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December 1, 2K ... Wednesday's stomach flu proved to be transient, and I rallied briefly yesterday. But now I'm sick again, with something else -- sore throat and drippy nose and all. I actually only put in a half day at work today. I felt too miserable to tough out the whole shift. Of course, this meant I had to leave in the early afternoon -- shortly after 4 PM -- and subsequently dealt with Seattle's early commute traffic. You know. The people who get up in the middle of the night so that they can get to work at 7 AM. They weird me out.

Not that I noticed this at the time. The sick mind (and here I mean "sick" in the "physically ill" sense; let's not drown in innuendo) makes weird connections, not always when you expect it to. I've been walking around in a dreamlike haze all day; I doubt I was thinking clearly enough at commute time to put two and two together and realize the irony of going home with the early risers.

Of course, I'm the sort of person who can -- even when well -- wonder randomly about such questions as, "Why is the Answer to the Meaning of Life '42' and the code number for marijuana use '420'?" So maybe there's not as much to the "connections" thing as I make it sound like.

Ack. I'm sick. I can't tell.

December 4, 2K ... Whoof. I've been rather silent lately, haven't I? Even my Survivorerer posting abilities dried up over the weekend ... and I haven't answered any e-mail in over a week. In short, I'm sorry for the unannounced sabbatical. Not because it was a sabbatical, but because it was unannounced. I'll try to provide a little bit more warning next time that I find myself in a dry spell.

In the past, my baxlog of posts has been sufficient to carry me through the rough days. But even that ran out. I'm going to have to start from scratch here. Gosh ... maybe I'll even have to talk about my life for a while instead of just rambling on about interesting but impersonal things.

I could, of course, start with the Baxil Weekly Name-Drop, but there's really no challenge in that. (Translation: "That means getting my thoughts in order and being long-winded, neither one of which I particularly feel like doing right now.") So.

It's an interesting fact that, over the last week, I've had to leave work early on two different occasions. Now, I work swing shift, so in this context "early" means "around the average American's commute time." In fact, on one of those days, I left work at 4:00, and on the other I left at 6:00. Nicely bracketing the traditional Time Of Traffic.

You'd think that, therefore, road congestion at the two times would be very similar. But boy, would you be wrong.

When I left work at 4, the highway was stacked. It wasn't quite as bad as the worst commute traffic I've been in up here, and in fact I never really came to one of those mind-numbing stops that makes you wonder if someone has stalled four cars ahead. But it was definitely commute time. There was an extended stretch of stop-and-go driving right before the 520-405 interchange; traffic slowed to a prolonged crawl when the road lost a lane; and there was a third area of no movement as the HOV lane disappeared so that westbound traffic could squeeze onto the two-lane bridge over Lake Washington. The cross-over from 520 to 5 was equally hairy. All in all, it took me 45 minutes to get home -- about double my average driving time.

Constrast this with today's 6:00 drive. Traffic was thick, sure, but it was moving. I reached the bridge without ever having slowed to less than 45 mph. And then the truly weird happened.

There was a stall on the bridge. The right lane was completely blocked; everyone had to merge to get around the hapless motorist. The delay was mercifully short, though, and I got onto I-5, where traffic was again being routed leftward: police were cleaning up the remains of a recent accident. Shattered glass was still on the road. And yet, when I got home after navigating past both of these commute killers, the trip had only taken me half an hour.

Two road delays, and the trip taken an hour after commute prime still took me only two-thirds as long as an "optimal" trip an hour before.

All I can really conclude from this is that people who force themselves into early-morning schedules to "beat the commute rush" really aren't as smart as they think they are.

December 5, 2K ... I channelled Thea for several hours straight this weekend.

Part of the reason that Thea was in my body for so long is that I was online, talking to an old friend. She and I came to loggerheads over an issue, practically shouting at each other; she asked to talk to Thea briefly (whether it was over that issue, or something else entirely, I don't remember). Thea ended up diving straight into that issue with her ... and within a few minutes, had completely defused the tension; gotten her to air her exasperation; delivered a snappy and extremely accurate analysis of my conversational shortcomings and why she had run into such walls trying to discuss the subject with me; and in general, completely solved the problem.

I feel utterly humbled. I kind of want to feel jealous, but I can't. Or broken, or bitter, but I can't. No, it's not that I'm stopping myself, it's that it occurs to me that I should, but no matter how hard I try, the feelings won't register.

Part of it is how closely Thea and I are linked; I've noticed myself pick up so many of her traits over the years, that this gives me great hope for my future conversational skills. Part of it is the synergy -- that the issue was solved, even if it wasn't me that did it. A lot of it is knowing that, despite the fact that I can't communicate my way out of a wet paper bag, she loves me so much anyway.

