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October 1, 2001 ... I'd just like to comment that I can't believe I got all the way through my last entry with a straight face.


October 3, 2001 ... My creative output for the next week or so is going to be very limited: on top of everything else, I've developed a minor (although it sure doesn't feel that way) repetitive strain injury. I have been told I can still type, albeit with these awkward, ugly wrist braces on -- but due to financial stress, on top of everything else^2, and the fact that I can't afford to lose my current assignment, I am spending all of my typing time doing data entry for a paycheck, and don't have the energy to come home and type more.

So if you've sent me e-mail, I'm sorry; wait a while. If you're waiting for a response on my forum, don't hold your breath. If you send me sympathy, please do not expect or request a response. This will be the last journal entry until things improve enough to let me come up for air.

Re: the "everything else" mentioned above: Yes. ... It's been one of those weeks. No, I'm not going to type it all up (ow, ow, ow).

I am broken. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. (I'm so spiritually useless I might as well be broken there too.) I have broken down into tears at least once a day since Saturday. Distractions have worked only sporadically, and in fact have been counterproductive because there's just been So. Much. To. Get. Done. I am spending too much energy just coping right now to care about anything else. I've been so swamped with pain and obligation that I haven't even been able to sit down long enough to type out what's been going on until now.

My wrists are hurting again; so that is all.

October 7 update: I have gone to a follow-up doctor's appointment, and they have actually provided me with some detail about my predicament: it is, in fact, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (as opposed to just "a repetitive stress injury", which is about as detailed as saying "a problem with your arm"). That's the good news. The bad news is that the original doctor told me I could go back to work, so I did, and it got worse, so I don't know how long my recovery is going to be (especially if I keep aggravating the condition by sitting at the computer and typing all day).

So I'm broken physically. Quite more so than I'd thought. However, I hadn't really realized just how much that was at the root of my other problems; when I went in to the doctor's and actually got into a detailed discussion of what was wrong -- eliminating all of the uncertainty about my condition, and letting me know how bad it wasn't -- I started feeling a heck of a lot better.

I got taken off of my work assignment -- which means I'm currently not earning any money -- but this means that I get as much time to rest as I need, and don't have to worry about destroying my arms for a paycheck. This decision took a lot of stress away from me, and gave me some time to sit back and breathe.

So I'm doing much better, despite still hurting.

October 16, 2001 ... So, I just applied to become an editor at the Open Directory Project. You know how Yahoo, Google, etc., have the web sorted by category into a huge directory structure? That's what the ODP does -- except that they're staffed by volunteers, who each take one of the tiny little sub-areas and oversee submissions and such. Where did I apply to help out? As if you couldn't guess: Society: People: Otherkin: Dragons.

The ODP (according to their FAQ) is the directory listing used by, among others, Google, Lycos, HotBot, and AOL and Netscape Search. As such, this seems like a great opportunity to help spread the word about draconity, and keep track of sites with excellent sources of draconity information. It's also free, and founded on the principles of open source, which reminds me again that the Internet works best when it does exactly what it's designed to do: draw people across the world together into a global community; build on the work of throngs of volunteers to create enormous, valuable public resources; and then keep those in the public domain, where they belong.

By far, the most expensive part of the Internet -- in terms of actual financial cost to the end-user -- is the physical infrastructure. Bandwidth is a limited resource (although we're in no danger of running out, under standard circumstances), and we pay for it; and that's a working model, because it does cost money to keep routers, servers, and land lines maintained. But once that initial hurdle has been overcome, what about the content? A growing number of popular sites and services are founded on open-source, nonprofit principles: the aforementioned ODP and Livejournal are the two examples that spring most immediately to mind, although one could certainly argue that the most integral open source WWW service is Apache (the server software that runs 60% of the Web). YaBB, which powers this site's forums, is open source. One of the net's most (in)famous encyclopedias -- h2g2 -- is, to cite Eric S. Raymond, the epitome of a virtual bazaar. Even corporate titan Amazon.com recognizes the power of distributed effort: that's the basis of their industry-leading book review system.

I am a child of the digital age. (Okay, I'm hardly a child at 24, but the principle applies.) I have been bombarded during my entire time on the Internet with evidence of the power of cooperation -- of setting aside differences, rolling up your sleeves, and working for what you believe in. I have seen so many impossible mountains scaled through teamwork that I often have difficulty believing that anyone is capable of making a difference on their own.

Check that: Positive difference. It's all too easy to see the shockwaves that one sufficiently evil person can send through their community.

