Thursday, September 27, 2012

ninetwentyseven

A little update. I put in the time to make a website.

But this month I've done so much. I celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday. I went to the beach house. I taught the kitten to sit.

And actually, that's about it.

There's a lot going on though. And I probably have a lot to say about it.

It's really freakin' hard to do this blog though. In living life I have lost touch with my inner realm; the blog that is my attempt at chronicling my life and offering up something substantive to the annals of history.

Certainly these tasks are large and the pay-off only really comes when I die. And even then it is still a big question mark. If no one finds what I write valuable then it all disappears. And no one even cares. It's not sad or anything, just the truth.

Hundreds of thoughts pass through my head as fleeting as falling stars and none will ever find their way into print.

Is something lost? Probably not. We only really lose what we had and valued.

And the paradox is that living life to store up artifacts of my life takes time that I could be using to curate my exhibit. Do I hoard my experiences and thoughts, only giving the slightest window into my mind to those who take the time to scour my archives or do I put everything on display haphazardly? Or curated perfectly and with few exhibits?

I think that adequately explains how this blog can yo yo between the best writing I've ever done or—as with tonight—a chaotic wreck of ideas smattered onto paper as if Jackson Pollock were painting in a wind storm while having a seizure.

I just checked my word count. Because I want to be done. Because I don't want to explain my life or the thoughts that pass idly through my empty head space. I don't want to examine myself or my surroundings. I want to rest and feel comfortable and relaxed.

My jaw is sore from grinding my teeth; the news cycle is dull and the election is not at stake anymore. I'm bored and tired with humanity. I just want people to figure their shit out. So I can be me.

And they can...y'know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Domesticity Site is Live

Domesticity. This is the site I've been working my butt off on. Now go see the play because Ciera is working her butt off putting on an awesome play.

Also, this counts for whatever remainder I don't fill for September. I know, two months of cop-outs but it's hard work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Job Killers: the Senate Rejects Jobs Bill for Vets

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Take a look at this video. I would love some commentary on this. What am I missing that the authors of a bill would reject it? What has this country come to where we can't even approve a bill to provide jobs to our veterans?

Seriously, is there anything honorable in the actions of these senators? Is there anything that makes sense?

Someone please enlighten me.

Mitt's Collapse 2/2

He is facing the very real possibility of being worthless, of failure—his greatest fear. The recent video of him disparagingly talking about the 47% is a direct manifestation of his hidden complaint that he is “a superior person, but other people are jealous of him.”

The major problem with Mitt is that he can't help but be contradictory. All people are, but he does it without realizing it. He genuinely seeks acceptance and tries to endear himself to each person he speaks to. This causes him to adapt his self-image and positions—subtly at first, and then more blatantly later—to try to accomplish his goals. This isn't unique to Mitt, he just has the unfortunate position of being under constant media scrutiny.

Essentially, he seeks validation as a way of feeling self-worth—not inherently wrong or unique. It is the degree to which he has been pulled down this rabbit hole. He is now stuck in the position of not receiving external validation and not having a true sense of self-worth. And he has plenty of value. He is a generous donor to many charities, a role model for many Americans, and he has accomplished many great things such as healthcare in Massachusetts.

My prescription for him is not new. In fact, many people have been saying this for a long time. Be more authentic. If Mitt were to tap into his true feelings and have his convictions come from within he would benefit not just politically but personally as well. In his Univision speech he mentioned how his family came to the US and used government assistance to get on their feet. There was a lot of tension in that statement. But more to the point there wasn't any emotion. His story is deeply touching and deserves the emotional weight that it obviously carries for him.

And acknowledge his limits. If Mitt were to acknowledge that there were some things/issues he wasn't completely informed on I'd guess that it would garner far more respect than his “shoot first, aim later” attitude to the election.

The hardest thing is the very nature of a campaign. Campaign staff conceal a candidate from the harsh reality of the trail. It is a constant ego boost, a soothing and deluding of the limits of one man. At some point the candidate inevitably starts to believe that they can achieve anything if only they win. And poor Mitt, under the spell of his campaign staff and his self-protective ego, is collapsing without being able to see it.

But we can. And it's not pretty.

But then again I could be wrong—I hope I am. As much as I disagree with Mitt, I certainly do not wish him any harm and I am very sad to see a man on tv so obviously deflated. The campaign can destroy a man, and we just may be watching it in real time.