And a lot of it is just a sense of primal awe.

Over the problem being resolved, sure, but more importantly, over the fact that I WAS NOT ME for a period of several hours. I WAS SOMEONE ELSE. This shouldn't surprise me; I'm a mage, and it's not like I haven't done this before, and it's not like the results haven't been as dramatic before. But it still catches me off guard.

There's always that inner voice that tries to tell me, "You have no proof that any of this is real. Don't stop believing in it, because if you do, it will fade from your life, and that's bad, because being a mage is helping in your self-development. But ... don't forget that this could just all be inside your head." (As you can see, my inner skeptic and I have come to an agreement that satisfies us both, but my inner mage is still occasionally annoyed at the skeptic for his hecklings during my more cliched "mage moments.") Well, yes, but ...

One of two things happened, this Sunday. One, Thea really does exist, and I really did channel her. (This is my story and I'm sticking to it, but I acknowledge the possibility of #2, and that's where some of this primal awe comes from.) Two, all of this was just me unleashing the power of my own subconscious mind. But if that were indeed the case, I'm faced with the following dilemma:


Pull up whatever psychiatric vocabulary you want in order to explain it; during that hour "I" was saying things and thinking things and making decisions that I would not make. And at the time, it felt right, and entirely natural. Not to mention that I correctly and easily identified some of my own personality traits and conversational patterns that, in retrospect, really honestly surprise me. In short, I'm the person who knows me best, and I'm willing to swear that I wasn't me for a few hours, and if I'm good enough to fool myself about that, then I've got to be doing something right.

I find it a lot more plausible to blame magic.

December 6, 2K ... Before I get started, I just want to say: Happy birthday, mom!

I bought myself a Christmas present today ... more work to do! Nya ha ha! ... No, really. I did. Put that way, it really does sound kind of pathetic, but strangely enough, it did make me happy.

This oddly satisfying burden has a name. Three names, actually. And they all end in .com.

Yep, I went and purchased another few pieces of intellectual property -- title to a few concepts known as "domain names." Some investments to "protect my branding," as the buzzwords go, and a catchy name that gives me some room for future expansion. The aforementioned work will start with the process of connecting these names to the servers that will ultimately provide the web, e-mail and other services I wish to run. Then there's all of the work of creating the websites, adding logos, etc., which I expect to be a terribly fun process since I haven't even bothered to finish this site yet. But aside from those trivial details, it just required a small investment of money -- and what the heck, register.com sent me a special offer of "buy as many names as you want and pay only $20 per year".

I figure the first thing to do is to hook up tomorrowlands.com to this site; I've had a few people tell me that they got lost while trying to find my page, and the dot-com thing was the reason. I really do prefer the .org suffix, and I don't ever anticipate Tomorrowlands turning into a money machine -- but the way the Web is set up today, with .com as the "default", it's always best to grab it when possible.

If only because somebody else will if you don't first.

I must admit, I've wondered once in a while just when some poor soul with nothing better to do is going to put up a site parodying everything I hold dear. I don't doubt that someday it will happen. (It always does, with fringe beliefs. Simple example: The wondrous hatred of godhatesfags.com, and the wonderful humor of godhatesfigs.) I don't think it would even disturb me overmuch. However, it would be pretty darn embarrassing for them to be able to use the same domain name as me -- but with the .com extension. Then who looks like the parody, and who looks like the real site? I'd rather spend a sawbuck or two and pick up some insurance on that score, thanks.

I guess that much the same principle is behind baxil.com: insurance. I don't actually plan on using it. (A baxil@baxil.com vanity e-mail address would just be kind of silly.) But in the unlikely event that someone tries to muscle in on my identity, it's another resource to show that I am the one and only me. Plus I suppose that there are going to be some fractional number of people (by which I mean "less than one," although the margin of error on that one is ±10) who will try looking me up personally, and get the bright idea that they can find me there. Might as well help 'em out. It's all about convenience, baby.

And draconity.com ... well, it'll be put to good use.

December 7, 2K ... If I were to go downtown one day, dressed in a coat made entirely of putrid bologna, what would happen?

After the first dozen people recoiled from the stench; after stray dogs and cats started flocking to me; after the coat shed disgusting little meat bits all over public sidewalks ... would the newspapers and TV stations flock around me, trying to get pictures of this odd occurrence? Would their stories start an avalanche of angry letters to the editor? Would the word go around Olympia that some nut was using old lunch meat for clothing purposes; would indignant politicians start exclaiming, "There ought to be a law"?

Would a lame-duck State Senate quietly insert the "Meat Is For Eating, Not Wearing" rider into some obscure finance bill? Would Washington become the first state with an anti-bologna-jacket ordinance? Would the rest of the country laugh derisively at us ... or would my stunt spawn a flurry of imitators, one of whom -- here in Washington -- fought his subsequent arrest with the help of the ACLU?

