December 7, 1999 (Tuesday)
It's good to be back.
I suppose a word or two of explanation would be in order. I had pretty severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Surgery and exercise have helped immeasurably. In the interim, my computer decided to stop working pretty much entirely. Slowly over the several months of my absence, I've managed to piece it back together. It works now, not the best in the world, and who knows for how long, but it works now. Any contributions to my computer replacement fund should be sent to my post office box (on my biography page). ::inserting tongue in cheek::
The coming odometer roll-over that a lot of people are calling the "new millennium" has even got me to thinking. Actually, reminiscing would be more like it. I suppose a modicum of cogitation is taking place as well.
First of all, I'd like to chime in on the chorus that decries the turning of the counter from 1999 to 2000 as the beginning of a new millennium. Going strictly according to the Christian (Xian) counting method, the third millennium doesn't begin until 2001 -- there's even some question about that (remember when the calendars got changed sometime back in the middle ages to adjust for what was considered an error in their temporal reckoning?). Ask the Chinese, the Jews and the Muslims what year it is and you'll get three additional answers. This is compounded by the fact that all peoples don't start enumerating their years on January first.
The odometer roll-over is likely to cause some problems, due to the Y2K bug, but nothing out of the ordinary is likely to happen because a large segment of the world's population thinks it's entering a new era.
Still, a major mile marker like 2000 causes consternation, nostalgia, fanaticism, and many other human maladies. I just happened to succumb to the nostalgia.
I was thinking about terrain this morning as I got out of bed, particularly the terrain where I grew up. The tiny town I come from is located on the banks of a river that twists and turns its way among the mountains in the central part of West Virginia. The overall terrain is mountainous, but nothing like the mountains eastward of there, and it certainly looks rather flat compared to Colorado or Idaho. Still the part of town I lived in as a child was nestled on the opposite bank of the river from most of town, snuggled into a wide, sweeping horseshoe bend in the river. We were surrounded by a castle wall of mountains and ridges, with the single turret tower of Perry's Knob looming above us on the other side of the river. The mountain was named for the man who owned it: Perry Greenleaf. People from the other side of town and beyond, who didn't know who Mr. Greenleaf was, called it High Knob.
Mr. Greenleaf's house sat near the bottom of the mountain. It was about 1/6 of the way up on a dirt road, sliced out of red clay and rock, a white, ephemeral looking farm house. There were trees covering the breast-shaped, conical "knob" on top of the mountain. The rest had been shorn of trees and put to pasture for the cows and sheep that Mr. Greenleaf kept. I don't remember anyone ever having much to do with him, nor do I remember seeing him much, but I remember his mountain. In some ways, it's my mountain, too. As the single most prominent feature of my environment, I looked at it every day, climbed it, looked down on clouds from the top if it, scoured it looking for treasure, adventure, and my maturity. Away from this mountain now, in a broad valley with several less spectacular hills sort of absent-mindedly strewn about in the interminable distance, I don't seem to feel the sense of "home" that I did under the sheltering presence of that mountain.
I've been back recently and Perry's Knob doesn't look as imposing as it did to me as a child. It looks more squat and less soaring. Mr. Greenleaf died and the new people living in his house don't keep cattle or sheep, so the berry briars and maple trees are beginning to cover the hillside once more. Gone are the cow-created paths with switchbacks to help them navigate the steep slope. Gone is the uniform grassy green, manicured so that the tree-covered peak of the mountain looked so much more forbidding. Now instead of looking like a postcard from Switzerland, it looks like a hundred thousand other West Virginia hillsides. Even home doesn't seem like home anymore.
December 8, 1999 (Wednesday)
It seems that most of my more profound and lucid thoughts come to me just after I wake up in the morning. I guess that's when my mind is rested, purged of the effluvia of existence and is still unpolluted by the daily flotsam and jetsam that washes up on the shore of our consciousness and sullies the clarity of our thinking. Then, again, some of my most bizarre thoughts and notions seem to form in that exact same time.
Whatever ideas and notions come to me in that post slumber state usually don't survive intact past the first cup of coffee. I've tried not drinking coffee, thinking it might be the culprit, but the effect was the same with water or tea, so I suspect time is the destroyer, not the steamy black liquid I love so well. Either that or the normal waking consciousness is too busy with other things to try to hold onto anything other than the pragmatic considerations of everyday living.