Sources:
**Rachel Maddow Show 9/19/2012
**Understanding the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
**http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57511601-503544/obama-romney-shoots-first-aims-later/
**http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/page/reporting-live-mitt-romney-univisions-meet-candidate-event-17270117

Mitt's Collapse 1/2

It's got to be tough to be Mitt Romney these days. Hell, it's got to be hard to be a Republican in general.

Let's just get the small stuff out of the way. Mitt's candidacy and his path to the presidency at this moment look to be very much dead. Of course, things can change. But they probably won't shift too radically. Let me put it this way, Rachel Maddow seemed to be very sympathetic and almost like she was talking about a kid who tragically lost an arm in a freak accident.

When the liberal elite are treating you like a wounded kitten and you stand for everything they despise you are definitely in hot water. And I can't say that I really disagree with their assessment. Look at his speech for Univision's Meet the Candidate event. He looks like he just got sat on by an elephant. And he kind of did.

Think about it, the Republican party is suffering from an extreme version of the Democratic problem in 2004. Many factions with strong views held under a tent without much of an initiative except for rejection of the alternative.

The first thing this reveals is that the Republican party is going to be doing some soul-searching in the coming months. There is a very real possibility that the soul-searching will result in a more extreme platform and a retreat into the reddest of states and positions. Alternately, they can swing back to the center, kicking off the Democratic push to the left—the proverbial political pendulum in American politics. Or a third party could emerge, gaining prominence for a cycle or two and fading into obscurity once they get what they want.

In all instances Mitt is gone. And that's what is sad. This guy who has worked so hard to get to where he is, who has tried so hard and wanted it so bad. And the problem is that Mitt is still Rocky and Obama is still Apollo Creed.

So what is Mitt feeling right now? Probably not what he should. His first problem is that as he descends into increasingly stressful situations that challenge his perception of himself, the public is treated not to a person ready to confront his ego—rather we have the unfortunate front seat to the collapse of a human beholden to his ego and the image he has created for himself.

As he becomes more internally conflicted he will lash out and double-down more on what the contradictions in his image. We've already seen this with the emergence of the 'whip-flop,' a flip-flop so fast that it gives us whiplash. Mitt's internal dialogue right now is a constant, “I don't have any problems” mantra.

Unless there is a major shift in the campaign don't be surprised if Mitt looks more robotic—a person who has tuned out and is going through the motions. He's already lowered his public profile—avoiding any confrontation. Public appearances now look like a taxing ordeal for him rather than the spotlights he so obviously enjoyed before.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eleven Years

Yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I have little to say that hasn't already been said.

In the eleven years since the moment when the world changed and nothing would ever be the same, little has changed. And much has as well.

It is interesting to note that the emergency powers enacted on September 14th, 2001 were extended one year a couple days ago. The nation will be in a state of emergency for 12 years next year when the order expires. And likely it will be extended.

In this post-9/11 world we were supposed to band together and be a force for good. America was supposed to show its strength and solidarity. We were supposed to bring about world peace through a revamped international policy that looked to creating lasting relationships in the quickly globalizing atmosphere.

But where are we? I think we forget that the two towers that fell weren't called the “America Trade Center.” They were—of course—the World Trade Center. And they represented the same thing that landing on the moon represented—an achievement of the human spirit and a show of good will towards all mankind.

And somehow we've lost that. I think we lost that feeling of unity—not that we need to agree on everything. Rather, that we are all Americans and humans and we all should cooperate to banish those who would wish us harm. We stood strong in our vision of a world of free democratic peoples. Now we bicker over details to promote our own agendas.

I think that the recent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya show the commonality of the American mind more than we realize. While Mitt Romney has strongly declared that Obama should not apologize for America—something he patently has not done—he reiterates largely the same sentiments of the president. American values aren't limited to America though.

It would be wise to remember that many brave Libyans tried to save the Ambassador after he was attacked; they took him and the two other officers to a local hospital for treatment. While the result was the tragic death of three upstanding Americans, we saw the real moment.

The moment was not the hate eschewed over a fake controversy, rather it was the response. Instead of violence and hatred, it was the extended hand of international friendship. One does not banish darkness with darkness.

In the rapidly globalizing world where ideas flow freely and America has more chance than ever to extend the hand of friendship, it is our duty to cultivate positive change. Our Ambassadors are tools of brotherhood and shared struggle. What greater commodity is there to trade in this world than goodwill and open arms?

