Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No Neat E-Mail Form

Dang! I wanted to arrange for an e-mail form, so you could e-mail me without me letting you know my e-mail address by allowing you access to a form. It will cost me $7/month through CGIspy unless someone knows of another remote CGI host that will do it for free (or at the worst, with ads on the form page).

And now. . .I feel flaky because lack of food, plus I should do responsible things like pay attention to my projects and such.

I guess I'll just make a short commentary about how last night, at Charlie's, in my attempt to create a weekly or bi-weekly tradition of people hanging out and only the Girl showed up, I didn't mind hanging out by myself. I didn't feel lonely nor did I get bored. I had gotten a couple books, so I pretty much just read them while sipping at a drink. OK books, but I really didn't have the attention span for reading after a long hard day at work. Nonetheless, I just kinda read a little here and there then every once in awhile looked up to look around. Again, in the past, I would have felt insecure about being alone in a bar and such, but last night, well. . .I didn't much care and now feel impressed with myself for some reason.

I've impressed myself once again.

A Quote Appropriate for This Day and Age

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be
one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded
fear. -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author
(1743-1826)

Make your own conclusion, but this is an interesting quote from one of our founding fathers, who by revisionist history, founded our country on "Christian" principles. <irony> Well, I guess if we should follow our founding fathers and their intentions, I guess we should have slavery, too. </irony>

Or would the irony be apparent without the markers?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I am HAPPENING!

I invited something like 15 - 20 people to meet me at Charlie's Kitchen, a burger/beer joint tonight. Only my girlfriend showed. Everyone else had their projects to do. We're the happening couple.

Or maybe I'm deserving of pity. Honestly, though, I'm not scared to pity people into coming out and having a good time. Come on, come out and have fun and enjoy your youth!

I must shout out to the valiant try of one guy who tried his hardest but couldn't make it because the mechanic fixed his car at the last minute.

Honestly, despite the half hour wait of no one showing and the three-quarter hour wait for the Girl to show, I actually had an all right time. I also had a couple good books to read, a couple good drinks and just a plain cool place to hang. I've got nothing to complain about.

Now to watch some TV with the Girl.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Yay for Activity

Woohoo! Another person has posted comments.

On a date night. After writing this entry, the Girl and I will go into the hot tub. Mmmmmmm. . .. If you wonder why I write on here during a date night, you probably have some good reason. How lame am I for doing so? Not such a huge deal, though. I do feel a little compulsion/obligation to keep up the habit for all types of sanity and to keep up the creative writing edge. Besides, we're both a little tired and she wants some sleep after staying up till 5 in the morning then getting up at 10 or so to bring her brother to the airport. Yeesh!

We had a very active weekend, though. Very, very active. I hadn't run around like that, saw so many people and just let go of all the stuff going on in a long while. I'm back to the day-to-day now, but it doesn't feel so bad, really. Probably has something to do with going to Quebec City at the end of the week, but the Girl's brother really brought a good time, and we got along and had a good time. . .even without her around. Getting along with her brother probably gives us a good sign for the future. . .. Honestly, though, I feel like if we lived in the same town or something, I might not have time to put toward my projects or something. He really does pack a good punch of fun.

I've been wanting to say something since Saturday night, though. The Girl, her brother, another friend and I drove on up to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire to see George Carlin live. We had some great seats with a great story (we sat down in the wrong seats, a security guy came up to us with a party of four, asked us to see our tickets, we get ourselves ready for some trouble then the guard tells us that we've sat in the wrong seats and should move up closer to the stage for some awesome seats. . .just shy of getting spit on stage. . .only real annoying part: very loud screaming girl behind me for everything that was "cool." Ugh). I had wish I had the practice of writing reviews of performances and such, but I haven't done anything like that for years. . .not for seven or eight, I'd say (believe or not, I had a column called "Partee Man" in an "alternative" 'zine called Feed in college). Anyway, I pretty much have one thing to say: I really feel amazed that people would laugh at all of the depressing and cynical stuff that Carlin would say.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the social and political commentary that Carlin made, but dang! he kept on a pretty depressing edge. Not only that, his cynicism about people. Half the material that made people laugh made me cry. I really just laughed at the little clever flip phrases that he made to lighten the mood. I guess I also felt with the commentary he made on the "stupid" stuff that people did, even though he made a disclaimer that he didn't include the people in the audience, I feel like the audience totally fit into that category. I guess, in the long run, laughing at that cynicism and that degree of screwed upness that we see in the world without even needing to exaggerate and just speaking the truth about the horribleness of it all makes me want to cry. Yes, it's satire, it's parody. . .but not having to exaggerate or to do any other kind of rhetorical trick to enhance the absurdity, I really just feel sad about the state of this country and the human condition and that most of the people in the audience probably had a "holier than thou" attitude that contributes to the depressing state of things. . ..

Then again, a psychotherapist once diagnosed me as a sensitive guy, so what do I know?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Weekend Ends or Does it. . .?

Haven't had time to write. . .real busy this weekend. The girl's brother has come to visit. Been a lot of hanging out and appreciating drinks and traveling and having people over for barbeques and talking and hanging out and joking. When no guests or not out, the Girl's brother and I have played a lot of Magic and just hanging out and having a good time.

