it's not much, really ... just life
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The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul
Tuesday, April 22, 2003 11:50p

One of my favorite authors has always been Douglas Adams. It is exceedingly rare to find an author who can effectively write, as well as entertain a reader, with biting wit and dark sarcasm. Although Adams typically wrote Sci Fi, the majority of his work dealt with uncommonly ordinary characters trying to escape the dull monotony of their lives. Unfortunately, Douglas Adams died in May of 2001 at a very early age. He was only 49.

It has been a week since my last post, mostly because nothing particularly interesting has happened. I have been thinking a lot about the dull monotony of life, and have come to realize a very basic truth about it: there is no excuse for dull monotony, but still it is always there.

One of the more memorable characters created by Douglas Adams was that of Rob McKenna. Nomatter where Rob went, it always rained. Somewhere in the world, it was raining. And Rob was always there. Nomatter how hard he tried to escape the rain, it always followed him. And it made him very bitter and angry.

Rob McKenna didn't realize it, but he was in fact a "Rain God". The clouds simply followed him because they longed to be with him. Rob could not escape his own destiny.

I think that is the way that life works. To be alive means that you have to seek out and learn the greater truths. Ironically, you are given only a limited perspective, but are somehow expected to grapple with experiences that are well beyond your ability to understand them. Had Rob realized the basic truth about his existence, he would have been better able to cope with the dull monotony of the rains that fell in his life.

For me, I think it is finally time to mix it up a bit. After all, there are many different types of rain, and not all of them are bad.

Happy Tax Day!
Tuesday, April 15, 2003 11:45p

Happy tax day! I am so excited, I didn't wait until the last minute to get my taxes in (which is my normal yearly ritual). In fact, I sent them sent in yesterday -- almost 24 hrs. before the deadline. Woo hoo!

Plus, I can now wiggle my toe. Double woo hoo!

Broken Toe?
Monday, April 14, 2003 11:45p

This morning, the sun was up and I woke a bit earlier than normal. I had planned on getting into the office, and finishing up a project on which I had been working. Unfortunately, as I was getting ready, my cat decided that the best place for her to be was directly under foot. I narrowly avoided stepping on her, but ended up slamming my foot into the baseboard of the wall in the process.

There was a loud crack ... but I didn't feel anything in my toe. Since there was no pain, I simply pulled on my shoes and set off to catch the rapid.

By mid-day, the pain was unbelievable. I stopped at the rest room and looked at my toe for the first time -- it was completely black.

I tried to move it, and it did wiggle a little ... but with a lot of pain. I am hoping that I didn't break it, but it has been almost 16 hours and I am still not able to walk all that well.

So how does one deal with a possibly broken toe? Head out to a coffee shop with a buddy of mine, of course. Not even a broken toe can stand between me and my cup of Earl Grey.

However, if I still can't wiggle it much by tomorrow morning, I will have to get it checked-out.

Jekyll and Hyde: Stevenson Rocks!
Sunday, April 13, 2003 11:30p

Today was a pretty good day. I had lunch at the usual bagel shop, and was able to get in some reading. I have just finished a huge volume on the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, which included "Treasure Island," "Kidnapped," and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". These are far and away the best stories that I have ever read. Stevenson, himself, was a Scot ... and his descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, Lowlands and surrounding areas were incredibly dramatic.

The shortest piece in the volume was "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Even if you are already familiar with the story, it is well worth the time to read. The entire plot builds to the last chapter, which is the final narrative of Dr. Jekyll. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that Stevenson's commentaries on the duality of humankind (conceived in both good and evil) show that Stevenson was a man well ahead of his time. It is too bad that Stevenson died at such an early age -- who knows what other works may have been lost. At least we have a treasury of the stories that he did complete during his lifetime, and I would strongly encourage all to read them.

Afterward, I bought a new book, "The Mississippi Writing of Mark Twain." As I was leaving, I spotted a set of juggling sticks that were unlike anything that I had ever worked with before (one of my hobbies is juggling). Normally, the sticks are coated with a soft rubber that provides some friction, and it is the friction that allows a juggler to perform the tricks. This new set has a hard rubber exterior, so the sticks are kept in the air by momentum alone. I can perform many of the same old tricks, but the level of difficulty has increased by a large degree. These are going to be fun to learn.

By far, the highlight of the weekend was a conversation that I had with a young lady today. In the interests of maintaining her privacy, I won't say anything more about it. However, there is just something wonderful in chatting with an attractive woman.

Life is good.

One More Saturday Night, One More Song to Play
Saturday, April 12, 2003 9:40p

Well, it's Saturday ... and I keep hoping for something more to this life. The article that I discussed in my last post really bothered me, and I have been thinking a lot about it since. I hope that the author was wrong, and that there is somebody out there that might be looking for a stable, responsible person. Time will tell, I guess ...

But for tonight, I am left to my own self and my own thoughts. At least I had the time to learn the CCR hit "Bad Moon Rising." It was pretty easy to play because it is only 3 basic chords. Enjoy the recording.

