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August 28, 2002
Hello from Canada, eh? Ladies

Hello from Canada, eh?

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm unemployed. Found out yesterday, via a static-y voice mail message retrieved on Chanterelle Island, Maine, in the flow of the Damariscotta River, that my last day will be this Friday. No more Oxygen for me. It's a long and somewhat interesting story, but I didn't come to Nova Scotia to type it, so it'll have to wait. Something tells me I'll have plenty of time to relate it, as well as regale you all with stories of my current and future adventures.

This one, so far, has been fantastic. The only dark side is that ever present dark side to everything, money.

Well, I'm distracted. As it should be.

To summarize: Laid off (layed off? I still don't know.). Maine was spectacular, Nova Scotia promises to be. Liz is lovely.

Donations welcome.

August 23, 2002
Oh what fun the volleyball

Oh what fun the volleyball was tonight. We won 2 out of 3 against our arch rivals, Passive Aggressive, who, as usual, lived up to their name. One woman decided taht I was a liar over one call and had a terrible attitude for the rest of the evening. I went to make peace with her after the match and she refused to shake my hand. The whole team got into an argument with her, I think we should have taken her outside and explained things to her a little more clearly (cracks knuckles), but we let it slide.

After we went to Matt's Grill for dinner and drinks and more drinks. Luke was in rare form, as was just about everyone else. Good times, good times.

In other news, I'm getting layed off. Laid off? I don't know how to spell it, but it's true. Could be as early as next week, and the irony is, I asked for it. I'd explain, but I'm sort of drunk and should go to sleep. The bed looks tempting, I'll just have to roll Liz out of the middle where she landed.

Oh, my favorite bumper sticker of late, and by favorite I mean of course most likely to make me leave this country in a big damn hurry. It seems if you're going to subscribe to a particular religion, you should at least know something about it. Assholes.

"You see me a lot, often, pretty much quite a bit." - Liz

August 18, 2002
Well, howdy. It's been almost

Well, howdy.

It's been almost a week since I've written anything, that's no good. (I just wrote "doog" three times before I finally go it in the right order, I swear my brain is turning to oatmeal.) Now I feel obligated to write something, as much to myself as to any of you, but I'm not really in the mood. It's a genuine Sunday.

I've never been a huge Sunday person. You can't really enjoy it completely, and often you're on your way back from somewhere. I was in Baltimore this weekend, came back up this morning.

Irritation #1: Traffic.
I can't stand it. Really, I don't think I could manage another daylight trip up or down the I-95 corridor between New York and D.C. It's absurd. The volume of cars is so high, it's a terrifyingly delicate balance. If everything, everything, goes well, you can roll along, but as soon as one person does as much as tap their brakes for longer than a second or so, it's over. Backed up for miles, no end in sight. And then of course the problems multiply, people start changing lanes, driving on the shoulder, riding along in lanes that are going to end until just when they end and then trying to squeeze in despite the signs for miles allerting them that the lane was ending. As you can tell, this is slightly more than a pet peeve with me. It's another thing on that list, getting longer all the time, of seemingly minor problems with our society that I'm convinced are actually harbingers of real actual doom for our civilization. It might not be in the next 50 or 100 years, but it's coming. We're fucking up pretty badly. Evidence: 60 Minutes tonight. First story was about the turmoil in Zimbabwe, rigged elections, state-sposored murder and intimidation, lots of good stuff. The second was based largely on Fast Food Nation and the Fast Food Industry's aggressive marketing to children, which is likely responsible for the fact that 25% of the kids in this country are now considered obese. Read that again. The third story was about the death penalty. The couple of bright spots were that some states have now banned fast food and soda machines in schools, and since Illinois put a moratorium on all excecutions after 13 men on death row were proved to be innocent and released, some other states have followed suit.

That's just it. There often seems to be hope for some of the big issues, but what I think is getting completely ignored is that people just aren't very nice anymore. Selfish, greedy, money-grubbing, rude, inconsiderate. Driving up and down 95 really drives it home. So does going into most retail establishments. People just don't seem to care. They don't look you in the eye, don't say hello, please, thank you, goodbye.

Oh yeah, also my computer almost died this eveing, making me worried about all the data on here. I need to start backing things up regularly and completely. It might be time to think about moving the web sites to a hosting company, let them be responsible for redundancy and security. I'm sure I'd have to agree that they're not liable for my data, though.