Tomorrow. . .date night with the girl. . .taking some time in a hot tub. . .and Tuesday, meeting up with some people at Charlie's Kitchen for "Social Night" then the Girl and I head on out to Quebec City on Friday. Busy, busy, busy. . ..

Friday, August 26, 2005

Read and Leave

Not much to say tonight. The Girl's brother has come to visit from out of state. I have a free night to not work any projects, generally used as a date night. Her brother and a friend have come, though, so it's a grand old time just hanging out. I don't do that enough these days. . ..

Oh well. . .like in the words of Ferris Bueller, "What are you still doing here? It's all over. Go home!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Myth and the City, pt. 1

I've put on a long shirt for the evening. For August 24, feels odd doing so. I have this urge to go into detail about the shirt, but I won't except to say that it's pretty light but captures heat well.

I took a nap instead of riding my bike today. Feeling groggy and have a grumpy feeling in the belly. Not a bad thing except that my taste buds want food.

The Girl's brother comes in on a plane much later in the evening. She will have to go get him alone because I need to wake up at quarter of six in the morning, like any other morning, to make the trek to work. I probably won't even talk to him until I get out of work tomorrow, but I really look forward to it. I met him two years ago, but he's a good guy. Have to admit, I'm also pretty excited about the delivery of Magic cards, three full sets to be exact, that he has for me.

Since I still have to wake up fully, I just consulted my handy dandy Palm Pilot to see what I intended to write. I t hought that I had intended to write about two topics, but I guess I forgot to write down the second one. Oh well. . .the topic for tonight has its merits.

Tonight, I will meander about the social myths of big cities. A little more than a year ago, I took an expository writing class at Emerson College, think it could help me learn more about writing and get me going on a thesis paper that I've started over again for the nth time just the other day. For our first homework assignment, the teacher had us read an essay called "Goodbye to All That" by Joan Didion. To summarize: she writes about her experience of moving into New York at a young age after living on the West Coast for her whole life and the disillusionment brought on by living there for long. The newness has fallen away, she sees all the same people at all the same parties, her job that doesn't pay all that well has lost its novelty, her too small apartment has lost its charm, and she has failed to realize personal dreams that she had, having chased after an end goal supposedly promised by mystical New York City.

I've visited NYC a couple times and intend on visiting there again in October. I've encountered some of the myths about NYC through TV, movies and other media (silly as it may sound, my most distinctive image and feeling of the myth in media comes from Growing Pains -- the one where Mike Seaver packs all his stuff into his car and moves to NYC where he wants to start a serious acting career then Carol Seaver follows along after him because she wants her independence, too, and gets a job by showing someone how to fix their computer that has decided to misbehave -- I just remember seeing one of them driving a car, you're facing them as they drive toward you then the camera shows them driving into the city then later in the show, the same scene but with a different character). Harlan Ellison wrote a short story about the evil in NYC and how, if you don't accept it in your life, it will eat you. In some sense, I think the whole world has some amount of indoctrination into the myth of New York City, even if it that mythology comes in the form of the American Babylon or the biggest den of whores in the eyes of Muslim extremists.

Los Angeles probably has a mythology to it, too, but we see it more in films, like Swingers or something. In my youth, I didn't really put together a myth for LA except for the whole of a myth that I had for the West or California. . .or maybe San Francisco, which Jack Kerouac and hippie publications helped to create for me.

Visited both LA and San Francisco. From what I saw of LA, it felt like a rat hole except for Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Hollywood at night. Even those parts, they had this element of plasticity and distance. I don't know if maybe I only had a limited view of the city. . .but it just struck me as a good place to lose your self or for demons to settle down and live there to feed on humans or something, like in that TV show, Angel. Only a few months ago, listening to the radio in the car, when the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Under the Bridge came onto the radio did I begin to understand that song. . .which ostensibly has the theme of drug addiction but after hearing it with new ears, I understood it about the relationship this one guy has with the mythology of LA, and he just so happens to have had a drug addiction at the time, but getting lost in that drug addiction and having LA, as a home with all that it is, always there and remaining the same, even though he has changed, all that time after surviving through the addiction but always changing in its sameness. . .that's LA. I don't know if the vaguness comes from the sleepiness, the mythical side of things or if I just need to hear the song again to get the idea.

I really can't say much about San Francisco. Went there awhile ago and enjoyed it as a totally new experience, immersing myself into a totally different place. I had never been to the West coast before. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The Ocean had something of a different feeling. . .something of a calmer and older feeling to it. The experience of San Francisco, though, it had a lot more hills but otherwise. . .it felt foreign but familiar at the same time. I almost felt bored, in a way. It kind of reminded me of, say, Cambridge, MA. I guess it might have had something to do with the traditional architecture and such. Davis, CA, though, a small suburb of Sacramento. . .that felt exotic and new and almost emanated its own mythology that didn't need to have people expand on it. Sacramento had an interesting touch to it. . .but it still felt a little homogenous. The palm trees and vegetation and architecture and such felt exotic, but as for the resonance and emanation from everything. . .I guess I expected more from it.