Would that case go all the way to the Supreme Court? Would moldy bologna suddenly become the focus of the whole country, with various scholars arguing whether people have the "right" to wear meat?

Or, gods forbid, would Seattle police just do the sensible thing and arrest me for "disturbing the peace"?

I wish that every time someone said "There ought to be a law," they would have the current U.S. legal code dropped on their foot. That would stop the practice right quick.

December 8, 2K ... Just minutes ago, my 6'6" coworker Max was in the cafeteria, standing by the refrigerator and talking with another coworker, Paul. Paul joined the company fairly recently, and usurped Max's title of "tallest Wildtangent-ite", at somewhere around 6'7".

I drifted over to their conversation and started listening in. When Paul noticed me and glanced over, I said, "Don't mind me. I'm just here to feel small."

Now, at six foot four, I'm not exactly a midget. Today was the first day I can remember since childhood in which I actually was able to join a conversation and need to look up to talk to anyone. It was a novel feeling. I'm not saying that I'd rather be short; it's just that feeling that way is a refreshing change from my usual habit of staring over the tops of people's heads and ducking through doorways.

At any rate, Paul laughed, and we held a brief conversation about heights (which degenerated into a basketball discussion, at which point I drifted away). One thing I remember him saying was that every time he walks into Max's cubicle, he makes Max stand up, just so he can actually talk face-to-face with someone of his own height. (Boy, and I thought I had it bad.)

Call it a hopeless pipe dream, but I find myself wishing every once in a while that (A) humanity makes contact with an alien species sometime soon; (B) they stand, on average, seven feet tall; (C) they like me. Just for once I'd like to deal with vehicles, clothing, doorways, and beds which were designed with tall folk in mind.

December 10, 2K ... Three weeks left until the year 2001. It's crept up on us, just like that. Oh dear. I'll be sorry to see Y2K go.

With as much attention as people paid to the clicking of the odometer eleven and a half months ago, and as blase as people are being about it now, you'd think that the year 2000 was nothing special. However, I would like to take this opportunity to dispute that statement most vigorously. (This is Baxil-speak for: "WRONG!" };=8))

First of all -- and most personally meaningful, although of perhaps limited interest to anyone besides me -- I will forever lose the ability (unless I live another 999 years, which is possible but unlikely) to abbreviate the current year with the catchy-as-all-hell acronym "2K". As has been pointed out elsewhere, "2K+1" is no abbreviation at all over the more legible "2001"; and the standard, serviceable " '01 " is ... well ... just that: standard. I've been writing '99, '98, '97, etc., for my whole life. The "2K" thing has been novel, like a Halley's Comet sighting. Some weird astro-numeric thing that drifts by in the sky once in a very long while.

I will also miss the incessant, endlessly pedantic, and bitterly dogmatic debates over what millennium we're in. They've been funny. It's really amusing to see so many people who otherwise are so quiet and rational go into frothing-at-the-mouth hissy fits over something as dumb as a quirk in the dating system. Of course, to them, it's more than a date -- it's about BEING RIGHT, DAMMIT -- which is why it's so amusing. At the risk of ruining my saintly, good-hearted image, I do have to confess that I've had to restrain myself from dragging non-Gregorian calendars into such discussions. "You're BOTH wrong-headed idiots! The next millennium doesn't start for 422 years."

Speaking of funny stuff, I've been finally starting to follow the presidential debates -- now there's an interesting perversion of the term, and one that's far more appropriate to the post-election season than its original meaning -- with mixed emotions. But mostly I'm just getting a great deal of entertainment out of the whole mess.

The only analogy that comes to mind is the American voter poking the anthill of politics with a long, sharp stick. All of the little insects are scurrying around frantically. I have no doubt that a president will in fact eventually be elected, and at this point, I really doubt anyone is going to notice a difference between Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee; what is rapidly snowballing is public disillusionment with the whole damn system, which is, I think, what this country needs a whopping good dose of. Heaven forbid that people should actually start thinking ill of the politicians they vote for; heaven forbid people should actually realize that a candidate's chances of getting elected have no connection at all with the percentage of the public who likes them; heaven forbid that the public actually gets riled up enough to do some smiting, and that maybe some actual political reform occurs. Frankly, I think I'm dreaming there, but hey ... it's a new millennium, anything can happen.

And when I say that, I mean of course that it will be a new millennium, in the Gregorian calendar, in three weeks. Unless you prefer the opposite view, in which case I naturally meant that it has been a new millennium for merely 11 months, and still qualifies as "new". Bah. Pedants. :)

December 12, 2K ... Bleah.

