Journal Archives - March, 2002
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March 3, 2002 ... Well, I spent most of the night comparison shopping -- but I did it.
I bought some RAM for my primary desktop machine.
For the first time in many months -- alright, not technically the first time, but it just doesn't make a good soundbite any other way, and the spirit of the statement is essentially correct -- I have splurged on a purchase. I've spent a little money on myself. I applaud this move wholeheartedly, but then again, I would. I don't know that there's anyone else I really need to justify this to, so I guess that puts me in the clear.
I picked up two 64-MB DIMMs, which will bring Ouroboros up to its maximum possible RAM configuration of 160 MB. It's a nice, glowy feeling. I've never before owned a computer that was maximum anything, except for maybe back when I was a teenager and received a Super Nintendo the same year it came out. I feel proud, like a parent whose child is getting married. It's a milestone of sorts.
Of course, this isn't to say that my machine is anything to be impressed by. Without getting into the technical specifications, let's just say that the Power Macintosh 4400 is of 1997 vintage; by Moore's Law, it's a mere tenth of the machine I could purchase today. I love Ouroboros dearly -- it's hard not to, when it has performed flawlessly and tirelessly for four years -- but it's certainly getting long in the tooth. It can't even run both Netscape and my Seti@Home screensaver at the same time. (Which is one of the many things the RAM upgrade will fix.)
Incidentally, I refer to Ouroboros as "it." I know it's very typical of people to assign their beloved objects a gender when anthropomorphising them. However, Ouroboros is a male name, and Ouroboros (the computer) doesn't really strike me as a male; curiously, I would say it's more of an "it" than a "she." Dragonslair -- my first computer, which I named back before I was even vaguely creative about such things -- is probably a male computer, but with a very asexual name. Sairys (my laptop) could probably go either way, although I suppose I haven't really developed enough of a relationship with her to tell. (And I don't remember whether the name itself is supposed to be a male or a female name. Hopefully female -- since I seem to have just now decided on a gender for her -- but if I remember my Conway correctly, the name is male.) Tiamat is the only computer whose given name matched her gender, and that's because the name was not symbolic in any way -- by which I mean that my work Win2K box, back when I was at Wildtangent, was rather literally an avatar of ancient chaos of some kind. In the time that I interacted with that computer, I believe she worked for me mostly because she was amused by it. Tiamat was very much a primal force of nature, able to be persuaded, cajoled, or even tricked ... but never controlled. Whenever I tried too hard to get her set up exactly the way I wanted her, she would smack me down with a problem so arcane that even the company IT gods had no clue what was wrong.
I think, with a few minutes of reflection, that my expectations of computer gender are rooted in my social views (which is to say, a combination of my biological drives and the societal mores inflicted on me by upbringing). I tend to think of "males," in the abstract, as either "teachers" or "rivals"; abstract "females" are either "partners" or "aloof and distant." (Yes, these are very stereotyped and shallow views; that's the point. They're either artifacts of the lizard hindbrain or products of our patriarchal het-male society.) These vaguely archtypical qualities tend to govern how I anthropomorphize things. Reliability is a male quality; empathy is a female one. Combativeness is a male quality, Tiamat notwithstanding. Flirtation (or, rather, being difficult to request more attention), female. Again, these aren't meant to reflect real life -- just the shallow version of it that my body and memes present my brain.
Ouroboros ... is very compatible with me, on the one hand, but also rock-solid reliable -- two differently sexed qualities. Ouroboros doesn't request my attention, or care if I fraternize elsewhere, so it doesn't really feel like a relationship ... but on the other hand, Erin can vouch for the fact that I am the only person who Ouroboros will perform reliably for, so there has to be some attachment there, which confuses the issue. (I'm not exaggerating. I have, on several notable occasions, had Erin sit down and try to use the scanner, working directly from my verbal instructions, six feet away. The computer would freeze up and require a restart. I would sit down myself and scan the documents with no hitch. This has happened regardless of the order in which we tried working, and regardless of the situations under which we were working -- extension sets, applications running, etc.) All things considered, Ouroboros feels more like a coworker (the word "servant" seems oddly appropriate, even though I wouldn't dare think of it that way!) than either a partner or a rival, and I'm stuck in an odd gender limbo. I suppose I could just think of Ouroboros, given the name's gender associations, as a "he" on the strength of the close friendship that seems to have developed, and ignore the relationship aspects ... but this goes kind of against my grain. (I may be bisexual, but I'm still on the low end of the Kinsey scale.)