Sometimes there are so many things running loose in my skull, that it's hard to figure out what to say (or write, in this case). It's like a jumble of words and images, emotions swirled through like the chocolate in a cheap brick of fudge marble ice cream. Sometimes the best idea is just to savor the mixture of flavors and textures and let them caress your tongue and not try to separate and classify them and try to make a rational (read: left-brained) dish of it all.
It's the season for children and bright colored paper and song and food and wassail (whatever the hell that is). Santa, if you're out there, bring me a big ol' fast computer so I can retire this piece of junk before it causes a major fire or something.
December 9, 1999 (Thursday)
It's been an interesting couple of days. I installed the new version 5 of AOL. Well, was that a mistake! It insinuated itself into my system so that it looked more like Steve Case built the operating system instead of Bill Gates. Well, Steve-o, I don't want AOL as my operating system, and I don't want it to look like it is either. I use the Bring Your Own Access option, which means I log on through my regular ISP. Well. . . The new AOL pumps their Network Adapters into the system, and I can't connect reliably to my ISP when they're in there. I take them out, AOL won't connect (see my page title -- subtract one). I think the most reasonable fix for this problem is to move all my web pages from the AOL server and cancel the account. This has really pissed me off.
Oh, and before I forget, Bah! Humbug! ::grin::
December 10, 1999 (Friday)
No Entry Today
December 11, 1999 (Saturday)
More computer/connection problems yesterday. I cleaned up and hooked up an old NMB keyboard to this machine. I like it a whole lot better than any keyboard I've ever used. Better than the original IBM PS/2 keyboards, better than the Amiga 1000 keyboard. The only one I've ever liked as well or better was the main console keyboard on an IBM 370/168 -- It was so tactile, but it was built into a desktop and attached to a console that weighed a couple tons. I don't have much room to put that. This one is classified as a "click mechanical." It has mechanical switches instead of the now standard membrane keys, and the keys click ever so lightly. The down stroke and the rebound are both positive, so the feedback gives a certainty to the feel. It's a nice board (NMB RT-101+). I'm trying to find out if they still make them. I'd like to have a new one (this one is about 10 years old and somewhat worse for the wear).
Today has been an adventure on how to stay online long enough to accomplish anything.
I've been trying to come up with an idea for an online holiday card, but so far I'm coming up empty. I'm in another lull. Seems like they come closer together lately.
December 12, 1999 (Sunday)
I was out walking a while ago. As I went past the local Rent-To-Own (those blood sucking, opportunitstic, predatory, rape-the-poor, scum-of-the-earth bastards. . . but, that's another rant. . .) store, I noticed that people had slid their checks under the door so that the manager would get payment first thing tomorrow morning and not come take away the furniture/tv/appliance. People should realize that if they slide checks under the *glass* door other people who walk by can read the check, thereby getting name, address, bank account number, and in a lot of cases social security number. Granted, most people who use the services (?) of a Rent-To-Own don't have massive bank accounts, but the possiblity is there that some thief with low expectations could very well Rip Them Off for what they do have, and that would be devastating to them (as opposed to the way the RTO places rip them off -- at least they get *something* out of it). People! Put your check in an envelope before you stuff it under the door. At least, slide it in face down.
On a lighter note, I FINALLY got my ZIP drive to work again, just in time to realize that it is totally inadequate to my purposes, and is way too expensive to keep up. ZIP disks cost about $7.50 each (if you buy them in quantities of 50 or more, wholesale -- about $8.00 or $8.25 for quantities of 10), and they only hold 100 MB. I think I paid about $149.00 for the drive when I got it. It also hooks up to the parallel port and bogs my system down (what doesn't) when it's in use. On the other hand, the new CD-RW drives cost about $150.00 to $300.00 for a really quick one. The media is between $0.79 and $1.00 and holds 660 MB. That seems a lot more cost effective to me. $1.00 for 660 MB compared to $63.00 for the same space on ZIP disks (at eight bucks a pop). Aye, but here's the rub. I already have the ZIP disk, and I don't have the money to buy a CD-RW. So, like the people who rent to own, I'm stuck paying more for less simply because I'm poor. Well, it was going to be on a lighter note when I started the paragraph.
My scanner doesn't work, so mainly this diary project is going to be text for a while. If I bore you, let me know. Likewise, if I inspire you, let me know that, too (hey, I can dream, can't I?).
December 13, 1999 (Monday)
The things that go through my mind sometimes, I have to laugh, and I have to wonder.
