Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm slowly being dragged back into TV. It sucks. It really does. And yet it doesn't. I suppose I'll only completely freak out the first time I start flipping through the channels.

Watched a show called 30 Days. Long story short, the author of Supersize Me finds the epitome of some cultural group and sticks 'em with a group they tend to vilify/demonize/dislike for a month. Jon Stewart noted that reality TV, in it's current form, generally consists of pitting extremes against each other. In 30 Days, the targets are normal people, relative centrists, iconic archtypes.

The first show, the one I watched, involved placing a fundamentalists, flag-waving thirty three year-old Christian into a Muslim family for four weeks.

Meet David.

David was searched for the first time ever while wearing his new Muslim garb in the airport on his departure flight. David had never been stopped in the airport for anything during his regular trips.

Once he arrived, his prime obstacle seemed to be how to approach the stay with an eye toward learning and not pissing off Jesus at the same time. What was he being asked to recite in Arabic? Was he unknowingly condeming his God or his country? Reasonable concerns if you're religious.

David -- who is about 6'2" -- fights off a panic attack during his first visit to the mosque.

Some of the best parts revolved around the Chrisitan realizing that his host family took their faith a bit more seriously than he took his own.

At one point the imam (Mulsim priest, for lack of a more verbose explanation) gently asked if David would shift his seating position. The soles of David's shoes were facing the imam who noted that in the house of god, utmost respect should be given. When this was explained, David had a look on his face that I interpreted as "I can't believe I'm being instructed on reverence to god by a Muslim..."

During another scene he commented on the emotional state of the worshippers after prayer and mentions that the group was notably moved by their worship, presumably in contrast to the "let's get this over with" scene one normally finds in your average western church. Don't give me any shit about that comment. I've been to plenty of churches. If you're lucky, 50% of the audience looks like they want to be there.

Roughly three weeks into his stay, Dave was asked to collect signatures for a petition asking for an end to Middle Eastern racial profiling by the local police. In keeping with the Muslim rules, David had grown a beard. He's also wearing a skullcap and the traditional male attire. Most people reject him, keep walking or in the case of one woman, asks him to not upset people with his petition. The cultural equivalent of being woken up at 4AM by your toddler's newfound discovery of the pots and pans, I suppose.

The ending was anticlimatic and remarkable at the same time. It's both impossible to not see a dramatic shift out of David after living in Muslim shoes for a few weeks, remarkable because if a Red State fundamentalist Christian could stick with it and emerge a better human being by realizing that his hosts are more than caricatures, anyone can.

One of the last scenes is David explaining how the term "jihad" is distorted and severely misunderstood by the western mind, and that it really means a kind of personal striving. [paraphrased from memory:]

"So a way, you're on a jihad now?"
"Oh yeah. Definitely on a jihad."

I wonder what Dave would have said a month ago if you told him these are the things he'd be saying today.

Next week they're making a U.S. Marine the roommate of a gay man in San Francisco's Castro district. Can't fucking wait.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bush didn't give a speech tonight to give a sort of interrum State of the Union. He came to defend his policy in Iraq, nothing else. Anyone can probably agree on that statement.

And during his 30 minute speech, he mentioned 9/11 six times.

Couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

Hey ma! How do you spell 'Jezebel?'
[calling from down the hall]
Why don't you look it up?!

It's ...oddly pornographic in a gymastics sort of way.

Wish I could find the link on imminent domain... Ella! Help!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Unabashed blog pimping. And you all know how rarely I pimp a blog.

Pimp, Jay, pimp!

What a bizarre word...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Something very odd happened to me today.

A local business does on-location computer repair, install, etc. I do too, but on a much smaller scale. I don't even advertise, I just offer if someone mentions aloud that they need such a thing. I've gotten a referral or two from an innkeeper I help out, but that's about it. Let me put it this way -- I do about as much home theatre hookup as I do computer-related things.

So the owner of this other business walked by today. They also sell computers so I asked if they had something pretty low-end for a client to just check mail. Now here's where it got odd...