Incidentally, having spent the entire entry rambling about computer names, genders, and anthropomorphisations, I should point out that it was just 13 months ago that I took a stand against people doing the same to their cars. How quickly time passes, eh? At least I'm not buying Ouroboros any Valentine's Day presents.
... Sorry, honey.
March 5, 2002 ... Today's been one of those days. Not one of those days, for which I am grateful; it's been more exhausting than soul-destroying, but it's been a day nevertheless.
The good news: My new RAM arrived! This is nothing short of astounding. I turned in my order late Sunday night; the order shipped Monday morning from Illinois ... and FedEx delivered it to my doorstep in Washington on Tuesday morning. This wasn't an overnight express package -- this was a standard second-day air envelope. Color me impressed.
The bad news: Not just one, but both chips were faulty out of the box. I'll be calling for replacements. (They installed correctly; the machine booted correctly ... and then cored itself the first time it tried to write to the new chip. This was what they call a "repeatable error," in that I spent two hours repeatedly rebooting with one or both of the new chips in the machine, and it would crash within a minute each time.) Le sigh.
I've also spent 12 out of the last 24 hours sleeping, which is not the sort of schedule I want to keep, especially when those 12 hours include the standard 8 of the workday. I think something -- perhaps this persistent cough that has been dogging me for the past two weeks -- has done to me what the new DIMMs did to my computer. Hopefully I'll be able to tinker around with the innards and reboot back to normal operation. In a perhaps related vein, I'm also magically slipping, which worries me to no end: last night I did something wrong during an otherwise routine shift and nearly left myself spiritually smeared across the floor. Where's my fire, dammit?
As an anticlimax, I was opening our new bag of mozzarella cheese today -- procured in last night's late-night shopping run -- and somehow managed to completely detach the seal that allows the bag to be reclosed after use, rendering it useless. I wrapped the bag up in some Saran Wrap, and hopefully we can use the remainder of the cheese before it goes bad.
I think I'm done breaking stuff now. Having the "Murphy's Touch" is not my idea of fun.
March 7, 2002 ... Spooky ... I've spent the last two days being social.
It's well past my bedtime -- I will regretfully leave it at that (and my standard "more tomorrow, FSVO tomorrow" promise). However, I would like to urge my readers to check out the following site -- www.noelsrealm.com, home of a couple who sells handmade ceramic dragons. The li'l guys are just go gosh darned cute, they're worth a look, even if (as I type this) the site itself is still a work in progress.
I feel so guilty ... another entry of nothing of consequence. I'll get up early tomorrow and start writing something substantial.
March 8, 2002 ... Two months and change after the great rolling over of the odometer that turned our year into 2002. Two months and some weeks after I decided that this year, for the first time in a while, I wanted to make some resolutions. I'm not a believer in little commitments; the idea of saying "I want to go to the health club once a week because it's now January!" is strange and a bit distasteful. I made resolutions because 2001 was a year in which a lot of things went wrong -- or at least went the way that I didn't want them to go -- and I felt that there were things about my life that sincerely needed fixing.
Of course, 2001 was not a year in which everything went wrong. I had one of the most rejuvenating weeks of my recent life when I went backpacking last March. As such, my fifth resolution was to take at least one backcountry hiking trip. Sometimes knowing what went right can be at least as important as knowing what went wrong, and connecting to the things that matter can do more for you than fixing all of the broken bits.
Sometimes it's not breakage, but disuse that causes the problems. Such seems to have been the problem lately with my spirituality. I am today no less firm in believing who I am than I was five years ago; the problem seems to be that it means less and less over time. So, as a way to kick myself in the metaphorical pants and get me in touch with my identity again, my fourth resolution was to update the Draconity FAQ. I'm still rolling up my sleeves for that one; I know it'll involve a lot of database-building work. (I have a very clear idea of what I want the finished product to look like.) Some of the script framework is in place, but I'll probably be putting work into this piecemeal for the rest of the year.