I have a theory that my not FEELING these myths resonate has to do with how I approached the cities, as a tourist, not as a member of the communities or as someone to involve myself with them, in a way. At the same time, though, I also feel like it has something to do with the West. . .that distance touch that I mentioned a couple times. I remember just getting this feeling that when I went into stores, the clerk didn't want to bother me so didn't even say anything until I left. . .it felt a little rude. . .uninvolved. . .like they didn't care what I did. That whole thing feels different in the Northeast, at least. Sure, salespeople can pester a little much, can talk too much and sometimes it can feel like they're watching the whole time and ready to jump at you, whether they want to sell something or stop you from stealing something. . .but. . .there's that feeling of having a presence and feeling involved.

The buildings in the Northeast also seem to have a little more resonance, somewhat. . .like they radiate a life rather than just a lifeless place that looks icky where people sleep and such.

I will have to write more on the topic later, though. . .I have to address some projects.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Life is Today, Not Yesterday, Not Tomorrow

Catch a load of Pat Robertson today! If you don't know about this, you must have fallen behind even more than me in the world's current events. . .at least the United States current events.

Rode my bike again after work today. I think I prefer the bike riding to the napping. I get more hungry, but it feels good to push those muscles, even though one of my tendons or ligaments on the back of my leg has that ache. It has ached for just about fifteen years now and only when I'm riding my bike or something like that, so I'm not too worried. I also feel like after just last night, I've got more energy today. It's nice.

Have to admit, though, as I rode on the bike path along the Charles River, I longed to ride along Lake Michigan in Chicago. I have yet to ride on a bike path on that shore. I really haven't even stepped on that shore except around Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium (wow. . .that's a pretty cool graphic for Navy Pier, even though the fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays look so much better in real life. . .even though you have to face the cold to see them).

Chicago really just calls for me. Last fall, the Girl and I flew out to Los Angeles. When we had our layover in Chicago, I felt sad that we wouldn't stay there for at least a day. At least we plan on going there near the end of September, having made the spontaneous decision yesterday and getting some pretty good rates with American Airlines. I rarely do spontaneous things this way. Woohoo for me!

I want to experience Chicago.

Anyway. . .at the age of 27 and thinking as much as I do (some people say I think too much and feel sorry for me because of all that thinking. . .maybe I just enter into Hypomanic states a lot), I taught myself another lesson worth learning: if I value a person or a group of people, I need to make sure that I make time to spend with them and accept many of their invites and invite them to a lot of stuff.

Over the last three or five years, I've learned a lot and gone over my behavior in the past, and I'm thinking this lesson might be one of the most important ones that I have learned. I feel like I've lost a connection with many people simply because I felt too proud or too scared to consciously set aside time to spend with a person or a group of people. I've stressed out a lot, thinking about how I've probably offended them or pissed someone off because of some action of mine and feeling really really guilty when, in the long run, I simply allowed myself to get hyperfocused on some other goal, mainly to take my mind off of the stress that I felt for not having as good of a connection with someone that I would like to have.

When I have kids, I really want to stress this lesson to them. If you haven't learned it, please do, or if you don't have the courage to follow through with it, please muster up that mettle. We have one life to live. . .if we don't, we'll probably forget this one. . .or, if anything, it will at least lighten the load of this life for you and not leave you with some kind of guilt inducing regret to harass you longer than you like.

Do it, but try to relax and don't see it as something that will end the world. . .because I think other people are working on that one. Getting embarassed and feeling foolish for taking a chance at something won't end of the world, even if it feels like crap falling on top of you for a week or so. That feeling doesn't even compare to the regret that can last for years by not taking the chance.

And please don't feel bad for me. I'm sick of the pity and really don't feel so bad about the past these days. It has helped to realize that even though I hold some responsibility for the mistakes I've made with people, they probably have their own share in how things turned out. Besides, I've come to a good place and have happiness now. Not really worth the regret, even if I miss some of those people. That's all it really is now, missing the contribution that some people in the past may have given to me. But oh well. . .thing's are good and I've found a happiness now that I may not have found if I followed through on the things that I sometimes wish I had one.

Life is now, not yesterday, not tomorrow.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Want to Technology to Work!!!!

Exercise or sleep, I don't know what does the body better. Before last week, I had normally taken an hour nap after work. Last week, I think that I only napped on Monday. Tuesday, the Girl and I went to get our new tuned up bikes from REI. Wednesday, I had my appointment with the career counsellor then stayed up until 3 AM setting up the home theater only to have it fail in its utter defectiveness. Thursday, I stayed up until midnight doing the same thing, playing with the settings on the receiver then trying to disconnect wires and reconnect them. Weekends generally have their own rules.

Today, the Girl and I drove to some stores to find a basket for my daily stuff (wallet, keys, Palm, change pouch, etc.) and some metal baskets for CDs. I got woozy from lack of food. After getting home, I had some chips and coffee then took a ride on my bike around the Charles River. The Girl has now commenced cleaning up the place to make ready for her visiting older Brother, which also counts as picking up the place after making it into a battle zone while trying to put together the home theater and as more activities to figure out what we need and don't need, divesting ourselves of the things that we don't need.