Our emergency are the self-inflicted wounds of the American ego; it is our duty to go back to our hearts and look at the goals of American democracy, all men are created equal. And we pursue not war, strife, and isolation; we pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Details Mitt

There's something disturbing in Mitt's answers to questions about specific policies. What's disturbing is that he refuses to answer questions with policy details. He claims he doesn't want to get attacked by the opposing party. And I have a problem with that

First, that is a patently absurd comment. Whatever Mitt does or doesn't say will be attacked by his opponents. In this highly polarized atmosphere, there is little one can say short of “America is awesome, and we love our troops” that won't be attacked. It's part of modern politics, and it's kind of part of politics in general.

Second, the characterization of what would essentially become a public debate as an “attack” is wholly misleading. Whenever there are details about a policy position the nation is given the opportunity to react to details and formulate opinions based on good information.

The very foundation of good Democracy rests not with vague platitudes but with concrete details. I respect that Mitt wants to stay at “30000 feet” but the nation deserves some ideas of how to implement a landing. He doesn't have to even follow-through completely or talk minute details. He just has to show a reasonable approach to achieving his goals.

His argument that the opposition will fight him is almost irresponsible.

It's disingenuous to treat the election like a battlefield. Although it is often portrayed that way, the result is the presidency. Winning the privilege to occupy the office is not the end of the job. It's the beginning. Consequently, hiding details to win is akin to cheating in a Democracy. And without details as simple as proposed areas that are up as policy proposals then then the American voter is left agreeing to a philosophy without grounding.

So the question, in other terms, could be put as, “where does the rubber meet the road?”

What happens in four years of a Romney presidency? Certainly goals have been set out, but how does he propose to get there?

In terms of policy, Americans can allow that specific policies and legislation may not be fully fleshed out but certainly we want to know a general strategy. If spending is going to be cut to address the debt where are those proposed cuts going to be? Is that a feasible solution given a polarized congress? If it's not how do you propose to work around these difficulties?

The call for specific policy details is—beyond a need for information—a fundamental reality test. Is this real? And by refusing to proffer details on the red herring argument that the opposition will do what opposition does, Mitt is hurting the very core of government by the people.

He is instead assuming the part of someone who knows better—a patriarchal figure that always has your interests in mind but asking for the inner workings is disrespectful. In that scenario though, the voters are children and their privileges are wholly at the whim of the father who knows best. And he could know best. He could have the best ideas and plans. But in a government by and for the people, it is everyone's job to determine that.

It is every American's right to know what is going on in the nation and to have input. And by stepping above the debate, Mitt has stepped away from the principles of democracy and the Americans who believe in it.

Domesticity Mock-up Site

I've been MIA because I've been working on this.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Grey Hoodie

A short story:

We kissed once but it was awkward. I had convinced myself that I was in love; that I would be happy with her by my side. I was really just looking for someone to be by my side.

I pretended to like her music. I was never proud of it, never proud of faking it. But I was never ashamed either. After all, I had tricked myself more than I had tricked anyone else. It was something poppy and feminist. As a child of angry post-boomers I never really fell in love with the pop music bull that was the sound of the liberal arts girl I thought I had fallen in love with.

There were nights I would lie in bed staring at my ceiling convincing myself that if I just held her hand, just leaned in and touched my lips to hers then all my problems would go away. All my yearning. All my loneliness. Somehow life would make sense.

And all I did was hide myself under layers of ego and self-deception.

Months later I ended up stuck in a room with her alone, watching TV. Our friends had all somehow disappeared and we were there together. I had long since given up listening to her music and had gone back to dressing in oversized grey sweaters.

After an awkward moment she spoke. There are strange lulls in a friendship where the only thing that makes any sense is a pervading silence. Are we friends? What are we doing? Why do we hang out? Who are you? And I sat there and tried to care about the movie on TV. I think it was some chick flick where all the chemistry that was built up during the course of the exposition and some sort of BS struggle/conflict was satisfied by the two characters kissing in the rain. And the quirky funny sidekick best friend found an equally quirky funny random kind of ethnic looking guy. Paying attention to the movie sucked. I had to do it, and I knew I had to do it even harder when she opened her mouth to speak.

“What are your plans for the weekend?” I internally sighed, a non-controversial topic. Until I realized my answer.