That's one of the things that characterizes my resolutions, vacation plans aside: the idea of a long-term commitment. The third is no exception: To end the year debt-free. In 2001, for various reasons (mostly involving the collapse of the tech market and a significant period of unemployment), I lived off of my credit cards for several months, and ultimately sank myself about $4,000 in debt. $4,000 may not sound like much, compared to the average American's spending habits, but 2001 was the first year that I have ever owed money to a financial institution. (I've had some personal loans before that I paid off in full, but my typical financial position is debt-free and with several hundred dollars in my bank account as a cushion.) I could pay off that $4,000 easily if my employment situation would just stabilize, and perhaps it tells you something about how rotten 2001 was that this in itself is a resolution. January's job shock was something of a setback -- especially since I'm still unemployed -- but if I can turn things around and find a decent job (or at least one I can live with through December), I should be able to follow through.
Which brings me, in a completely roundabout and unexpected way, to yesterday's journal entry. I mentioned I'd spent the last two days (three, now) being social. In brief, this involved: (A) having dinner with Misty at a nearby Italian restaurant (described here in some detail); and (B) being glued to the computer screen, spending three solid nights in a row talking to Zephyra online. I know that for most values of "social," (B) ranks somewhere in between "video games" and "watching the frat party across the street through binoculars from your basement window," but the simple fact is that this involved me interacting with people -- people who in fact I don't already know all that well -- in real time. Those of you who have searched this site in vain for any reference to my AIM screen name -- or ICQ number, or MSN Messenger codeword, or Jibber Jabber Foo, or whatever they're calling it these days -- probably know this already, but I am not a real-time chat person. I am not an interact-with-people-in-real-time person. My mind has an odd enough definition of time, and I find serious multitasking enough of a drain on my resources, that I've more or less abandoned talking to people, except through media more suited to my preference for deliberation and exact phrasing.
So what do these recent activities have to do with anything I've said above? As it turns out, my remaining two resolutions are, in their original order, to improve my relationship with Erin, and to find another partner.
This should come as no great shock to my regular readers -- the vast majority of whom know me in some context other than my journal, and are aware of my relationship situation -- but may require some general clarification. I am, you see, polyamorous -- or, more to the point, I am currently in a polyamorous relationship that I am generally happy with but which is not fulfilling all of my needs. "Polyamory," as you might have guessed from context or by clicking on the provided link, simply describes the idea that a person can love (be in love with, be in a loving relationship with, and/or make love to) more than one person at a time. At this moment in time, I have one partner -- however, that partner has another, and he has another, and the four of us live together as a single group.
Misty is ... there really isn't a good word for it. My sisterwife-in-law-in-law. The significance of my accompanying her to dinner is that, despite our proximity, we haven't really developed much of a relationship in the two years we've lived together; the spirit of Resolution #1 is to strengthen my existing relationships, and getting to know her better (both with dinner and with our recent excursion to a gothic-industrial club) is making me more of an active participant in our family. Zephyra is, as of now, a friend that I haven't talked to in years, and who I am spending time catching up with, and would like to get to know better; the significance of my spending time with her is not that I am addressing Resolution #2 ("Durrr, hey, I should run out into the street and latch onto the first female who returns my gaze!"), but that I am making the effort to open myself up more to others, and taking time out to talk, and be friendly, and flirt (!), and define what I want and where I want to look for it. Again, it's not so much a matter of action as it is of commitment.
Yes, I realize that it has taken me two months (and change) to post my New Year's resolutions. It was actually a difficult decision to post them at all -- #2, to be exact. It has taken me a lot longer than two months to own up to the fact that my needs would best be served by finding another partner -- many months of relationship counseling and some serious discussions with Erin, in fact -- and to rid myself of the idea that wanting someone else means I love her any less. I only ultimately wrote this at all because I felt the benefits of posting it would outweigh the difficulties that will arise from it.
It also helped that I was reading Hamlet, The Manga earlier today. (Very funny. I recommend it.) Shakespeare's words still echo down through the centuries, and one line in particular was something of a wake-up call:
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
I must be as I must be. I make the changes I must to be the best person that I am capable of being; and I am proud of that of which I am made.
I have been repeatedly told -- by dragons and humans alike -- that my
reputation in the dragon community is due to that commitment to the truth.
(Cairsten told me
last October, for example, that "[y]ou're a genuinely
good person, and it impressed the hell out of me when I realised
that there was, even among people who 'don't buy into' the belief,
absolutely no dissension on the strength of your character and the
goodness of your heart.") Declaring to the world that I am poly, actively
seeking, means the certainty that I'm going to have to defend this
decision against my parents' concern (Hi, Mom! I know you read this!
