At the risk of sounding like a raving, gibbering Apple fanboy, I’ve got to ask, what’s up with all the FUD? [fear, uncertainty, doubt] First there is the paranoia about Apple tracking you through your DRM-less $1.29 downloads, and now there’s this big deal about no longer being able to convert DRM’ed AACs to DRM-less MP3s (discovered via boingboing.net.)
In summary, perhaps the easiest hack to strip the DRM from iTunes Music Store AACs is to burn the songs to disc, then re-rip them. Personally, I would re-rip them to Apple Lossless, because the songs are already cut-rate quality as they are, and re-encoding them into a lossy format like MP3 or AAC can introduce very subtle but very annoying artifacts into the sound. The corresponding Apple Lossless track is about 10x bigger than it’s AAC counterpart, but hard drive space is cheap, and who really needs all 7,000 tracks that can fit on a 30GB 5th generation iPod? According to iTunes, it would take me 42½ days straight to listen to all of my music without repeating a single song, and unless there really is gonna be another Great Flood coming our way, I think I’ll be OK with having a few hundred-or-so less songs on my iPod.
But I digress.
The concern is that in iTunes 7.2, for some reason, you can’t play the re-ripped tracks on your iPod. I don’t know if this was intentional or not. It sounds weird, though, because apparently there isn’t a problem if you re-encode the songs as DRM-less AAC.
Come on, people, buck up. Just because corporations are known for screwing people over doesn’t mean you can’t get up, work around them, and screw them back. No need to whine. Just stick it to The Man like the hippies did!
Still, the Apple fanboy in me is pretty skeptical that they did this on purpose. I want to see what iTunes 7.2.1 is gonna be like, first.
Now I think Apple is doing the right thing by offering DRM-free music. Although, frankly, the DRM’ed stuff is not all that hard to crack. Just burn it to CD then re-encode it with the Apple Lossless codec. No loss of quality necessary. (I wouldn’t recommend re-encoding to mp3 or AAC unless you don’t care and/or don’t notice the drop in quality.) Hard drive space is cheap, anyway. My 30 GB 5G iPod cost me less than my (sadly, broken) 20 GB 2G iPod. And if you don’t want to waste a CD-R, I’m sure there are other hacks out there for removing the DRM.
All of the sudden, there’s this bugaboo about Apple encoding your user information in the DRM-free AACs you download. Paranoid much?! You know what they say, if you aren’t guilty, you have nothing to hide. Hehe.
But seriously, come on. Ever heard of
sed -i s/Your Name//g gnarls_barkeley-crazy.m4a
Voila! Your name is gone, daddy, gone.
(WARNING: I haven’t actually tried this, and this may completely corrupt your AAC file beyond all redemption. Don’t blame me. You’re the idiot who didn’t make a backup.)
You turned me inside out and you showed me what life was about only you, the only one who stole my heart away
I am staring at the sun glimmering over the glorious sea once again, pondering the infinite, twisting paths of destiny that have led me to this wondrous shore. And somehow my iPod is sadistically taunting me with love songs and lullabies.
Looking back as lovers go walking past all of my life wondering how they met and what makes it last
There is something achingly beautiful about this sense of endless desolation juxtaposed with the joyful beauty of the ocean. It’s perfect.
The waves give me this inexplicable intuition that fate is guaranteed to lead me to places and experiences that I had never considered. I am naiëvely hoping that fortune promises to lead me to happier things. I’ve definitely had my fill of sorrow and disappointment. Oh, I know. Chance favors the prepared mind. There really isn’t much more I can do but endure. And continue to hope. And dream.
isang pagkakataon lang… one chance only minsan sa buhay… once in a lifetime
time like a rushing freight train slamming into a concrete post history is the unleashed fireball turning the roadways into jelly
isang sandali lang… one brief moment only ito na lang ang naiwan… this is all that is left tahimik stillness at walang nagsasalita silence
my soul shudders bound beyond all reason in this ever-shrinking prison wrought with my own two hands black iron encircling the guards watch from the shadowy towers
hindi pa makahinto dito… we cannot stop here hindi pa makapahinga ngayon… we cannot rest now
minsan lang sana maging totoo… if only once it could come true ang mga nais, ang mga panaginip ko… my wishes, my dreams
in this moment striding forth into that empty darkness the space between spaces the interstices, the watersheds as dreams interrupt the waking hours and who can say which is more real?
I just finished watching ”Sand Pebbles” which stars Steve McQueen, and it’s a brilliant, intricately subtle anti-war movie that has excruciatingly painful relevance to the present day absurdity of the continued occupation of Iraq by the U.S. “Sand Pebbles” chronicles the tribulations of Jake Holman, an engineer in the U.S. Navy assigned to a gunboat patrolling the Yangtze. The setting is China during the tumultous revolutionary era, as Chiang Kai-shek attempts to oust the warlords whom the western powers support. The specter of Soviet involvement looms large, and so the U.S. characteristically sticks its nose into something that they probably shouldn’t have. Getting involved in other nations’ civil wars seems to be a pretty bad idea if you ask me.
Steve McQueen plays a cynical, somewhat anti-social engineer, who cares for nothing except for taking care of his machines. But the politics and racial dynamics quickly interposes itself into his life, starting with his interactions with the hired Chinese labor, and soon encompassing the tenuous political situation in which the captain of the ship is obsessed with how America looks to the world, caught between the rock of preserving American lives and the hard place of not providing fodder for the Communists to use as propaganda against the U.S.
This movie was released in 1966, anticipating the fervent anti-war movement in the U.S. against the very parallel American involvement in a civil war in Vietnam. The last lines of the movie capture the painful absurdity of American lives lost for causes not our own. “What happened?! What the hell happened?!?!”
There are certain parts of the year that seem to get me down. That perception may simply be apophenia. A meaningless confluence of stimuli that cause me to believe there is some sort of pattern. Like listening for voices on blank cassette tapes. Or seeing the image of the Virgin Mary on a scrap of tree bark.
