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Random Thoughts

Part 3

A Response: Now, in response to my previous comments on nicely designed home pages, I wanted to write down the following comments (before the university kicks me off in about 10 minutes). I still like Bill Osborg’s site. Why? I like the design, and the general “feeling” to it. Also, I like its content—and there is quite a bit of it. Sure, most of it is about Bill. That’s fine—it’s his site, after all. However, much of his photography is quite beautiful—it qualifies as worthwhile content. Karawynn’s site, too, qualifies as content-rich in many regards—it transcends being merely a nicely presented puzzle by also offering a link to her other site—she is a published author, and that is is/may be information that interests me. In a different way, Eve Andersson’s site remains a great place to visit—it is very content rich (whether or not you consider the content worthwhile is a different matter). In contrast, I just visited “Rubicon” (actually a name I considered for my site way back when). It has some content that I find interesting. However, it’s mostly presentation. It’s flashy (in its graphics and such), but its content could easily be presented in a less flashy, more direct fashion. Oh well, perhaps I didn’t want to write about this after all.

—July 10, 1998

Even More: I’ve gone through some of my older writing(s) recently, and frankly, I’m very disappointed in how poorly written they are. The poetry—well, I already knew that sucked—it always has, and always will. As much as I love reading it and analyzing it, I’ll never be the person whose works someone else will want to read. Fine. The prose, too, is pretty disappointing, and not only because of its poor quality, but also because my prose has steadily gotten worse since high school—probably since going to Germany the first time (definitely screwed up my English skills for at least the first 6 months after coming back). In any case, one of the primary reasons for going back to all the really old stuff was to see if I could find a starting point for jumping back in—for getting back to writing more. The same goes for drawing—I haven’t put together a complete picture for years—I practically stopped drawing when I finished high school (I still remember the senior picnic, and giving away all my originals—I don’t know how many drawings I did senior year, but I don’t have any of them anymore). Which of course reminds me of high school, and the fact that I graduated over 5 years ago—only 5 more before the 10-year reunion. Will I go? Will I even remember anyone? Of course I will—my memory is too damn good. Will anyone remember me? Probably not—I was rather forgetable. Anyway, back to writing HTML: work must be done.

—July 19, 1998

Zorro: This afternoon Mike, Jacob and I went to see Zorro at a local theater. It was better than I had expected. What had I expected? The typical Hollywood stuff, I guess. And in some regards, it was typical Hollywood—how more typical can you get than a film produced by Steven Spielberg? Yet it went beyond that—it was over-the-top, both in terms of ‘action’ and ‘romance’ (so to speak)—however, it did all this with wit and humor. Its best lines were delivered straight-faced, dead-pan. Such light entertainment is needed on occasion. There were faults, though, such as a couple plot problems, for example. They weren’t bad enough to cripple an otherwise decent script. There were a few editing errors, unmotivated and unnecessary displays of cleavage, and a thoroughly sappy scene after the explosion at the mine (when Zorro and Elena walk away with all the workers/peasants), but all-in-all the movie was well-structured, and the acting was quite good.

—July 19, 1998

Hot Fudge Sundae: After playing computer games for part of the afternoon, it was time for Mike to head back to Lake Geneva. First, though, we made a stop at the local IHOP. I’d already had lunch, so I just got a side of fries, and then, dessert—a nice hot fudge sundae. Not bad—and they make them big at the IHOP. In any case, the only reason I decided to record this is because of our bill—$13.34, which, when paid for with a twenty, results in $6.66 in change.

—August 16, 1998

Long time: You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to an Orange Julius. Just a random thought that entered my head after reading The Onion. Back before Boise Towne Square opened (October, 1988—I remember how a lot of girls managed to be absent from school the day the mall opened), we used to go shopping at Karcher Mall in Nampa, and quite often we’d stop at Orange Julius before leaving. Very rarely did we ever buy their food (I had hotdogs and chilidogs there a few times)—mostly just the drinks. Then they opened up in the ’Food Courtyard’ of Boise Towne Square. Evidently they’re not quite national; I don’t exactly know the extent of their expansion, but I expect that their distribution is similar to that of Dairy Queen, which is owned by the same company. Furthermore, I’m curious as to the availability of Skippers restaurants nation-wide. I find them in Idaho and such, but I don’t think they’re out here (Midwest), and I’m not certain about California. On an unrelated note, there are so many inane people online. Finally, I could go for a Raspberry Julius right about now.

—August 20, 1998

Cigar Man: Cigar Man worries me at times. The man is definitely a wacko—that is one of the better words I can find to describe him. He walks around outside, smoking his cigar; yes, at least he doesn’t smoke inside (as it is, you can smell him—more precisely, his cigar—from across the parking lot). I couldn’t care less about people smoking cigars. What is curious about Cigar Man is that he talks to himself. All the time. And I have no idea what he spends his time talking about. Now that I’ve switched apartments and am on the first floor, I can actually see and hear him as he walks by; at times it seems he is quoting lines from a play. Whether these lines are from a real play (and why is he reciting them? To learn them? To amuse himself?) or merely from some discourse happening in his head, I do not know. All in all, Cigar Man seems like a nice enough fellow, wearing his baggy shorts down to his knees, his loafers, and calf-socks. He has been kind enough on a few occasions to open the door for me when I was carrying several bags of groceries, and on such occasions he felt inspired to spark a conversation with me (his chuckles are indeed those of a mad-man).