I honestly doubt readers have much interest in recountings of my day to day life. I probably wouldn't, either, but after the battle with the receiver and also an interesting weekend of adventure and comedy, I want my day-to-day life into order again. Something to the effect of the receiver happened before except that the problem didn't come from an inherent defect of a product, and I had a little more control over myself. I moderate my attempts to fix the problem until the end, the weekend. The story goes like this (I'll try to keep it short):

The wireless router for our house died, so I got a Linksys router. From what I've seen, Linksys pretty much comes as the best of the consumer brands. I hook it up to the cable modem and set them up next to each other. I try to initialization. The thing doesn't work! It's a Friday night, so I have time to try fixing the thing. it ges fixed, but even now, I don't know how I did it. Suffice to say, the fix only worked temporarily. About three weeks later, the thing goes on the fritz. It works on and off, after I do some stuff here and there, but it always stops working until it just stubbornly decides not to work.

It first acted completely stubborn on a Wednesday, so I decided not to give it attention, so as not to go on a bender of hyperfocus. The first two nights, I gave it only one or two hours, at the most. I don't let myself get worked up. I can't let this thing get control over my emotions and self control. Well, it does gain control of my by Friday night. I kept telling myself that I needed to get this thing fixed, and I wanted to get it fixed that night. I even contacted Comcast, my service provider, but they couldn't supply me with help, pretty much for liability reasons, but they could try to sell me a new service that would allow for wireless networking with some kind of Linksys device. Sure, fine and good, but it wouldn't fix my problem that night!

I did tons of research on the Internet, trying different keywords, going through forums and so on and so on, all pointing to a horrible compatibility problem between the router and the cable modem and nothing that can be done except to get a Linksys modem. . .but even then, things would stop working. After awhile, I could only find threads about this topic that just ended with "after awhile. . .it all just stopped working."

Frustrated, I got into a chat with Linksys tech support. They didn't help me. They either told me to do stuff that I had already done, knew wouldn't work or would cut me off from them because I would have to disconnect from the direct connection with the cable then hook into the wireless. Even worse, connecting and disconnecting wires all around the house, I noticed something: even when disconnected, the router and cable modem would go on the fritz. Go back and forth with multiple Linksys techs, trying this, trying that. . .I mentioned the fact, but they wouldn't take the evidence as anything worthwhile. Lo and behold, eventually, the Linksys techs couldn't help me, blaming the problem on the RCN cable modem (that wouldn't be a form of slander or libel, would it?), and that it couldn't get fixed unless I could get into the settings for the modem. Unfortunately, the most I could do after some research was check out some readings on the thing.

The time, probably around 12:30 or 1 or 1:30. I couldn't tell, I didn't care. I just needed to solve this problem, and I didn't have the information needed to solve it. I kept searching the Internet, knowing that I had worn out all my techie avenues. I kept on just Googling different combinations of words, just coming up with more and more frustrating leads, but I just kept on going, needing to get this whole situation fixed. I just have this stubborn attitude that technology should just work and make life easier and the way I expect. . .I guess maybe even like I want, kinda like Burger King (why, as a vegan. . .am I even linking there?). Seriously, though. . .don't these technology companies encourage us to think that technology should integrate into our lives seamlessly, kind of like in the Jetsons. Well, I guess sometimes, even for the Jetsons, technology didn't always work seamlessly. Nonetheless, I have this expectation that we've reached a time in our society/civilization that this information and media technology should really just. . .well. . .WORK without the consumer having to work hard. Doesn't work that way, though. . .half the time, the consumer ends up contacting the techie to fix the problem.

I almost considered calling out for one to visit my home, but they cost horrible amounts of money and, in my opinion, for someone like me, they pretty much do the work quicker that I could do just as good, maybe with more time, but at least, with the knowledge of how to do it again the next time. Either which way, the techies who support the specific product that I had introduced to my system didn't know how it mucked it up, so what help could I expect from someone coming from the outside.

Don't worry, my fair soul, as I did eventually figure out the problem. I had the evidence for figuring it out eventually, but I didn't have the knowledge to figure out the solution with the evidence provided. I needed to discover the solution through my Google hunch filled but intuitively logical search that formed sense to the evidence. The solution really trivializes the problem but fulfills the promise that the journey and search can become more important to the solution, in a sense. To cut a lot of fanfare short, seriously. . .the solution: move the dang router from one side of the room to the other and keep the router and modem far away from each other. The signal from the router pretty much shorted out the cable modem. What the. . .? So simple that a techie from the company that made the thing and only a few forums on the Internet could figure out didn't figure out the solution, thinking that the problem lied in the settings. . .. Grrrrrrr.

So, in triumph, I logged onto the Linksys techie site to tell them the problem. I wonder if they bothered to make note of it. Just in case and to save someone I saw in line at Best Buy the trouble, I told them to keep the cable modem and router far apart and complained about all the time I spent trying to figure out the answer to such a simple problem. He could totally relate, even though he had yet to even try hooking up the device.

I love this technology when it works. I hate it when it doesn't. I feel quite accomplished when I can fix something quickly. I hate the exhaustion when it takes forever to go through diagnostics to find a simple solution. Nonetheless, Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance really touches upon something involving this topic. It would take me far too much time to expound on his ideas and take away the joy of reading the book, even though I'll probably touch upon them sometime in the future. I really do like the ones he addresses regarded technology, even if they seem kind of quaint and passe when he first mentions them. It somewhat goes along with what I've touched upon. . .just with much less of a wet and dry differentiation.

Read it.

