this blogger has just been feelin' wiped out for weeks now. go figure. in the absence of more energy i suppose this will have to pass for blogging.

out with soccer, in with basketball. Loren showed up and played a good game- i he got plenty of in-bounds touches, but only got near the ball a couple times. some of the other kids that have played before look like they could learn to dish it once in a while. i don't think getting a chance to take ONE shot is too much for a player to ask. still, he got in there and boarded it, ran the floor. his team (the Knights) have practiced a grand total of 3 times. they took the entire week of Thanksgiving off, the second week of the practice schedule. then they practiced twice more, now they're skipping practice on monday. they nearly got soundly beaten in their first game, but they came back hard in the second half to only lose by 7 points. not too shabby for playing a team full of showboaters. i got the impression the other coaches have spent more time with their team, and the impression most of the kids on the other team have more experience than many on Loren's team. i hope Loren enjoys it enough to stick with it because i'm certainly impressed by his skills in the time i've played with him.

christmas shopping is begun. i gotta admit i'm still a little stumped about what to do for people this year. it'll work out, it always does.

there's going to be a Christmas party at work in a couple weeks; people will bring food and booze and there should be a pretty decent jam session. gotta make that ;)

kinda been a little antisocial lately. don't really know why; i'm keeping my suspicions to myself.

more when i've got more steam i guess.



new REM craziness

Loren and I were in a starship, surrounded by the black void of space. we were approaching a cloud of tiny fast-moving objects. as we got closer, i could tell the cloud was hundreds, if not thousands, of small off-white robots. their motion seemed anything but orchestrated but somehow they were all managing to converge sequentially upon a single point. moving closer still, we approached the center of the whir of motion. it was a single robot, working alone, making minor repairs to ALL the other robots. its movements were so fast they were a blur. its workstation was floating in space and the myriad other robots were flitting in and out of contact with this single robot insect-like.

waited too long to write it down....there were a few more changes to the scene but i can't remember them now :(

off to make BRUNCH for m'boy. then the Seahawks play the 49ers this afternoon. and i still have TWO more days of weekend to get stuff done. LOVE planning ahead.

i'm OUT- peace.


the Granite Falls Flames lose in a downpour

the GF Flames dropped to 1-4 this morning with a loss to the Golden Eagles at home. Our Favorite, Loren, started the game at left midfield, and made some excellent plays before being pulled for a breather about halfway through the first half. the Flames seemed a little out of focus for the first half, playing loosely, without much organization. Coach Rusch called the team far from the parents and spectators during halftime. Loren's report of the halftime speech was that Coach told them, "you're playing like a joke, you need to play better or else you're going to lose every single game." the forceful speech must have taken hold, because the Flames came out charged up and played with much greater unity. the drizzle became full-on rain by halftime, and steadily grew into a downpour by the end of the game. the two teams stuggled on a field that was at times more lake than ground, and the Flames pulled out a winning second half, outscoring their opponents 1-0. unfortunately for them, it wasn't enough to secure a win. driving back to the car, Loren made the observation that he was the only Flame to come off the field with a smile on his face, and mentioning his happiness to have been able to play soccer this morning. that's m'boy. he's played through 3.5 seasons of soccer now, without ever scoring a goal, and he goes out there and tries his best every game (granted his first two seasons he spent playing defense). here's hoping when he does finally score one i'm there with a camera at the ready!

here's a couple from today's game:

the ball just came off Loren's foot
shutter clicked right after the ball came off Loren's foot

great shot of Loren on the sideline a little before halftime
Loren on the sideline a little before halftime

another great shot of Loren, gettin' a smooch from his mom
Loren on the sideline getting a smooch from his mom

Loren making a play on the ball
great shot of Loren making a play on the ball

Loren shot me driving home from the game- soakin' wet, water dripping off my ear!
me driving SR-92 home from the game, dripping wet

as always, all the full size shots and some short videos are in my online album.

can't resist posting the link to this khoul little vid Loren shot and entitled "the crap video", in which he said "crap" a million times in a row.

enjoy :)


the Granite Falls Flames get a win!

playing an outstanding game on the road in the 4th week of the 2004 season, the Flames played a tough hour of ball against the Panthers, capturing their first win with a final score of 6-1 or 7-1....where's the offical score-keeper when you need him?! our hero Loren made fine play after fine play and took a great shot on goal early in the game, which was ultimately blocked by the keeper. Loren started the game and played the majority of the first half, and was sent back in for the entire second half. He played a solid game for 50+ minutes of soccer at midfield and forward.

thanks to both my sisters, both my nephews (including guest photographer Ethan) and Mom, especially for the use of an extra memory stick when i'd completely filled my 64 Mb stick. 95 pictures and short videos of the game are all posted in my online album; i'll post a few of the better shots soon, when i've had a chance to edit them down to web-size.


friday at last

sometimes the week just can't go quick enough. picked up Loren from soccer practice and now it's time to hang out and spend some time together. cigarette's finished and so am i.


picture post

m'boy had himself a jam-packed weekend last time around. we went and saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow friday night, then he had a soccer game (pics below, in the previous two posts) saturday morning, then a sleepover saturday night (just realized i didn't take any pictures of that at all), then the puyallup fair sunday.

seems a shame to post all the rest of the stuff from the last couple weeks and leave out the fair, so here goes, with apologies to those with slower connections.

Loren with some prizes he won at one of his favorite games....he just cleaned up here.

he won the hat on the second dart thrown in the first game he played- then he won the lamp, duck and dog the second time playing his second game.

three minutes later he was standing in line waiting to go on the Enterprise, where you stick to the wall- one of his favorites.

we were walking back from the car after stashing his loot and we detoured to 7-11 to get batteries for the camera. new batteries? better take a picture.

this is a big pumpkin carved by some guy with some skills. sucks to be Russ.

me and m'boy sittin' down havin' some food.

my digital camera has a delay, so you have to try to time it right when something quick happens- i got this one just right on the third try.

waiting for another of his fave rides (the tornado) to start.

the traditional ferris wheel picture- this is a must-have in my book.

one i took of both of us on the ferris wheel- often there's someone else to take these shots, this year it was just him and me.

southerly view from the ferris wheel.

something must have smelled bad- prob'ly cigarette smoke.

m'boy getting his feet vibrated but good right before we left the fairgrounds.

full size pics are all in the online album

if anyone's interested in some video of the fair, feel free to check out these:
m'boy talking and eating some dinner
still talking and eating
little man riding a big swinging boat

the rest of these are all pretty dark- you might need to turn the brightness up on your monitor to see 'em
view from the ferris wheel
both of us on the ferris wheel
another of the view from the ferris wheel
heading for the exit

that's it- PEACE OUT / wavers


picture post

hey here's a dozen recent shots. it might take a bit to load the page this time around. as always, the full size shots will be in my photo album soon.


two brawny ol' girls

what big eyes you have

another good looking boy

nice shot up my nose

"c'mon, quit screwin' with the camera and let me in!"

"no, seriously....."

folks turning out for m'boy's soccer game

foggy mornin' at the foot of the Cascades

inevitable consequences of giving kids orange wedges at halftime

my fave


the Granite Falls Flames lose a thriller in regulation

the Flames played hard this morning against a team that occasionally played rough, and gave a spirited performance despite not having practiced for the entire week prior, due to field usage conflicts still unresolved. this is a particularly good action shot of Loren making a play on the ball, taken by my mom. more to come later when i have more time.

my friend Shannon webcamming from thailand the other day

Shannon instant messaged me to get some help for her mom, who wanted to get some pictures of her webcamming in thailand the other day, so i took these shots and pasted them together for them.


random instant message

infidel says:
far beyond the reaches of the intergalactic Justice Patrol a small Kylian vessel lurks ominously in the shadow of a pale moon.
infidel says:
a Kylian officer manipulates a cryptic control panel, states something in chirps and grunts to his commanding officer
infidel says:
150,000 miles off the port side of the vessel a shimmering light rips open a hole in the fabric of space
infidel says:
the bow of an immense Kylian mothership slowly emerges through the still-growing rift, massive, bearing dozens of Kylian warships on its belly
infidel says:
as the crest of the mothership passes through the aperture the shimmering light intesifies and modulates into a perfect circle
infidel says:
the stern of the mothership passes through, and the rift is finally allowed to force its way closed
infidel says:
ignition sequences begin in scores of Kylian cruisers and they disengage the mothership, their bows maneuvering into trajectories that will carry them in dozens of vectors, each ship cruising a short distance and jumping to interstellar drive and disappearing
infidel says:
terraquads of information stream soundlessly through the black of space between the mothership and the lone Kylian vessel
infidel says:
the Kylian commander touches a button, acknowledges the transfer and closes the channel
infidel says:
speaking in command tones he orders his vessel to its own course and engages
infidel says:
aboard the Kylian mothership a Spdeeka diplomat pours himself a vile looking liquid from a clear glass decanter
infidel says:
things were going exactly according to plan
infidel says:
Diplomancer Shrorft allowed himself a hint of a smug grin as he raised his glass
infidel says:
at first watch tomorrow, the quadrant would be his
infidel says:
Shrorft's hand went instinctively to the breast pocket of his immaculately tailored uniform, feeling the reassuring bulk of the device
infidel says:
small things can make a man


man V technology

since time primeval man stood alone against the forces of the Earth, surviving on courage, luck, and cunning....
this is the story of one such man, and his mortal struggle to regain control of technology.