—August 20, 1998

Morons: A CNN article today (online) has the headline “Poll: More Americans favor public funding in private schools.” <rant> The most stupid comment was the following:

Although it’s not a live issue before Congress at the moment, 67 percent favor a constitutional amendment to permit “prayers to be spoken in public schools”

Excuse me? Prayers can be spoken in public schools. No one is being stopped from praying, despite fundamentalist claims to the contrary. However, (public) schools (including their officers: teachers, adminstrators, staff) should not be involved in either sponsoring or leading such activities. Sometimes I get the feeling that the people who support this crap are the same small-minded idiots who believe that this is a "Christian" nation and that freedom of religion means being able to practice any religion, as long as it’s a Christian denomination. Of course, these people would have no problem with a Muslim, Jew, Wiccan/Pagan, Hindu, etc. leading a prayer or equivalent in class now would they? I didn’t think so.

As for the people supporting vouchers: the concept is simply that the government should give them tax breaks and/or vouchers so they can send their kids to private or religious schools. That is, they shouldn’t help pay for public schools. Sounds reasonable. And, for those of us living in rural areas, we should get tax breaks because we have our own shotguns and don’t need the help of the local police. And some of us need vouchers so we can pay off the mob—we don’t need the police. And our friends up in Montana should receive some public support for their own private armies since they don’t believe in either the Federal Government or the national armed forces. Simply put: if there is a so-called public service you don’t want to use (hey, my house has never caught on fire), then you shouldn’t have to pay for it, or the government should at least help you pay for your private, exclusive, alternative.

Perhaps, then, it is no coincidence that the burbclaves of Stephenson’s Snow Crash seem so realistic. Although I am not very fond of nation states, per se, I rather like the idea of some sort of extended, cohesive society—something that the Montana militias, these religious wackos and other twirps seem to care little about. They seem to prefer clanish behavior, again recalling some sci-fi—something by Niven, I believe. </rant>

—August 26, 1998

1984: At the time, I wasn’t even 10 years old (having a birthday late in the year and all). January of 1984, I was in the 3rd grade. Earlier that school-year, I’d worked with a computer for the first time (Trash-80, I believe). Skip ahead to the 84–85 school-year, and after a while they eventually got around to putting me in the GT program. More computers then—C64s, mostly. Logo and Basic were the tools of the trade. Anyone else remember using Logo to control Capsella constructions? Then there was Clark Ricks. His family didn’t believe in TV, but they had a Macintosh. Around that time we got our first computer at home—an Apple IIe. Wonderful machine, despite its limitations (8-bit CPU, primarily); just think, you could add a co-processor to run CP/M and/or MS-DOS, you could add more RAM (we had 128K), you could plug-in numerous other cards and peripherals, you could add a hard drive, and just think of all the software that was available. It wasn’t cheap. No computers were, except the C64s (perhaps inexpensive is a better word), but it clearly outshone its competition. It had good sound and graphics; the IBM PCjuniors our school got when I was in the 6th grade had no sound. Of course, when it came out, the Amiga bested them all (price and performance)—one of my aunts (an art teacher and professional artist) got one as part of a grant. It was the best sound and graphics on a “personal computer” that I saw for years. It’s 14 1/2 years later—after the introduction of the Mac, that is—and now I have one.

It is an old SE. 4MB of RAM, 20MB hard disk, and a viewable area as high as a CD jewel case, and about 1 inch wider. It doesn’t have a superdisk, so I’m stuck formatting my floppies at 800K for now. I have an extra external floppy drive for it, though. There are still 2 used SEs back in the department. The oldest has 1MB of RAM (I believe) and 2 floppies, but no hard disk (oh so useful). The other has built-in ethernet and a superdrive. Nice. However, it only has 1MB of RAM, and the worst screen of the 3 (far too much flicker, etc.). If I could just get the ethernet card out of the one, and into mine ... So anyway, I get a new apartment because I need more space, and what do I do? Get another computer to take up that space, of course. I’m a fucking geniustm.

—August 31, 1998


—September 8, 1998

What are you saying?: “What are you saying?...Are we going to try something? And then you’re going to dump me? Is that what you’re saying?” “No.” “What are you saying?” So asked the cute blonde of the the dark-haired guy with a big nose. No—it isn’t (wasn’t) a soap-opera. “Chicago is too far.” (only two hours from Madison) And no, it has nothing to do with my relationship status (or lack thereof). Instead, it is part of the ongoing and current discussion of two undergrads (so I surmise) standing about 15 feet from my window. Now they are nearly whispering, and I can no longer make out their words, however, both still look rather serious. He (Mr. Nose) is standing on a curb, and is hence, able to look down on her. His hands are in his pockets—clearly a defensive posture. My blinds are closed, so I can’t see them and type at the same time. In any case they have now gone—to fuck and make up, I suppose (am I being crass?). Now you know the advantage of a 1st floor apartment.

—September 19, 1998

Tongue: I would like to dedicate today to the tongue. You know, that thick slab of meat taking up space in your mouth. The tongue is quite an amazing muscle—very versatile (both physically, and with regard to the tasks it performs) indeed. Without it chocolate would not taste nearly so good, nor would you or I be able to speak at all. (off-topic reference for a limited crowd: “Wenn ich ein Hund wäre...”) I blame my tongue—or my inability to control it properly—for my inability to make a trilled “r” (both tongue-trilled and uvular). Some people—I am not among them—are rather proficient at manipulating cherry stems with their tongues, and the ability to play numerous musical instruments is dependent upon one’s skill with his or her tongue. I can roll my tongue (a purely genetic trait), but I cannot perform some of the more complex tongue-twisting tricks I have seen others do. However, not all tongue-techniques are inate—some can be learned and improved through careful hands-on (or, tongues-on) practice (go get a partner). Let us now hold our tongues and have a moment of silence.

—Septemeber 20, 1998

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