For now, though, I must do some other work to try getting things more formed in my life.

My First Foray into "Blog Journalism"

I consider myself a very minor hub in the world-wide information network. I have subscribed to a few news e-mail lists (NYTimes, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Economist. . .wish I had more conservative sources) and some activist lists (MoveOn, PDA, Brookline Peace Works, True Majority, the Thomas More Society, City of Utopia. . .again, wish I had more conservative sources, even though I've read something a little more reactionary on the City of Utopia list) that I read and, if still relevant (I'm really about three or four months behind on it, like in my Daily Show watching), I send out on my "news feed" list that you can subscribe by e-mailing to: newstothe_lex-subscribe@topica.com or registering onto the topica mailing lists at http://lists.topica.com then sign onto the newstothe_lex list. Unfortunately, I am so behind that I don't pay much attention to the "mainstream" sources at the moment and only forward the presently relevant non-mainstream sources.

Anyway. . .through my e-mail and World-Wide Web activism, I signed a petition and sent an e-mail to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Representative for MIddlesex County Barney Frank about my opinion on the current war on Iraq some time ago. In response, someone on his staff sent me a press release with some interesting information. The said press release included a letter to the President written on May 5, 2005, signed by himself and three other politicians who I can't read their signatures, wih the following bits of text:

"We write because of trouble revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously disimissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair's representative claimed the document contained 'nothing new.' If the disclosure is accurate, it raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own Administration.

"The Sunday Times obtained a leaked document with the minutes of a secret meeting from highly placed sources inside the British Government [cited attached document: "Secret and strictly personal -- UK eyes only," July 23, 2002]. Among other things, the document revealed:

"- Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a July 2002 meeting, at which he discussed military options, having already committed himself to supporting President Bush's plans for invading Iraq.

"- British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw acknowledged that the case for war was 'thin' as 'Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran.'

"- A separate secret briefing for the meeting said that Britain and America had to 'create' conditions to justify a war [cited document: Michael Smith, "Blair Hit By New Leak of Secret War Plan," The Sunday Times-Britain, May 1, 2005.].

"- A British official 'reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'

[. . .]

"We have of course known for some time that subsequent to the invasion there have been a variety of reasons proffered to justify the invasion, particularly since the time it became evident that weapons of mass destruction would not be found. This leaked document -- essentially acknowledged by the Blair government -- is the first confirmation that the rationales were shifting well before the invasion as well.

[. . .]"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

We Now Have a Working Home Theater!

You heard me right! We had originally bought a defective receiver. As you know to some degree, it took me 8-10 hours to put everything together and testing and trying to troubleshoot an issue that I couldn't address. The Girl and I, this morning, brought the receiver (and kept the speakers and subwoofer behind. . .those things get darn heavy and bulky) back to Best Buy after dropping by last night to talk with one of the sales guys who helped us pick out the receiver. We reviewed the problem with the guy along with everything I had done to try remedying the situation. He agreed with the Girl and at least one or two other people (a commenter to this Blog included) that we had gotten a bad receiver, and that we should bring it in to test and exchange (he advised not take in the speakers and subwoofer because of their weight and bulkiness).

So, yeah, sick of the huge hassle, we brought the receiver to the store. They would have just accepted it then given us another one. The Girl reminded me that it would have been a good idea to test the receiver, just to make sure that the problem was with the receiver, not the speakers. The tech guy and the two of us went back to the ome theater section, detached the display receiver for our model, hooked up our model then discovered that the receiver didn't work, so we made the exchange.

After a great date day, which included getting a haircut, having some way too expensive Indian food at Faneuil Hall, bought a couple used books (I got The Celestine Prophecy after having heard a ton of raves from people while also hearing plenty from other people that the writing stunk and that the ideas behind it got already covered in the past or the ideas come off as trite), read for a little bit, went to see 40 Year Old Virgin (really pretty funny and touching -- something of a combination of a guy movie and a girl movie), had some real good Thai food then came home to attach the receiver and everything works perfectly. Woohoo!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Home Theater Hates Me

For some reason, we can only get the center and the left rear (and that one's intermittent, depending on how we randomly and can't understand how to correctly attach the wires into the back of the receiver). Last night, went to bed at 3. Already been working on this thing for three hours, at least, just unscrewing and screwing the speaker wires in the back of the receiver. Everything else seems to be working fine.

Any tips?

And to think, I had ambitions to write some good stuff, like how some guy on the commuter rail induced me to act very morally and considerate for someone who wasn't even on the train and had forgotten their pass in my seat. . .. Oh well, stupid home theater.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Date Night

Tonight, the Girl and I have appointed as date night. Some uncomfortably for me, we've decided to put together the home theater system, which, to me, feels like an undermining of date night somewhat. We had something similar when we decided to take yoga classes during the winter. We decided to forego date night, so we could have the same amount of time for projects as pre-yoga. Unfortunately, I believe it somewhat worked against the intimacy level.

Nonetheless, I'll try to treat this as a one-time thing and hope that it doesn't become a precedent. Here's to hoping. . ..

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Time has Defeated Me Again

Argh!

I've fallen an hour behind schedule tonight, so I need to keep this one short.