scour win98 drive for all relevant non-replaceables. methodically copy everything to the XP drive- very long process. run up against "no disk space" problem. not LOW disk space....zero. gasp! recopy 1.5G worth of non-replaceables to win98 drive. breath sigh of relief that only the copy process hung up. notice very interesting problem of XP not letting me rename the folder i was originally copying from.....made me think the computer hadn't actually lost the files it couldn't copy, but just sort of stashed them away in memory, somewhere they wouldn't show up in the folder's contents. breath big sigh of relief it only cost me a couple files and reboots, not complete system hang. bullet dodge #1. realize i have redundant files in another (yet uncopied) folder. phew! bullet dodge #1 + "drunken waterfowl blind luck style" technique.

attempt to burn remaining files to CD. commence Shao-Lin showdown with Nero 6, which stubbornly refuse to come with the proceedicles. Nero pulls multiple unexplained "lock up at 2% of write function complete" maneuvers; 1 buffer underrun error. throw away shiny new coasters. growl. attempt running CD-burn progs installed on win98....nothing work with XP.....scratch head. 98 no boot, back to square one. renew attack on Nero 6 with double ferocity! clean boot, engage application and carefully stealth recon every single option in every menu of Nero. initiate "Burn" maneuver....no go. FUCK! WTF?! hmmm. scratch head. smoke cigarette. doggedly try once more, reducing write speed to 4x..........BAM! bullet dodge #2.

write half a dozen CDs worth of non-replaceables.

take deep breath.

power down; physically uncable XP drive.

reboot. enter BIOS, change boot order to floppy first. boot to win98 rescue disk. run FDISK. pause at top of bridge and watch bridge burn behind me. delete partition data. repartition. reformat. reinstall win98. reupgrade to SE. boot. locate all hardware driver discs. reinstall video driver. nuthin'. re-reinstall video driver. nuthin'. scratch head. disc bad? disc no read. check disc. disc have big stain in bad place. attempt to spit clean disc. reinstall. success! no! no can read necessary file. growl. remove disc. scratch head. try to pick off particulate snot-like splatter on CD. is it food? hmmm. man need....solvent. get Goof-Off. put Goof-Off on shirt and wipe bad spot on CD. bad move. Goof-Off scores major damage with "fuck-up-CD-completely-forever" technique!!!!!

swear loudly. growl. remember ATI Radeon Excalibur upgrade card bought long time ago. power down computer. crawl under desk. blow major thick dust layer from open case. cough. blow more. get flashlight. uninstall ATI Rage Fury card. install Radeon Excalibur card. install Radeon driver.....SUCCESS! infidel does victorious "extra-hardware-in-da-house" dance!

smoke cigarette.

take deep breath.

reinstall XP hard drive. accidentally slam hard drive to front of case, notice no screws securing hard drive. sweat profusely. reboot machine. machine start to boot. boot from floppy. fuck. remove floppy, reboot, enter BIOS, change boot order to XP drive first, reboot. boot sequence aborts with "PRESS ANY KEY TO REBOOT" message. reboot, enter BIOS, change boot order to win98 drive, reboot. win98 boots. check out drive letter sequences, notice extra partition information on XP drive. shut down. reboot. same error. power down, reinstall XP drive cables. reboot. same error. power down. locate XP CD. tremble.

begin reinstall of XP. catch fleeting glimpse of "press F2 to enter installation repair mode" but attempt keystroke too late. tremble again. choose reinstall XP from menu. watch screens closely. choose to "let me designate the drive letter" to install XP on. watch screen closely. choose "repair previous installation" option. enter system console. follow directions to log on as administrator. realize i have no fkn clue what i'm doing. guess at administrator password.....lucky guess, i'm in. realize i still have no idea what to do next. choose to search for existing operating systems. it finds one in C:\windows, and another one it cannot identify. choose to enable that operating system. get asked for label. misunderstand command entry structure; accidently label newfound installation "1". growl. get list of available commands. read help sections on commands. find "bootcfg" command and run it. follow most logical-sounding options. choose another command that seems pertinent. run with most logical-sounding options. cross fingers. reboot.....

BAM! two possible boot configs. one named "1". growlz. choose it. XP boots! everything works still! win98 boots! way better vid card works! multiple monitor capable!

10 hours after beginning the epic struggle, infidel kneels, suffused with humility, radiating relief.

by the end of the week i should be back to being able to use my unusable-for-the-last-5-months-since-no-cabling-option-existed speakers and my unusable-for-the-last-5-months-due-to-op-sys-incompatibility recording hardware to pick up right where i left off.

so ends the latest chapter in the continuing saga of our hero, man triumphing over technology.....will he be so lucky next time?


new dream

Scene 1:
i was being driven down the I-5 corridor southbound. at some point i must have been dropped off, because i found a place to camp on the outskirts of Tacoma (a city in Washington for those unfamiliar). it was a slightly wooded area in an urban setting adjacent to a parking lot. it was twilight. knowing it was very late to begin making a fire, i very briefly set up my stuff and gathered some wood to make one. in a short time i was successful and soon had a small but workable blaze going. while looking around for some additional firewood to put on it, so to get it to burn long enough to cook with, i realized there was someone watching me, telling me all the things i already knew which were obstacles to my progress, such as it was very late, and the area was generally overrun by squatters, and critiquing my (reportedly) dying fire. when i returned with a small handful of wood i saw that the stranger (an older fellow) was correct about the fire dying. i noticed i'd built my fire atop a small running stream, merely a trickle of water. by this time it had become downright dark. the stream, which had originally flowed well below the fire's fuel, seemed to be welling up, wetting the bottom-most layer of sticks and putting it out. not wanting to let the fire die, and rather than start a new one to gain a better spot, i laid one of the sticks i was carrying across the current to dam up the water flow and slow its rise. i managed to get the fire going a little better but it was still pretty small.

Scene 2:
i soon knew that despite the effort to build the fire, and despite not having eaten yet, i'd have to go meet some people, relatives who were also camping some distance away. this would require leaving my things to the mercy of whatever squatters might be in the area. there was no way to bring all my stuff with me- i had to risk leaving it. i set out on foot carrying what i needed. i emerged from the wooded area into a parking lot, crossed it, and followed a long road down a huge hill, in the dark, along more parking lots and stores (a very urban setting) for a long time, until i finally found their spot.

Scene 3:
meeting up with the people, i felt welcome in the way that you feel welcome around family. i had a conversation with a woman who was evidently my aunt, and though she was a dream figure she reminded me of Aunt Penny. she was wearing a coat and a backpack. she told me how much her sons (my cousins, not present- possibly corrolating to Jim and Craig) would enjoy my joining them where they'd be camping in another fairly distant area the next day. she handed me a small piece of paper with the information on where to find them written, as they all wrapped it up for the evening and got ready for bed. i turned to go but was quickly asked to wait, evidently by my dream sister, who's corrolary might have been Nichole. her children wanted to hug me good-night, but weren't quite dressed presentably to come out. i waited a moment then peeked in their tent, where a young boy (possibly an Ethan or Cole corrolary) was sitting on the floor struggling to put on a pair of pants. i said something about not worrying about it all and went in and gave the little guy his hug. then i said my goodbyes and started back for my campsite.