I think I just need to stop.
Time to stop holding onto things I have no reason to hold on to, and time to find the paths that are worth treading.
But the whole reason why this popped into my head is because of this mashup of Joy Division and Missy Elliot entitled ”Love Will Freak Us” (rediscovered via the Hype Machine on Timedoor), which is naturally composed of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Get Ur Freak On.” Missy’s infectious hit broke out that summer of 2001 (another hit by Timbaland, who’d’ve thunk it?) reminding me of sultry, sweltering nights spent in Manhattan, but I didn’t find this mash-up until around 2004, I think. I have this isolated memory of wandering around the Loop and the Mag Mile in Chicago with my iPod on. I don’t even remember where the hell I was going.
I could spend hours scour the net for mashups and other bullshit. Who needs a life when you’ve got an internet connection?
Who’d’ve thunk that a movie based on an amusement park ride would’ve been so successful? (Maybe Eddie Murphy, but he didn’t quite pick the right horse.) Until Keira Knightley started favoring the corpse look (even if she doesn’t have an eating disorder, it still doesn’t look right) I actually found her quite fetching. And I suppose you can’t lose with the women if you’ve got Legolas and the guy from 21 Jump Street.
I’m seriously digging on The Hype Machine, a mp3 blog aggregator. Sure, there are probably less painful ways to try and find your favorite track currently being played by
the Evil Empire Clear Channel, but for more of the underground, completely whacked-out stuff, you gotta check it.
(I am currently listening to a mashup of Muse and Justin Timberlake: Sexymassive Back Hole. OK, it’s just a little homoerotic. But, seriously, this shit is tight. JT’s “SexyBack” and Muse’s “Supermassive Black Holes” Where do they think of this shit?)
On the off chance that you actually cared, I’ve changed this blog’s URL. You will find the latest drek escaping from my vacuous soul at http://disorderedthoughtprocesses.com, and for once the domain name actually matches the title. This will be a transparent process, thanks to the beauty that is the Apache Web Server, and thanks to the beauty of Wordpress itself.
You would think that this would be something well-documented and easy to find, but not even the awesome powers of the Googlebot manages to get this on the first try. In case you actually want to know how to move your Wordpress blog from one server to another with the least amount of hassle, try this (you will need Wordpress 2.1 or greater):
- Go to the Dashboard of your old blog and click on the ‘Manage’ tab.
- Then click on the ‘Export’ tab.
- Click on the ‘Download Export File’ button. This will save a large XML file to your hard drive which contains the entire contents of your blog, including entries, comments, and other uploaded files.
- Go to the Dashboard of your new blog and click on the ‘Manage’ tab.
- Click on the ‘Import’ tab.
- Click on the ‘Wordpress’ link.
- Use the file picker and find the aforementioned large XML file that contains the entire contents of your blog.
- Click on the ‘Upload file and import’ button
The one thing that worries me is the 7 MB limitation. I’ve only been using Wordpress for a year and a half now, and I’ve already gotten to about 4.5 MB. Hopefully a year and a half from now, this limitation will be fixed.
Oh, and if (1) the domain of your old blog will remain active, (2) you have shell access to your website, and (3) your setup allows the use of
.htaccess files, the following will seamlessly redirect your readers to the new URL:
- Delete or rename your existing
.htaccessfile. It generally resides in the root directory of your Wordpress installation, and will typically be invisible. In Unix and related OSes in which Wordpress generally runs, this means typing the following at the command line to delete the file:
rm .htaccessOr you can use the following to rename the file:
mv .htaccess whatever-filename-you-want
- Use your favorite text editor to create a new
.htaccessfile. For example:
- In this file, place the following line:
redirect 301 / http://new-blog.domain-name.com/
Once you save the file, redirection should work right away, although apparently it takes Google a while to reindex your site, so you may see a significant drop in traffic.
This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.
How much changes in a single week. Anticipation has lately been more enjoyable than the real thing. My fault as usual.
Am I really that much more selfish than I used to be? I suppose I’ve always been selfish. Who isn’t these days? (Or is that just my warped perception? A twisted act of sophistry?)
I am beginning to really appreciate what my psychiatrist has pointed out about the ugly desperation of just trying to survive. I blithely wonder if I’ll ever really escape from this mode of existence, always desperately scrambling to claim what I perceive as my fair share. It’s always less than I imagine, indeed, markedly so. I have come to believe that fairness is an exclusively human construction not at all borne out by reality. There is no hyperintelligent superbeing enforcing it. And yet I don’t want to live in such a dog-eat-dog world.
It can’t possibly be right that the only rational act is suicide. My protean brain refuses to accept such an atrocious conclusion. It may well be true, in a mathematical sort of way, but as much as I talk the game, I simply can’t sustain my drive towards self- obliteration. My biological programming is simply dead-set against it.
So what do I do? Swing back and forth like a pendulum until I get too tired to care. The universe, I suppose, will take care of the rest. Entropy always wins in the end.
cry for stillness listen, that rhythm, that beat crashing and burning spinning and turning we’re dancing, we’re diving we’re dreaming, we’re scheming
light and scatter time shatters, shards, splinters, splatters we’ve only just begun voices crying out howling on the wind spin, beloved, twirl screaming in the desert wastes in the bleak, scarred wilderness of my soul
tripping and falling herking and jerking like an epileptic on speed the pupils dilate the heart beat races
dreaming spaces traces lost and forsaken
mark where the paths cross like a tight braid, a strangling skein destiny unyielding like a fly wrapped up in spider-silk still and lost gazing at the maw of death abrading and lacerating scraping and rasping
Death’s too good for ‘em.