I could have stayed home. . .but no, I decided to carry my burden of the effort to pick up the bikes at REI. In addition, we went to Best Buy, where the Girl got the Simpson's 6th Season DVD, and I got more wires for the home theater system and HDTV; and we also stopped in at Staples, where I got three packets of 30% recycled computer printer paper. After that, the two of us snapped at each other putting the bikes on the bike rack for fifteen minutes or so. That's when I noticed my crabiness because I hadn't eaten anything since I left work and hadn't gotten my after work nap for the second day in a row.

All this, after waking up a half hour before I had to leave for work this morning, which doesn't give ME (maybe other people) enough time to get ready for my satisfaction, having my eye get all twitchy throughout the day because I didn't get enough sleep and and finding a pimple on the back of my head.

All in all, an OK day.

Argh.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Escape from Taxachusetts

Over the past couple days, Massachusetts had its sales tax free weekend. I had heard all the press about it during the weeks leading up to it, but I hadn't thought seriously about making any serious purchases. I would enjoy getting a nice surround sound system tax free, but I had to save, and I wanted to pay off my credit cards. . ..

Well, now we have a nice Yamaha 6.1 Dolby (and other encoding) surround sound Yamaha receiver with 100 or 105 watts per speaker and a Bose surround sound speaker system, including a nice sized subwoofer and five small speakers, all of which can handle about 200 watts each, allowing us some room to upgrade our home theater, sitting in our studio, waiting to get set up this Wednesday after I get back from the career counsellor.

We made the purchase on a spur of the moment, but we reasoned it out pretty good, even though we went through some annoying adventures to get it.

It went something like this: Yesterday, after getting back from the diner in Watertown, we already had plans to take our bikes to REI for their free tune up (wiggly handlebars, loose gear wires, my U-lock holder got loose and whatever else they can find). If you live around Boston and visit the AMC Theater a lot, you've probably seen the REI and Best Buy next to the theater. For awhile now, I've wanted to get the first season of The 4400, as it looked pretty interesting, and the Girl wanted to get some other DVD.

So we drop off the bikes at REI then head on over to Best Buy when the Girl mentions something about checking out the home theaters and maybe, hey, why not, it's Tax Free weekend. . .maybe we want to get one. I immediately say no but then think about it. . .think about it a litle more. . .think some more. . .then reach the conclusion: why not? We've put off the home buying idea for a couple years, until we've gotten settled into Chicago and found good paying jobs that we enjoy. Sure. . .I wanted to pay off the credit cards, but can we really wait two or three years for a nice home theater when the one given to us by an old roommate wants to die soon? And we may not know our job situation when we get to Chicago, so who knows how long after that we'd have to wait until we could afford one again. After all, I've got my Best Buy credit card, so we wouldn't have to "worry" about interest for a good 18 months (from my experience, they do tack on some kind of fee, but everyone disputes it).

I got into the home theater section then started talking with a couple sales guys. They show me some good options for Yamaha receivers, talking me up about features, comparing it to other brands, telling me how Yamaha pretty much yoinks the technology from higher end companies then makes them affordable for the regular consumer and so on and so forth. Sales guy then shows me the nice Bose system, telling me how it works great for movies but not necessarily the greatest for music because it doesn't really have a great low/bass end because they make the speakers so small then demonstrate the set of speakers on the car chase scene in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, blowing me away then Sales Guy plays some rock music. Sounds fine to me, but for the sake of comparison, he switches over to another system that has better low end. True, it does, but the Bose speakers work awesome for movies and well enough for music. They had clarity. I like clarity and even though I like bass, too, I think I've gotten to the age when too much bass just really wrecks the music rather than enhances it.

Anyway, they've sold me on the receiver and the speakers except. . .I don't have my wallet in my pocket. Crap! Not really out of the ordinary with me. . .the Girl always says that I would probably lose my head if it wasn't attached to my head. So the wallet could have slipped of my pocket in the car, so I run out there. Funny thing -- remember what I just said about my absent mindedness -- I forgot where we parked the car! I ran around the parking garage for about 5-10 minutes looking for the car, panicking that someone might've stolen it, but I banked on my forgetfulness, which is what happened. No keys, though. =(

Run back up to Best Buy. Find the girl. Confer, trying to figure out how to pull it off. Maybe we could charge it on my account without the card, but I figured that wouldn't work. . .kinda sketchy, isn't it? No ID, no card. . .yeah, sketch. We find it worthwhile to go back home, get my wallet then come back, but. . .doesn't Best Buy close at 6 or 7 on Sundays? At that moment, it was about 5:30 or 5:50. I check with a sales guy. He tells me that they'll stay open until 10 because of Tax Free weekend. Woohoo! And myabe we could go buy the stuff at the Best Buy in Watertown. After all, they might stay open, too!

Did I mention that we had a thunder storm watch going and heavens poured down crazy rain? Yep, that's the situation. Still, the Girl and I wanted that system. . .or maybe I really wanted it, and she wanted to entertain me.

Another consideration: We had planned on going grocery shopping that night but at some point, decided that we'd just get hot dogs at Spikes then grocery shop tonight. We needed to save on taxes!!!!!

Takes us about twenty minutes to get out of the garage because of the Sales Tax free traffic and probably some stragglers from the rained out from the Red Sox game. Nothing we hate more than dealing with friggin' Red Sox traffic. . ..

