Journal Archives - February, 2001
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February 1, 2001 ... Interesting tidbit I picked up on the radio this morning: Apparently, most Americans are doing a damn fine job of keeping their priorities straight.
That was sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.
I suppose, having recently found out about Neuticles, I shouldn't really be surprised to learn just how seriously screwed up the average human being is. But, really. I can at least respect people who have pet testicular removal issues; as completely wacky as I find the idea, I can still see in it a great deal of compassion and loyalty. This, on the other hand, is ... just ... wrong.
The news: 45 percent of married Americans say that the most important thing in life to them is ... their cars. Not their spouses. Not their children. Their cars. Perhaps more disturbingly, nearly five out of six Americans -- 84 percent -- say they "love their cars".
A third of Americans have named them. In itself this isn't very worrisome, but put together with the other statistics, I have to wonder. It didn't help that one of the radio station's callers was a woman aggravated that her significant other had named his car after his ex-girlfriend, and was spending more time with it than with her.
The coup de grace: The article goes on to say that "17 percent of male participants planned to buy their vehicle a gift on Valentine's Day."
And people have the gall to tell me that my beliefs are "detached from reality"?
February 4, 2001 ... I ate lunch today down at the Hawaiian Barbeque on University Avenue. A good change of pace, food-wise.
One of the (presumably) regular customers came in while I was polishing off the last of my spare ribs. He greeted the owner, and they shared some conversation. I tuned out most of it, but caught the following snippet:
"You're here every time I come by. Do you ever take a break?"
"Yes. Christmas." <laughter>
I wish I had that sort of dedication.
Some days, it seems like the act of living is dedication enough. But more often, I look at my life and see a big pile of half-finished projects, ideas I couldn't follow through with, and abandoned responsibilities.
What's wrong with me?
Don't answer that. It was a rhetorical question. I'm angsting.
I just can't imagine doing anything 364 days a year. (Well, okay. Except for eating, sleeping, and getting dressed.) Outside of school or work, this journal's about the closest I've come to a daily commitment, ever, and even then I'm taking weekends off and still having periods of erratic posting.
I want to say that it's just a matter of not having "found my calling." That someday I'll find a job that I love to do, and not doing it every day would feel strange. But I don't think that's all there is to it. Apparently there are people out there with the raw willpower to just sit down at a task and do it, regardless of how much or how little they like the work. (It may be true that the restauranteur in question has indeed "found his calling", but I wouldn't put money on it.) That doesn't come easy to me. And there are some tasks that I just can't force myself to do. Hell, there are times when forcing myself to do anything except for "play video games" is just about at the limit of my endurance.
Sometimes I wonder how I've gotten as far as I have.
* * * * * * * * *
(WARNING: if you have any squicks about dental stuff, you should probably stop reading this now.)
It's been a rough frigging week.
I won't go into the details here; suffice to say that several things went *explode* either on, next to, or near me. I've become a bit twitchy, wondering what will happen next.
Thursday I started a new temp work assignment, my first job in months (I'd been taking time off to recover from work stress from my previous job). It's data entry at a dental insurance company. I spent all day Thursday sorting claims and stuffing envelopes, and all day Friday entering patient and dentist information into the database. The references to specific dental procedures and stuff mostly went in one eye and out the other, as it were, but the occasional full-color glossy closeup photo of the inside of somebody's mouth was kind of ickifying. I spent some of both days thinking strange and sometimes morbid thoughts about teeth.
Today I was sitting in the living room, eating a muffin, when I felt that I was suddenly chewing on something very hard, like a rock. My first thought (which was much quicker to think than to write) was "My god, what did they put in this muffin?!? It looks like some kind of mechanical clasp, or a piece of a pen or something! Argh, I could break a tooth on that!" As I was removing and examining the object, I brushed my tongue up against my teeth...
... and discovered that my left front tooth was missing. It had come off while I was chewing the muffin. This was the object that I was now examining in my hand.
Sometime in early grade school -- second, third grade maybe -- I had my first root canal. Way back then in the dark ages (I think this would have been the late 70s -- yeah, I'm all old and stuff), it was apparently fairly typical to just hack out the whole tooth structure and replace it with a fake. Since I was little, the dentist gave me a temporary cap. When I was a freshman in high school, the temporary cap was removed and replaced with a full false tooth. I now vaguely remember the dentist telling me that it would only last for ten years -- but when you're 14, ten years is basically forever.
I suppose I can't complain... it lasted 15 years in the final count.
Once I realized what had happened, I basically freaked. It was a good thing that two of my family were present at the time to comfort and reassure me. Y'see, ever since I was a small child, I've had occasional anxiety nightmares about my teeth falling out. I've heard that it's actually somewhat common. I haven't had that particular nightmare in a long time. Something tells me I'll start having them again soon.
It doesn't hurt at all; the entire nerve for that tooth was removed during the root canal. It doesn't even ache slightly. But it's funny how the absence of something that was always there before is constantly, immediately noticeable.
I suppose this is the universe's way of gently telling me that I really need to see a dentist - with an ironic flair, to boot. Yay, universe.
February 6, 2001 ... Have you ever experienced deja vu, and then gotten this weird feeling ... like you've done that before?
I can't say I have. The concept just amuses me.
February 7, 2001 ... The moral of the story, I suppose, is that mythic, larger-than-life confrontations can be fun and profitable.