Light! sing the glory of angels floating on the western sky like shimmering clouds firestorms of the fall, come early this blistering summertime this scalding solstice dessicating and despoiling
Blight! the empty interiors of my wretched soul the vast, haunted echo chambers, still and silent but even the darkness breathes the great winds sweeping
Brilliant Aching like crystal meth directly into the bloodstream I taste starlight and breathe the sun
spilling, brimming this corrosive acid glass etching burning away
it’s all just burning away
falling, fading twisted jaded we are one with the universe in its near-infinite emptiness the silence this deafening roar echoing within and without
8 minutes when the sun implodes it’s 8 minutes before the searing blast the nuclear holocaust stripping away electron clouds leaving superheated plasma streaming to the ends of the universe
Nothingness This shiftless chaos This quantum foam all that ever was all that will be
Nothingness still and silent in the darkness past midnight dreaming still of unicorns dragons and wizards princesses and knights of happily ever after and other such foolishness the wounded heart still beats the shattered soul still hopes I am cold and alone and still waiting for stillness
Could I have saved her—?
And thereby have saved myself?
Knowing what I know
doing what I do
and all I’m good for
is letting people slip through my fingers
To seek salvation
I’m just spinning my wheels
‘til you puke your guts out
There are vast territories
of my soul
that are rotten
decaying and gangrenous
the first mistake
(she still lurks in the dark corners of my mind
ready to waylay me in the most unlikely of moments)
the second mistake all but inevitable
then the third and the fourth
until the count unwinds
lose track of the digits
We whittle away
day by day
first a toe
then a foot
then a thigh
the creepy crawlies close in
my soul writhes
but I fail to move
When was the biggest hit?
when was the most damage wrought?
as parts of my soul infarct
bloodless then scarring
each heart beat fraught with peril
fraying like worn thread
We spin the hands of the clock
and it’s all meaningless
the Aprils and Mays come with false promise
then summer comes to wither my dreams away
should my heart just be still
silent like ancient stone
the numbness slowly turning into death with each grudging, painful breath
And even this is fleeting
like trying to stop the speeding advance
of a meteor come crashing to earth
with nothing but a wish and a song
still the earth turns
heedless as it crushes my bones
trods upon my skull
like lashes from a whip
blows from a billy club
still I rise and forge on
the yoke drags me along
the furrowed tracks of time
This will end! sayeth I
despite knowing all I’ve known
the endless, trackless despair
the neverending emptiness
whirling around like a juggernaut
oh for that final stillness
bereft of all regret
for that final silence
and the comfort of oblivion
In my dreams, evil is always man-shaped the cockroaches and the worms fill me with loathing but they do not fill me with despair hatred disgust
they do not kindle my heart to murder the shape is my shadow I am what I despise
The shape of home has always been wrapped up in the arms of my beloved some long ago forgotten place lost in the heaped-up jumble of my rotting soul my decaying mind desolation
I only guess that time eats space and even home can disappear be destroyed be erased and again I’m chasing shadows chased by shadows treading over ground swallowed up overridden overwritten disappeared
Home, this vast shape residing in the confines of my memory this lingering touch lost in the fragrance of her hair I am dreaming again of what will never be of time past, time lost dreams trod upon torn asunder tattered and misshapen
I looked askance something hopelessly forgotten the distant feeling of a memory obscured communication garbled out of sync I am remembering something that I could not have known the contours of her face the brilliance of her smile her smile, awakening something like laughter turns me inside out her smile, what else could I wish for? like sunlight on a May morning glinting across the silvery sea
Did I hold her for a scant moment? a fraction of a second a thin slice of time in these interstices, and forgotten moments I am home then forever exiled
Do we not live in these fractionated moments? The fraying milliseconds kept in rhythm by the drumbeat of bouncing photons Is this not the half-life of happiness? To peak, then decay keener than sharpened steel heavier than granite then gone like a puff of smoke
The emptiness is what gives shape The absence reminds us of presence My longing for you as you turn away is all that there is all that there will be and the silence thereafter will follow me to the ends of the earth knowing that you are not there that home is nowhere that I am alone
so what this allows is drunken blogging. Perfect.
quote of the evening: “no reenactments of ‘Deliverance’?”
spiral despair rif(f)ling through the trash rummaging through the detritus perimeters, delimiters, we rage through time and distance the memories well up untold unbidden
spin, spill, spiral, spite the damage done no rest for the weary no respite for the despairing and all the love in the world like a river flows around me
in avoidance in repugnance
the tree roots dessicated impenetrable granite slowly eroding with the passing time
dead beyond all saving and still we draw breath involuntarily nothing but meat reduced to machinery electric shocks sinews tighten the desecration of a corpse
is it just the cloud cover? the unending grey? the swords unsheathed banners unfurled?
the songs and the minstrelry? and four months, four years a decade, a lifetime, an epoch? crumbling, fading, scratches across the glass scrapes against the wall the skritch-skritch of a dull pencil writing furtively on a paper scrap
call this not confusion feigning, deigning, reigning chaos emptiness spewed forth like evisceration like an augury entrails dripping down the sides of the dishes sleeps with the fishes
we can sing about destiny all we want radioactive, alternative, meta-organic the tide flows in, the tide flows out
we can sing about fate and fatality and about hate and intransigence
there was a time (quickly fading from my memory) when the sea was all I ever needed all I ever wanted and that moment lapses like a hiccup a barely suppressed cough the unsneezed sneeze
love lost, beyond all recovery like receding starlight leaving me with the cold emptiness of this dying universe
…and as Homer Simpson warns, this is the first step to failure.
It’s 2:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep.
Suffice it to say that I am extremely pissed off right now. What a god damned fucking waste. It’s true what they say. In times of crisis, you find out quickly who actually gives a shit about you, and who is just using you for the sake of convenience. Some people really only know how to manipulate people as objects and have no interest in what you think or feel. C’est la vie. You live and learn.
Hmm. The timestamps are kind of screwed up. This app i’m using is posting in Greenwich mean time or something. Or I wonder if it’s the blog engine. Good thing they’re both Open Source. Of course that means I’m gonna be pissing away a few more hours of my life screwing around with code.
I wonder if I’ll learn how to text faster. Or maybe I can learn how to touch text. How fucking nerdy.
Woot! I like flying back from the East Coast. It makes you feel like there’s so much time in the day because of the time zone difference.
