their winter hibernation?"
Our special little liar of a god was starting to gain some confidence, being the hero and all... "If you stop burning styrophoam, that'll help too!"

I was finally in good spirits, but I didn't want to lose control of the room. "Okay, I like what I'm hearing. Is anyone here available to help the environmentalists to have their way in New York, to unnaturally increase the temperature?" I didn't even wait for a lack of participation... I started tapping my staff with my index finger. "Anyone?"
Believe it or not, everyone raised their hands and eagerly offered to help. Michael breathed a sigh of relief, and signaled the 'clean-up crew' of cherubs to put their mops away... deicide can be messy work sometimes.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

the human condition

I was doing some random bloghunting in my boredom last night, and came across this one, which I also put into my links section. For the most part, it's the telling of the stories of a young teenage prostitute, from her now grown-up perspective. The site is very artistic, and is intended for an audience that finds these tales to be erotic, but I enjoyed it for a very different reason. I enjoyed hearing a bit about a side of the human condition that I have had the fortune or misfortune of not experiencing first hand. She tells her stories in a very 'matter-of-fact' way... providing the numbness that a child must feel to survive, and lets you feel whatever you want in response.

There are two common reactions to the darker realities of life from those who were more 'lucky' in the hand that was dealt to them: apathy and compassion. Apathy is the response of those who are selfish and those who feel helpless to fix things. Compassion is the reaction of those who don't ignore what's put before their eyes, and feel that there's something wrong with what they're seeing. I feel neither entirely... I simply have a respect for others' experiences... not denial, and not a desire to change things... I have an appreciation for the way things are.

The common belief in my country (the United States) is that the meaning of life is to be happy. Nobody disputes this with real conviction... it's a given around here... what a surprising belief to find in a capitalist culture. In other cultures, other 'givens' are found... usually differing forms of piety. There have been others throughout human history, although it's difficult for most to see those other perspectives clearly: "Oh, it was a warrior society, and all they wanted to do was be victorious and die in battle? Well, fighting made them happy, so the meaning of life was to be happy!" Really though, when you break it down, there is no 'given' meaning of life... that one thing is the biggest question that a human can take on, and you can't rely on the one that your culture happened to provide you with. When various human societies have spawned various definitions of the meaning of life, they're all suspect.

I don't know the meaning of life, but I don't think that it's the seeking of happiness. It just doesn't seem logical to me that one action should be more significant than another based on some emotional, subjective end result. I find it to be entirely more likely that all things are equally significant, and if any response to that fact makes sense, it would be the act of realizing that significance. I don't think that there's anything important to be done in life... I think that life is simply to be lived... I just haven't figured out what 'living life' is just yet.

Having that perspective on things, when I hear about the horrors of the human experience, my reaction isn't to fix things. There's something meaningful about such events, and there's something to be said for the direct experience of them. I don't seek out such things... if anything, I'm overly cautious and reserved, but I don't consider a life that was torn apart by horrible circumstances to be a wasted life... It's just another life; just another of the many tales of the human condition. Not only can I respect such a life and what knowledge comes from it, I hope to learn from it myself.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

astounded but not speechless: psycho dennis

I felt like getting one of these co-worker bashing articles out of the way, but since today is Saturday, I'm going to have to write one that relies on memory, rather than initial shock. I feel that the most appropriate person to write about today is Psycho Dennis. He isn't as weird as some of the people at work... but none the less, he's earned a place in my heart, and thus on my blog.

I didn't nickname Psycho Dennis, and I have no idea why he's called that. I met him at my department's Christmas party; he was introduced to me as Dennis, but once he was ten feet away, his name suddenly switched to 'Psycho Dennis'. I guess there's more than one Dennis, and people need to differentiate.

Psycho Dennis was already drunk when I got to the party. To be fair, I showed up about a half hour after the thing started. I have to be honest though... that bartender was an animal, and I, myself, ended up stumbling home that night. Here's the thing though... Psycho Dennis already had a reputation from the last year's Christmas party. Even the bartender had recognized him and commented on the fact that he shouldn't be drinking too much, but of course, that didn't stop the bartender from shoving drinks in his face.