I saw a lot of birds this morning. I started wondering if El Niño and La Niña have altered the migratory habits of birds. I also wonder how much of the warm winters we've had lately is due to global warming caused by our own capitalist hubris? A prime example of this arrogance, this self-destructive self-absorption is found in a quote from Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher: "Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation of man, a peril to the peace of the world, or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be 'uneconomic' you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper." This is the morality of wealth. The ethics of power. Might makes right. He who has the gold makes the rules. Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.
The WTO gathering in Seattle, and the concommitant protests and insuing fray showed me that the world is beginning to polarize along the have-havenot lines. The Brave New World of Bladerunner is about to be upon us.
Well, I can make graphical elements with the computer and put them here. .
December 14, 1999 (Tuesday)
No Entry Today
December 15, 1999 (Wednesday)
You know, some things just don't make sense. And if you look hard enough into those things, I think you'll find at the root of them, a religious leader, a self-annointed philosopher, a lawyer (includes politicians), a design engineer, or a real estate developer. And in the worst instances, it's a combination of two or more of the above.
I've spend a goodly amount of time today catching up on my mail art projects. I sent out the first calls sometime in the Summer, and haven't sorted through what I've received and sent responses to people. I've got the documentation prepared on the "Art is Fraud" project and ready to mail out. There were only two entries from the US. I had as many from Italy, three from Brazil, and one each from Spain, Germany, France, Japan, and Norway, for a total of twelve. The response has been somewhat better for "Cash 'n Carry" and "Infinite Regression." The "Cash 'n Carry" will be an exhibition project with the show sometime next summer. I guess I'll put together the 1999 documentation for "Infinite Regression" sometime this weekend.
December 16, 1999 (Thursday)
Today's been a day of frustration. Nothing seems to work right. Ever have a life like that?
Doug Imbrogno, of The Charleston Gazette, swiped my e-mail signature and put it in the paper this morning. Well, he did tell me he was going to, so I guess it's okay. . .
"L'Art est fait pour troubler, la Science rassure." -- Georges Braque (Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.)
December 17, 1999 (Friday)
I thought seriously about typing in "No Entry Today" and letting it go at that. Fighting with the computer, my ISP, AOL, my weight, health. . . it just gets daunting sometimes. There are a lot of things I want to talk about here, but lately it seems my thoughts won't coalesce. A lot of what I've been thinking about is purely local in nature, so it wouldn't be appropriate to this space. After all, this covers both edges of the spectrum, and leaves out the middle.
I'm finishing up a book called Handling It: How I got Rich and famous, made media stars out of common Street Scum, and almost got the girl." It's by Joe Clifford Faust. He lives in Ohio. It's a pretty good book, kind of a scifi comedy. I expect someone will eventually make a movie out of it, starring Tom Hanks, no doubt. It takes a rather cynical view of the future, and it's probably right. It's been published,too, as two paperbacks titled Ferman's Devils and Boddeckker's Demons. Amazon.com lists the first as out of print. I think it's still available in hardback from Doubleday (at least from their Science Fiction Book Club). I recommend it highly.
December 18, 1999 (Saturday)
AOL is being sued by a woman in California for $10 million. Seems they wouldn't stop some of their denizens from harassing the poor woman. But really, like a $10 Million loss is going to deter AOL? Hell, they take in at least (at LEAST) 20 times that in a month, and that's discounting their membership number claims, and not counting revenues other than membership fees. They can afford to hire legions of the best (and least scrupulous) lawyers to fight it and if they lose, ::yawn::
Something is wrong when an entity (person or corporation) wields such economic power that a single person cannot get redress of grievances against them; such power that they can ignore common courtesy, the constitution, the law of the land, and the regulations of governing organizations that the rest of us are required to abide by. Economic power does not give anyone the right to do as they please simply because they have the money to do so. Politicians and law enforcement officials keep saying that no one is above the law, when in fact, if the penalties attached to certain transgressions do nothing to address the transgression, and are insufficient to deter the entity from engaging in such behavior in the future, then if one has the money, one is above the law. Such entities tend to become laws unto themselves, with no concern for the social contract. They become lumbering juggernauts, rolling over anyone who opposes them, and being so high up on their piles of money, rarely see the harm they do. Even when they see, they don't care.
The Rich are different. They have no economic restraints to enforce social behavior, just like the ghetto-dwelling sociopath who doesn't care if he lives or dies. When a person (or entity) knows there will be no consequences (at least none that sting), then they will do what they want without regard for anything other than their own desires and simple inertia.
