AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” on CD: I’ve always been fond of this song, ever since Stefan (Horn) rented the “Who Made Who” CD when I was in Gifhorn. I promptly copied “Who Made Who,” as well as “The Razors Edge” onto a 90-minute Memorex cassette; even though it was a cheap cassette, I’m pretty sure I still have it around here somewhere (even if I’ve since recorded over it). That weekend I also recorded “Diesel and Dust”; as mentioned in an earlier post, I recorded a lot of music that year in Germany—most of it at the end, shortly before returning home.
I took 10 cassettes with me to Germany—that is, when I left Idaho on the 6th of August, 1991. I took some music, but no books. I bought all my books while there, or received them as gifts (my first Stephen King novels, for example). I also bought some music while there, and received some other music for my birthday or x-mas. Examples of the latter include Queen and Guns n’ Roses. Freddy died while I was there; before that I hadn’t really heard of Queen or listened to any of their music (except “We Will Rock You” at BSU basketball games); I knew of Freddy Mercury only via the “Teachers” soundtrack. I had grown fond of Gn’R in the 8th grade, but didn’t own any of their albums. AC/DC and Metallica were other bands that were completely foreign to me at that time—Metallica meant stoners in high school weearing black t-shirts and (occasionally) leather jackets. Via Stefan and the first Berlin trip (September, 1991) I came to know AC/DC (and now I have 6 CDs); I recorded the “black album” off of Christian Brandt; “Silent Shots” was taped off Christian Gmyrek’s CD.
Shortly before my arrival in Gifhorn a shop had opened up that rented CDs - just like a video rental store, except they only dealt in CDs. Almost 9 years later, I don’t know if they are still in business, but I doubt it. Another source of music was the local public library. Side note: the Gymnasium had no library. Besides a decent selection of books, the public library had a collection of several hundred cassettes that could be checked out. No AC/DC, but they had the Carpenters. No Gn’R, but there was America, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, and many other older things. I checked out the America cassette they had, not because I was a huge fan of the band, but because the cassette contained the title songe from “The Last Unicorn” (one of my favorite books, by the way—highly recommended). To this day I have not been able to find (again) the America album containing that song.
Amazing how songs become embedded into our memories. Midnight Oil’s “Diesel and Dust” album still reminds me of my exchange year. “Money Talks” is connected with a night of drunken revelry in Soltau (note: I was quite sober) and a bunch of us dancing in a circle. The “Use Your Illusion II” (blue) album is tightly associated with my second trip to the “Neuen Bundesländer” before x-mas; sitting in the van in Halle, with Roberta and the other girl (whose name escapes me at the moment) in the back-seat; Peter Goeller was off to get his son. Fury and the Slaughterhouse—at least songs from their earlier album—brings back images of the concert, whereas hearing Genesis reminds me of watching European MTV down in Konstanz. On the other hand, since that year, very few if any songs have really become connected to specific experiences (events, locations, etc.). Well, the AC/DC Live album is part of my freshman year and Andrew playing Wolfenstein at my computer, but that is the exception, not the rule. While in Europe last time, I had less music with me, at least at first. “At first” there were just a few cassettes, which were to last me the whole year. However, by the end of my stay in Budapest, and throughout my time in Marburg, CD purchases took up a good deal of my spare Geld. However, the music rarely went with me. During the summer of 96, however, books went with me, and hence, thinking of certain books brings back thoughts and memories of where I was at the time; Trieste and Dickens, Stepehenson in Budapest, Star Trek and Transylvania.