One more thing: Layoffs seem be in the offing. The rumor mill is in high gear at work, and while there's really no confirmation of anything, there have been so many different things from so many different sources that it's hard not to think that some part of it is true. Every other time this has happened, I've remained relatively sure that I would keep my job, but this time I don't feel that way. That could be because I basically asked to be layed off if possible. When it starts to look like reality, though, it's quite a confliction. I feel like it's time to move on, and I think it would be good for me ultimately, but money money money. That's what it pretty much comes down to. And of course, that only adds to the conflict since I'm loathe to admit that it's true.

Liz comes back tomorrow, that's the good news. But it's not tomorrow yet.

August 11, 2002
The other day I picked

The other day I picked up one of them laser pointer dealies, on the advice of my sister. Months ago she had said that they were great cat toys, and after it rattled around in my head for a while, I got one. She was certainly right, the cat goes nuts for the thing. But that's what I'm afraid of.

I really think it might be bad for Roo, mentally. He runs around after the thing like mad, spinning and jumping, it's very entertaining, and you could pretty easily make a case that he's enjoying it. The problem is that when it stops, he doesn't just say, "well, fun game, thanks for that. i'll go have a shit." He sits the there all freaked out and twitchy, waiting for it to come back. He sniffs everywhere, crouches under chairs, waiting like a coiled spring for his fleeting enemy. Of course, that's the best time to turn the thing back on, he jumps a mile and starts running all around again. Inevitably, I get tired of the game before he does, and I put it down, but he doesn't know where it's coming from, he has no idea what's happening, so he still sits there, all tense. I think he's losing his mind. I might have to throw the thing away so he doesn't completely lose it. I wouldn't be far behind him.

I just finished watching The Insider. Great movie. It's based on the real story of a guy who blew the whistle on a big tobacco company, was almost completely silenced, but managed to get the story out anyway causing a big mess that influenced the quarter trillion dollar settlement the tobacco industry agreed to a couple of years later. Good acting, good story, 4 stars.

Got me to thinking about propaganda. It's a strange concept, because really everything is propaganda. It's just a word with a negative connotation that we use to talk about news when we don't agree with the opinions being presented. Of course we believe we have the correct viewpoint, so the other guy's viewpoint as passionately argued is propaganda. Just like ours is to him. People who disagree with our way of life, or have different ideas about business or religion or government, view our media in the exact same way that we view theirs. As a tool of the powerful, not a tool of the people, as corrupt and skewed and unfair, as extreme and as destined to fail.

It seemed to me that the making of the movie must have been very political. Just like 60 Minutes and CBS were faced with huge pressure and threatened with destruction if they aired the story originally, the moviemakers were doing a similar thing. It makes me happy to think that there could be instances when government or corporate crimes or whatever are effectively killed by these great bags of money, but the story still gets out because someone makes a "fictional" movie about it. It's "based on a true story" but "some details have been changed for dramatic effect". It's a get out of jail free card. You can say anything you want to about anyone, and as far as I know, you can't be sued for it. Even if it depicts events so close to reality as to be undeniably true, as long as you say they might not be, seems like you're safe. I wonder what the real legality of it is. Shit, if I looked into it, I'd probably find out that countless filmmakers have been harassed and sued for trying to make movies about real events and that would ruin my whole attempt to end this entry on an optimistic note.

Oh, and there was this great digital background morph thing in one scene, very impressive. It was the opposite of my most hated of movie things, the over-done, unnecessary or garish special effect. You might not even have noticed it.

August 7, 2002
I love that I'm outting

I love that I'm outting all of you closeted American Idol fans. Maybe I'll start a movement. Sort of like Pflag or something. "I Love My Friend Who Watches American Idol". ILMFWWAI. No, I guess that would be for the people who tolerate us, maybe Liz can start that one.

I just finished watching the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. I really think we should get together as a people, a nation, a species even, and do our best to convince George Lucas to stop making movies. And, for the love of god, to stop messing with his old movies. Jedi isnt the best of the original three movies, but it's decent, at least it was. He replaced the music to the entire ending. I used to love that Ewok "jub-jub" song. He took a perfectly cheesy early 80's ending and turned it into Titanic. Lame. One 2 second shot he added, had a freakin burp joke in it! I'm surprised he didn't insert Jar Jar Binks into some of the scenes. The shot in a simple landscape shot, but a little frog-type creature in the foreground burps as the camera goes by. Just silly.