Scene 4:
it was a very long walk back to my original spot, and i worried about the squatters as i trudged up the steep urban sidewalk, carrying what i'd brought with me. i was hungry and tired, and i tried not to be distracted by thinking about what the drivers in the passing cars were thinking of me. i just kept my head down, thinking, watching my sneakers on the sidewalk, and putting one foot in front of the other. the older gentleman i'd seen at my site earlier now appeared as a sort of voice in my head, talking to me, and again seemed to reiterate what i was already worried about.

finally i made it to the familiar parking lot outside my wooded area, and as i crossed the stretch of pavement diagonally, walking by a few vehicles (i noticed the same white van i'd walked by earlier), i saw a teenage boy sitting on the steps of an old, beat-up white RV before an open door. a few more teenagers, boys and girls, were hanging around the area. somewhat daunted by the number of people i was about to confront, knowing this large group had squatted on my things and likely appropriated them, i walked up to the RV, past the first teenager, and entered it. inside the RV, a certain teenage boy seemed to be in command and holding court over some others. i looked around and didn't see much of my stuff at all. many of the teenagers were spread out around the floor of the main living area of the RV, almost in slumber-party style. i asked a girl there a few questions about my things, briefly describing some of them to her. she wasn't much help. i saw a kid writing or drawing something in an open binder. he also had a small metal clipboard-type-thing that somewhat resembled a metal clipboard of mine, but wasn't. the boy in charge came in from the kitchen and directed everyone to let me look around, but i didn't have much confidence i could find anything, and didn't.

Scene 5:
evidently i left, because i was back in the wooded setting with the older fellow. at some point i realized i wasn't satisfied with losing my stuff, so i soon found myself back in the RV, talking with Teenage Leader Boy. the thing i was most upset about losing was a red, white and blue checkerboard quilt my mom crocheted for me in the real world. i pointed out its similarity to some other checkered blankets in the room, careful to state that none of the ones i saw were mine. he "let" me look around again, and soon enough, hidden on the floor beneath a small pine tree (inside, possibly a Christmas tree, pre-decoration) i found the blanket. i also found a few other things, including a stylish button-up shirt that belonged to Loren in the dream, which was laid out neatly. it still had the price tag on it. i gathered up the things i found and was preparing to leave to get my fire started again.

then the phone rang, and i dreamed no more. it was Loren calling me.

new photo album entries

i finally got to updating my online photo album; almost everything i've taken between late march and now has been added. that includes a ton of shots of my son's birthday party(ies) and all the pictures taken during my aunt & uncle's visit to washington.

there are maybe a dozen more entries to post, but this was the major update, and this is the official update notice.

there you have it- enjoy!

PEACE. out.


short REM report

Scene 1:
i was getting ready for school (of all things) and unsuccessfully trying to find a pair of suitable pants to wear. i was concerned i'd be late and trying to focus on what i was doing without stressing out everyone around me.

i had an in-depth mental picture of the roads i'd have to take, and was debating the best route. i was carrying around a red travel mug of coffee.

Scene 2:
Melissa, Jason, and Nichole were all there. it became clear that we weren't going to be able to leave until my mother showed up. waiting for her, we decided to play some poker at the kitchen table of what was evidently our shared residence- a setting unique to this dream. we sat on all four sides of the square table, Jason to my right, Nichole to my left, and Melissa opposite me. we played with a deck of cards made from multiple decks with different backs. it seemed to be my deal (though i don't remember dealing) because the deck was on my side of the table. when it became time to draw cards, all the cards on the table were face down, including the ones which would would normally be "up" cards. everyone went at the cards willy-nilly, out of turn, seeming to disregard any consideration of turns or rules. some players exchanged cards from their hands with cards from the small "up" (though actually down) card pile. i felt like i should protest at first, but just went along with it- though i took my cards from the correct pile. i pulled the two cards i needed to form a straight, an Ace and a 3, for an Ace-low straight. though it should have been Nichole's bet by any normal rules, Jason bet a dollar on his hand. Nichole knocked the deck(s) over and i chided her somewhat, while helping her get the cards back in a pile on the table. i wanted to raise Jason, but i had no money. i asked everyone how good my credit with them was and, getting a favorable response, raised the bet $5.

i never saw the end of the hand as i woke up.

very strange.


not much new

had a pretty good weekend with m'boy this time around. i've managed to get ahead of the curve on the work to be done around here (for the most part) and that always translates into more time to spend with the boy. we got more "hang time" than usual this weekend.

my boy's started doin' pushups like a man. don't know exactly what i did to get him into the whole idea, but he's figuring out he can use those big ol' beefy arms for more than just extensions to his video game controllers. nothing like watching him get jazzed on getting stronger. they teach the kids to do these crazy half-ass pushups in school instead of encouraging them to do the real thing. took a little coaxing but i seem to have convinced him of the benefit of pushing those muscles past the point of comfort. hope he sticks with it and develops some of the potential he's got so much of.

we completely unbolted the exhaust manifold of my truck today, trying to get a look at where the water leak is that's caused it to remain in the driveway for the last 4 months. i couldn't turn it over, so it's going to need the battery charged before i can move it anyway. i have the tabs for it sitting here on my desk; i'd love to get a chance to stick them on the plate and drive it around. nothing like $5000+ worth of hardware that runs fine but can't get used for risk of irreparable damage. it's still hard to believe i managed to drive that thing home without burning it up. had to make the trip in three goes, letting it cool down completely each time and refilling it with water that only lasted a couple miles. i kept shutting the engine off and coasting as much as possible; thankfully much of the trip (though by no means all) was downhill. realizing i would have to disconnect the exhaust manifold from the exhaust pipe before completely removing it, i decided it might be prudent to fill it up with water and try yet one more time (i've tried at least a dozen times already) to see exactly where the water was coming from. i was 90% sure it was coming from a fried core plug in the block- and it turns out i was right. it might not be necessary to remove the exhaust manifold to get at it, but it's on the underside of the block and it's going to require disconnecting a motor mount and jacking the engine off that mount to get at the core plug. never done that before; i'm sure it'll turn out to be a total pain in the ass. hopefully this will teach me not to neglect coolant in the future. last winter's freeze did that plug in.

that's all for now; i'm out of patience.


a new crop of pictures

here are some new pics for your viewing enjoyment:

this is a shot of some finish-fabricated signs, ready for paint. i'm building a bunch of the simple ones on the right- but this one was made by someone else. it looks just like one of mine though. it's laid down, but it's 8 feet tall (to give you an idea of scale).
some signs from my job

i have no idea what this bush in my garden is
unidentified bush

this is my rose tree....ok it's really just an overgrown bush that i can't seem to bring myself to cut down- wait till you see some pictures of the humongous roses it gets and you'll understand. it's just starting to bloom, but it'll keep on blooming over and over and over and over and over....
my overgrown rose bush

this is one of the first two roses to appear this year
young rose

i think this bush is a rhododendron- it's really overgrown and also gets beautiful flowers, but the flowers don't last long and they appear only once.
a young bloom starting on my rhododendron

this is the mostly open bloom from the right rear of the previous picture- i really like this shot, and there's a fantastic 1280x1024 resolution image of it in my photo album that i made for computer wallpaper. the shrink really doesn't do this shot justice.
a mostly-open bloom on my rhodie

this is a what it looks like on a typical evening after work around here- after giving me my 15 minute welcome home Chowder generally winds down after a hard day of barking at the neighbors and everything else that comes near the fence, flies overhead, or makes a power tool noise.
chowder in the living room after i got home from work

as always, the full size pics are all in my album, plus 28 more, plus 2 short videos of the most rickety deathtrap tunnel ever driven by man (on Aurora Ave in downtown Seattle).

sleep calls and i'm listenin'- PEACE


last night's featured REMemberance

Scene 1:
i was standing in a suburban residential neighborhood, not my own, looking up at the sky at twilight. a Pan Am passenger jet, its position about 10:00 (relative to mine) was diving toward the ground at an angle of about 45 degrees. i realized something was wrong and a crash was imminent. the plane leveled off at about 100 feet, very low, on a course approaching me, a course which would take it a couple hundred yards to my left, then immediately banked hard left (my right) and passed directly over my head. i could clearly read the Pan Am markings (now defunct airline company) on the tail of the plane as it approached. it thundered over me and shortly went back into a steep dive, with no roll, quickly impacting a grassy hillside and exploding in a huge black and orange fireball; i was certain nothing lived through that monumental explosion.