During the conversation he asked how much I charged. "Twenty for the first hour, ten for each additional." It was at this point that I got a Good, Stern Talking-To about how I'm undercutting guys like him. Says he charges $95/hr and that because of guys like me, business that are too stingy to pay the going rate can get out cheap. I was extremely diplomatic for a number of reasons, but I patiently pointed out that it's a free market issue and if someone is willing to exchange ten bucks for an hour of their time, so be it. I didn't point out that if he can be undercut that bad by someone who can do the same job, perhaps he's engaging in a bit of crying/whining/protectionism/gouging.

I'm on a bloody diet. I want General Tso's Chicken so bad I'd probably bludgeon a small critter if I could eat a plate of it and have it "not count." Ugh.

On another note, I now have two jobs. One is M-F, the other is weekend only. Lessee.... That means I have days off. Ever. w00t. =)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ok, maybe the last post was a bit hasty. Wasn't being dramatic, things just looked a little dire until I could take a few deep breaths.

A customer asked me if you needed to put the rechargable batteries into the charger in order for the charger to charge the batteries. I couldn't make this shit up, folks. And I know I didn't misunderstand her because I said, "You're ...asking me if the rechargable batteries have to be inside the charger itself in order for the charger to work?" To which she replied, "yes."

And now, I offer you the latest fallout from our president's dumb fucking mouth.

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's spy chief used two words to respond to White House criticism of Iranian presidential elections last week: "Thank you." The sharp barbs from President George W. Bush were widely seen in Iran as damaging to pro-reform groups because the comments appeared to have boosted turnout among hard-liners in Friday's vote. The result is that an ultraconservative is now in a showdown against a former president and relative moderate...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Never really had a family. Just people who used me out of convenience. My mother has told me this outright, this isn't theory.

I guess I figured that I was useful in some way, where I'm staying. At least enough to make my presensce more desirable than not. I guessed wrong.

Maybe I'll change my mind, but this is the end of 30thhour. The more time I spend on the net, the more I realize nothing is here.

But if my place in the world always turns out to be a daydream, maybe the problem isn't the world.

"No matter where you go, there you are." - Jack Nicholson

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hackers have figured out how to run unauthorized programs and games on the U.S. version of Sony's (NYSE: SNE) Latest News about Sony new handheld game console, according to published reports this week. Sony was not immediately available for comment.

Sony has installed controls to prevent gaming enthusiasts from running programs and games on the Playstation Portable that are not licensed by the company. This includes classic games designed for use in older versions of the company's game consoles. But hackers have nonetheless been successful in unlocking the handheld machine's capabilities.

IDC video game analyst Shelley Olhava told TechNewsWorld that hacking gaming consoles is not a new idea, nor is Sony the only victim.


Victim. Victim. Do you hear that?

Using hardware you purchased to run whatever goddamn piece of software you feel like writing or buying is victimizing Sony??!

If I want to be able to play my purchased copy of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 (that's a joke, stay with me folks!) on my Sony PSP -- and I can figure out how to do it -- that is victimizing Sony? How?

What kind of Orwellian bullshit groupthink is this?

It's about as ridiculous as a car company telling you what kind of modifications you can make ..uh the software in your own car... Hm. Bad example.

Imagine Ore Idia forcing you to cook your steak fries in your oven at 450° for precisely 8 minutes? Still soggy? Tough shit.

Suppose your washing machine won't turn on because there is an RFID tag in the sweater that insist on going to the dry cleaner. Sorry.

Maybe the cap won't come off until the bottle reaches an Optimal Beer Drinking temperature.

Could it be that the war for our minds is already lost and without a shot fired?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

So I guess this is the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Jason. My new job starts on July 4th. Ella is taking a look at an apartment in Salem. Train fare is only $3.75 each way, $128 for a monthly pass which will cover the subway too.

The first steps to getting back on my feet? Sure hope so. I'd like to visit some friends out of state sometime soon, too. Namely Tricia and Leah.

Did I mention I have hair again? I have hair.

My diet took a 100% intentional nose-dive today. I just got a job. That demands Chinese food. I don't fuck around.

there's the hum
young man where you from
brooklyn number one
native son
speaking in the native tongue
i got my eyes on tomorrow (there it is)
while you still try to follow where it is
i'm on the ave where it lives and dies
violently, silently
shine so vivrantly
that eyes squint to catch a glimpse

     - Mos Def ("Hip Hop")

When I was sixteen I was interested in going into the airforce and almost violently anti-drug, mildly anti-gay.