For some reason, polyamory -- love -- is a closer subject to my heart than draconity ever was. ... No, scratch that, start over; that's not only misleading, but makes it sound too much like a tautology. For some reason, polyamory seems much more taboo than my species identity ever was. We live in a country where there are a lot of different people who believe a lot of different things, but for all that, sexuality is still very rigidly defined. What I'm trying to say here is that the decision to be actively poly is one that has been a lot harder for me to make than the decision to be "actively dragon" ever was. (Not coincidentally, it raises far more fierce opinions, even among therianthropes; I have seen multiple times the sight of someone who claims themselves to be non-human in spirit tell a fellow sapient that they are sick, wrong, and dooming themselves to failure for having more than one mate. Such tolerance from those whose identity depends on a steady supply of it.) There's more active resistance. The fight is on a much closer field. Being a dragon, and fighting for recognition, is such an abstract conflict that one can more or less choose their battles; being actively polyamorous means more often than not defending one's home turf against foreign invaders. I hope it's a role that a natural diplomat like myself is still suited to.
Well, one way or the other, I am committed; as I've said, I do not take resolutions lightly.
March 10, 2002 ... I believe it's official: I am in love again.
March 12, 2002 ... Funny, the places our minds wander when we're in the shower:
(Fade in. CROWD NOISES. Distant STREET SOUNDS.)... No, don't ask.
March 16, 2002 ... For the last several days, I have been remarkably apathetic about writing anything. My sleep schedule -- due to a combination of (A) my parents' recent visit to Seattle, (B) a great deal of real-time chat, (C) my habit of ignoring alarm clocks, and (D) the house being a lot more peaceful and friendly when everyone else is asleep -- has been completely nonexistent, sort of an "eh, whenever" thing.
I have received my assignment from the winner of the Tomorrowlands contest; I shall be posting accordingly in fairly short order. In the meantime, those of you who have enjoyed the ... unique ... brand of philosophy that is timecube.com may be interested to note that the Time Cube Guy has, in fact, been interviewed. Can the Time Cube RPG really be all that far behind?
In local news ... it snowed this morning. We had snow on the ground. In mid-March. That has seemed to weird out other Seattleites a lot more than it has weirded me out; I guess I still consider it winter, because Seattle has no "spring" as I traditionally understand it. Winter is cold, cloudy, and rainy. Spring is not as cold, cloudy, and rainy. Summer is vaguely warm and generally clear. Autumn is colder, cloudy, and rainy. It could snow in early May and I doubt I'd blink: "It's not summertime yet."
I have also recently learned to fear the phrase "Tick of Death". Dammit. I guess this means Dragonslair will be migrating back into my room so that I have a working computer in there (albeit a Linux box to whom I have forgotten the root password; I suspect the joy of reinstall lies in my future). Heaven knows whether I'll ever be able to get Sairys online again. In general, actually, my luck with computers hasn't been much to write home about; I sent both of the defective RAM chips back to the seller, received replacements, and both of THOSE are also dead. I suspect the store received a bad batch. I'll be calling their technical people on Monday morning to ask if they have any to send me that AREN'T going to simply get here DOA. (Technical talk ahead. For the record, I suspect that the problem is that they ordered generic components that meet the specs for the computer -- 3.3 volt, 168-pin unbuffered EDO DIMMs, < 70 ns access time -- but that have a 4K refresh instead of 2K. 2Ks are known to work in my model. 4Ks aren't formally supported by the memory controller in the 4400, but are far more common, and cheaper. Non-technical version: The RAM is too slow sending electricity to keep the little dongles alive that hold data, so it goes foom whenever it tries to store information. Summary: It's almost impossible to find vendors selling chips that specifically have the refresh rate labeled; it's such an esoteric issue that it usually doesn't make a difference, and the store may have slipped while getting their memory from the supplier.)
Ah, yes: And it was pointed out on my forum that last week's "Resolutions" post was not actually my 'coming out' as actively polyamorous, despite the huge amount of hand-wringing I did in it. That honor belongs to something I wrote last June -- which was actually far more upbeat on the whole matter. I feel embarrassed now. Not only am I retreading old ground, and getting some good practice in for the far-off day when I get Alzheimer's, but I'm also getting retroactively depressed and anxious about something that hasn't even had any bad repercussions on my life. I'll just add a few angst points to my character sheet and move on from here, I think.