Scene 2:
i was being chased by aliens- i think they were after some people with me whom i was protecting. i seemed to be receiving assistance from an "experienced agent", though i was only aware of the voice of this unseen person in my head. i was equipped with advanced technology and i kept staying one jump ahead of the aliens....there was an encounter in an office building in which i somehow gave them the slip. while i remember very little of the details there, i distinctly remember staring down an elevator shaft through open doors, watching the top of the elevator descend below into the darkness.

at some point the person protecting the others changed from me (and my own first-person point of view) to Disney's Goofy (from a third-person point of view), without the hat, or the bumbling manner. he was intent upon driving them down a cartoon highway, being chased by unseen aliens in the air. when he realized they were spotted, he switched on a device which projected a holographic illusion over his cartoon vehicle- obscuring it with a picture of what the road would look like if it was empty, and effectively disappearing.


granite falls fishway

for years now i've been driving my boy to and from his mother's place outside of Granite Falls, WA, over a bridge that passes over the south fork of the Stillaguamish River. there's a fish ladder for salmon down on the river below (some 80-100 feet below the bridge deck) and i've always meant to go down and check it out. i happened to have my camera with me today, and it was nice out so it seemed like a nice day for it.

this is a shot looking basically W-SW from the bridge deck:
south fork of the Stillaguamish River

this shot is from the bank of the river, looking upriver:
looking upstream from the river bank

here's a fern growing out of a crack in one of the innumerable huge granite boulders:
this fern found its own little niche

here's one looking downriver:
looking downstream from the river bank

all the full size pics, and three short video clips, are in my online photo album. looking at the pictures it's easy to see how Granite Falls got its name. enjoy :)

the lowdown on my new employment

well, here's the lowdown on my new job:

it's a pretty long commute but at a time of day when i generally miss most of the traffic. i'm spending about 1.5 - 1.75 hrs/day driving to and from work. driving to pick up Loren from his mother's is extra. the hours keep me from picking Loren up from school (he's less than thrilled) but allow me some time in the evenings with him on the days he's here, so not an unworkable trade- as long as his mother remains able to pick him up from school on the days i'm supposed to (probably a safe bet for the short term, anyway).

they hired me at $14/hr, and they promised me a review in 90 days, with a raise of $1 if my performance was good. it's a fair starting wage but not as good as i hoped- typical. i was hired to do install work for signage, but they had no install work on the table when they started me, so they started out giving me projects around the shop. after a few small things which took very little time, the first real job they gave me (something which took longer than an hour to do) was to apply vinyl graphics for a temporary sign for the new Seattle Public Library. i did an ok job on it, not as well as i'd hoped but good enough to deliver to the customer. everyone was very impressed even though i didn't think it met my standards. i'm not completely suprised by the quality of the finished product considering i haven't done this work in three years, but the management, owners, sales staff, project managers, and designers all came to me individually and told me i was doing a great job and how nice it was to have someone come on board with some skills. they've recently cleaned house; they fired a lot of people recently, and gutted the management. sounds like they really wanted to start over. the head installer told me the company was wide open at the moment and that new people with skills could "write their own ticket".

i was really set on doing install work because you build up hours doing electrical work and it translates to wages, and being out of the shop is generally less pressure than working while management beats you over the head with endless delivery deadlines and ever-changing priorities- business as usual in the sign game. but the managers saw my fabrication skills and called me in to discuss doing work in the shop. the head manager asked me what my goals were here, and i told him "to be honest, i'm primarily motivated by money". i told him i was focused on doing install work because i want a journeyman electrician's card and the wages that commands. he told me what he'd like to see me do was work out of the shop, and cross-train their light-fabrication department in some of the heavier fabrication skills like wiring and welding; basically show these guys what i know. in the meantime, he'd focus on sending me out on the electrical install work so my hours could get built up. he asked me to handle a prototype project which could lead to "a couple hundred thousand dollars" worth of work. i told him "like i said, i was really focused on install work, and that's my main goal, but i'll do what needs to be done." he told me if i handled this project well enough, i could easily be looking at $2-3/hr more money in six months, with rapid increases to a maximum of about $20/hr within a couple years.

so i built the prototype, which is a small sign that's at eye level, and has to be completely perfect. it was a pretty complicated little build for something small, and right at the end i made the one mistake that ruined the whole thing- drilling mounting holes in the wrong place (dumb dumb dumb!) and had to start over. when i redid the whole thing from scratch (which blew the total hours for the job way out of line and makes me look really bad) i screwed up the very same mounting holes (drilled them out too large due to misreading the design drawing- also very DUMB)- but this time the error is fixable. so it's finished, we'll see what happens with it.

in the meantime i was given another project to weld up, 5 interior signs for a Boeing complex here. they're about 30" x 3" x 96". it's one of those projects where someone else started it and now i get to finish it; and in the process they've wanted me to keep two other new guys as busy as possible on this or other projects in the works. nothing like trying to pay attention to what you're doing in a shop you don't know where anything's at, while showing two other guys how to do what you need them to do. kinda stressful. anyway, the parts someone else made for that project caused problems and i've had to change the plans somewhat to compensate. it's alot easier to take a project from start to finish than to fix other people's mistakes along the way. everybody makes mistakes; it's nice when you only have to deal with your own- no one else to blame that way!

they've also given me another project, a little decorative metal finishing for another sign; no one else wanted to touch it but i think i can do it so i'm going to give it a go. and they've given me another project (dropped it on my Friday 45 minutes before quitting time) that's got to be done Monday morning by 10:00. unfortunately it looks like the work will take longer than that and the only help i've been given is another guy who's never done this type of work before....it's been a long long time since i've done it either. they told me to come in early Monday if i needed to, which i have no problem doing- except that i remembered after i left Friday that i don't have a key to get in the place before anyone else. grrrrrrrr. and, of course, this is another project that must be absolutely perfect. it's a plastic glueing job for a marquee of a new club. it's a dicey job even for experienced people; one drop of water-thin glue in the wrong place ruins a very expensive piece of material- and i have to build two of the things. nothing like giving the new guy the hardest projects under the tightest deadlines right off the bat! welcome back to the sign game.

the place pays for health insurance for the employee; if i want to put Loren on the insurance that comes out of my pocket. they offer 1 week of vacation after the one year, two weeks after (two or three?) years and three weeks after 7 years. haven't heard anything about sick time or paid holidays. they have profit sharing and an IRA thing set up. i'm hearing that bonuses can be in the neighborhood of $2,000-3,000 when the place is making money. and i heard there's a ton of musicians there that all bring music equipment in and have a jam session during their Christmas party.

ok- now y'all know as much as i do- and prob'ly much more than you wanted, if you bothered reading this far.

i'm outta here to make the traditional pancakes/scrambled eggs/sausage brunch for my favorite young man, and try to eek some fun outta this beautiful sunny day before that young man heads back to his mother's for the remainder of the weekend.


a very strange dream

Scene 1:
i remember nothing about the setting. i was with my mom and dad. they told me that both my sisters, both my brothers-in-law, and both my nephews were dead due to a boating accident which occured during a move from Hawaii to the mainland. the boat was Chris's, and i couldn't understand why Chris and the others had chosen to try to cross the ocean in it. they seemed to have taken this course of action due to circumstances which precluded all others. i was shocked beyond words; so shocked i didn't even feel grief. the whole thing felt surreal; i couldn't believe it. i found myself grasping for details, as if an increased understanding of those might help me understand the whole.

Scene 2:
i was in a mall after hours with a blonde ex-girfriend that might have been my ex-wife but was more likely another girl from another train-wreck relationship. the lights in the mall were off, and we were sitting at a table in what appeared to be the food court. i was discussing the deaths of my family members with her. a part of me felt like even discussing this with her was wrong; as if talking about it was an attempt to garner sympathy, even though that wasn't my intent.

Scene 3:
the location changed to a residence, of which i remember nothing except that it was dark. it had been a long time since our prior relationship; it was as if the temporal setting was the present. the ex-girlfriend figure was much heavier than she was in the past. we were having sex. i clearly remember being on my back, the ex-girlfriend on top. she had a rather large roll around her middle, which i grasped with both hands and commented on. i couldn't stop thinking about my sisters and noticing that even with a tragedy of this magnitude, i was comforted by the fact that my son was still alive.

Scene 4:
i kept discussing the deaths of my sisters and their families endlessly with my parents, trying to make some sense of the whole thing.

note: this dream is about the closest i ever get to a nightmare. while i occasionally experience extremely negative or intense things in my dreams, my fear or stress is generally somewhat muted. i tend to back up and "replay" things i'm having trouble handling, sometimes changing the outcome by running a different scenario until i run into one that i can find a way to deal with- though the higher my stress level in the dream, the less likely i am to do this. when the subject matter is far enough outside of anything i'd normally imagine, i usually get carried along with the flow.


more REM cycle madness

Scene 1
i was in a hospital, with Loren, Melissa, and Nichole. the walls were a peach color, the floor was white. i remember there being paintings and such on the walls. i know there was more....

Scene 2
i was on the bank of what seemed to be a canal. there was an enormous brown hot-air balloon that looked like something from a Dick Van Dyke era Disney movie. the "carriage" section of the balloon was itself enormous; more like a small house than the traditional box. tier after tier of rope catwalks ran along the balloon itself. the whole thing was on the deck of a pier on a large, deep canal. i was with a blonde girl in a white t-shirt, who was supposed to be in charge of the balloon, but she had to wrest control of it from two others. one of the "intruders" was a man, in the carriage section; the other was a girl on the pier. the man leaned out of one of the windows in the "carriage" section. he knew we were there and i think he tried to warn the girl he was with. the girl i was with, moving in a crouch, snuck up swiftly behind the other girl and pushed her in the canal, hard, with both hands, then went after the guy.