Well, I didn't mean to get off on a rant here, but. . . (I feel like Dennis Miller, but without the incisive wit and simile)
December 19, 1999 (Sunday)
How discouraging. . . Used to be if you did an Internet search on something like "Jasper Johns" you'd find several sites biographical in nature, a few with examples of his painting, and some not related to him at all. Now, you have to dig deep into the listing to find anything but people selling his paintings, prints, or posters. The Internet has become a damn mall. Fie on you all. You usurpers of culture, you defilers of tradition, you despoilers of human interaction. Anyone know any old gypsy curses?
What happened to all the periods? Did the Dot Com's eat them all up? Used to be state names were abbreviated Miss. and W. Va. and Calif. and so on. Now it's just MS and WV and CA -- rather cryptic in some cases, like MA, ME, MI, MN -- Which one is Maine? It used to be A.C.L.U. and A.S.P.C.A. instead of ACLU and ASPCA. When did the N.A.A.C.P. and the N.C.A.A. become the NAACP and the NCAA? Was it the Post Office's fault for, in the late 60's, introducing the ZIP Code in the name of efficiency? Was it typewriter and computer manufacturers fault for making the period unavailable shifted? Was it the American penchant for paring everything to its naked essence in the name of productivity? Is any of this important? Does it signal a change in the way we think and do things, or is it just a superfluous change, a concession to the fashions of communication? Should we drop the periods on other abbreviations? Mr and Mrs and approx and Ed? Look odd that way, don't they? When did the acronym stop looking awkward without the periods? Was it NASA's fault? What, if anything, should we do about it? Should we rebel? Take back our "dots?"
December 20, 1999 (Monday)
The sky was filled with the unfulfilled promise of snow today. The temperature was in the mid 50's. Strange how what called imperatively for a jacket just a couple months ago was shirt sleeve weather today.
Wednesday night is supposed to be a spectacular full moon. It's on the solstice, and it's the closest the moon's been to the earth, and the angles are right and I think what I read said it's supposed to look 14% brighter and some amount bigger. It'll be overcast and snowing, I just know it!
December 21, 1999 (Tuesday)
The space-time continuum is the largest and most inclusive of all continua. I think perhaps the smallest and most exclusive might be the one between "broken in" and "worn out."
I've been writing poetry again. Some wouldn't call it that, but here's an example, anyway:
Thalidomide Prozac This most file to the vaginas gone all to sentence point they to the eat at least for ate it one sentence point the per physical to difficult this new keyboard or at for at file tomato thing tomato distancing had nothinguish from his program will ream-of-consciousness shit. I am will tomato was a test a bit one ally do was gone? I sure could use one all ream-of-couscous anyway (one all ream-of-constipation typing away (one see what typing away (one ally don't know if I substache. Where had now.
A lot of what I write I don't really consider appropriate for a web page. If you want to read those, you'll have to buy the book. ::grin::
NOTE: There is no book. It's a joke, son, a joke.
December 22, 1999 (Wednesday)
Nothing irritates me as much as being referred to as a "consumer." That appellation is one of the most denegrating and insulting things a person can be called, yet most people just shrug and go their way. I detest being reduced in someone's estimation to a destructive function, especially when dealing with services. I don't consume services. I use services, or avail myself of them, or partake. I do not destroy them. What's wrong with calling the people who use a service or product "customers" or "clients." Why does it have to be a narrowly defined label like "consumer?"
December 23, 1999 (Thursday)
The closer we get to Christmas, the more I question everything I see in this modern world. People rail against the over-commercialism of Christmas, yet they particiapte in the retail orgy with every cent they can muster. Last night one of the roadside service drivers for AAA got shot. Today someone robbed the bank I use. There have been several fires in the area, leaving two or three dozen people without homes. They'll have Christmas, because people will donate things, but once this weekend passes, they'll still be in a difficult position. Sometimes, for me, a holiday cheer is the most difficult thing to acheive.
There was an inspirational story in the editorial section of the Charleston Gazette this morning. Check it out: Gift of the Magi [link no longer works]
December 24, 1999 (Friday)
'Tis the eve. 'Tis the culmination of the multicolored, tinselated frenzy of buying and making, assembling and baking, cooking and stuffing and stirring the pot. No little kids in the house this year, no gray-haired grandmothers calmly sailing through the season like a graceful ship, unruffled and peaceful like the season is supposed to make us. This year, our nearly empty nest will be a different thing, one daughter only visiting, one son looking forward toward Santa Rosa after he graduates in the class of 2001.