The last time my sister graduated, I was seriously in love with S. While in the back of my head I suppose I always knew it wasn’t going to work, I had been doing a good job ignoring that particular fact. Naturally, when I got back to Chicago, everything went to hell, and I went into a patented downward spiral.
This is what you get for believing in fairy tales, and trying to fly by wishing.
So four years (!?) have passed, and I am perhaps much more cautious and much more jaded. I have no illusions at this point. But strangely, I am more hopeful. For what, I don’t know. The horizons are pretty damn wide-open, and while I’m starting to get used to the idea of eternal loneliness, there are still a few shattered fragments of my heart that refuse to die.
Dum spiro, spero. There is still hope while I breathe.
I tell you, my life has been divided up in four year blocks for so long, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself after finishing residency. Once again, the trajectory of my life remains to be determined. Am I going to stay in San Diego? Will I finally end up in L.A. once and for all? Will I actually make it back to the Bay Area, even if it’s only for a year or two? Or will I end up somewhere completely unexpected? Chi-town? NYC? Alaska? Hawai’i? New Mexico? Canada? Old Mexico? Buenos Aires? Reykjavik? Taipei? Bangkok? Katmandu? Who knows?
I can imagine a roulette wheel spinning round and round somewhere. Where do I lay down my chips?
You know what would be an excellent Turing test?
Spot the fembot.
Using the ingenuity of spammers against themselves! Sweet!
The trick would be how to turn it into an algorithm so I can have a bot-proof CAPTCHA for my comment system. And maybe I can sell it to Myspace so that they can implement some kind of system where fembots couldn’t spam me every 15 minutes.
Maybe I’m just being morbid. Maybe it’s because I just finished working in the ICU and watched plenty of people die and signed plenty of death certificates. Maybe it’s because I had dinner with (among others) someone who works for the medical examiner. Nothing like talking about people who died in sudden, unexpected, and often gruesome ways while having Japanese food. Maybe it’s because the track before this one was “Mad World” by Tears for Fears, which has the classic line “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had,” a song that was resurrected by Gary Jules and the movie “Donnie Darko.”
But this song makes me think of dying.
Take that look of worry I’m an ordinary man They don’t tell me nothing So I find out all I can There’s a fire that’s burning Right outside my door I can’t see but I feel it And it helps to keep me warm So I, I don’t mind No I, I don’t mind Seems so long I’ve been waiting Still don’t know what for There’s no point of escaping I don’t worry anymore I can’t come out to find you I don’t like to go outside They can’t turn off my feelings Like they’re turning off a light But I, I don’t mind No I, I don’t mind Oh I, I don’t mind No I, I don’t mind So take, take me home ‘cause I don’t remember Take, take me home ‘cause I don’t remember Take, take me home ‘cause I don’t remember Take, take me home, Oh Lord ‘cause I’ve been a prisoner all my life And I can say to you Take that look of worry, mine’s an ordinary life Working when its daylight And sleeping when its night I’ve got no far horizons I don’t wish upon a star They don’t think that I listen Oh but I know who they are And I, I don’t mind No I, I don’t mind Oh I, I don’t mind No I, I don’t mind
Seriously, though, this makes me think of someone on death’s door, sedated and paralyzed so that they don’t pull out their breathing tube, but whom the family is not ready to pull the plug on. The line “I can’t see but I feel it” is kind of eerie. The line “They can’t turn off my feelings/like they’re turning off a light” creeps me out.
The preceding lines—
Seems so long I’ve been waiting Still don’t know what for There’s no point of escaping I don’t worry anymore I can’t come out to find you I don’t like to go outside
—totally make me think of being paralyzed and sedated despite knowing that there’s nothing that can be done to make things better. It’s simply prolonging the inevitable. Dragging out the process of dying. And for what, when they can’t get up out of bed or even wake up to talk to you?
I don’t know. Would this be an appropriate funeral song? I’ll put it in my advance directive, maybe.
A while back (in 2005) I discovered this cover album entitled ”Urban Renewal” which is basically a Hip-Hop/R&B tribute album to Phil Collins, and Malik Pendleton does a cover of this song. The artists involved are pretty interesting:
- “Another Day in Paradise” Brandy and Ray J
- “Sussudio” Ol’ Dirty Bastard
- “In the Air Tonite” L’il Kim
- “Easy Lover” Coko
- “Do You Remember?” Debelah Morgan
- “Against All Odds” Montell Jordan
- “One More Night” Changing Faces
- “I Wish it Would Rain Down” Brian McKnight
- “Take Me Home” Malik Pendleton
Of note, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony also used the chorus from this song, in ”Home”
Who knew Hip-Hop and R&B artists were into Phil Collins?
And in more Phil Collins-related news, there is a mashup of Phil Collins and Bloc Party—
—put together by DJ Lobsterdust. There are also a few other Bloc Party mashups on there, like with Luniz and with Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. Bizarre. But I suppose Bloc Party is another topic entirely.
Did you know that Tiffany did a cover of Alphaville’s song? Weirdness.
I am currently wasting my life scouring iTunes for weird remixes. It has been highly rewarding, and highly entertaining. There are all sorts of fucked-up, genre-crossing remakes here. The ones I dig the most are the rock crossovers to hip-hop, or even better, the salsa and marimba versions.
It may be time to start myself an mp3 blog. Hmm.
I am now reduced to merely posting song lyrics.
You swear you recall nothing at all That could make you come back down You made up your mind to leave it all behind Now you’re forced to fight it out You fall away from your past But it’s following you You fall away from your past But it’s following you You left something undone, it’s now your rerun It’s the one you can’t erase You should have made it right, so you wouldn’t have to fight To put a smile back on your face You fall away from your past But it’s following you You fall away from your past But it’s following you You fall away You fall away Something I’ve done that I can’t outrun Something I’ve done that I can’t outrun Maybe you should wait maybe you should run But there’s something you’ve said that can’t be undone And you fall away from your past But it’s following you You fall away from your past But it’s following you
It’s déjà vu all over again.