Anyway, I think I'm going to actually try getting some sleep while it's dark outside. It would be a nice change of pace.
March 20, 2002 ... Hello. You have reached tomorrowlands.org. My brain appears to be on vacation at the moment, but if you'll leave your name and e-mail address at the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I possibly can. Have a nice day!
March 22, 2002 ... Wow. Strange few days. In the last 48 hours, I've helped three people have sex (while not being even peripherally involved in the acts or planning thereof); gone to visit a friend while his ex was moving out of his apartment, and discovered that said ex is a fellow BayCon staffer; discovered further that one of said ex's friends (Graham, who recognized me from BayCon) and my mate Erin, who have never met, could exchange stories of one of Erin's ex-boyfriends two states away; and talked to roommate Misty on the phone at 3 AM as she called me from the emergency room of a local hospital, having taken her friend Leslie to the emergency room for a sudden fever -- a scant several hours after the two of them had taken Leslie's housemate (partner?) Tobin to the emergency room for falling off of a roof. On top of that, last night I dreamed some sort of mythological tale about (capital-s) Stork, having to do with eggs and water and maybe cliffs and why stork eggs are bigger than other bird eggs, whether in reality they actually are or not. Earlier this week, it snowed in Seattle.
Paragraph of random name-dropping: Who is Dennis Whitton? That was a rhetorical question, actually. But he's a neat guy (Livejournal's dewhitton) and so I'm helping him in his quest to get his site Googlebombed.
Just to let y'all know: In several days I'm going to take off for California, to visit my parents and younger sister (who is home for spring break from my alma mater, UC Santa Barbara). Internet access will be uncertain, as usual during parental visits. Internet access will also be out of the question for a day or two on either end -- I am going to take Greyhound to California. I have decided, after being treated like a t*rror*st for daring to carry a nail clipper with me when I travel, that I no longer desire to patronize any airports until their security policies give a nod to common sense. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Greyhound is cheaper by almost a factor of two and does not require advance ticket purchase. So it's a 18-hour drive ... who cares? I can catch up on my reading.
Also, read on for a very special announcement.
March 22, 2002 part II ... I would like to announce -- for those of you who might be interested in such a thing -- that work proceeds apace on my completion of Resolution #5 -- that being the enjoyment of a backcountry hiking trip sometime this year. Well, tentative plans are being laid down for an expedition to the Los Padres National Forest -- specifically, the backcountry a short trip due north of Santa Barbara, California. I figure that we can base-camp in Santa Barbara itself -- or more likely, around UCSB -- and plan out a 3 to 5+ day route (length depending, obviously, on peoples' other plans) filled with moderate hiking, sleeping under the stars, and maybe even walking to the top of a big ol' pointy hill* or two. We would return to civilization around the very end of April, so this is a little over a month's notice. (You can read "pointy hill" as "mountain" if you want; although (A) they don't grow 'em very tall down there, and (B) we're not talking rock climbing for the ascent.)
What do I mean by "we", you ask? The answer is simple: You're invited! Well, with restrictions, naturally; our hypothetical "you" does have to be someone that I would be willing to spend a night alone in the woods with. Most of my site's readers do fit this description, though, so you've got nothing to lose by mailing me and expressing interest! The other caveat is that this is going to be serious backcountry -- i.e., if you want a tent, or if you want toilet paper, you carry them yourself. I am an experienced enough hiker that I can lead a team of green campers (yes, even showing you how to do without TP), but some previous wilderness experience is preferable -- I don't want people going out and buying frame baxpacks, sleeping bags, and hiking boots on the assumption that they'll enjoy this. If you twitch at the idea of spending three days in a place where "running water" means "stream", don't come along. If you're troubled by the idea of spending three days doing so much walking that your legs go numb, stay home. But if your heart leaps at the idea of spending three days so far from civilization that you can see the Milky Way, drop me a line.
Long-time readers may recall that I did this last year. (They should also note that the "FC" who accompanied me last year is also likely to join me in Los Padres.) The rest of you can go re-read the trip notes linked to above in order to get some idea of the highlights and hazards of a hiking trip.
And with that, my little happy campers, I will go to sleep.
March 23, 2002 ... Wow.
Thea is poinging. (Wow, again, on a completely unrelated note: While a Google search for "poing" turned up mostly foreign-language sites -- and even the venerable Sluggy Freelance didn't show up until the second page of search results -- a Google search for "poing love" gave a Tomorrowlands page the third spot. I'd have thought I would have had more competition. 'Poing,' in the context I use it, seems a fairly common term.)