Nice Guys Finish Last
Thursday, April 10, 2003 10:40p

I just read an article today on human relationships that spoke to the same issues touched upon in yesterday's post. The article was written by a female PhD for a popular women's magazine, and was actually posted to the main page of the AOL web site. In summary, it said that most women are hard-wired for an attraction to "Bad Boys." The reasons that the author gave were as follows:

The funny thing about the article was that the author made no determination as to whether this was actually heathly for women. No real answers ... just some "feel good because you are not alone" drivel. Pop psychology at it's absolute best! In fact, the only thing she concluded was that most women typically have very intimate relationships with the "Bad Boys," but then sometimes go on to marry the "Nice Guys."

So then, are the nice guys always expected to deal with the unresolved issues that have been left in the wake of the bad boys? After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and somebody always has to pay the tab.

I am so screwed.

Learning Another Song to Play
Wednesday, April 9, 2003 10:40p

Once again, I am here ... sitting at home, alone, and wishing for something more to my life. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a lot going on. As I talk with more and more people, the harder it is for me to believe that I might find somebody with whom I have something (anything) in common.

For some strange reason, it seems that the more you try to hurt people, the more desirable you become. I had a conversation earlier with a lady who is lost in an abusive relationship. The guy is basically cheating on her. When confronted with the truth, I was told that he went into "You just don't trust me" mode. That made her feel guilty, but she pressed on. Unfortunately, he got angry and she got hurt. Of course, she admits that she may have pushed him a bit too far. As far as I am concerned, she should simply move on. Unfortunately, that isn't the way that it works -- she is determined to stand by him. After all, he needs her ... or so she believes.

She is a friend, and I believe that she should aim a little bit higher. I am not implying that she should think of me as more than a friend -- far from it. I am stable and I try to be considerate of her feelings. That makes me the friend -- and only the friend. I have played this game before, and I know my role all too well.

Sometimes I wish that she would stop talking to me all together. I can't help but feel that by being there, I am enabling her to continue along her self-destructive path. I can only hope that she is not offended by this post ... but how many times does somebody need to fall down a staircase or walk into a door before that person finally understands?

In the end, I refuse to become a liar or a cheater just to win somebody over. In the end, I am the one who has to face himself in the mirror each day. And so, all that I have is my guitar ... and I am learning another song to play: "Eight Days a Week" by the Beatles. You can listen to it here.

Six Weeks of Guitar Lessons
Sunday, April 6, 2003 10:40p

Yesterday night, I was feeling sort of stressed. I was anxious for something to do, but found myself alone with nothing. So, I decided to play my guitar. Yesterday was also my 6th guitar lesson and prior to that, I had never really learned to play an instrument successfully.

Years ago, while still in college, I did take a course in beginners piano as an elective to graduate ... but I stopped playing soon after. Music had always been something that I wanted to learn, but it was obvious from the piano class that I possessed no natural talent for it. I had forgotten how complicated music can be.

When I first started with the guitar lessons, some of the people in the studio recommended that I purchase a Fender Stratocaster. It is a beautful looking instrument, and I hope one day to be able to do it justice.

My instructor is great -- he is teaching me not only the skills I need to read and play music, but also teaching me a little about music theory to boot. We are both huge Beatles fans, and many of our lessons focus on their music.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a book of Beatles sheet music, and a small cable that allows me to plug my guitar directly into my PC. I have been working primarily with two Beatles songs -- "Eight Days a Week" and "She Loves You". Late yesterday night, I made my first recording of the latter. You can find it here.

Is there a moral to this story? Not really. I am just excited to finally be learning to express myself through music.

On Friendship
Friday, April 4, 2003 06:20p

Friendships are sometimes won, sometimes lost ... but they are never easy.

Just yesterday, I was reunited with a guitarist friend of mine that had moved to Nashville five months ago. He had come back for a short visit, and was playing at one of the old bars. It was good to see him again, and I had forgotten just how talented a musician he really is. I wish him and his girlfriend every success imaginable.

But then today, it looks as if I've lost a friend. She is truly a great person -- especially considering the grace with which she managages the difficulties in her life. She knows that I care for her a great deal as my friend, but sometimes I think that she expects too much from me -- or maybe reads too deeply into my motives. Regardless, I allowed a simple comment that she made about my movites set me off, and it shouldn't have turned into what it did. However, it couldn't be helped, and perhaps it is for the best in the long run. Right now, it certainly doesn't feel that way.

There was also the angry man that came up to me in the bar yesterday. He saw me, said that he hated lawyers and then said that he hated me. Oddly enough, I am not even a lawyer. He concluded by saying that he wanted to kill all of the things that he hated -- and I am guessing that included the lawyers and me.

Minutes before, he had wandered up to a friend of mine, pulled some pornographic material out from his pocket, and put it right in front of my friend's face. The image was of a hermaphrodite with the face of Hilliary Clinton. My friend just wanted the man to go away.