Driving back from Harrah’s on the Rincon tribal lands, my iPod suddenly popped up ”Wichita Lineman Was a Song I Once Heard” by the KLF. (The KLF?!?) This immediately took me back to my childhood, when I couldn’t go to sleep without the radio on, and the station I would listen was the easy listening station. It used to be called KJOI 99, but now I think it’s Star 98.7. Crazy.
I am a lineman for the county. And I drive the mainroad. Lookin’ in the sun for another overload. I hear you singing in the wire. I can hear you thru the whine. And the Wichita Lineman, is still on the line. I know I need a small vacation. But it don’t look like rain. And if it snows that stretch down south, won’t ever stand the strain. And I need you more than want you. And I want you for all time. And the Wichita Lineman, is still on the line.
I totally rediscovered the KLF when I found out that they were followers of Discordianism, which is essentially a quasi-religion centered around the worship of Chaos. Now that’s a religion I can stand by.
Random, I know.
I’m feeling sick to my stomach for some reason. I don’t know. I don’t know.
There is the distinct possibility that I am once and for all finally losing my mind.
Man, that was an incredible waste. Three hours down the drain just to get a stupid RSS widget to work in Myspace. I wish that Myspace would just let me crosspost to their blog engine, but noooo.
It would probably be worthwhile to chronicle how I ended up having to write my own widget, and to document all the dead-ends I ran into until I settled on doing this, but, frankly, I’ve wasted enough time. Bleh.
In other news, the levels of procrastination to which I have risen no know bounds. I honestly need a swift kick in the ass. And I need to turn off this stinking computer. Damn.
Procrastination is like masturbation. At first, it might feel pretty good, but in the end, you’re only screwing yourself. —Anonymous
Hope? Don’t talk to me about hope. One day at a time, brother. One day at a time.
Reminiscing about distant journeys lost in the murky mist of my fading memories down that Mother Road, and the paths of generations past to the south side and the lake shore and back again to the mountain pass and to the Sea the years wash upon the sands, wave after wave
Dreaming again of that long road through the plains and the desert and the changing shapes of drifting clouds against the illimitable blue of the sunlit sky and the dry summer heat and the lightning storms rain come down in torrents, then stops
The snow-filled pass, the dizzying descent And the last bridge across the silent waves the City glittering on that other shore the bank of fog rolling in from the Sea
Remembering who and what I am and trying to latch on to that sense of being caught up in that moment ere I had taken another step on this lonely road
I woke up at 3 am for no good reason and couldn’t get back to sleep.
Bizarrely, I had this song in my head.
Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere
A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night
Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin’ anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night
Dont stop believin’
Hold on to the feelin’
I have come to realize that the living room of my apartment resembles a terrorist command center. I have three computers and four LCD screens, seven speakers plus a subwoofer, a TV, and a receiver as well as all the requisite cables and hubs and what not in here, because (1) I couldn’t fit it all in my room anyway and (2) the first rule of sleep hygiene is to only use the bedroom for sleeping.
Because the window in the living room opens onto a walkway, and I’m not enough of an exhibitionist to let everyone check me out while they walk by, I always the blinds closed.
Darkness has never really been my friend.
There was an impulse attached to this blog entry, but I find that I have no desire to describe what that impulse is.
Instead, I will blather away about everything and nothing, but mostly nothing.
If this were a real blog post, the content would go here.
Since it’s Mother’s Day, I’m going to meet my parents at the casino. I sometimes worry that my parents have a gambling problem. But whatcha gonna do.
I kind of don’t really want to drive up through the godforsaken mountains of northeast San Diego County, what with being a little sleepy and all, but I’m committed, filial piety and all that.
Lord have mercy on my soul, and my ever-quaking heart. I don’t know where this all came from, but it’s frankly kind of nuts.
I will leave it at that.
We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem. — Tricia McMillan AKA Trillian from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Mad schemes are whirling around in my mind. Despite knowing that it’s all going to turn into a colossal train wreck, I am nonetheless intent on pursuing this path of self-destruction. What can I do? Testosterone makes me do stupid things.
(It’s all a numbers game anyway. One of these days, some poor, unsuspecting woman is going to fall for it and be sorry.)
Trying is the first step to failure. —Homer Simpson
I say, why not aim high? It makes the terrific crash after completely missing the mark all the more thrilling.
Self-improvement is masturbation, self-destruction is the answer. —Tyler Durden from “Fight Club”
There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. —Raoul Duke from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
Dogs fucked the Pope. No fault of mine. —Raoul Duke from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
How much do they pay you to screw that bear? —Dr. Gonzo from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
The question is: what the fuck were you expecting?
The correct answer is: nothing but fucking humiliation, but that is neither here nor there. Jesus fucking Christ, that was a goddamn waste of time.
I would do something incredibly destructive if I wasn’t so piss drunk.
Now I realize that happiness in of itself is a rather empty goal, reserved for victims of unusual strokes, the congenitally mentally incapacitated, and the clinically deranged. You lesion a few tracts in your brain, and you can be permanently happy until your dying day, singing “zippy-de-doo-da” out of your asshole, your face guaranteed to freeze with a rictus grin. I can see it now, a corpse grinning maniacally in his/here casket.
And, yes, as the old cliché goes, anything worth having is difficult to attain.
So I don’t understand how I imagined things would necessarily turn out wonderfully, with petals of roses strewn upon my path.
These things take time, patience, and whole lot of masochistic determination.
And maybe the simple problem is that I am a lazy bastard too used to getting things handed to me on a silver platter. The few things that I’ve actually worked excruciatingly for have, in some ways, been accidental, given by the grace of good fortune and inertia. Still, it’s hard to gainsay the non-material worth of a good career and of not being suicidally depressed.
We take the paths with which we are faced with, and we shouldn’t wildly imagine what the destination is going to be like. But, as usual, I wander far afield, with ever increasing prolixity, so I’m just gonna stop now while I’m still ahead.