After we get out of there, takes us about 30 to 45 minutes to get home through the pouring rain with poor Baby, the Plymouth Neon, grumbling and grunting because of the water getting into her engine. Gallant gal, though, she made it through the whole thing even though, this week, she got some horrible gas mileage, but we blame that on all the stop and go traffic over the weekend compared to my gallavanting from Boston to Newburyport to Brattleboro, VT and back again.

Grabbed the wallet then bolted over to the Best Buy in Watertown. Ran into a couple friends who wanted to take advantage of Sales Tax Free day, too. They had a stereo picked out and everything. I told them my purpose, ran to the receivers, looked around, ran back to the guys, said something more then bolted back to the receivers. Took awhile to find a salesperson, who really helped a bit. Too bad they didn't have the receiver we wanted in stock and didn't even have the Bose speakers as something they sold at their branch. I would have gladly ordered and paid for them both there, but if they couldn't set it up for the Bose speakers, I wouldn't do business with them. The store didn't have the stereo our friends wanted in stock, either.

We both went over to the Fenway Best Buy but didn't know that the other group went. We ran into each other, joked around then got our respective pieces of equipment. Andres, the sales guy, rocked. He set us up with the systems and cables and chatted us up about the whole thing. He told us that, at least on Saturday, he worked 13 hours straight and the place had gone crazy busy over the weekend and felt wacked and tired. We got great value from him, though, and he made the experience just great and easy. So, if anyone wants to get anything in the home theater section of the Fenway Best Buy, ask for Andres.

So, the Girl and I got the receiver, the speakers and the wires into the car, drove over to Spikes for some amazing dogs (I got the veggie. . .of course I did. . .I'm vegan!) the went on home, stowed the system in her studio, did our respective things then watched two eps of Family Guy and an ep of American Dad! then went to bed. We wanted to watch an ep of The Daily Show, but the night had grown too late. We went to bed then woke up for work today. Ugh!

(Part of me feels silly telling this story, since I could just as easily go on up to New Hampshire sometime when visiting my parents to pretty much get the same benefit. After all, they don't have sales tax.)

I feel like a pitiful synecdoche of Modernism, which makes me feel ashamed because it has caused a good deal of destruction to our societies and our planet Earth. My shame will have to wait for another day, though, because I have to do my finances, work on some career counselling assignments then put together the new home theater.

Does that make me Postmodern, the fact that I'm willing to brush aside my shame in this way?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I have Arguments with Modernism, too

I'm already two or three hours behind schedule on this rainy and thundery Sunday (Please rain more and longer! I want the humidity gone!). Unstructured weekend time has become something of an enemy. Last night, the girl and I went to a party until two in the morning. Before going, I had made a To Do list for today on my Palm Pilot and attached some alarms to the tasks.

I had to go very out of the way to get that functionality on my Palm. I had the choice of buying a whole new Palm because the company doesn't support To Do alarms on older Palms or buy a Shareware program. I'm only trialling the Shareware program, but it's cheaper than a new Palm and has helped me out majorly, even though I did fall off the wagon once this week and ignored the alarms to keep doing research on my thesis.

Anyway, the girl and I woke up at an all right time in the morning, but we needed food and didn't have much food in the house, so we went over to a diner in Watertown that has some good vegan food. 20 minute or so wait, but there's always a wait and the food makes the wait worth it. I had originally made an alarm to work on The Lextopia at about 1:30. I started working on it at 3. Argh. I made it my first task, too.

Before I move on with content stuff, I just want to let people know that I answered some comments in yesterday's entry. Also. . .if anyone wants to receive The Lextopia entries via e-mail, let me know, and I can set you up. Eventually, if I make the time for it, I'll set up a screen so that you can send me e-mail or so you can sign up for e-mail deliveries. Until then, though, I will have to apologize for bad service here. It does go against my work and life ethic of trying to deliver Value to the people around me, but my life situation can make it difficult for me at times. Sorry for the lack of functionality. The topic does make for a good segueway into the overaching topic of this entry, though.

I hate complaining about time. People have complained about it so much that doing so has become as cliche as the title for yesterday's entry. Besides, whenever I complain about not having the time to do anything, my more New Agey friends (who despite their New Ageiness, I feel like they have a better sense of how to approach Life and just feel happier, in general) givem me a great platitude about the problem is not that I don't have the time, it's that I don't make the time. I believe that they have something there.

Unfortunately, my Palm To Do list alarm has sounded, meaning I should make the time for my next task. . .going through my books to figure out which ones to sell, donate or discard by the time the girl and I move to Chicago in 9-10 months.

See what I mean about this time thing?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

We're Going to Hell in a Handbasket

That phrase has really become a cliche these days, huh? I have mixed feelings about it, and through this BLOG, I'd like to explore it as it pertains to EVERYTHING to show, well, that I personally think that taking this phrase as an attitude and as something said a lot really doesn't help to change our direction toward Paradise in a parade of joy.

I mean that more as a metaphor, not as some belief in a Utopia.