I find myself thinking of Christmas, past, present, and future, just like that pleasant fellow, Scrooge. Christmas past for me was not an amalgam of pleasant memories, blended into a Norman Rockwell vignette of placidity and joy. Some of my memories are painful, filled with stress, and unpleasant. I've spent Christmases lonely and alone, longing for what it is that Christmas is supposed to provide us with in the middle of darkness. Christmas present is more hollow than filled, and although there will be moments of joy, I'm sure there will be moments of regret. Christmas future is hazy, but I can see the continued commercialization of it and the wringing out of it all meaning and heartfelt pleasure. Christmas makes me sad. At least, I'm not so angry anymore.
Isn't that what they say? "Depression is just anger without the enthusiasm." Give me light! None of this reflected off the snow nonsense, either, but real, live direct sunlight warming my skin and illuminating my eyes. Give me shadows, contrast. Give me July!
December 25, 1999 (Saturday) (Christmas)
No Entry Today
December 26, 1999 (Sunday)
No Entry Today
December 27, 1999 (Monday)
No Entry Today
December 28, 1999 (Tuesday)
I suppose everyone gets reflective when the year changes, particularly now that the odometer is going to all zeroes but the first. Whenever I get pensive, it tends toward the dire and the pessimistic. It's no wonder I try to avoid consciousness this time of year. Unfortunately, with my ulcers, I'm no longer permitted to drink myself into oblivion for the transition, so I just get depressed and pissed off instead.
It's been snowing here the past few days. There's not enough to cover the blades of grass, so there's no aesthetic beauty to it. There's just enough to cause traffic accidents and line the city gutters with gray sludge. It's an ugly snow, a pathetic snow, a hateful snow. I wish it would go away.
No sooner had I said that, than it started to snow. Now the street are covered and the little blades of grass are struggling to keep their heads above the rising level of "white stuff." I can barely see the hillside 3/4 of a mile away. The sky is white, and I guess I'll have to try to find something aesthetic about it here shortly.
Sometime in the future, one of the Monks of the Religion of Wealth (what we today call Investment Bankers) will look back and decide that our enumeration of time should start on what we currently call October 28, 1955. That date will mark the beginning of the New Era, A.G.
I'm considering discontinuing this project. Maybe I'll make the online diary a 20th Century thing. I've not gotten any comments on it in about a month, and only 17 total (of those, only two or three from people I don't know). I don't think anyone is reading this. Therefore, it makes no sense for me to continue writing it.
December 29, 1999 (Wednesday)
Well, only a couple more days. I'm wondering what to do for THE New Year's eve. It has become the "in" thing to do to stay home for the evening. Well, that rules THAT out. I was thinking about finding a building to stand on top of and watch the fireworks downtown. I don't know. I'm not sure I care any more.
December 30, 1999 (Thursday)
No Entry Today
December 31, 1999 (Friday)
It's the last day of the year, century, millennium. Boris Yeltsin resigned today. It feels pretty much like any other day to me. I've fought with my computer, tried to get better organized, to stay on my diet, to get some exercise, to accomplish something. Have I acheived anything? Maybe. . .
People talking about the millennium on CNN -- most everyone talks about computers and how no one should be left out, how we should have access to markets. . . Good greif! Is THAT all it's all about? Access to markets? Are we put here on this earth, in this reality, simply to SELL things to each other? Surely there's more to it than that. Surely selling is small in the whole picture. Please?
This morning the paper had an article about the Playboy publication of more of the Jesse Ventura interview. Among other things, he said Garrison Keilor was too conservative. He also said that the National Endowment for the Arts needs to be abolished and that struggling artists need to be waiting tables. What stunning and completely arrogant stupidity! I'm so damn tired of artists being considered, alternately, superfluous, detestable, or just another kind of business. It goes back to the American notion that everything is a business and is market-driven. That is such a myopic view of things. There is no thought of the future past the next quarter's earning projections. There is no thought of any occupation except one that generates immediate wealth. Traditionally, the rulers have supported the arts. The church supported the arts up until the renaissance. Leonardo and Michelangelo were subsidised and commissioned by both the church and the Medicis, who were the political powers of the time. In modern democracies, it would be incumbent on the elected government to support the arts. Unless Ventura and others are willing to admit that we live in an oligarchy controlled by the holders of wealth and not in a duly elected representative democracy, then they should shut the hell up about abolishing support for the arts, and start trying to get more support so the artists will shut up and stop pointing out what ignorant hypocrites politicians are. And where the hell does Ventura get off calling ANYONE too conservative? Laisez Faire is NOT liberal, asshole.
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