Now I'm the same age as Jesus when he was crucified, virulently anti-military and cannabis has taught me as much about life stoned as I've learned sober, and almost everything profound that I know. I haven't done a complete 180° on the gay issue but ya know, if I was, Taye Diggs isn't bad looking...

The world is a strange place.

On the phone tonight, my daughter mentioned she was interesting in visiting me if her mother would let her. This, two months after telling me that she wasn't really interested in visiting me, just going to the nearby beach. It is with these words in mind that I more or less gave up on being a father. I'll strongarm Melissa but I'm not about to make Bek do something she doesn't want to do, even if that's being my daughter.

Maybe that comes from a lifetime of having bullshit ideas crammed down my throat. Adults would always cop to that "you'll understand when you're older" bullshit. It wound up being true for about 30% of it.

The next two years are going to be interesting. Trust me.

I really should bring these !@#$ing library books back...

Reading Man in the High Castle ...again. It's only about the sixth time I've tried. It's not that it's bad, it's that it's Philip K. Dick. Actually, that's not fair. I have problems with anything past short stories. Hell of an interesting book, regardless. It's a sort of alternate-history story in which the Axis powers won World War II. It's the Germans and the Japanese as the dominant powers with the Americans as the underclass. Illustrative.

Did I mention that my job is a street-level fundraiser helping kids in third-world countries? My job it to convince people walking down the street to cough up $24 every month to basically double their living standard. They live on about 66¢ a day. Me, I just blew two days worth of food and shelter on a lighter. Puts things in perspective, neh?

On that note...

looking down on empty streets
all she can see
are the dreams all made solid
are the dreams all made real

all of the buildings
all of those cars
were once just a dream
in somebody's head

she pictures the broken glass
pictures the steam
she pictures a soul
no leak at the seam

lets take the boat out
wait until darkness
let's take the boat out
wait until darkness comes

nowhere in the corridors of
pale green and grey
nowhere in the suburbs
in the cold light of day

there in the midst of it
so alive and alone
words support like bone

dreaming of mercy st.
wear your inside out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms again
dreaming of mercy st.
swear they moved that sign
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms

pulling out the papers
from the drawers that slide smooth
tugging at the darkness
word upon word

confessing all the secret things
in the warm velvet box
to the priest, he's the doctor
he can handle the shocks

dreaming of the tenderness
the tremble in the hips
of kissing mary's lips

dreaming of mercy st.
wear your insides out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms again
dreaming of mercy st.
swear they moved that sign
looking for mercy
in your daddy's arms

mercy, mercy,
looking for mercy
mercy, mercy,
looking for mercy

anne with her father
is out in the boat
riding the water
riding the waves on the sea

     - Peter Gabriel ("Mercy Street")
I got the job.

Also, Ella has a bead on an apartment in Salem.

So today I was semi-steaming about how this place never got back to me, and I've tried several times to contact them. Since Saturday I've been doing this "I can't believe I can't even get a job as a fundraiser" thing in my head.

But it turned out to be a "degrees of separation" issue -- the main office is in NY but I interviewed at the Boston office, and apparently all calls go through the NY office. So, today I did a bit of digging, found a number, called. "Oh, I've got the spreadsheet open right now. You're hired. We've been trying to get in touch with you."

I've been checking the voicemail, nada. So I guess maybe they were dialing wrong? Had it written down wrong? Dunno. Don't care. =)

Plus I'm on a "not eating unless I'm super hungry" diet. I tend to nibble all day, that shit has to go.

What a day...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

"Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I've had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds. A sense of what the world is really like can be maddening; cannabis has brought me some feelings for what it is like to be crazy, and how we use that word 'crazy' to avoid thinking about things that are too painful for us. In the Soviet Union political dissidents are routinely placed in insane asylums. The same kind of thing, a little more subtle perhaps, occurs here: 'did you hear what Lenny Bruce said yesterday? He must be crazy.' When high on cannabis I discovered that there's somebody inside in those people we call mad."