People posted a lot of awesome pictures of the fire on Flickr. What is it about fire that fascinated me so?
I’m glad that they managed to save the merry-go-round. I used to ride it a lot when I was a little kid, although I haven’t been there in quite a while now. When we were younger, my mom would take me, my brother, and my sister to the park quite a bit to visit the Observatory, or take the miniature train. They even used to have pony rides.
More recently, me, my brother, and my sister hiked the Mt. Hollywood trail. I’m glad that I got to see it before the fire.
Griffith Park Fire, Glendale view by Lienna Jael, released under a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commercial).
taken from Los Feliz/East Hollywood (Little Armenia) directly below the Observatory by donnagrayson. Released under a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commerical, no derivative work)
the fire rages behind the Observatory, taken by susanstars, released under a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commerical, no derivative work)
Some thumbnails of Flickr pics not released under a Creative Commons license:
taken from Silver Lake looking north towards Los Feliz and the park… around 11:30pm by Stitcher.
taken by iwriteplays.
view from the Los Feliz overpass at the 5 Freeway near the Riverside Drive entrance to Griffith Park, by Mendo Media.
the progression of the fire as seen from Eagle Rock by similarity
It looks like a volcano. Taken by McBrewster.
It’s 1:30 am and I just woke up about half an hour ago. Ever since I finished up my last call month for this year, I’ve just been exhausted. I suppose I have about a month of sleep to catch up on. But this makes my sleep schedule completely screwed up.
Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep until nearly 2 am, but somehow, I still woke up at 7 am without an alarm. Which, I suppose, is late compared to what time I used to wake up.
I’m still working on the whole optimism thing. I’ve spent a huge portion of my life depressed, or expecting bad things to happen, and it’s a hard habit to break. The odd thing, I suppose, is that nothing has really changed at all.
Before I wax too philosophically, I must remember that it’s all about small steps. Anything difficult can usually be broken down into less difficult components.
The other thing I need to do is to learn how to stop hedging, and just go for it.
So it looks like the Griffith Park fire is 75% contained as of 6 hours ago, although they still expect at least another day of fire-fighting before full containment. The blaze has consumed more than 800 acres, which is about 20% of the park’s total land area.
This is gonna be a wild fire season, and a bad mudslide season afterwards. Since when did we start having fires in May?
Last I heard, the fire has consumed around 600 acres.
Neil Pollack has a picture of what it looks like from around midnight. (Hey, does he live near my parents?!?! This is what expect the view would be like from my parents’ house!)
I should tell my brother to take pictures. This is insane.
I suppose if that’s all the medications accomplish, I’m still getting somewhere. For the first time in a long, long time, I actually believe that there’s a good chance that my life will get better. I’m actually looking forward to the future.
The trick here is not to let it degenerate into portentousness and hypomania. As long as I keep this optimistic frame of mind without expecting miracles to happen, I think I’ll do OK.
No more pessimism. No more catastrophizing. If I fail, then I fail, but it shouldn’t mean I’m doomed.
For some reason, while driving, I started thinking about all the major branch points in my life. From a distance, it’s obvious that at each of these junctures, I chose my path. There is probably only one thing that was completely out of my hands, and what can you about love that was not mean to be?
Everything else, I was faced with a decision. My anguish wasn’t really because of being disappointed by the turn of events: for example, when my girlfriend-at-the-time slept with another guy, or the years I didn’t get into med school. My anguish was because I had to choose my path immediately afterwards. It’s been all very existential.
I realize that if I never had a choice, I’d probably be less stressed-out, less anxious. Even if my path had ended up leading me to less than optimal situations. You have to do what you have to do. This is probably the big reason why, most of the time, I don’t feel guilty when one of my patients dies. All the deaths I’ve witnessed were people who were going to die (or, in fact, people who were already essentially dead!) no matter what I did. I’ve felt guilty about little things. Like having to intubate a patient who was never going to get off the ventilator. Or doing chest compressions and cracking the ribs of a patient who was already dead from sepsis. Or really, doing anything invasive and painful, no matter how ultimately futile. I’ve felt bad about those patients who died all of the sudden, except that in retrospect, it really wasn’t all the sudden. The ones that I think of, while they were up and about, walking and talking hours before they died, they had bad, horribly bad diseases. Leukemia in an adult is always bad news. Liver failure is muy malo, perhaps the worst.
Maybe it’s only in the retrospectoscope that it feels like it was going to happen anyway. Call it sophistry. Call it rationalization. I don’t know.
You might ask what sort of choice I had when my girlfriend-at-the-time cheated on me. Obviously, I didn’t have a say in it, but I did have to choose what to do afterwards. I could’ve forgiven her and taken her back. All these years that have passed make it seem impossible to make such a choice, but it was there. Instead, I chose the other path.
Same thing with getting rejected from med school. Each time, I had to choose whether or not I was going to apply again, or whether I was going to just give up and try something else.
That’s where most of the anguish seems to lie, really.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was disappointed at the time. Devastatingly so. But when the shit hits the fan, it’s too late to think about diapers, really. What is, is. You deal with it and move on. Maybe the trick is, as time passes, you start rationalizing things. It was meant to be. There was nothing I could do about it.
There is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that posits that each decision creates a new universe. Timelines split like amoeba dividing. Maybe that’s what existential anguish is. The labor pains of birthing a new universe.
Can I say for a fact that the choices I’ve made were the best possible of all choices? Of course not. But it’s hard to examine the choices I have made and imagine where I’d be if I didn’t choose what I chose.
In the end, there really isn’t a branch point that I would change the outcome of.
As I’ve said, the trick is not to go overboard. While I like where I am right now, I realize that change is inevitable. Life is all about growth. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. That’s the long and the short of it.
And just because things have gone relatively well thus far doesn’t mean I can’t fuck up big time in the future. But whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? OK, not really, but I guess the point is, why worry if you’re dead? And if you’re not dead, isn’t that a great thing in of itself, regardless of how shitty your situation might be?
I don’t know. I really don’t.