Go Tamyra.

August 6, 2002
na na na na na

na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN.

You can count them, it's the right number of nas.

Okay, so I watched American Idol again. Instead of delving into the oh-so-complex justification for that, I'll just tell you about it, assuming the persona of someone who really actually sort of likes it. It's not me though.

For my smarter friends who don't watch this crap, the basic idea is a competition among aspiring pop weirdos to be the next Brittney or Skee-Lo or Ella Fitzgerald. Some I'd say are going for more of a "completely freaked out teenager with a bad suit" thing, but to each their own.

After they each perform every week, the viewing public votes on which they like the best. The next night, the person with the least number of votes is eliminated. And so on. The last one standing wins the inestimable right to sell their soul and body to several large corporations, and a Ford Focus.

There's one guy, Justin, who I originally thought seemed relatively decent, seemed like an alright guy. In fact, though, he's this disturbing 22 year old who thinks he's the world's greatest sex symbol. It's freaky. They've invented a little scandal since he backtalked to a judge, and the next week offered an uncomfortably scripted apaology. He deserves it, though, he sucks. Tonight they all had to sing classics from the big band era, with a live big band. He sang "Route 66" in a black tux with an untied bow-tie like he was Frank Sinatra. He went "t'ah" in between most of his words. "Get your kicks-ahh on Route-tuhh, Sixty-Six-ahhh" In his little interview afterwards, he actually refered to Sinatra and Dean Martin as "Frank and Dean". I thought he would whip out a glass of bourbon any second. Someone forgot to tell him that it looks really bad for an unknown aspiring performer to make even implicit comparisons between themselves and legends. Modesty-ahh.

So I hope he loses.

There are three girls on the show who are genuinely good. One of them particularly is an amazing singer. It's conceivable that one or more of them could have an interesting and/or fulfilling career come out of this. They could also be horribly exploited and taken advantage of, used to sell every product under the sun, and have their childhood dreams summarily and publicly crushed like.. pepper, but it could work out.

It's strange to watch the public humiliation of the ones who aren't very good. One of the judges, who just give "professional" opinions (one of them is Paula Abdul) and don't vote, is very direct, some would say incredibly mean. He's very honest, and probably right about these people's chances at becoming a superstar, it's just weird to see their little hearts broken so publicly.

The best part though, was "Coca-Cola Moments", a segment that showed the contestants, in a rare "behind-the-scenes" moment, one by one frustratingly trying to play one of the band's trumpets while the band was taking a break. None of them could play it; it was so funny! The thing just squeaked and whined! Suddenly one of them noticed an ice cold Coca-Cola on the chair, took a swig (camera 3 - closeup on that swig!), and proceeded to play a fine little ditty. Can you imagine the power of that soft drink? Brilliant!

In fact, I was appalled. And thirsty.

Alright, I'm done. I'm really sorry to have wasted your time with this, but it makes me feel better for having watched it, and in the end, that's what we're all here for.

August 4, 2002
August 3, 2002
I think maybe my high-tech

I think maybe my high-tech lifestyle has infiltrated the way I think to a greater degree than I'd like to believe. Two examples: Tonight Liz and I were painting, working on a sort of art project, and when I occasionally painted over the line I was trying to follow, my first instinct was to "undo". I seriously almost felt my hand reach out as if to press Ctrl-Z.

David Pogue wrote an article Thursday about ReplayTV and TiVo, really just a review of a new version of ReplayTV, but in it he described a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) as "a gizmo so amazing that everyone who buys it turns into an evangelical fanatic, extolling its virtues to anyone within earshot." Now many of us could think of a shining example of this, and I've always shied away from it, to some degree. If someone asks, I'll tell, but I'm not leading the charge. I'll admit it, though, it's pretty remarkable. At the very least, I've seen infintely fewer commercials in the past year than I did in any previous year, and that ain't bad.

So here's the second example: Yesterday I was watching a movie, in a theater, and I looked down at my Milk Duds for a second, and when I looked up the character had a look on his face that suggested something important had just happened. I really think my arm actually moved as if to reach for the remote and press rewind.

Yeah, not very interesting. It seemed more so at the time.

Oh, still sick, still hot, still water.