The verdict would, naturally, have to be that there is nothing special about music in this regard. Any object can serve. In a literal sense, the piece of music or the book or ... becomes a “symbol” of a certain event or feeling. In another way, it is a place keeper. A short-cut. Click on the song, launch the memory. More enticing yet more frustrating are those symbols, be they an image, a piece of music, or even a concrete object, that bring back the faded hint of a feeling. Peripheral feelings; when not focusing on them, you can experience them, but any attempt at confronting them straight on causes them to vanish, leaving behind not just nothing, but a void. Pinning down the origin of such feelings—the experience/memory that is referenced—is impossible. For one, I know I was in a certain bookstore in a certain aisle, but I don’t exactly know when, or what I was looking at, even though I think I have a good idea. However, envisioning that object—a book—and trying to summon the feeling results only in failure. This frustration at not being able to control one’s own memories is matched only by the relief that such memories cannot be merely functionalized—called on request for a desired effect. They may not be under cotrol of the subject, but there is at least no fear that they will either disappear or behave improperly.
—25 February, 1999
When I grow up: I’ll be unemployed because the job market for academics sucks. That’s the polite way to put it. One question I am asked when I express this sentiment is then why are you doing what you’re doing in the first place? I of course answer that it is what I like—it interests me and I am reasonably good at it. A further perspective is as follows:
<steve> well, we can’t all have the very best.... still, you’ve got a paying job.... <McManies> steve, enjoy college...or university <McManies> i mean, i’m sure you are...but i’m also sure one doesn’t appreciate it as much unless one has spend a chunk of time working in the corporate world <steve> if i had any illusions about the “corporate world” etc. ... i might be out there looking for a job, or saying “boy, it would be so much better if i ....” ...as it is, i have plenty of friends who have been there, done that, and come back for grad school (okay, not “plenty of friends” since my friends can be counted on my fingers... but still...my fellow students, let’s say). admittedly, if i were to actually go out and work in such a job for a while, i might likely appreciate the luxury in which i currently live even more; however, i think i already have a pretty good idea about it... and am certain that i want little to no part of it <McManies> yes, as they say...youth is wasted on the young <McManies> college is wasted on the students <steve> actually, a corporate existence is exactly what i do not want ... the type of job i will avoid at nearly all costs. <steve> of course, that is being a tad harsh, i suppose, since there seem to be plenty of people who enjoy that sort of life/work , and the argument can be made, it is better than working in a factory ... still, it holds no appeal for me.
Let’s assume I had a regular “career.” I’m 24. I’d work until I was 60 to 65. Probably 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, let’s say, for the sake of argument. For about 40 years. And the purpose of doing this is...? To earn money? To have a respectable place in society? To “provide for wife and family”? And so on. Or, perhaps it is simply the case that in order for me to satisfy my needs and wants (food, clothing, housing, health care, travel, computer, music, etc.) I need money/resources. To obtain these resources in this society it is necessary to work. Such work, in general, provides salary or wages. Occasionally one has contract work. Or lives off commissions. Some people then split work and play. Play is what you enjoy, work is what provides for your needs and wants. Work also makes play possible in that it provides the funds which allow one to pursue one’s hobbies, etc., yet many treat work more seriously. Since work makes play possible for many people, they argue that work is more imporant than play. Some go as far as to claim it is our duty in “this world” to work. One of their conclusions is that play is not imporant. Others are interested in money; play distracts from that and is not productive. Bah. Why not simply pursue work that is play? The only real difficulty here is merely that not all forms of play are considered valuable by society, and hence, there are not always jobs available related to these activities. No one is going to pay me to read science fiction novels, draw or paint, or play on my computer.
However, if teaching and learning are what I like, and someone is willing to pay me to do them, then why not? Must whatever job I obtain have some “higher goal”? Have importance in terms of our society? On the other hand, simply pursuing a job/career which interests me could lead to boredom and/or lack of motivation. Without challenges, what would the purpose be except to maintain the status quo?
—March 6, 1999
Morons: I know, I’ve already written something today, but I felt the need to return to write more, this time on a different topic. Oh, and here’s a little warning: I’m going to call quite a few people “fucking idiots” in this post. If the term “fucking idiots” offends you, you might want to go elsewhere.