     Carl Sagan, under the pseudonym "Mr X.," describing his experience with marijuana (from an essay in the book Reconsidering Marijuana).
Giving some thought to getting back in to programming. I did a favor for a friend of a friend, whipped up a simple script. It wasn't even real code, it was a kind of amalgam between pseudo-code and legit stuff. Made me remember how much I missed it.

Might write a blog tool. None of the ones that exist do what I'd like for them to do, really.

It's fucking hot. Amazon kind of hot. It's almost 1AM. I just might go for a late-night cycle...
I can't imagine not finding out by tomorrow if I got the job. If I get it, my head will explode. If I do not get it, I will ... I'll probably be pretty goddamn disappointed. But that goes without saying.

I have nothing exciting to report. But I can leave you with a nice quote:

...we've done about as much as we can do ... When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed -- it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded -- and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there.

     Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), one of the people responsible for revamping the Congressional cafeteria's menu to read "freedom fries" instead of "French fries."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The good news: While cleaning my room, I threw out a wad of receipts, coupons, etc. Looked down -- a five dollar bill. w00t! Picked it up. Another three bucks under it.

The bad news: Finding eight bucks made me very, very happy. I'm broke. Flat broke.

Another angle: My life is simple enough that eight bucks makes me very, very happy.

I guess it's all how you look at it.

Still haven't heard back from the place I interviewed for but I'm pretty confident that the only way I wouldn't get the job is if I was disgustingly overqualified. But still, they said they'd get back to me within 48 hours and that ended today. *whine

On the other hand, I'm a lot more hopeful these days because of it. When this happens, I'll be moving back to Boston, a place I miss dearly. For some reason I also have a get-back-into-shape bug biting me in the ass. There was a time when I spent every other day in the gym.

Did I mention at any point in time that I have hair again?

Christ I love weather so brutally hot that you're drenched with sweat sitting still. My kind of summer. Windows open, fans on 'high.'

Friday, June 10, 2005

More quotes.

Oy, brisket!

This is almost as bad as having no weed...
Had a job interview today. It's for a non-profit fundraising. Debt relief, hunger relief, etc. Went really well. I'd be stunned if I didn't get it. If I understand their pay scale correctly, combined with a few other factors, then I think I'll be making about 150% of what I'm making now.

*fingers crossed into knots.

Spent some of the day in Boston. Walked from North Station to Copley, had the interview, then walked up Newbury, back down, returned to North Station and came back home. Jesus I love that town. And I might be working on Newbury St...

Walking through the Commons, I smell weed. It's 2:00 PM. Broad daylight. Cops not 100m up the road in plain sight and here are two guys passing an Up In Smoke-era doob burned down to a roach. Classic.

I'd forgotten how bold the squirrels are. I saw one today rattling a cup with some spare change in it. Drunk off his ass, too. ... Ok, I made that last part up. But those are some squirrels, boy.

Did I mention I might very well have a new job doing something I care about and making way more than I am now and even in the ballpark of what I was making in 2000?

Why does the thought of going back to that Hello Kitty store make me stupid and giddy? ... Probably has something to do with Ella's mid-Shaws j-pop VitaSoy commercial. Is good for you!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The rift between the Iraqi government and hostile Sunni Arabs widened further on Wednesday as the country's leaders came out in support of ethnic and sectarian militias that Sunnis fear could be used against them. ... The announcement regarding militias was the first time the new government had publicly backed armed ethnic and sectarian groups, and it was an implicit rebuke (nyt, registration required) to American officials, who have repeatedly asked that the government disband all militias in the country. The largest militias are the Kurdish pesh merga and an Iranian-trained Shiite militia that Sunni leaders have blamed for attacks against them.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

ABCNews quotes are in italics. This is about how Bush is sucking ass in the polls.

For the first time, most Americans, 55 percent, say Bush has done more to divide than to unite the country.

Since 51% voted for him in November, I guess this means that 6% of the population of the United States is just coming to grips with this one. I guess four years of being rammed rectally wasn't quite enough. "Dang! I thought he was gonna change!"

Nope. Six percent. Six percent. Thanks guys!