Scene 3
i was taking a picture of Melissa in a wooded area near the canal somewhere. she was mugging for the camera. i tried to get my camera to focus on Loren through some foliage, where he stood on a small wooden porch surrounded by a wooden railing, backed by a black opening into what looked like a hillside. i couldn't get the camera to autofocus on him. Loren ran all over with another boy, up and down a crooked wooden path. eventually he came closer and i filmed a short video of him playing with a strange looking toy car on the ground in front of me. the toy was painted in the DuPont paint which changes colors based on the angle of the viewer. i was thinking how nice it would be if my camera took videos with sound, and talking with Melissa.

Scene 4
back near what seemed to be the former site of the balloon, the canal was completely different. the balloon seemed to have become a huge complex, and the canal was now dammed by a huge horseshoe-shaped hydroelectric dam. completely covering the top of the dam was an apartment or condo building with a beige exterior. there were Arabs everywhere, jeering...they wanted us all gone. the dam was riddled by bullet holes, and it seemed a shame that they'd damage it, when it was so much work and so expensive to build. and it seemed futile, as though regardless of what they did, regardless of cost, the dam would be rebuilt. the tension was rising.

i sat on the same pier i was on before, and as i watched, a thick, dark green snake, possibly a python, maybe 20 feet long, with a red spot on its head, slowly slithered up to me. i was pretty nervous and remained motionless, so it had no problem smoothly working its way right up between my dangling legs. as it slowly reared up from the water, toward my chest, i grasped it around the neck with both hands, firmly but not hard enough to appear threatening. i was trying to keep those huge fangs away from me, but as i tried to ask someone (my mom?) around me what to do, and if this snake was poisonous, it easily twisted in my hands, and in slow motion, brought those huge fangs slowly down around my left wrist, ever so slightly puncturing the skin- where they stopped. my mind raced as i waited for some poison to take effect...but nothing happened.

wish i could remember more...how frustrating.


change of pace

I thought I'd do something a little different than I've been doing lately and post something personal. Loren's been enjoying his spring break from school. He's had plenty of time for gaming and hangin' with Dad. We've gotten out to the basketball court pretty much every day since he's been here. He's improving. He likes to play "horse", or "toad" or sometimes "alligator" when he's feeling especially ambitious. His range is improving and more importantly he's enjoying getting out. He's a little too attached to the video games and the television in general so anything he can do to get off the couch is a good thing. It's really no problem to get him outside, but he's not much for doing things alone, and since he goes to school in another town, and his time here is fairly limited, he doesn't have an opportunity to make any close friends in the neighborhood. The only real friends he's made here (as opposed to aquaintances) have both moved away. I'm not overly impressed with the company to be had in this neighborhood anyway, so I suppose that's a mixed bag. I've been limited to driving my two-seater since December, but after I get my truck back on the road I'll be able to resume driving his friends over here to spend the night, etc.

We visited his Aunt Melissa & Uncle Jason the other day, and Mom & Dad came by too. We ate pizza and caught up. Melissa and Jason have fantastic pictures of their trip to Puerto Vallarta with Nichole & Chris & the boys. They're supposedly going to hook me up with those; if I end up with the pics I'll include them in my (online) album for anyone interested. I took Loren over to my folks' house Tuesday and we ate spaghetti and watched the movie "School Of Rock", which was pretty good. Jack Black's great, especially on Tenacious D's stuff. All in all I think Loren's pretty much enjoyed the Dad time, and his break from school.

I'm still looking for work; no luck yet. I will likely get much more done now that Loren's returned to his mom's for the remainder of his school break. He understands I've had to spend much of the time he was here looking for work but requires a fair amount of attention no matter what I'm doing when he's here, so I've been a bit distracted so far this week. However, I've applied for 10 jobs this week so far, so it's not a total loss. If I don't find some gainful employment soon things are going to get very uncomfortable here.

Loren's computer is up and running. The hard drive sounds like it's going to die, and the video card is so ancient it will only work in 640x480 16 color mode. The CD drive I got for him on EBay or $.98 seems to work alright, so now his computer is twice as good as mine in some ways, and barely functional in others- a project in the works still. It's an AMD Athlon 1GHz with 380Mb RAM but only a 6Gb hard drive and the ancient video card. Can't justify spending money on upgrades at the moment, but when it's all finished it'll be better than this computer.

I've spent some time reprogramming the drum lines for a demo of an old tune that's never been done justice; that's still in the works. I've managed to get my system set up to SHOUTcast from direct inputs now, so when I broadcast live from my den here, the sound doesn't come through a crappy condensor mic. Small progress, but something.

Ok I guess that's it fer now. Hope y'all're enjoyin' yerselves. PEACE OUT


waste of paper

Guest columnist David Belisle's article "Hubble trouble" (Seattle Times, April 3, 2004) questions why NASA is "so prepared for euthanasia" of the Hubble Space Telescope, and jumps hastily to the unsupported conclusions that it stems from Hubble's loss of political usefulness and ability to serve as a fundraising vehicle. Rarely have I seen a more irresponsible opinion cast more pointedly.

NASA is far from eager to end the Hubble program prematurely. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has stated unequivocally that the decision to cancel Service Mission 4 was primarily based on the new safety recommendations set forth by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and has requested board chairman Admiral Harold Gehman, Jr. review those recommendations (he's agreed). These regulations require the shuttle to dock with the International Space Station for each mission, allowing for inspection of the shuttle before attempting re-entry, and facilitating an opportunity for a rescue and/or repair mission should it be deemed too dangerous to attempt to return the shuttle to Earth. Having (rightfully) committed the agency to implement the new regulations, what more is he supposed to do?

Belisle would have us accept by weight of inuendo alone that more than a decade of largely successful work by thousands of engineers, scientists, and skilled laborers from NASA, the Space Telescope Science Institute and myriad aerospace industry subcontractors was merely a premise for kickbacks from Republican administrations in exchange for campaign contributions. How convenient and timely to make this accusation in an election year, unencumbered by the need to supply factual evidence. Shame on the Times for not requiring it!

Furthermore, we are supposed to accept that our continuing efforts in support of the International Space Station (the first truly global space initiative) will result in the diversion of billions of dollars to Republican donors. Are there two separate groups of contractors involved here? I think it's safe to assume that U.S. companies involved in construction of the space station are the same ones that have been involved in construction for U.S. space programs spanning multiple administrations.

Mr. Belisle proceeds to use these bogus arguments as a springboard from which to espouse his theory that blame for the "decimation" of "social welfare" programs rests with current and previous Republican administrations, citing a nebulous conspiracy to undermine these ill-implemented, perenially raided programs through intentional mission inflation and underfunding. This is the point where Mr. Belisle reveals his true agenda. He states "we've seen this before" in "endless, undying projects" that divert funding from "real energy and defense research". Exactly what are his credentials for deciding what constitutes "real" research? Granted much space program research has proven to lend itself to defense applications, but what portion of the space program's budget does he propose we earmark for "energy" research?

The killing blow to any credibility Belisle's article attempts to claim is easily found by any middle school student with a computer. While he "laments" Hubble's early retirement with "nothing comparable set to replace it," the Space Telescope Science Institute's Hubble Newsdesk page clearly states that (prior) plans to construct and implement Hubble's vastly improved successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, slated for deployment in 2011, go forth as planned.

Do some research before you throw mud, sir.

Having avidly followed the scientific progress made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope and U.S. space program in general for more than 10 years, and having worked in the aerospace manufacturing industry, I'm personally offended by Belisle's comments. Agree or disagree with mission direction as you see fit, but don't demean the whole issue with petty political diatribes and stabs at the firms which made possible the work you supposedly value so highly.

President Bush should be commended for boldly stating a clear, diverse mission for future space research, and especially for committing much of the shuttle program's $4 billion budget to lift its antiquated technology into the 21st century.


i'm actually getting published in print :)

well, once more a letter i wrote is getting published; this time it looks like it's going to be in print in tomorrow's Seattle Times. i couldn't be more pleased.

the letter i wrote to the Times already appears below; i included it here in its entirety yesterday, titled concerning widening the scope of legalized gambling in Washington State. it already has its own permalink so i won't bother making another one.

i've updated this post to link to where it was published online below. note that they edited it somewhat.

here's my letter to the editor on the Seattle Times Opinion page.

it's damn satisfying to make a point and have it validated like that.

hey i got published -again- :)

this is another letter someone deemed fit to publish in the Seattle Times NEXT blog. As I'm sitting here combing the classifieds and WESD WorkSource websites for a job, it seems natural to just include it here:

As someone who chose not to go to college, I speak from experience when I say that it's impossible to overstate how much more difficult it is to attend college after you've taken on other responsibilities which demand your time, attention, and financial resources, such as a mortgage payment or raising a family. Pausing your education following high school and then returning to school is like training hard to run a marathon for a year, then picking up the remote and pigging out on the couch for a few months.