The only thing I know right now is that my heart is at peace, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just the cocktail of chemicals and neurotransmitters circulating through my cerebrospinal fluid. Maybe I’ve actually figured something out for once.
Maybe the things I thought I saw last week were all in my head. It was fun to imagine, I suppose. But that doesn’t faze me. I’ve been through this quite a few times now, it’s no longer a big thing.
There is something about the coming of summer that makes me want to fall in love. A lot of the times, it becomes a destructive impulse. I easily get obsessed. I easily become dependent. One of these days, perhaps I’ll learn to play the game properly, but today is clearly not that day.
While love is an important thing, certainly one of the three most important things in life, it’s not the only thing. And it’s probably too much to ask for it all.
If I can just hold on to this feeling of hope, if I can get by life’s little disappointments without falling back down into some deep pit of despair, then maybe, maybe it will all be worth it even if I have to journey through the vast uncharted future entirely on my own. There are certainly worse things in life than to be alone.
If I manage to survive another 30 years, I hope that I can look back upon my life and see the major branch points, and still say to myself, those were the right choices.
I’m enthralled by the ongoing drama about the fire in Griffith Park. It is apparently continuing to spread, now encompassing 300 acres, and forcing evacuations of residences.
- Fire Growing, Neighborhoods Being Evacuated
- L.A. County Fire Department Choppers Tank Up
- Huge Flames above Los Feliz
- 300 acres, 1300 homes without power, 300 residents evacuated
As Xeni Jardin is in the area, it is being posted on boingboing.net as well. Hollywood is Burning (Yet Again)
I just spoke with my brother and he tells me that the flames are pretty bright and the smoke is pretty thick. My parents’ house is about 8 miles from the Observatory by car, with the southern portion of Glendale lying in between.
There are a lot of freaky pictures at the L.A. Times site.
They’ve also closed off Los Feliz Blvd, which connects Glendale to Hollywood.
So maybe it wasn’t as hot as I thought it was. The record high in San Diego for May 8th was 81° F in 1941. Today’s high was supposedly 86° F.
In L.A., it was 95° F today. The record high for May 8th was 97° F.
Global warming? OK, I promised I wouldn’t mention it.
In other news, it is interesting to hear about news in essentially real time through the blogosphere. At 1:41 pm, I find this blog post on Metroblogging L.A. about the fire in Griffith Park [Griffith Park Arson Fire Spreads][More Photos of the Griffith Park Fire][Griffith Park Fire from Sunset Blvd][Griffith Park Fire Photos][Griffith Park Fire][Griffith Park Fire from 7th Street Bridge]
In any case, I’m clearly late to the game. But as of this afternoon, only 25% of the fire was contained, and it had encompassed up to 100 acres.
It’s hotter than a mother fucker out there.
How is it that I did almost essentially nothing today, and yet by early evening I’m already exhausted?
Could it be simply because it is unseasonably hot today? Now, granted, this is Southern California, but I don’t remember temperatures ever approaching 100° F in May. July or August perhaps, but May?
I won’t invoke the growing specter of global warming.
In any other world you could tell the difference and let it all unfurl into broken remnants. Smile like you mean it and let yourself let go. ‘cause it’s all in the hands of a bitter, bitter man. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in. Take a bow, play the part of a lonely, lonely heart. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in, to the world you thought you lived in. I tried to live alone, but lonely is so lonely you know. So human as I am, I had to give up my defences. So I smiled and tried to mean it, to let myself let go. ‘cause it’s all in the hands of a bitter, bitter man Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in. Take a bow, play the part of a lonely, lonely heart. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in, to the world you thought you lived in. ‘cause it’s all in the hands of a bitter, bitter man Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in. Take a bow, play the part of a lonely, lonely heart. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in, to the world you thought you lived in. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in. Say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in. Say goodbye. In any other world, you could tell the difference.
Apparently this song is actually about someone whose life was irrevocably changed by the war in Lebanon (found by way of mikablog.com)
But as I zoomed southbound on the I-5, the phrase “in any other world” immediately made me think of parallel universes, and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and how I often fantasize that while my own life is pretty goddamn lonely, there is probably at least one alternate universe out there where I actually find and get together with my soulmate. (My fear is that I’ve actually found her at some point in my life, except that I screwed it up royally.)
I thought of that “Sliders” episode where the main characters finally make it back to what appears to be their own universe, only to find out that it’s only an almost-identical copy. The big dealbreaker is the fact that the Golden Gate Bridge is painted blue in that universe. But everything else is pretty much exactly like their home universe. (Of course, I also think about the Simpsons Halloween Special where Homer creates a time-machine and ends up creating all these alternate versions of the present, finally ending up in a universe which seems like his original universe, except that everyone has reptilian tongues. He merely shrugs and says “Eh, close enough.”)
I kind of wonder if the “bitter, bitter man” is a depiction of God. (Or maybe I’m simply projecting. Like Tyler Durden said, your conception of God tends to be based on your conception of your father, and my dad certainly fits the description of being a bitter, bitter man.)
Or the “bitter, bitter man” could certainly be me, and this song is about that part of my soul that I’ve somehow failed to kill, that still hopes that things are going to turn out for the better. The voice in my head that keeps me from committing suicide, and makes me realize that all my fears and all my self-doubts are perhaps illusionary, and maybe the world isn’t as bad as I think it is.
Wow, me, with hope? Who’d’ve thunk it?
And while I’ve been seriously telling myself to let certain things in my life just go for quite a while now, and while I’ve tried lowering my defenses, I still haven’t really gotten anywhere. My soul has been stagnant for quite a long time.
Here’s to hoping.
Maybe things will change. For the better. Maybe.
(quoth the Fatman: the 8th law from The House of God)
You should always hope for the best, but expect the worst, I always say.
Listening to: “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by St. Etienne
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — Albert Einstein
Hope is a tricky thing. I’m not sure why I’m feeling hopeful that anything will change at this juncture, considering that I’ve done nothing to change my approach. Frankly, I’ve been pretty good at setting myself up for the fall.