It started this morning when I was trying to finesse my way through three lanes of slow-and-go traffic to the exit for SR-520. As is usual in such driving conditions, my lane changes were occasionally stymied by other drivers who had the bright idea to grab a space shortly before I did. Oddly enough, though, most of that situation's competition came from just one car -- a sporty red compact whose two inhabitants had just barely beat me onto the freeway. As such, they were trying to make the same lane switches that I was, albeit slightly earlier.
Having fought through two of the three lanes, dodging around this perversely recurring vehicle, I watched the red car pull up even with me on my left. At that point, some deep, mythic impulse finally surfaced in my head: I turned toward the car briefly, and declared over the noise of the tape deck, "You are my nemesis."
The lane in front of me opened up, and I massaged the accelerator, hoping to pull into the left lane ahead of my mortal enemy. But alas! My nemesis directed a white truck minion to block my efforts. Realizing that I would have to make the lane change soon or miss the turn-off, I slowed down and merged to the left directly behind my foe.
As we approached the exit, she gave me some false hope by staying solidly in the center of the lane instead of veering left toward the exit. But no! She swerved at the last minute, staying in front of my car, toying with me. I could almost hear the manaical laughter as she stomped on the brake pedal and slowed to 35 -- a relative crawl in the gentle curve of the freeway connector.
"Curse you!" I thought -- or, at, least something equally dramatic. Then we sped up as the lane merged onto 520, and the unexpected happened.
My nemesis pulled over to let me pass!
I suspected some trick, and careful observation bore this out. She was not only moving over a lane, she was getting off the freeway entirely at the first exit. With such a complete backing down after such a pitched struggle just seconds ago, I suspected treachery. And indeed, as I brought my car up to cruising speed, another red car got into my lane and slowed down in front of me! Obviously it was not that initial red car that was my actual nemesis, but red cars in general! (Either that, or my nemesis had transferred her evil foe nature via some weird invisible ray to the guy who was now blocking my path. But the former sounds more dramatic.)
I followed this new villain for a minute or two as he proceeded at his leisurely Baxil-blocking pace, trying to think of crafty ways to foil his evil plan and drive to work at my usual 65. Then I saw him glance into his rear-view mirror. I locked eyes with him, trying to force him to submit to my righteous cause in a pitched battle of wills. And what do you know? He changed lanes! Just for me.
All went well until I left the bridge. The chilling sight in front of me then made me gasp: Brake lights! As I slowed down, speechless at this sudden commute calamity, I noticed something very insidious ... the vehicle directly in front of me was a RED SUV.
My ordeal wasn't over yet.
But deep inside, I knew: I was a hero. This red-car conspiracy could not stop me. I would succeed in my sacred mission. I reached deep inside myself to tap my inner wellspring of mystic patience, and contented myself with biding my time until I could figure out this new foe's evil plot.
And, as all villains do, this one slipped up. As we approached the I-405 interchange, he got into the turn lane! Apparently my patience had unnerved him; when he tried to anticipate my destination so that he could stay in front of me, driving slowly, the whole way ... he decided I would be travelling into Bellevue. Which I wasn't.
I let out a whoop of triumph as I sped onward. Why? Because there were no other red cars in sight. The SUV had no other drivers to call upon to further hinder my quest. I would be long gone before he could dispatch other minions to stop me.
And, you know what? For whatever reason, the rest of my drive went off perfectly. I even hit all of the lights.
February 8, 2001 ... I scribbled out the following as a snippet of a larger poem, but realized it stood pretty well on its own:
Paid to program I live the life of a coder. I sit, motionless, until my neck muscles have stolen my soul's fire; I force my fingers to dance, secure in knowing there's "just one last page to do"; I feed my soul on achievement and my body on salty snacks. And then, I go to work.
Many of you probably also know that we currently cannot account for 90 percent of the universe's matter -- and that the nature of this "dark matter" remains unknown and open to much speculation.
Well, duh. The rest of it is inside human brains.
Think about it. We can't use more than 10 percent of our brains ... because the rest of it is dark matter, and we have no clue what to do with the stuff! We can't measure more than 10 percent of the universe ... because the rest of it is all inside our heads!
Nobel Prize committee, I await your recognition of my genius.
February 13, 2001 ... Okay. Some of you may have noticed when I announced a while ago that I was going to be taking a break from website maintenance. Remember that? I said "soon." I said "mid-month." Well, that time has indeed arrived ... except that the mid-month in question was supposed to have been January.
That's the sign of a true procrastinator -- you become afraid to declare even sabbaticals in advance, because you won't get around to them in a timely fashion, either.
So Tomorrowlands is going to be much less Fun (tm) and Exciting (tm) for a while. If you've grown to like my daily little musings, I sincerely apologize. You see, I have too. And I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think that: (A) the quality of my posts lately have been suffering; (B) the quality of the rest of my life has been suffering, too. I need to shuffle around my priorities and give myself some space. I need to handle fewer commitments. I need to take a step back and see just what I think I really can do on a daily basis, and whether this is crowding out other things I want to do more.
Don't take this as a goodbye. I'll still stay active in the forum; I might even (gasp!) get some e-mail answered. All of the projects I mentioned in the recent news update are still on tap. I'm even figuring that without the onus of daily journal updates, I might get some quality work done on the rest of the site.
How long is this going to last? Let's call it two weeks. I figure I'm probably going to get restless before then and start itching to post again, but unless I run into a sudden overabundance of ideas, I can use my posting urges as an excuse to reseed the now-empty filler file.
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