Aside from the monetary advantages to a college education, there are other benefits, such as a continuing opportunity to network socially. Many people look back on their college years as having a profound impact on them as individuals. Indeed, many people are exposed in college to ideas which change their entire outlook, as well as become introduced to their future business partners, spouses, and lifelong best friends.

All other points aside, the increased earning potential and employment opportunities for degreed individuals remain the most important reasons to get a college education. It would be nice to think that reasonably intelligent, talented people, willing to work hard, could succeed at whatever they choose, but the reality of the situation is more often disappointing.

I'm a 36-year-old, divorced, single father with a mortgage payment, an IQ near 140, a voracious appetite for knowledge, a history of diligent service at every position I've held, experience running my own small business, and the company of millions of others like me competing for ever-more-specialized positions.

Ability to perform a task is not equivalent to prior training in it, and it doesn't help you break the barrier between unstable $22,000 per year jobs and a $40,000-$100,000 per year career. Given the opportunity, why not give yourself the advantage of a college education? If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase, "For this I skipped college?" I could afford to go now.


concerning widening the scope of legalized gambling in Washington State

The Washington State legislature is proposing to widen the scope of legalized gambling in this state by making telephone betting on horse races legal. At least one on the Seattle Times editorial staff thinks this is a bad idea; here's my opinion:

I fail to see the point of objections to increasing the scope of gambling legally sanctioned in Washington State, or anywhere else for that matter.

Gambling is a consensual activity participated in by adults. Prohibition and limitation of gambling (or any other consensual activity by adults) is motivated by moral judgements by those who would save people from themselves; they have no place in a free society.

Truly, many gamblers are compulsive and would be wise to refrain from the activity, but ultimately the responsibility for their actions rests with the individuals, not with government.

Washington State enjoys the company of virtually all other state governments in a long history of straddling the fence on consensual "crimes". For decades it held the duplicitous position of blanketly denying gamblers the right to engage in their consensual activity of choice, while holding a monopoly on the distribution of "hard" alcohol, in order to directly (and solely) benefit from the consensual activity of another group.

I submit that the social repercussions of alcohol use far outweigh those of gambling- "problem gambling" or otherwise.

Laws limiting the rights of adults to engage in activites which cause no harm to others or their property, or infringe upon others' rights, diminish freedom for all. I may not condone your activity, but until it adversely affects me, I defend your right to engage in it.

Constitutional and moral arguments aside, the proliferation of casinos in our state since the decriminalization of gambling is proof that the industry has growth potential. In an economic climate as bad as ours, with the budget crisis faced by our state, we would be wise to keep our moral posturing to ourselves and foster that growth.

well whaddayaknow- i got published in the Seattle Times Opinion Blog too

i really MUST have too much time on my hands. a short letter i wrote in response to a post by Times writer Bruce Ramsey, concerning an artist's use of hundreds of gallons of red "paint" to completely cover the exposed tip of an iceberg in the Arctic, got published in the Seattle Times Opinion Blog (STOP). it can be seen here, about mid-page (for now); or here permanently, in the archives of the blog. someone hire me as a writer already- i'm on a roll.

i've edited this post to include my letter in its entirety for those who don't want to surf to another site to read it:

Re: Toxic art
Regarding "Toxic Art," a reader writes:

The "artist" in question probably got the idea from the incredibly bad logo for Sherwin Williams Paint. It features a representation of the Earth being drowned in red paint.

Sherwin Williams Paint logo

The slogan? "Cover The Earth". How they've escaped the wrath of environmentalists is beyond me.

hey i got published i love it

i recently responded to an article in the Seattle Times' NEXT blog; it's a blog which they're paying a bunch of young adults to write for- a great concept and worthy of checking out. my letter was a response to a post concerning the overt sexuality of Britney Spears, and someone either actually liked what i had to say or they desperately needed something to print. in either case- there's nothing like getting your opinion posted on a blog with more readers than THIS one! my post can be seen here, and the main page for the Seattle Times NEXT blog is here.

i updated this post to include my original letter for those who don't feel like surfing to another site to read it:

Re: "Cinderella turned Stripperella," by Christina Asavareungchai (NEXT, March 14):

Anyone who viewed Britney Spears' video for "Baby One More Time" as a projection of an "innocent" image missed the point. It was a standard, softcore "school-girl-fantasy," plain and simple. The bad-girl image began right there, in a calculated manner, in as explicit form as practicable for a 16-year-old girl in this society.

That many people viewed this as "innocent" speaks volumes about just how mainstream sex-based marketing has become. But it fooled the kids, not the adults. Sure, Britney's career (think Disney) was originally aimed at a young market, but it's obvious it isn't anymore; and of course it isn't, she's not 12 anymore.

"Shocking" revelations about masturbation get press — for awhile. Britney is only the latest sex-symbol pop-tart in a chain that started when the recording industry began exploiting video as a marketing tool in the 1960s. How many ugly female pop stars do you see? It's not that there aren't ugly girls who want to be pop stars, even talented ones. The industry calls them "writers." Someone has to supply all these pretty girls with their material.

Why sign artists who don't look good on camera? There'll always be plenty of good-looking girls willing to prostitute themselves for fame and fortune. The RIAA and every other group of softcore pornographers will always be willing to exploit that.

Crass is a perfect description of Britney's career; get ready for more of the same. Sex sold yesterday, sells today, and will continue to sell tomorrow. Britney and countless other quasi-talented "artists" are making their hay while the sun shines. Too bad these same "artists" have to deal with all this competition from the porn industry; it's gotta be hard for marginally talented girls to get some press in a field this crowded.

Boycotting of Britney and her ilk is already done by countless people at the checkout line. She has a right to whatever share of the market she can get. I admire Christina Asavareungchai's call to support artists who convey a more worthwhile message — she isn't not the first to do so and she's certainly not alone — but the reality is that more substantive work by popular female artists has been largely marginalized in favor of easy-to-market sexual content that became mainstream a long time ago.

Periodically the popular taste pendulum swings back the other way, as in the case of Seattle's "grunge" movement, but when there's a lull in that momentum, the RIAA will always have another Britney to throw in the mix.


today's REM cycle strangeness

Scene 1:
i was in a very brightly lit bar. the bar itself, the floor, the walls, everything seemed to be made of blonde wood. there were the usual polished brass trimmings everywhere. i was speaking to someone who was making derogatory comments about a middle-aged woman with long, stringy, auburn hair. she was walking away from the two of us, wearing a pair of faded blue-jean shorts with the hem rolled up, pushing a baby carriage. while i didn't join in the "fun" at the expense of this woman, i have to admit she had one of the largest butts i've ever seen. she didn't seem to notice us.

approaching the bar (alone), i noticed a small group of people approaching from backstage- the entertainment for the evening. there were perhaps four or five of them. in the center of the group walked a woman dressed in standard-issue black rock-n-roll performer's attire. when the band took the stage my view was partially obscured. the woman was to my left and mostly obscured; one of the men walked to the center-stage mic and warmed up the audience with a little banter. the man resembled the actor who's played Shaggy in the two live-action theatrical releases of Scooby Doo. the woman somewhat resembled the singer from Garbage (but wasn't), and she had bright pink eye shadow painted on almost new-wave style.

sitting on my bar stool at the corner of the L-shaped bar, holding a drink, i fixed my attention on a large-screen TV that offered a full view of the stage. my attention was drawn away from the screen momentarily, and i looked over my left shoulder to see MiddleAgedWoman joining a companion, taking a seat at a booth in the corner. i saw no baby carriage. she looked directly at me, fixing me for a moment with a stare before acknowledging her companion and joining her in conversation. turning away, i noticed the stools and booths of the entire place were upholstered in white leather or vinyl. as i refocused my gaze on the video screen, my attention was again drawn away, by an extremely tall blonde man, somewhat resembling football coach Bill Parcells, trying to take a seat at the bar. most of the bar stools were mounted by brass pipe to another brass pipe running along the bottom of the bar, and were built like high-backed chairs with no arms. the man was too large to fit in the space allotted, so he looked around for another seat, and found a (similarly-upholstered) free-standing stool, which he brought to the bar and sat down on.

