September 2005 Archives

Music Server

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The music server upstairs lasted for a little over three years, which is not too bad, really. Something (CPU. MB, Power Supply) died and took out everything else along with it. The price to replace the components was not too bad, though it is irritating that I had to buy new RAM for it, simply because nothing supports the gig of RAM that was in there.

It took a couple of days to everything sorted out with it (getting it to recognize all drives, etc), which was a nice, distracting little project. Now I need to seek out additional distractions. Not sure what the next project is going to be, but it needs to be engrossing and lengthy...probably something involving getting the house ready to go.

What Atheism Means To Me

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I don't think I have ever mentioned this before, but I am an atheist. You could probably guess from some of the previous posts though, since I have occasionally talked about religion, or intelligent design, or starting my own cult that allows you to believe any stupid thing you want.

Lately though, I have been thinking about what it actually means to me to and my life to be an atheist.

First off, what do I mean when I say that I am an atheist? I don't just mean that I am not a Christian, or that I don't believe in "spirituality. What I mean is that I believe that life is an accident (though probably inevitable given the size and age of the universe), that nobody created any of it - not the universe, not us. When we die, we die, there is nothing after that - our consciousness does not survive in any form. In fact, even when we are alive I don't think that most of us are self aware enough to be much more than meat robots who do what their hormones and brain chemistry tell them feels good. I don't mean that as an insult; I'm just as guilty of being a meat robot anyone else.

Seems pretty grim, huh? Actually though, I think that makes everything more wonderful, and more important. Think about it - there is no "God's Plan", there is no destiny. You make your own choices, and succeed or fail on your own. Your choices matter, and this is the only chance that you get, so it's important to make the best choices you can. Your actions matter, not your prayers. Isn't that empowering, if your not afraid to take the responsbility that comes with it?

People often lump together religion and morality, but really there is no connection. Religion offers carrots and sticks, but doesn't ever put the reigns in your hand and trust you to do what's right simply because it's right. As far as morality goes, isn't it better to do the right thing because it's the right thing, and not because you have been threatened with eternal fire? When I do the right thing it's because I know it's the right thing. When I don't do the right thing, it's because I'm an asshole; not because the devil made me do it.Though because I know that this is the only chance I get, I try not to do that, and I really regret it when I do. Not because I'll go to hell, but because I have failed to live up to my vision of the best person that I can be, and because when I do that someone else usually gets hurt.

I also need to find meaning in death in different ways than people who believe that death is not the end. When Marcus died, he died. He's not watching over us. But he is everywhere. I am the person that I am today because I knew Marcus. As long as there are people alive that Marcus touched he's not really gone. I think about things differently (not always better) because he was in my life, and I suppose everyone that I interact with is affected by Marcus indirectly because of that, so it's like ripples in a pond. He's gone, but his actions in life and who he was continues to affect other people.

That's the kind of afterlife I can believe in, and I want to have for myself. The thing is, for a long time I haven't lived my life in a way that causes those kinds of ripples. I've been living my life for other people, and that is not something that anyone (other than maybe Mother Teresa) gets remembered for.

I think I need to start. Because this is the only chance I get.

Now that I re-read that, I guess I don't find meaning in death. Because I think death is the end, I need to squeeze all the meaning I can out of life.

Don Adams

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Finally, something not on a personal note.

I just found out that Don Adams died today at the age of 82. Get Smart was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up. The Cone of Silence, the Shoe Phone, Hymie the Robot, The Craw - these were all hilarious, but the thing that made the show amazing was Don Adams' dry, snappy delivery.

To my surprise, he had 7 children. Like you, I had always assumed he was, you know. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Scratch That

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Turns out that sometimes things are not worth trying to fix, and that you can't do anything about how fucked up another person is.

Music: Liar, Rollins Band

About Last Night

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I came away feeling pretty good, considering. I slept all night, which is something in itself.

I still have no idea what will happen. I still feel terrible sometimes. At least I now have enough of "the thing with feathers" to make it through those times. This is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, but it gives me a chance to avoid the hardest thing I would ever have to do.