In the great Christmas bash of 2003, Psycho Dennis drank too much and passed out on the sidewalk outside the bar; classy shit for a Wall Street party. Nobody was able to wake him up, and nobody knew where he lived. He had brought a friend (or it may have been a buddy from work), who elected to take him in a cab to the address specified on his driver's license, but when they got to the address, the people there didn't know him. They had no idea where to put this guy, so they dropped him off at a hospital.

I don't know Psycho Dennis at all... I had only met him at that party. My department is split between two buildings, and he's at the Wall Street one. He must be quite the character to have such a nickname... afterall, the names 'Drinking Dennis', 'Sidewalk Dennis', and 'Sleeping Beauty' seem more appropriate... there's something about this guy that makes the word 'psycho' trump any other description of his character. I have no idea what's so psycho about him though.

Psycho Dennis assured everyone that he was going to take it easy at this party. They were truly concerned... they're actually all very nice people, and consider the workgroup to be a sort of sub-family. I had been at the company for less than a month, so I was sort of the new step-child, but if I was a true family member... say a second cousin or something, I'd have made sure to ask Psycho Dennis what his address was, just in case. Nobody did that.

I missed a good deal of this, because I was being actively hit on by a co-worker for at least an hour straight, but I did see them carry Psycho Dennis outside, because he was unable to walk. I actually missed all the good stuff, but the highest ranking guy at the party got stuck dealing with the Psycho Dennis situation (really though, doesn't Sleeping Beauty sound like a much better name?). He was totally passed out, and they couldn't get a cab to pick him up to enable his yearly visit to the hospital.

You have to keep in mind... this is a Wall Street work party. This isn't a kegger in your friend's garage. Everyone had come straight from work, and we were dressed in suits to business casual at the very least. Now imagine a bunch of people in suits, trying to keep their business-like composure at a company party, while Psycho Dennis is passed out in a puddle, on the sidewalk out front. Not only that, but his boss has to take care of him... he didn't have a buddy at the party this year.

An unconscious man on Wall Street stands out a bit... it was no surprise that the cabs wouldn't take him; he had to be woken up. They tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seemed to work - the highlight of their repertoire was doing the speed-slaps Three Stooges style. Nothing could wake this guy.

'Plan B' was to simulate Psycho Dennis' consciousness. The first attempt was holding him up and trying to keep his head erect, to make it look like he was just having trouble walking, rather than having trouble being awake. This didn't work... apparently Psycho Dennis is extremely heavy... he didn't look overweight to me, but I wasn't trying to carry him.

He had some sort of a napsack with him that day, so their next attempt at simulating his consciousness was to stand him up against a pole, and use the straps from the napsack to tie him to it. The idea was to make it look like he was standing on his own.... but of course, they couldn't have his head slumping over, so they needed to tie him up in a way that his head was fastened to the pole as well. I guess they did a sloppy job with the pole thing, because he was choking on one of the straps. Who knows how long he hadn't been breathing... it's not like he was signaling them with his arms or anything... they just happened to hear a sleeping man making some soft choking noises.

All the fun finally came to an end when they decided to call the Fire Department, requesting their 'bar to hospital' shuttle service to do its magic for a man who was in danger of drowning in the puddle that his co-workers had put him in. It was getting late, and the fun of abusing a grown man was giving way to the need for everyone to go home to their beds. Interestingly enough, Psycho Dennis was unconscious throughout the entire tail-end of the night, and yet he was still the life of the party. That was my first and only Wall Street party to date, and I can't imagine attending one without Psycho Dennis at my side. I want to be the guy who buys him his first drink.