Scene 2:
i was standing in a very large, nearly empty room, performing some kind of job, while talking to a couple co-workers. one man seemed to be speaking about the history of commerce in the United States, specifically of the historical significance of Cleveland as a center of that. when the man finished, i joined in the conversation, briefly giving a speech that might be labelled "How Cleveland's Early Significance In Commerce And Industry Was Overshadowed By The Establishment Of Waterways As Interstate Trade Routes, Leading To New York City's Rise In Prominence As A Commercial And Residential Center." it's factual merit notwithstanding, the others in the room listened intently, and were either enlightened by or in agreement with my position.


more REM cycle ramblings

Scene 1:
i was in a very dimly lit room in an apartment or hotel. i was talking to Christina Ricci while she changed clothes. she mentioned she would be moving to a beautiful new house soon. wish i could remember more of this conversation, it was fairly involved. we seemed well acquainted, as if we'd known each other a long time.

i found myself wandering from room to room in the new house, looking for Christina. wallpaper covered the lower part of the light brown walls like wainscotting. it was intricately patterned like an earth-tone Persian rug, bordered at the top by a yellow paisley pattern. the walls were covered with large paintings in gaudy frames, and an occasional wall-mounted aquarium. the whole place was very artfully lit.

eventually i found Christina. she was dressed very formally in a black dress. this storyline continued but it all gets fuzzy after that.

Scene 2:
i was walking the darkened hallways of a starship with 7 of 9, looking for our companions. turning a corner, we discovered about a dozen of them held captive, bound and sitting on the floor of a room that was lit by an indirect blue light. a "Captain" figure i didn't recognize seemed to be the leader of the group, and 7 referred to him as Cisco. when she began releasing him, i began seeing thru her eyes. as she leaned over his sitting form, visible only in shadow and backlit in bright blue, a squirrel-like creature (also visible only in shadow) appeared from behind his head, pausing momentarily before climbing up her arm and burrowing into her face through her left eye.

that's all.


recent browsing

anyone interested in a little history might want to check out this collection of photographs and essay on the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. damned interesting stuff.

one nation redefined

Regardless of the future outcome of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624, I'm smiling. For more than 20 years I've been waiting for someone to bring suit against a school district concerning the phrase "one Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Supreme Court is finally going to consider the matter.

I write "consider" rather than "decide" because it's entirely possible they'll decide nothing. At the request of Michael Newdow, the man who originated this suit on behalf of himself and his 9 yr. old daughter, Justice Antonin Scalia, regarded as one of the court's more conservative members, has recused himself in light of his criticism of an earlier ruling favoring Newdow during a religious rally last year.

The Christian majority in this country, overwhelmingly supports the inclusion of the phrase "under God", arguing that this inclusion does not violate separation of church and state. Nonsense! It does just that, for the following reasons.

Codes on both individual school and district levels mandate the daily recital of the Pledge. Children are required to stand (signifying their approval and respect), place their hands on their hearts (signifying the conviction with which they speak), and "parrot" a text of propaganda, most recently codified during the height of the Cold War. Despite a Supreme Court decision supporting individual students' right to opt out of this exercise, excusing my son from participating in this activity has caused numerous arguments with numerous teachers from most schools my son has attended, as well as various members of school and district administrations. In the end the district always balked before suspending my son from school over refusal to recite the Pledge, but not before threatening just that, and exerting their authority in their official capacity as representatives of these institutions in an attempt to coerce his (and my) conformity. Obviously the school systems are not adequately informed of or do not respect the Supreme Court's decision in this matter.

I agree with Mr. Newdow's position that putting young children in the position of opting out of an exercise led by the authority figure in the room unfairly transfers the responsibility to the child, and unnecessarily singles them out from the group based on their beliefs. The authority of school districts to enforce behavior standards on children in their care is granted them directly by the government. Since these institutions are established with and supported by public funds and operated entirely within the public sector, and are directly superceded in authority by (in turn) state & federal government agencies, the authority for individual schools to codify mandatory recitation of the Pledge comes from the highest levels of government.

While the Pledge of Allegiance was initiated informally in the late 19th century, it was originally codified on June 22, 1942, as "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." On June 14, 1954 it was recodified by Congress to add the phrase "under God" after the word "Nation". The fact that Congress literally recodified the Pledge to specifically insert this phrase into what had previously been a secular patriotic statement shows a clear lack of separation between church and state agendas. Following the recodification, President Eisenhower signed the new Pledge into law, writing "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." His language speaks for itself.

The Christian majority in this country would fight to the death before allowing the Pledge to be rewritten "one Nation under Allah" or even "one Nation under Jehovah"- further proof that the god of the Pledge is the god of some (Christians) and not others. Think of the outcry if it was suggested that the Pledge be rewritten "one Nation tolerant of Homosexual Marriage". Insert whatever philosophy you wish to associate with our nation, it doesn't belong there. But regardless of which god is in question here, government's wrongful imposition, mandating my son recite a pledge referencing any god constitutes a violation of his rights, before he even understands what those rights are. Having had my own rights violated in this same manner daily, for my entire school career, I understand what's at stake. Furthermore, I submit that we have progressed as a society past the need to brainwash our youth. Our nation is capable of earning the respect of its citizens without resorting to state-sponsored propaganda.

Schools should spend their time first respecting and then teaching my son and his classmates the meaning of those rights rather than subjecting them to the tyranny of the (Christian) majority, as codified with the authority of the Legislative & Executive branches. Here's hoping the third check in our system of checks & balances undoes the actions of the other two, on behalf of myself and my son and millions like us. That would be something to include in a lesson plan in his classroom.


and let peace-loving people across the world REJOICE

if i was a religious man i might say "hallelujah"- but since i'm not, i'll just give an emphatic HELL YES at the Israeli asassination of Hamas founder and leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin. there's one more fanatical hatemonger excised from the world. Hamas and other terrorist organizations are threatening swift retaliation against Israel and the United States- let them come. let the butchers show themselves, i'm sure we have enough missiles to go around.

another two deaths in Gaza were reported, one evidently on the part of a Palestinian mishandling his explosives. talk about poetic justice!

U.S. State Dept. spokesman Lou Fintor said, "The United States urges all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint." like that's gonna happen. the Israelis were WELL within their rights to off the guy, and telling the Palestinians not to retaliate is like telling a shark not to bite at a bleeding fish. of course they'll retaliate- it's what they DO.

Hamas issued a statement that "The Zionists didn't carry out their operation without getting the consent of the terrorist American Administration, and it must take responsibility for this crime." terrorist administration? that's a laugh! Americans aren't in the habit of bribing our young men to strap bombs to themselves and go kill people in the street...that's what separates US from YOU. and this latest development is proof positive that Israel doesn't desire our approval or need our assistance. Yassin got what was coming to him. may all bloodthirsty bastards the world over get the same.

i have no problem with the idea that the Palestinian people have a right to exist, peacefully, and deserve a patch of ground as much as any people do. i'm certainly not alone among Americans in this opinion; and i suspect many (if not most) of the "Zionists" agree. but you relinquish the right to claim the moral high ground the minute you start killing women and children at random in the name of your independence. lay down your arms and the world might take you seriously; or even confine your use of force to military targets! the court of world opinion condemns you as long as you treat unarmed civilians as enemy combatants. until you realize this, you're just a bunch of thugs with guns.

i lay heavy odds on a redoubled effort on the part of the still-breathing terrorists. they don't really want an independent state. they don't want to negotiate from a position of mutual respect and tolerance; what they really want is all the "Zionists" to die under their knives.

U.S. gov't & military spending at the end of the Cold War

I ran across an article in U.S. News & World Report (Oct. 6 2003) concerning a change in U.S. military deployment due to a foriegn policy shift from a "containment and deterrence" strategy, wherein the the U.S. generally operated large bases in friendly territories, to a strategy of "pre-emption", wherein a widening array of smaller bases are being spread across an area the Pentagon dubs the "Arc of Instability". While the article itself is fascinating reading for the main message it was conveying, I was struck by statistics they showed of the U.S. military budget as a percentage of GNP in the latter half of the 20th century and its reflection of the Reagan administration era and the supposed inflation of military spending during the Cold War. I was unable to accept the data at face value without some corroboration, so I did a little digging and turned up a similar set of (corroborating) figures from another source.