Today’s fucking idiots come to use courtesy of the AOL 3.0 mail client. You see, they were too lame to use a real email program. They were too lame to reveal their real identities. Today’s fucking idiots are moronic neo-nazi, anti-semitic punks passing around links to revisionist (regarding WWII and the Holocaust) and anti-Israel web sites, all under the guise of “Deutsche Geschichte and News” (German History and News). Their message read:
Then they let loose with their list of URLs to various sites run by other fucking idiots (oh, and to all those who rightly deserve the title “idiot” but are not jerks like these Volk^H^H^folks, I apologize, and hope that you are not too offended—it is not my intention to lump you all into the same category). I support their right to free speech, hell, they even ended their e-mail (supposedly as a defense against the claims that their e-mail is/was spam) with:
The irony, of course, is that these same people who legitimize their speech by invoking the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution are the same people who would willingly, gladly, and with great glee deprive others of their human and civil rights.
Almost as moronic as the fucking idiots who sent today’s e-mail are the fucking idiots who run the ESU (Euro-American Student Union) [UPDATE: new link]. They, like today’s idiots, are a bunch of nice little racist twirps who like to cloak their agenda in “pro-Europe” rhetoric. What is Europe to them? France, Germany, Italy, Greece ... even parts of Russia, it seems. The Moors? No. The Turks? No. (Indeed, they are “aliens”) With the exception of Russia, the rest of Eastern Europe doesn’t seem to play a role for these folks. They want to combat “anti-European hate speech” they say. Uh-huh. Actually, they like to post and provide links to racist and anti-semitic pages/sites. For more “info,” at /. you can find reference and discussion of the ESU (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find the information). I don’t know why I originally wasted time replying to those fools—I think I was bored and it seemed like an entertaining thing to do at the time.
The Internet is a marvelous thing, and one of my main reasons for making that claim is that it allows the spread of ideas (nearly) unhindered by political/governmental and mass-media/press controls. This is not the case everywhere, by any means, and one can argue that the Internet only really benefits certain groups that were already privileged before the Internet gained in popularity. But to deny its potential influence would be foolish. The “dark side” of the Internet is obviously that those whose “ideas” we would like to contain and limit—such as today’s fucking idiots—also have access to the Internet and its potentials. However, it is a much more level playing field than a state/industry controlled media. Nonetheless, I am not particularly fond of receiving their propaganda (spam) via e-mail. Oh well. I guess that’s what delete is for.
—March 6, 1999
Translation work: It’s fun, but all I can say is, I don’t think I’d want to do it for a living. It pays well, but I doubt I could do it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I probably couldn’t even write that much—not without needing to get up, go out, and kill someone. And I’m the non-violent type, so that’s not really an option. Luckily, it pays well.
Now, I am “free” for the rest of spring break. Sure, I have updates to the IBS, and I need to make some changes to the department site, but nothing that pressing. I can do some here, some there, relax a bit, play with Linux, go into the department and play with the Macs, etc.
Regarding the Macs. At least the dead ones. Several are missing batteries, which might explain why they don’t work. Most are missing hard drives. Two of the IIcx boxes have hard drives; I think they have dead power supplies, so perhaps I’ll get those drives switched. Luckily, most of the machines have “plenty” of RAM—it’s not much by today’s standards, but still. Plus, the complete dead ones still have memory, even if we’re only talking about 30-pin SIMMs; at the least, the working machines that aren’t maxed out on RAM will be soon.
I also want to get some of “my own” reading done this week, and do some more updating of Helicon while I’m at it. Nothing to really bitch about today, except perhaps the weather, which is cold, wet, windy, and grey. And now, it is very dark; all the light comes from the shimmering snow on the ground and the yellowish-orange lights in the parking lot. The only sounds in my apartment come from the hum of my computer, the ticking of the clock on the wall, and the clicking of my typing. Perhaps some music would be in order.
—March 8, 1999