Friday, January 14, 2005

just an event that I feel like sharing

I don't know what's been causing this, but over the last few days, I've been getting the eye from every chick whose age I can't decipher. I already mentioned that I was bad at determining the ages of women, but let me be more specific... the last two chicks that I had a firm guess on, then later was able to find out their actual ages were 24 (I guessed 16) and 42 (I guessed 31). Nothing there sounds too bad, but I'm just worried about the day that I'll be chatting it up with a thirty-year-old who turns out to be eleven.

This current wave of signals first came to my attention on Wednesday morning, and it's still going strong. I'm sure that I'm fueling it unintentionally though: some twelve to fifty-year-old looks at me longingly... I think, "Jesus... another one?.. what's going on here?" and I probably look at her too long while I'm thinking this, then she takes my curiosity as interest. They've all actually been very cute, but I never know which ones are going to land me in jail.

This chick on Wednesday morning was the most interesting though. This isn't a wildly imaginative or funny story... it's just something that happened that I found to be interesting. There was a certain underlying poetry to the experience.

I was in the subway tunnel, waiting for my morning train. I had just missed the prior train, and found a place to stand where I wasn't too close to anyone... normal shit.. everyone fills in spatial gaps. I noticed a really cute girl of indiscriminate age to my right... I knew she was at least eighteen... I never see kids in midtown, but she couldn't have been much older... then again, she was probably forty, knowing my record with guessing ages. She had dark skin... she was either latin or middle eastern (yeah, I'm oblivious on multiple levels), and had exotic jet black hair that reached down to her waist. She was actually shorter than me too... she looked good all around, except for the possible jailbait thing.

It's normal to look forward, avoiding eye contact, staring at the empty space that the subway you're waiting for will eventually fill. I did that and everyone else was doing that, but this chick positioned herself so that she was facing straight toward me; according to the standard, she was 90 degrees off with her aim. I noticed, but didn't pay too much noticeable attention... if she turned out to be ten, I'd end up being labeled a molester.

Okay... nothing too interesting so far. I should also mention that she was playing up the cute girl thing in the way she presented herself. She had black nylons on and a short skirt... I can't remember anything else she was wearing... I never notice anything else when those things are worn. She didn't look like a slut... she looked innocent, but it seemed a little intentional and overdone... she was probably in her mid-twenties, but knew that she looked young, so decided to play it up.

Then it happened.... she pulled out a book to read. No big deal right?.... the book was called 'Lolita'. She was facing straight at me, and pulled this book out, which had a plain white cover with the word 'Lolita' in large red text. She positioned the book so that she could read it, but it was just under her face so that it wouldn't obstruct my view... she was wearing this book as a large sign. If she would have had something strapped to her ankles that said 'you must be 18 to enter', she'd have completed the picture, but we all know that somebody in the subway, who's not as internet-savvy as the rest of us, would probably take that the wrong way... "I'm at least 18.. let me in!" I couldn't fucking believe what I was seeing... no exposed skin, but this was just too much.

I wasn't sure if she was doing this intentionally, but if not... it was too interesting to ignore... like I said, I found the experience to be somewhat poetic. I casually reached for my phone (which has a built in camera that provides all of these crappy pictures you've been seeing), and glanced over to make sure that she wasn't looking, so that I could take a picture all sneaky-like. She was looking. She was staring at me, wide-eyed, with a total puppy-dog look on her face.... still holding that book just below her chin. It's like she was saying, "Please click here, I'm only eighteen, my parents are out for the night, and I want to try being naughty for once." This had to be staged. I left my camera in my pocket... creative advertising isn't poetic... only coincidences that have deep connotative meanings are worth taking pictures of... besides, if I did take her picture while she was staring at me like that, she'd definitely end up with a mouthful, and I'd possibly end up with a mouthful from my future cellmate.

The subway came right then, and everyone climbed on board. I could see her from where I was standing, and she buried her face in that book until she finally got to her stop. It's possible that she was pretending to read it for my benefit, but it's more likely that she was just reading that book, just like anyone else reading a normal book, completely unaware of what she was doing when she held that thing in front of her in the subway. I should have taken the picture.