Playlist for The New World Order

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I've decided that I need to use applied music therapy on myself. Rather than allowing myself to listen to music that satisfies my inner jackass, I am only listening to music that has positive connotations for me, or is otherwise uplifting. In this way I will accentuate the positive, and conversely, eliminate the negative. Mister In-Between will remain un-messed around.

So far it's working, somewhat. The songs that run through my head are less gloomy, and my unscientific (because I am not wearing protective eyewear) analysis is that I do feel better. There are probably many other factors involved, but I do think it's making a difference.

Songs that have made it through the filter today include:

Wishing
Fallen Angel
Funny Funny Me
We Could Write Letters
Breakout (for odd reasons)
Live as You Dream
Phoenix
Give 'Em Whiskey
Dirt
Groove is in the Heart
And several prancing jangly tunes by the Ocean Blue.

I will follow up on this post with more scientific results in the future (after putting on protective eyewear).

Meat Dream

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Last night I was having a very hard time. My emotions were conflicted and I didn't know what to do about it. I was angry, I was hurt, and I knew that neither of those were going to do anything to help the situation. So I found some old things and spent some time looking at them. It really brought me back to a much better place, a place where, by seeing the beginning, it reminded me of how it got here, and how it doesn't have to be like this.

Anyway, later, I fell asleep. And I had the strangest dream. We were parked outsite of what looked like a greek resturaunt. We went inside to see what they had. It was basically greek style food, but with the widest array of possible meats that you can imagine. There was the usual pork, goat, lamb, beef and chicken, of course. But there was so much more; bear (including Polar), wolf, which was distrubing because it would taste like dog, Fox, Otter, all sorts of things. All of it stacked in cases, along with other, non-edible oddities, like ancient medical equipment, preserved speciman jars, dinosaur bones. I can't even remember. We got a table, then I went back to get the kids, who were still in the car.

When I got back to the table we were now sharing the able with another couple (with room left for the kids). I grabbed my stepson and started taking him around to look at everything - I can't remember what, though I do recall a machine that dispensed Corn Dogs, and another that dispensed kabob - Chicken, Beef or Pork, which seemed weird for a place that serves otter.

We went back to the table, my stepson excited about the possibility of eating wolf. When we got there, my wife pointed out a huge set of jumbo flatscreens that bisected the room, displaying moving logos of animals on each side. There was this creepy South American bird that literally splits its mouth all the way, its beak opened like a clamshell. Then on another screen there was some kind of hawk, or, as it turned out a Bald Eagle. When I finally saw the North Coast Manatee, I realized that everthing on the screens was an endangered species and pointed this out the everyone. We all immediately understood that the stylized images of endangered species - things we could not eat - were intended to help us work up an appitite for the merely threatened species we were going to eat. Table service was horrible and it was taking forver to put in our orders. For some reason I wandered off and into the back yard of the restaurant (it HAD A BACK YARD, okay?). There were lots of big trees, and most strangely, the father of one of my daughters friends was there, trying to sell some people on a dotcom venture of some sort. He got them interested, and when they agreed to buy in, he took out a giant hunting knife and went off to this one already pretty slashed at trees and hacked at it to get some wood chips. He then went over to another tree and using the knife slashed off a thin, whip-like branch.

Taking the branch, he began to climb another tree until he came level with a natural beehive that was far up in the branchs. He took out the whip-like stick and began to just beat on the nest with it.

Bees came pouring out of the hive, and racing right toward me. I started to run, and as I ran I put my arms out at my sides, like "T" shape with a head. With each step I would put a little bounce into, wave my arms gently, and bob my head.

My reasoning was that a bee cannot land on something that is moving vertically and horizontally at the same time, which made sense the dream. And no bees landed on me, though the swarmed all around me.

For as weird as it was, I woke up refreshed and feeling happy. I don't know if it's because my wife and the kids were in the dream, because the bees swarming around me were beautiful, or because of all the rare meats.

Well, It's Good To Know...

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That #2 (see below) can still make me happy. Two very sweet baby deer and their mom were in the backyard earlier. I got to look at them for at least 1 minute before the dogs found out - possibly because I made the mistake of saying "Awww" when one of them looked right at me.