With discontent over U.S. casualties at a new peak, a record 58 percent say the war there was not worth fighting.

That's fucking awesome.

Maybe some of you remember the liberals/progressives prior to the war. Do you remember their constant drone of "another Vietnam, another Vietnam, another Vietnam." Remember how you laughed? Does the saying about ignorance and being doomed to repeat history ring bells with any of you yellow ribbon magnet fuckers?

Do you realize that even if you take the neocons at their word, we're not even halfway through this mess?

In January, 55 percent of Americans expected Bush to do a better job in his second term than in his first.

Why?!?!? If you hire a kid to flip burgers and he spends the entire time sleeping, picking his nose and spitting in the food, ...yeah, maybe it's reasonable to assume he can't get any worse. But would you really re-hire him?

Someone, PLEASE explain to me what good Bush has done for this country.

I could keep going but I'd just piss myself off.

Monday, June 06, 2005


My first fish, Multipass was beautiful, flowing and really, really nervous. Neurotic, even. But the other fish loved her and her best friend, Moby, circled her until we pulled her out.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

"...although twice elected, the ... President is showing authoritarian tendencies in office."

I bet you think this is a quote from, say, a Senator about Bush.

Would you believe it's Condoleeza Rice speaking about the president of Venezuela?

This is what happens when shit gets so absurd you can't possibly parody it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

If I were Bush, I'd head to the Middle East, find all the leaders including Sharon and Abbas and other prime figures and say:

Bush: Abbas, you have home territory, do you wish heads or tails

Abbas: Tails

Bush: The toss is tails. Abbas, do you want the north or the south?

Abbas: We'll take south.

Bush: Abbas takes south, Sharon will have north. The Dome of the Rock will be neutral area, shared by all, trading off every other day if necessary. Please don't make it necessary.

Bush: Great, now that I've got everyones attention...

On July 4th -- for purely sentimental reasons, of course -- everyone will move to their respective sides. On July 14th, ten days later, everyone should be on the correct side. The divison line we've created to parse north from south will be the new border. Simple enough, really. Trade, should you wish to do so, will take place across the border just like any other two countries, and will be regulated as each country sees fit. We like free markets.

Now nobody panic. We'll provide transportation to anyone who asks for it, you don't even have to prove you can't afford it. If the deadline needs to be moved forward a few days for unforseen reasons, so be it.

Everyone will be assigned a plot of land. I'm sorry you don't like it but tough shit. You haven't been able to figure this out for the last fifty five years and now you have nukes. Funtime is fucking over.

There are about 3.6 million of you above the age of eighteen. All of you will will be provided with a thousand dollars to assist with the relocation. Yes it'll cost 3.6 billion dollars but that's about 1.2% what we give the Pentagon every year. Tell them to eat mac and cheese. And no death ray projects for 2006. They'll get over it.

Israel, we'd like our nukes back. No this isn't a request. Either you give them back or you can keep them and you're on your own.

That's what I thought.

I remember becoming acutely aware that the world was significantly larger than my neighborhood around five or six. I remember at some point in my childhood staring transfixed at by angry people with strange beards and covered heads speaking forcefully. I remember hearing about the Beirut bombing and evactuation and I really didn't know what it meant.

I remember knowing what explosives were (I was a six year old male) but not why someone would kill hundreds of people with them. That's the earliest I think I can trace my sense of mortality.

Newscasts about violent events around the world still strike me as a little surreal because it would never even occur to me to be afraid of a bomb going off as I sit in a restaurant. Or to be afraid of tanks rolling down my street with guns pointed at me.

If these people are nothing but abstractions to me, and I consider myself at least politically aware (if completely useless), then what about the people who bury themselves in whatever it is normal people bury themselves in?

So every few years, same goddamn routine. Doesn't anyone ever catch on?

And I've never heard of a valid reason for the peace process to end. I've seen lots of goddamn reason for it to speed up, though!

It's almost like the powers that be don't really want it to end...

I'm fightin' fire with fire, I'm fightin' fire with fire, I'm fightin' fire with fire ...wha? Fuckit. I'm fighting fire ...with water. - Def Poetry poet whose name I don't remember.