Basically, U.S. gov't spending (all expenditures combined) remained stable (growing steadily at a very slight rate) for peacetime periods from the advent of our society until about 1930, having spiked during major conflicts then returned to pre-wartime levels. Then it rose sharply during the depression years, then again dipping slightly before spiking to nearly 50% of the GNP during WWII. Instead of returning to pre-wartime levels (about 5%) it only lessened to about 15%, and began steadily increasing. I fully expected to see a spike in gov't spending as a whole during the Reagan administration years (1980-88) but the fact is there was no spike.

the source of this information is here; the article is interesting reading, but this is the graph.

US Gov't spending, as a percentage of Gross National Product

According to the figures in the U.S. News & World Report article:

U.S. defense spending for 2002 was $348.5 billion, or 3.3% of GNP. China was next on the military spending list in actual dollars ($55.9 billion, at 4.1% of GNP) followed by Russia ($50.8 billion, 4.8% of GNP).

During the Reagan administration, military spending progressed from about 5% of GNP to peak at about 6-7% (best estimate from the graph I'm looking at) and returned to 5% by the time Bush took office. Military spending continued to fall steadily throughout Bush's and Clinton's administrations to a low of about 2%, and has since risen to approximately 3%; it's projected that the end figure for 2005 will be about 3.5% of the GNP.

Bearing in mind that military spending has actually decreased steadily over the last 25 years, it's interesting just how much gov't spending on the whole has increased!

My main point though, is that from the figures I've seen, contrary to popular opinion (including my own), any increases in military spending during the end of the Cold War must have been from cutbacks in gov't spending in other areas and/or the economy must have been growing proportionately- because the gov't's overall spending wasn't significantly impacted.

Doing a little more digging, I found the U.S. Dept. of Defense budget report for fiscal year 2003, in PDF format (available here) and pulled this from it. The report generally uses Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rather than Gross National Product (GNP) when contrasting the military's allotment of gov't spending to economic indicators. From the dictionary definitions I can find, the two terms seem interchangeable. GDP is generally considered to be the standard indicator of the state of the economy, and is defined as the "total market values of goods and services produced by workers and capital within U.S. borders during a given period, usually 1 year".

US Dept of Defense spending figures from the 2003 fiscal year budget report

According to the data above, the Defense Dept. budget increased from about 49% of GDP to about 70% during the Reagan administration. Another table in that same report indicated that defense spending roughly doubled in absolute dollars during the 1980s. If my math is correct, I believe it follows then that GDP increased by roughly 250% in the same period, or 25% more rapidly than military spending in absolute dollars. See a flaw in my analysis (always possible)? Email me!


dream chronicle

 I used to have a computer in my bedroom, and would type up accounts of my dreams immediately when I woke up. I practiced focusing techniques to the point where I could often achieve a state of lucid dreaming. I remembered the majority of my dreams and was able to consciously influence my behavior in them, sometimes replaying scenes differently before relinquishing control, sometimes just playing along in my own role. The longer you pay serious attention to your dreams- especially taking the time to write them down- the more you'll remember and the more interesting they'll get. I've fallen out of the practice, but I still occasionally remember my dreams in detail. I intend to type them up when I do, and include them here. Anyone interested in playing Armchair Psychoanalyst can email me their take on them. I'd be interested in people's opinions on what they mean. As dreams go, this isn't a very wierd one; some of them get downright strange (and therefore more interesting).

Scene 1:
I was an intangible observer, watching a blonde boy in a red shirt, followed by another, smaller boy, navigate a somewhat perilous ledge aside a large house. The ledge became very narrow around a large, rough textured, off-white, curved concrete pillar. The first boy managed it by flattening himself against the pillar and shuffling past, then he turned to the second boy and attempted to persuade him to follow. The second boy expressed some apprehension, and the first boy sort of shrugged and continued on out of view. The second boy seemed to want help, and it was at this point I became a tangible player in the scene.

I also encouraged him to continue, shuffling around the pillar the same way the first boy did, and convinced him to follow me. Working our way down the path we came to the top of a large stair, which led down to a grassy area containing an old swing set. The view from our position revealed the grounds to be part of a residential neighborhood. The rear area of the property we now overlooked was adjacent to a surface street running parrallel to a freeway. The whole area resembled the residential district west of I-5 in the University District of Seattle. Looking down on the swing set, the right-most swing was occupied by a vague greyish alien with his back to us. He wasn't swinging, but rather sitting there motionless. The next left-most swing was empty, and unmoving, as if it had not been touched recently...and the first boy remained nowhere to be seen. This was obviously the path he'd taken, but we hadn't caught up to him yet.

The boy I was accompanying still wanted to find the first boy, though he was reluctant to make his way down the stair- possibly due to the presence of the alien. I was aware of this without exchanging words. I led us to the front of the property where we would make our way around the block to the back of the grounds by bicycle. We trolled the streets briefly, keeping our eyes peeled for the first boy, making our way around the block, eventually coming full circle back to the front of the property, where we found the first boy engaged in something to do with the mailbox.

I noticed a large television occupying a position in the bushes in front of the house, the screen of which was covered by a light-brown rubbery sheet held in place by a series of small rocks placed across the top. The sheet seemed designed to repel small projectiles in the event they were directed toward it. As I contemplated this, a dark-haired teenage girl, evidently a resident of the house, emerged from her car. She spoke with Red-Shirt-Blonde-Hair-Boy, in a manner not altogether friendly, mildly annoyed at our presence, and proceeded on with her business.

Scene 2:
I was on the lower grounds of the property, though they'd changed. I saw no other people, but felt a presence, as if I was not alone. The perimeter of the area was now a large rockery some dozen or so feet tall. Bright sunshine had given way to shadows and murk. Someone had instructed me on the procedure I would use to subdue the huge black stallions which lumbered ponderously around. I was to shoot them in the thigh with a small device, attaching it to the thigh of the animal. Inside the device was worm-like creature. When the device became attached to the leg of the animal, the worm would inject an organic compound into the animal which would render him susceptible to our mind control. As I ran through these instructions in my head I noticed one of the animals had the device already attached, and seemed somewhat more docile than the rest. I got the impression that the animals were destined to be eaten, and wondered if the compound injected into the animals by the worm might actually make them unsafe to eat.

I don't remember actually carrying out the procedure on any of the animals, but the task was finished, and the creatures were now under our control. The stallions seemed quite friendly and intelligent, even having learned to speak. From the back of one of the creatures, I expressed a desire to get to the top of the rock wall perimeter. The stallion stood on his hind legs, and I clambered up his nose, where he picked me up with his front hooves and placed me atop the rock wall, wishing me luck before he returned to all fours.

Scene 3:
I was in the kitchen of a large restaurant bustling with activity. A girl I used to date was trying to find a place to feed her very young infant. She hurriedly disappeared around a corner, talking over her shoulder to me the whole time, carrying the child. A man in the room she disappeared into, visible to me through a window, seemed quite interested in me. There was more to this scene, in which I learned that the man in the windowed room was her current significant other, but the rest escapes me.

Scene 4:
I was seated at the kitchen table of an apartment I used to live in when I was in 8th grade. My parents were there, as were Former-Girlfriend and her child. Former-Girlfriend and I seemed to be our current ages. The conversation was animated, and I was part of it, but I don't remember the discussion. Again, this scene continued, but it escapes me now.

Scene 5:
I was in a parking-garage beneath a J.C. Penney building. My mother seemed to work there, but she wasn't present. A latino woman asked me to acquire a catalog for her, so she could look something up. I expressed doubt about my ability to accomodate her request, but attempted the task. I climbed down the outside of the structure by monkeying my way down a series of ledges and horizontal steel pipes. Gaining the bottom I crossed the street to the office and rummaged through a desk until I found a catalog. My father was there, and we exchanged words briefly. Bringing the catalog to Latino-Woman, I opened it and tried to help her find what she was looking for. When she told me she actually wanted to take the catalog for herself to use later, I got the impression she'd wanted that all along and had misrepresented what she wanted to get her way. I was mildly annoyed by this manipulative behavior, and I also doubted I could give her the catalog. As I began expressing this to her, my father appeared and told me that it was OK, that's what they were for. I gave it to the woman and she left.

Scene 6:
I was seated at a conference table in an high-rise office building, talking with a neighbor of mine, a man I mildly dislike. He was holding a (still unfinished) sword I made as a gift for my son. [The sword is real- see below- the conversation with the man is the dream.]
unfinished sword i made for my son

I told him the blade was made from a single piece of 1/4" aluminum plate, shaped by hand. He asked me if I filed it into shape, and I explained to him that filing it would take forever, that I'd used grinding tools, and explained the procedure briefly. Taking the sword from him, I held it out in front of me (pointed away from the man). Looking down the flat side of the blade lengthwise, I noticed the shape of the blade was much more complex than the way I'd made it in real life.

Thus endeth the dream. On to life on this side of the veil.

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