Anyway: Thea is poinging. And it's the most wonderful thing in the world -- well, okay, it's tied for first place there; but the list of contenders is tiny -- to have one you love so much be so powerfully happy. I'm getting a contact high. I don't think she has said a single thing to me in the last hour that hasn't been a tiny portrait of communication wedged in a colossal frame of bliss. The medium is the message; I have no idea what she's trying to actually say to me, but I find it hard to care.
She's not poinging over me, of course. That's quite alright. We spent, last night, one of the most fantastic nights together we've had in ages; she was poinging then, too, and she gave herself to me, filled with anticipation and completely alive and so passionate that everything I did couldn't help but set her off; and the time together meant all the more because she came to me being all alive over him and then wanting to share that with me; and she was so vibrant and open that there was a touch of the miraculous in everything that I did for her, and she was so warm and unconditional that when we fell asleep in each other's arms afterward, I couldn't help but bask in her glow.
This is why I know I am polyamorous at heart. I am so much in tune with the joy of a happy mate that the idea of having a happy mate pales in comparison. I know firsthand Spider Robinson's old aphorism: "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased." I am enriched by the love of others, even if I'm not a direct participant.
Thea poings. And, with some reluctance, I pull myself away from her thoughts, and stumble off in an daze; I gave her the gift of the better part of five hours, she milked them for all they could possibly give, and I realized when she was done that I still haven't packed for the trip I take to California tomorrow. I need to go pack ... and, when I'm done and I'm trying to catch a two-hour nap before dashing for the bus station so I can depart for my parents' house on time, I will fall asleep with a thoroughly overworked body -- and a mind more content and at peace than I have felt all year.
March 26, 2002 ... I am, as I write this, down in California at my parents' place. Stealing a little bit of late-night Internet time to update, but then, when don't I? I'm going to pay for this in lack of sleep ... but then, when don't I?
Sunday was interesting. I made the observation that the universe seemed to be doing a very good job of routing around my stupidity. My first big clue? When I packed for Greyhound ... well, let's just say I was tired, and the fact that I typically carry around a Swiss army knife in my fanny pack slipped my mind entirely. I made it to the Greyhound station in plenty of time for the 3 PM bus; bought my ticket (less than two hours advance purchase, and the 800-plus-mile trip cost me $69 -- wow); and started to board, when ... I went through the security checkpoint. Greyhound's idea of "security" is to wave a metal detector wand over you and ask if you're carrying anything illegal; however, they do occasionally perform bag searches, and our bus was selected for them. (This did not bug me nearly as much as a similar procedure would have at the airport; after all, isn't the point of airport X-ray machines to eliminate the need for bag searches unless something suspicious shows up? Thus, random airport bag searches are either: (A) completely unnecessary, and thus wasting everyone's time for the illusion of more security; or (B) necessary, in which case the X-ray machines are untrustworthy pieces of crap, and thus waste everyone's time for the illusion of more security. At Greyhound, the searches are all they've got, and thus at least they are not as pointlessly redundant as the phrase "pointlessly redundant.")
I digress: Random bag search. I make small-talk with the two security guards, get wanded while my bags are tossed through, and naturally the guy finds my knife while digging through my fanny pack.
Take a moment here to picture what would have happened to me had this occurred at Sea-Tac airport.
The end result at Greyhound? After confirming with the guard that weapons were not allowed anywhere on the bus, and therefore I could not merely repack it inside of a backpack and send that pack along as checked baggage ... they gave me the knife back, let me reschedule my trip ticket for the next bus (at 8 that evening), and sent me home to drop the knife off. No confiscation. No threats thereof. No hostility, and that's perhaps the most impressive part, given that I was verbally abused over my possession of a fingernail clipper last time I set foot in an airport. The guards treated me like a person instead of a felon. They did their job and kept me off the bus -- for which I must give them credit; I know that I'm no danger to anyone with a Swiss army knife, but a sharpened three-inch blade is legitimately a weapon, and they did their job in pursuit of a sensible restriction. They helped me to minimize the hassle of the situation. The guard even said that I could get on the bus if I just didn't take the knife -- going so far as to suggest I run around the corner and mail it to myself in California, which I would have done (albeit sending the knife back to my home in Seattle to prevent issues with the return trip) if all of the local mailing places hadn't been closed (it was Sunday). When that fell through and the bus left without me, he told me about their ticket reissue policy -- and it didn't cost me an extra dime, except for the Metro fare to ride the local bus back home and drop the knife off, to reschedule my ride.