“I'm going on a date,” the words spilled out of my mouth absently. It wasn't what I meant to say.

“Oh, with who?”

“Whom.”

“Hmmm?”

“No, whom.”

“Don't know her.”

“Funny,” she had baited me. I was a sucker for bad grammar. I couldn't help but be a smug asshole every time I heard improper usage. “You wouldn't know her,” a pause, “besides I'm not sure it'll be anything.”

“Who does?”

I mumbled to myself, “I thought I did.”

“Speak up!” she threw a pillow at me. I looked up and she was smiling. It was a compassionate smile.

“What's that smile for?”

“You just seem so sad, so down. What's eating you?” There were a million things eating me. Mostly they had to do with the fact that my hoodie smelled like me and one half of my bed was always cold. I had kept trying to fill it. Trying to make the darkness of night not close in on me. She snapped me out of my trance, “I'm not sad y'know.”

My heart raced, “about what?” I knew though.

“We wouldn't have made any sense. I'm sorry you spent so much time trying to make it work.”

“What?”

“Months. You convinced yourself for months that we would fall in love.” She grabbed my knee, “but that's not us; it never was.” She was right. I had spent months making myself perfect for her. The perfect guy she would just magically open up her eyes to and see. For the first time. See past whatever coldness I had put up to hide myself.

I was bad at hiding apparently.

“You shouldn't worry. We're friends and that's alright.” She leaned her head on my shoulder. We sat that way for a while and I felt quiet.

Under New Management

I feel like every day I sit down and write these days I'm apologizing. I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. This year has been hard to write every day. There are things to say and I'm simply lazy, busy, and a myriad of excuses that mean nothing.

I have a staccato rhythm to my speech. I have less words and more thoughts in a beat. I'll pause stop and write to an invisible drum.

I've noticed that the writing process for me even follows this beat but it doesn't follow a time or consistency. It's almost as if my brain has a kick drum in it and the foot of my brain presses it like a spastic child. But those are the only times I can write. And the only way that I can write. I have to silence my brain sometimes.

I think I'm a little stressed.

Anyways I'm writing for a life update as I am occasionally known to do. Ciera and I just signed a lease for a new place. A much better place. I want to emphasize that this place doesn't suck. The management does. They are terrible at following through or even keeping in touch with their tenents. We have had three people as our 'managers' which isn't bad at all. What's bad is that we have never known who our management was. We can't call any line and talk to someone directly. I have never called the system and been able to talk to someone directly—ever. It's so impersonal even though they are local—except not. They have a Seattle office but are a subsidy of some company out of Colorado.

When we have maintenance issues it takes days to get a response. The only time I have received a prompt response was when I called the emergency line yet the woman on the line refused to help me. It's extraordinary how much I feel like a money machine for these people.

This last weekend the basement flooded and the sewer backed up. We found out on Tuesday—two days after it happened. And with a note on our door, not through any personal communication.

This place is really cool but it is falling apart from neglect. Examples: there is paint on the dishwasher from the slap job they put on the walls before we moved in, the shower rod is being held up by my own MacGuyver maneuver, the floor is sinking in our southeast corner, the kitchen sink leaks, the ceiling has obvious water damage, and it goes on. The thing is that the place is really cool but I never get the sense that anyone cares and my lease locks me out from making these fixes. It's a case where there is no respect.

So, Ciera and I signed a lease today. And we know our management and he seems really nice. And he seems to care a lot about the place. I am tentatively excited about that.

What I'm really excited about is the fact that we have a one bedroom house now. It's still on the same street as now and it has its own yard and parking space. There is so much storage and I can comfortably have my own space now. I'm really pumped to have a place I can call not just home but not feel paralyzed by the process.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alien Satellite: Stand-Alone 2

Short story cont'd

“What about the skinny boy you work with? Where is he?” Gus was asking about Dean, the other intern, and a 26 year old grad student from the University. Vicky had very little opinion of the rich white boy who could barely run a quadratic equation without getting lost.

The dumbass is off with his chunky girlfriend looking at the stars and not the static, Vicky thought. “He's sick too,” she said.

Gus clenched his teeth and breathed out. “Is the signal still there?”

“That's the problem, I think we lost it.” Vicky sunk her head into her shoulders, waiting for the crotchety man to explode. Instead, he stood up and wordlessly headed to Vicky's workspace. He pushed an empty can away from the mouse and turned to Vicky.