I've seen my share of people trying their hardest to tear something down -- not because what they're attacking is wrong, particularly; and not even because they really care about the subject. These people are always so proud of making a difference -- of being noticed -- in such a huge and impersonal world. Never mind that they're earning notoriety instead of fame, condemnation instead of praise, from the masses; they're being noticed, and they're able to get just enough of their peer group to pat them on the back so that they can see their target as evil and the scorn they receive as proof of their fundamental rightness.

In some ways, I wish I could say that I simply don't understand such behavior. But I do. It's seductive -- it's easy power. It takes hundreds of people years of work to construct a pair of skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan; it takes a handful of extremists with cheap tools a few hours to bring them down, and humanity's going to remember the latter far more sharply. No, that I get. What I don't understand is ... where's the art in destruction?

I think, in that sense, I am far too solidly grounded in the hacker ethic. A hacker finds joy in the pursuit of excellence, the pushing of limits. The Jargon File says that

[h]acking might be characterized as `an appropriate application of ingenuity'. Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it.
That resonates very fundamentally within me -- the craft of living, the skill with which one approaches challenges. There's no craft in destruction, in terror; the end product is so ... dull. You're left with a pile of rubble and a few broken hearts, and if you're sufficiently good at your job, they're not yours. That's the limit. There's no way to aspire to anything more. There's no standard of excellence. I find myself wondering, once in a while, how these people can settle for such poor standards for "success" ... then remember that our society doesn't teach excellence. Most people just haven't had the exposure to what's possible through teamwork ... or have no interest in seeing.

That, I think, is why the Internet is going to change the world. Beyond a certain threshold, open source -- and the principles behind it -- will no longer be ignorable. Enough people will be able to point to one of the world's huge, valuable public resources and say, "I had a part in building that," that there will be too much to lose by trying to tear them down.

Frankly, the sooner, the better.

October 25, 2001 ... Today's entry is a guest post by Da'alrakken, who is a guest at my house for the week. Thanks, Da'al!

I have been asked by Bax to offer up some contribution for Tomorrowlands. First of all, I would like to thank Bax for allowing me the privilege to write something for his site. I have admired his work on the web here for the last few years, and I am honored to write for this column. Like many others, when I discovered -- or shall I say, became aware of -- my dragon heritage, I sought out information on what I was discovering about who and what I am. I met others in the dragon community that thought like I did, and together with Bax's FAQ, they were all to reinforce what I was going through. For the work he has done, I say thank you, Bax! Now, on to what I would like to say to you all. After all, this is a forum unlike any other.

Dragon in soul, dragon in spirit, dragon in heart and human in body. There is so much that goes through one's mind when confronted with such a life. Some would see this as a walking contradiction. It has taken me a while to achieve some balance with who I am. There are many in a situation similar to this and you, dear reader, may very well be one of them. I would certainly love to soar the skies once again. To be in the form that is truly mine. Yes, I do long for my scales to return, to have the abilities that I once had. That time will come once again; for now, I am human.

Many other dragons look at this situation with disgust -- seemingly trapped in a useless, weak, pathetic human body, desperately reaching for things that remind them of the dragon they once were. (The latter, of course, isn't the issue: I certainly have things and items around me that remind me of my dragon heritage. As always, having things around you that are familiar to you is a way of adjusting to a new or unfamiliar situations.) Simply put, some find this existence to be a burden -- but it doesn't have to be such.

I understand that there are just as many different situations as there are dragons out there. We have human bodies, human brains. We are "wired" to think like humans -- and that is the challenge. We have to act like humans, and my question to you all is, do we have to REACT like humans?

Yes, we have to walk on two legs. We cannot fly with our own wings; we have no horns, claws or talons. We can, however, see things in ways we never have. Experience things in ways we have never had the chance to. I guess what I am trying to say to you all is, do not let this oportunity just slide by. We all have our reasons for being here. Do not let your longing for your Dragon self blind you to what you can do here. There is still so much you can do. No, humanity is not perfect ... and yet, this Earth offers so much if you only take the time and allow yourself to experience it.

Don't try to push yourself to where you think you "should" be. Not all of us are on the same place on this path we walk. Some of you will discover more than others. Some may take longer. Some may take a lifetime or two. (If you are a dragon in human form, I do not think I have to explain multiple lives.) Rejoice in the discovery of who you are, cherish your heritage. You can be human, temper your humanity with your dragon heart, your dragon soul, your dragon spirit. You need not react as a human -- you can be a human and do what you know deep within you is right.

I wish you all well on your quest.


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