So I left for California five hours later than expected, and arrived Monday evening instead of Monday morning. I discovered along the way that I had completely forgotten to pack any snacks for the 20-hour trip. However, fate came through once again; while every Greyhound station we reached in the middle of the night was closed, and while I was dumb enough not to bring any change for the vending machines, I happily discovered that the bus driver made a brief stop in the dead of night at a gas station with a 24-hour mini-mart to allow the passengers a smoke break and a chance to buy food and drinks. Yay driver! I bought a large bag of Funyuns and survived on that (and the bottle of water I had thought to pack) until sunrise, when the bus driver stopped at a 24-hour truckstop and we all wandered inside to buy breakfast at the Taco Bell. (There were two other buses at the truckstop, so apparently that was a planned break.)
The trip to visit my parents here has, so far, been going very pleasantly. We've eaten well. Today, we all travelled to San Rafael in my folks' new mini-RV -- it's a van that resembles a recreational vehicle inside, and sleeps 4; it's the size of a van but two feet taller and a wee bit longer -- for a visit to Dr. Kristal, nutritionist at large. His stock in trade is discovering people's metabolic types -- different people react differently to different foods, and "eating right" may mean anything from a very carnivorous diet to a very vegetarian diet to anything in between. My personal opinion of such things tends to be that it's common-sense advice that most nutritionists get paid entirely too much for -- but it was not a difficult decision to visit this man and give his theories a listen after seeing the tremendous difference that he's made for my parents. My father is a very "Type II" (meats good) person, and my mother a strong "Type I" (meats bad). They tended to eat a great deal of the same types of foods before finding Dr. Kristal; now they're on widely separate diets and both look great. My father, specifically, has slimmed down radically, which is all the more heartening because he's been through issues before with heart arrhythmia and his general well-being seems to be making a fantastic difference in coping with a faulty ticker.
All that having been said: What did I learn from the visit? What foods should I be avoiding? Um ... basically none. (He warned me away from processed foods and sugars, but that doesn't count, because everyone reacts badly to processed foods and sugars -- and I consume them much more infrequently than normal people, anyway.) What all of the testing boiled down to was that there is "Type I", and "Type II", and most people are in some degree one or the other; and I'm straddling the line right between them. It's official; Baxil is an omnivore. My mother, father, and sister are in some small measure jealous, because they've all had to make adjustments to their diets, and I basically got off the hook there. (Okay, I should start eating less white rice, which is heavily processed and bad on principle. However, I will not give up sushi; that's my choice and my sin.)
The one piece of helpful advice I picked up is that the reason I can't seem to gain weight, no matter how much I eat, is that I actually process so little of what I eat. I've got a very carbohydrate-rich diet, and need more proteins. (I do have to point out that this is for some value of "need" that may not approximate my actual intentions. I enjoy being tall and thin; it's got aesthetic self-appeal. Plus if I put any weight on I'm going to have to buy all new clothes, and that would just be a pain.) Still, it probably wouldn't hurt to bulk out a little -- my body fat index hovers somewhere underneath 12 percent, which lies somewhere in the acceptable range for "people who spend their free time training for marathons"; if I were to actually start doing something silly like exercising, let alone marathon training, I'd be unhealthily lean. And I'm planning on taking up jogging when I get back to Seattle in preparation for April's hiking trip.
I also discovered that I heal enormously quickly. They took four blood tests, getting blood from a prick on my finger at 45-minute intervals. They had to prick my finger four separate times -- even during the last test, when they waited only 20 minutes between samples, the cut had already healed over, and pressure was unable to reopen it. (The typical person only gets pricked twice.) This shouldn't have surprised me, what with my metabolism, but it's something I'd never really thought about.
Time for sleep; staying awake is my not-so-secret vice -- my one method of self-abuse which I feel guilty over but perform anyway -- and I should really start listening to my body say "Hey! Get some rest!" before I start getting all self-congratulatory on how I do such a great job of listening to my body's needs because I'm already eating exactly the foods that do me the most good. Eh. Anyway, dream well, y'all. I'll do my best, too.
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