It's Not As Funny...

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That whenever you try not to think of something, it's all you can think about. For example, don't think about matches.

See.

All of the sudden matches are all you can think of.

Old School (in the lower left-hand corner)

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For some reason I was thinking about the old days of the Internet (like 1997) and fondly recalling a project I worked on back then called Recycle City for the EPA. God, it looks so ghetto now, but at the time, it was near state of the art! Well, as near to state of the art as you could get with a budget of $5K.

<pour_malt_liquor_on_ground>A shout out the Deb Clifford and Brian Colwell, co-founders of Recycle City!</pour_malt_liquor_on_ground>

It's Funny...

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That the times when things are at their very worst, and you just don't think you can deal with anything else are the times when you have to be at your best.

For example, say you are hiking, and you fall off a cliff. Your lying there at the bottom, pretty sure that every bone in your body is broken. That, of course, is the time when you have to start thinking about how you are going to build a fire to attract rescuers. After the fire goes out, you realize that there aren't any rescuers, and if you want to live, you need to hike out yourself.

This can be applied to many things in life; shipwrecks, plane crashes, volcanos, tornados. Many things.

Man Of Action

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I have always been a problem solving person. If somebody tells me there is a problem, I try to find a solution.

I'm discovering the hard way that not all problems can be approached this way. In fact, sometimes it can make it worse. Not all problems can be solved, and those that ca be solved can't always be solved the way I think they can. In fact, sometimes my solution can make it worse.

So what do you do? How do you solve a problem that can't be solved by trying to solve it. I don't know, but I am looking for a solution.

I am, of course, referring to complex computer algorithms in this post.

Note to self, the "More Personal That Usual" category seems to be increasingly usual.

Things That Make Me Happy

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This is based on a post by Wil Wheaton, which is based on a post by John Kovalic, the theme being, "Things That Make Me Happy" (or cheerful, whatever). So...

  1. Saying "Do you want to go for a ride in the car!" to Pumpkin, my dog, and watching all 78 pounds of him levitate into the air and spin around over and over.
  2. Being in the kitchen, cooking, or doing dishes, and looking out the window to see a baby deer sitting in the middle of the backyard, before the dogs notice it and go crazy barking.
  3. Attempting some technical feat that I have never tried (like, I dunno, customizing OS Commerce for my wife's site, in PHP, which I don't know) and totally succeeding at it.
  4. Buying a book I know nothing about, based on the title or the cover, and having it turn out to be excellent.
  5. Driving with my wife, with her in control of the MP3 player, picking out songs that we both like.
  6. Cooking and then having people enjoy what I cooked, especially if it is something I have never tried cooking before. Actually, cooking in general makes me pretty happy.
  7. Halloween. For a long time now it has taken over as my favorite holiday, handily beating out Christmas, and Arbor day.
  8. Pirates. Things with Pirates just make me very happy.

The Death of the Mix-Tape

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The other day, for the first time in about 8 years, I found myself needing to convey feelings that cannot be easily conveyed using mere words. My first instinct (being from that generation) was to put together a mix-tape, the selections of which would perfectly distill my complex emotional message into a series of pop songs, including, I'm guessing by The Smiths, March Violets, Catherine Wheel and one Thomas Dolby song.

Then it hit me, I could make this mix tape...put could the recipient play it? Confusion set in at that point. I know that the tapes target has a portable CD player...but for the life of me, I am not sure that they have a tape player.

My thoughts then turned to making a mix CD. This idea was quickly discarded though. Making a mix tape is an act of love. It's sitting there and waiting while each song plays, then hitting stop at just the right time so that there will be a small gap between the songs. It times time and it takes effort. If you make a mistake you have to redo it and hope that you don't screw up the song before the song you screwed up. You have to carefully plan out the sequence in advance, since once you start there is no turning back.

With a CD it's to easy. A Mix CD has no meaning - it's the product of a few minutes work...most of it waiting for the thing to write.

Shortly after thinking all of that, I realized that I sold my dual cassette deck on Ebay a few months ago and had no way of making a tape anyway.

So those feelings remain untranslated into any format that could adequately communicate them.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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