What I say will make more sense after you read more of The Lextopia, even if I don't necessarily touch upon it right away. Even though three sentence blurbs have their place in the world, even here, I will not always use them. A training course or a book I read about Risk Management or something or the other in my insurance education once said something about the choice to write someone a letter rather than calling them on the phone. I think it pretty much addressed that, one out of many reasons, we insurance professionals write to clients because want them to think a little bit more about the topic in the letter than they would if we called them or had a meeting with them. Even though I will use blurbs on The Lextopia every once in awhile (especially when I'm tired, stressed or some other good reason), I write because I want my audience to think a little bit more about the topic than they normally would.

I also want to use The Lextopia to keep people updated on my life. A BLOG really hit me as a great way to do so from the surprise my friend, who writes at http://www.strugglingyoungman.com, that people actually read his BLOG. He said that he knew it, on some level, but to have people tell him that they know stuff about him that he tried to tell them in the midst of conversation really struck him, especially when he hadn't seen us for years, and during some of those years, we had open hostilities and didn't want to talk to each other. That's a story not worth addressing to the public, but his reason to react the way he did struck me as motivation to start up The Lextopia.

Do you wonder where that name came from? I originally wanted to call this place 'Blogotronic,' but someone already took that address in the beginning of June. . .and has only written one entry. . .*grumble* Personally, I think if you take a potentially easy to remember and potentially popular name for a BLOG, you should write somewhat regularly, at least, more than once in three months. That's just my opinion.

So. . .with the name that I had gotten stuck on for a week taken and with me really really having the motivation to start up a BLOG again, I thought hurriedly. I have 'Lex' somewhere in my name and people who know me know that it has involvment in my Internet presence. In a way, I have 'Lex' as something of a brand now. When some people think of the_lex and the Internet, they think of me.

The power of branding really hit me a few months ago when a friend of mine who DJs told me that he has to have two DJ names for branding purposes. People knew his original DJ name for spinning a certain type of techno, but he likes to spin all types of techno and likes to attract all types of people, so he had to come up with another DJ name to attract those other people without disappointing the people who like his original style of DJing. Thanks, DJ friend and also NPR reporting for letting me know the power of branding.

Regarding -topia, it comes from the Greek 'topos', I believe, and means 'place,' so the title of this BLOG means, "The Place of The Lex." I even have a story for this one: For nearly the last ten years, I've been studying utopianism. I will publish a dystopian novel someday, and I may finish writing a thesis addressing some fictional literature and communities that fall under the field of utopianism. Anyone who has looked up utopia or has read anything about utopia will know the etymology of the world. I've already explained -topia, while u- has a mixed etymology. The word comes from both the Greek and Latin 'ou-' and 'eu-.' One of them is Greek and the other Latin, not sure which, but anyway. . .'ou-' means 'no' in English and 'eu-' means 'good.' St. Thomas More, the Catholic saint, coined the term with his literary work, Utopia.

According to Wikipedia.org, The 19th-century British utilitarian (not to be confused with unitarianism or Unitarian-Universalism) social philosopher, John Stuart Mill, coined the word, dystopia, in some political speech to denounce some political group. Mill, in his part, derived the word, dystopia, from another utilitarian social philosopher associate, Jeremy Bentham, who coined the word cacotopia. From what I understand, they both pretty much used the words for the same purpose, or maybe it's possible that Bentham just used cacotopia as a descriptive word. Fascinating, huh?

I have the feeling that you'll hear plenty more about utopianism from me. I made something of a tentative agreement with my girlfriend to not really work on my thesis for about a year because it has frustrated me and my mood swings regarding it have stressed her out a bit. I can get a little obsessive about it, though, and have found a prospect in a book called Story of Utopias by Lewis Mumford, an early 20th-century, social critic who focused on technology, urbanization and us humans should have an organic rather than mechanical relationship with stuff. I read the first couple pages of it, and it resonated with me. Too bad I don't own it. . .I'll have to wait for my next paycheck to purchase it.

Another prospect comes from the concept of fundamentalism. Someone once gave me an interesting lecture on the topic after reading a book about it. Fundamentalism, as a sociological term for a symptom of rapid social change (or generally, more specifically, Modernism) that tries to defend against the encroachment of the change on their identity and group identity by somewhat calcifying and sticking to their guns as to the true belief of something, will help me, I believe, one paper for the thesis. I still need to read a book I found about the topic on Amazon.com, but I've already got some ideas that I can probably use for the paper.

Unfortunately, though, I feel kind of guilty approaching the thesis at the moment because of the way that it affects my life somewhat like an addiction. Like many challenges that I have trouble immdiately solving, I can become very very focused and moody when involved in it. I can get a very narrow tunnel vision. If you didn't know, I'm a Taurus. =d But yeah, this thesis has become a very big challenge that has affected my life in many many ways, and at times, while actively working on it regularly and it puts up a single challenge that lasts a year or so, it can tend to affect my day-to-day life, so if I approach the thesis now, I have to learn moderation, especially if I intend on successfully making it through the many life changing events that I plan on going through over the next 9-10 months.

I will write more about the thesis, novel, utopianism (please note that the links for two terms, utopianism and utopia will take you to two different Wikipedia.org entries -- somewhat important), my life changes over the next 9-10 months and other things that I believe require some thought in the days to come, however. I have other things that need to get done today, and I can't let The Lextopia get in the way of my day-to-day life. Stay tuned for more thought packed adventures.

Thank you for reading and for understanding my situation. You're wonderful. =D