The man was obviously drunk, and seemed to have suffered a great loss very recently. At least, that was what it sounded like he had said as he was screaming at several women in the bar, calling them rude by names. I was only able to catch bits and pieces of it all.

I am just glad that he decided to take a taxi home, rather than drive. He was so drunk, it was difficult to take the death threats too seriously.

So, I guess that you could say that I gained a friend, possibly lost a friend and made an enemy. That is, so long as he can remember what I look like once he sobers up.

Those Irresponsible Cell Phone Users
Thursday, April 3, 2003 10:40p

If there's one thing that's really beginning to frost my cupcakes, it is those irresponsible cell phone users. I can understand that cell phones are convenient -- I mean, I have one. I can understand that many people rely on them in emergency situations -- I mean, I do. I am even aware of the fact that cell phone services typically cost less than the copper telephone lines that are running into my house right now. And that's all just grand and wonderful.

However, there are very few reasons for people to be making cell phone calls while driving. There are even fewer reasons for making cell calls in restaurants during dinner. And there are absolutely no reasons for making calls during movies or plays. I'm sorry, but nobody needs to be that available, all the time.

People are even making cell calls while pumping gas.

In fact, I saw this blurb on the news. It said that the signals from cell phones can sometimes cause nearby car batteries to spark and to discharge a small amount of static electricity. The static electricity could ignite the gas being pumped into the tank. Allegedly, several people have already been blown up, and the news commentators recommended that people turn off their cell phones when entering a gas station. One commentator then provided the address to a web site on which viewers could voice their opinions.

Of course, there wasn't a place on the site for me to indicate that I was in support of blowing up cell phone (ab)users. It probably wasn't even the idiot on the cell phone got himself blown-up in the story because it never happens that way in real life. That idiot probably got away without a scratch, ran to the gas station across the street, and called his wife on his cell from there to let her know that lots of cars have been blowing up around him lately.

I especially hate those people who intentionally have dull and pointless cell phone conversations in public areas. Are they trying to convince everybody around them that they lead dull and pointless lives?

For example, I was riding the rapid downtown into work. I was up late yesterday night working on the PC, so I was a little bit sleepy and figured that I could catch a quick cat nap on the way into work. Most other people were either reading or napping themselves.

Unfortunately, on the platform at the next stop stood the infamous "Moron with a Cell Phone" (MCP).

So the MCP gets on the train, and sits down next to me. Immediately, I heard a beeping noise and I knew he was dialing his phone. Suddenly, at the top of his voice, the MCP announces ...

"Hello Joe, Yeah. It's Dickie. Dick. D-I-C-K ... yeah, me. Uh-huh. Yep ... I'm on the rapid now. On the rapid. I said, 'ON THE RAP...' Oh, yeah ... okay ... I won't shout. Yes, I am on my way in now. Uh-huh, Yep."

And his name really was "Dick" -- I swear it, no joke. Life, it seems, can write comedy too.

The conversation continued on this way for close to five minutes, with the entire train ride lasting a total of only twelve. Am I to believe that the MCP considers himeself so vital to the survival of the human species that he couldn't have waited another twelve minutes? The final moments of his conversation went something like this ...

"Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, I'll be up there in a second. Yep, I'm on my way up. We're just pulling into the station now. Yep, the rapid. Okay, yes, okay. Yep. See you in probably less than a minute. Uh-huh. Bye."

My happy thought of the day is that a huge gust of wind will one day blow the MCP (and his cell phone) off the platform and onto the tracks. That is, right into the path of a large oncoming train.

The absolute worst product ever developed has to be those stupid hands-free units. I see these supposedly well-educated business professionals all of the time waving, talking and yelling to ... now, get this ... NOBODY! The only way to tell them from the "downtown crazies" is the tell-tale little electronic thingy poking out of one ear. With a true "crazy" person, you usually only see a finger poking into the ear because fingers don't cost nearly as much, and you usually get the first ten for free.

And the cell phonies are almost never watching where they're going as they rant on their phones.

I mean, if these morons can't walk and talk at the same time ... how do they ever manage to drive?

April Fools!
Tuesday, April 1, 2003 07:30p

Yes, once again, it is that time of year. Things were fairly busy today, and I just want it all to slow down for a little while. Not to mention that I am feeling a bit out of sorts today due to a severe lack of sleep. The cold, gray weather doesn't help. Where has the sun gone, anyway?

My only peace is in knowing that the NPF has now been silenced. Yes, I agree, my previous post was a little on the harsh side. But what else could I have done?

Initially, I started off by being totally serious, genuinely voicing my concerns. All that I got was a laugh.

But once I wrote up the entire incident as a joke, the NPF stopped laughing -- and behaviors changed.

Ironic, huh?

I don't care anymore. I'll do whatever it takes to keep that damn phone from ringing again.

Update: As I was uploading this file, I heard that a POW has been rescued after 10 days of captivity. That is great news, and my thoughts are with her and her family.

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