This is me on a normal day: [collage of faces]
(The image isn't mine. I appropriated it from http://localmusik.com/lux/. Please don't sue me.)

This is me today: [empty box]

An empty shell, with nothing inside. I'm trying to feel. Something. Anything. Nothing's coming out.

Maybe depression, but I'd rather not go there. So I'll be dead for a while. Maybe I can use it as a tax write-off.

December 13, 2K ... My net.life lately has degenerated into a long string of "Ack! What's my next priority? Where do I post? Who do I write to? WHERE WHERE WHERE??" Like that's news. But the excuse this time around is awfully good.

See, I've been caught up in a number of outside projects -- writing posts for other peoples' websites. Normally that would take a back seat to maintaining Tomorrowlands ... and, on an individual level, that's still true. But you know what they say about pebbles ... dodging a huge boulder is a hell of a lot easier than dodging an avalanche.

Let me give you the guided tour, then, of where I've been scattering my widespread posting efforts of late.

First stop is the perpetually-hyped (at least in my sidebars) Survivorerer. For those of you coming into the discussion late, "Survivorerer" is a shameless rip-off of an online adaptation of the TV show. We started off with an "island" of 20 contestants a month and a half ago ... and now we're down to four.

This puts me, essentially, in the semi-finals. The pressure to post is high and getting higher -- partially because we're in the home stretch, with a whole $15.00 at stake in prize money; and partially because four people are now being expected to maintain the posting volume that five times the population once churned out. It's gotten bad enough that I'm struggling to find the time to keep Tomorrowlands updated -- but, again, the end is in sight. The winner will be declared by next Friday.

In the meantime, it's entertaining. Go read it. Better yet, support my efforts -- send me post ideas. Or even just fan mail. Anything to keep me sane for the next week.

I've also been chipping in the occasional article for Our Place, a nifty communal Web experiment. The idea of the underlying technology is to create a truly shared world -- in which no page is "owned" by anyone, all content is open (to reading and editing) to the world, and the honor system is the rule of the day. It's kind of like a giant bulletin-board-style forum, except that you can quietly correct other people's spelling mistakes if that sort of thing bugs you, and a lot less organized.

Go check Our Place out. Write something. You'll quickly find it's addictive.

Speaking of bulletin-board-style forums, I've also been writing a lot -- perhaps even more than usual, even though I've been there steadily for several months -- in the Antwon.com BBS. What's so special about it? Nothing in particular, really -- just a gathering of random people, most of whom know either Antwon personally, or who have wandered in there at my urging.

That's kind of the scary thing, actually. Six months ago, Antwon had never heard of dragons. Then I stumbled across his page at random, liked it, bookmarked it with my webcomics, and gradually sent him a few letters and got drawn into his web of intellectual-erati. As time has gone on, both Keh'tel and Cellan have both made appearances in the BBS, skyrocketing the dragon population -- I think we make up a good 15 percent of the regular posters there now.

We joke about it, of course. Antwon's got his plans to take over the world; I've got my plans to take over Antwon.com by flooding the BBS with nonhumans. We seem to be doing about equally well. You can tip the odds in my favor by visiting the BBS, registering, and chipping in a few posts on any of the numerous random topics that are always cropping up.

At any rate, that's my Web rotation lately. (The stuff I participate in, anyway. Perhaps I'll list the webcomics I read at some later date. As it is, I should get bax to work.)

December 14, 2K ... If you ever want to find out just how many hackers are on the Internet, I have one suggestion for you: Run an FTP server.

A little over a month ago, I set one up on my home machine -- so I could grab personal files from work or at friend's houses. The setup information warned me, in big bold letters, to DISABLE ANONYMOUS LOGIN if I didn't have a specific reason to use it. I did in fact do that, but I thought to myself, "Eh. Like it'll make a difference. I'm the only person who will know I'm running an FTP server. Heck, I'm the only person who will know the computer's domain name!" (It's got one. It's in the tomorrowlands.org domain; I won't list the whole name here because there's nothing of value to anyone but myself on it, and those who are really curious are the ones who already know how to look that sort of stuff up.)

Boy, little did I know.

Within 24 hours of the time I added the entry to the nameserver, the FTP daemon log showed a failed anonymous login. I kept tabs on it for another few days, to see if they'd be back, but lost interest quickly. Well, I just opened the log up again this morning ... and over the last month, there have been ten distinct anonymous login attempts. By "distinct," I mean different people -- different IP addresses, in different domains. (Could be one person moving around, but it doesn't seem likely, especially since there haven't been any determined efforts to hack into the system.)

Remember, nobody knows it's there except for me. And I'm not exactly a major Internet waypoint.

And yet, once every three days or so, some completely random person does the Internet equivalent of walking up to my front door and testing the knob to see if I've left it unlocked.

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