“Show me.”

“It's not that simple, this is still live, you have to go to the report and sort by date. Then you have to look for the sequence starting with one, two, three, five, seven.” Vicky noticed Gus's face, “y'know what, let me do it.” Vicky pushed through and quickly managed the list, pulling up the strange signal.

Gus wasn't really qualified to look at what he was seeing. He knew the basics of extraterrestrial contact, an intelligent signal would probably have a repeating pattern that demonstrated intelligence and not natural phenomena. That would most likely be a sequence of prime numbers as they were non-random and easy to spot for any civilization that could count. And that was about it.

So when he took a look at the signal he didn't expect to be able to help. Despite his grumpiness, he was tentatively excited. His nerves had come back for a brief moment, the space race days momentarily shining through the decades.

And the signal was unmistakeable. It was long too. The first 47 prime numbers. “How did the computer get these values?”

“It was blips. Like Morse code I guess.” Vicky shrugged. Gus, for his part, was surprised Vicky even knew was Morse code was—even if the metaphor was a little off.

“And it's not one of ours?” Gus asked.

“Can't be, I've checked all the registers. Doesn't show up.”

“What about stealth satellites, none of the covert ones show up on those lists.” Gus was trying to unbelieve what was before him. Trying to keep his hands from shaking.

“Possible but not likely. I picked up the signal twice, both times just a fragment, and they are out further than Mars.” Vicky tried to sound sciencey; she wanted to be taken seriously. “So now what? Do we call a red alert or something?” Or not.

“I'm not sure who to contact,” Gus replied. It was funny, scientific discovery of this magnitude required a rapid response yet the community was built for caution and accuracy. Who should they contact? NASA? The Military? Local Senators? The media? SETI? Trekkies?

No, all of them had their angles. None of it would actually help. Gus reflexively thought of the international implications. Without control this could spin out a war, a lot of terrorism at the least. “Vicky, what are you working on?”

“I'm seeing if we can detect certain wavelengths of light from the moons of Jupiter, we're hoping it'll give us a glimpse at some of the fainter objects in the system. We're hoping that this will actually apply to--”

“Ok, well don't. Your new task is to find that signal and get something robust enough that we can take action.” Gus was awake suddenly. And he was ready to figure out a new problem, hopefully a real one.

Alien Satellite: Stand Alone 1

Alien Satellite, stand alone: Short story

“Why didn't we detect it before?” Gus was a throw back from another era. An era where monkeys flew, nukes would rain from heaven and Cuba, and men walked on the moon. Space was fixed, empty, and deadly. There was no sense of wonder, only a cold calculus about military applications of space endeavors. And more than anything, Gus was baffled not at this strange new signal, but more at the fact he was even there in the middle of the god damn desert, overseeing a bunch of scientists who clearly had a firmer grasp on their work than he did. This wasn't industrial engineering, this wasn't beating the Reds into space to ensure national security. This was pure fact-finding; a day to day monotony of static.

For fourteen years Gus had been running the station, watching student researchers and their arrogant professors ruin his equipment. Not that it mattered much to him, there was a time when there were real missions, when there were real stakes, and the things that happened in the vacuum mattered just as much as the things on the ground.

Perhaps it was nostalgia, or perhaps it was the whiskey. Never too much, but enough to smooth out the day. It made Gus feel less like a janitor cleaning up after teenagers—the job he had basically taken on trying to keep the place from falling apart.

“Not sure. It could be a concentrated transmission. Like a gun. And it hasn't ever been pointed at us.” Vicky was one of the messy teens Gus managed when the professors went out to have drinks. It was nearly 2am and Vicky was too energetic from a combination of Red Bulls and Triscuits. Mostly the Red Bulls.

Gus was peeved at the caffeine buzz, he rarely had energy these days, let alone at 2am. He mumbled, “why are you telling me? Where's professor—what was his name again?”

“Oh, Clarke? He's home with bird flu. So I'm just doing the raw number crunching.”

Clarke, not even professor last name—petulant. “Great, but why are you telling me?”

“Well, who else am I going to tell?” Vicky was hurt, she had sacrificed a summer to spend time decoding signals and categorizing for weeks now, just for a faint glimmer at a Ph D scholarship. And now she was stuck in the middle of a desert with an old man that was more concerned about the stickiness of the keyboard than the pure majesty of the cosmos.