Which reminds me of something I wrote four years ago:
It isn’t until now that I appreciate the deceptive nature of the month of May. I suppose that ever since I was a chile, May has always meant endings, but also the promise of new beginnings. The final full month of school, with glimpses of the summer ahead. But I’ve grown to learn that, more often than not, such promises never come to fruition. — 2003 May 13
As I survey the disaster area known as my apartment, I fantasize about buying a flamethrower and just burning away all my crap lying around all over the place. This is too much. It would be easier to give up and just start over again. Time to enter the witness protection program, change my name, and move away.
Reality continues to ruin my life — Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes
I don’t know why I’m such an extremist. It’s either all good or all bad. The fulfillment of all my dreams versus complete and utter disaster. I’m really not very good at picking the middle road. I’m always catastrophizing. (Is that even a real word?)
With my eyes closed, I ask if she knows how this will all turn out. “Long-term or short-term?” she asks. Both. “Long-term,” she says, “we’re all going to die. Then our bodies will rot. No surprise there. Short-term, we’re going to live happily ever after.” Really? “Really,” she says. “So don’t sweat…. Can you just relax and let things happen?” I ask, does she mean, like disasters, like pain, like misery? Can I just let all that happen? “And Joy,” she says, “and Serenity, and Happiness, and Contentment…. You don’t have to control everything,” she says. “You can’t control everything.” But you can be ready for disaster…. “If you worry about disaster all the time, that’s what you’re going to get….” The whole world is a disaster waiting to happen…. “No matter what happens,” [she] says, “no matter what you do… it’s the right thing.” — from Survivor by Chuck Pahlaniuk
I’m starting to make this an April/May tradition. Take the quiz.
My Existing SituationInsecure. Seeks roots, stability, emotional security, and an environment providing greater ease and fewer problems.
My Stress SourcesAn existing situation is unsatisfactory and you feel unable to improve it without willing cooperation. The need for understanding and for affectionate give-and-take remains unsatisfied; you now have a feeling of being tied down, giving rise to impatience, irritability, and the desire to escape.
My Restrained CharacteristicsCircumstances are such that you feel forced to compromise for the time being if you are to avoid being cut off from affection or from full participation. The situation is preventing you from establishing yourself, but you feel you must make the best of things as they are.
My Desired ObjectiveIntensity, vitality, and animation, taking a delight in action. Activity is directed towards success or conquest and there is a desire to live life to the fullest.
My Actual ProblemYou want to act freely and uninhibitedly, but are restrained by your need to have things on a rational, consistent, and clearly-defined basis.
My Other Actual ProblemAnxiety and restless dissatisfaction, either with circumstances or with unfulfilled emotional requirements, have produced stress. You try to escape by intense activity, directed either towards personal success or towards variety of experience.
I’m not quite certain what compelled me to get out of bed at 4:45 am. I didn’t even set my alarm. Supposedly, early morning awakening is one of the cardinal signs of depression. Meaning I still haven’t beat this disease.
After particularly grueling rotations, I find myself sinking into this weird pit of despair. I don’t know if it’s just all the barely repressed emotions finally coming home to roost. All the death and the frustration and the fear hitting me weeks late. During the times that I’ve had to actually perform, I guess I try to be as robot-like as possible. Which is, granted, not a healthy thing to do, but neither is staying up for 30 hours in a row every four nights (not to mention all the crap food that I’ve been eating.) No one said that residency was going to be healthy.
I just don’t know what to say, or where to go on from here. For the past twelve years, my life has been all about transience. The life I lead now has no real anchoring in reality. From college, to professional school, to postgraduate training, it’s all been in preparation for “real life,” which is, in all honesty, something that I’ve been trying hard not to face.
Reality. Who needs it?
But. I guess everything changes. The life I lead now is destined to end, and a new phase scheduled to begin. Such is life.
The surest thing about luck is that it will change.
And, better lucky than good.
I kind of wish I could go back to sleep, but I’m all riled up for no good reason. I suppose I could actually take care of some chores, but who really wants to do that at 5:30 am?
My oldest friend whom I’ve known since we were in third grade is getting married to a wonderful woman sometime in 2008, and I can’t help but marvel. It seems like it was just last week we were playing Wing Commander II and listening to the Cure, the Smiths, Soft Cell, and Front 242, or walking up that godforsaken hill while playing some weird word game. There were all those hours spent in front of the Commodore 64 and the 8-bit Nintendo. There was Robotech. Voltron. Bastketball in my backyard. Junior high football. Watching movies at the AMC in Burbank. I could stop and reminisce for hours on end, and my memories may be astray. But it all goes by so fast.
It has been a year already since hope skittered across the ice in my heart, leaving as quickly as she came, or so it seemed. I lose track too easily. The hours melt into the days. The days quickly become weeks. Each time it hurts less, and I worry about that. It’s like frostbite. Or gangrene. When you stop feeling anything, when your toes are numb, that’s when you’re in trouble. But I won’t let that worry me too much. As Charles Bukowski said, “If you don’t have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul.” The days fade into twilight, then come alive again with the dawn.
How is it that a simple smile can make my soul roil? Knowing it means nothing, and trying to let it lie still. But in the suffocating, claustrophobic depths of my soul, there is still a part of me I haven’t killed yet that hopes beyond all hope.
That way lies folly. But still.
We spin around on this patch of soil, this little ball of clay that we call a planet, day in and day out. Each breath I take leads me closer to the grave. But I grow weary with the journey.
Will there be a day where I can stare out to the horizon from some lofty summit with my true love beside me, and think to myself, how far I’ve come! Will there be a day that is not a desperate clawing struggle to keep the shadows from dragging me down back into the darkness, where I’m not climbing with all my strength, all my might, for mere survival? Where I’m not gasping for air to breathe?
I just want a place where I can lie down and be still. Where I can rest and set aside this weary burden that is my soul, if only for a moment. Just one single moment of tranquility. Just an instant of time, where my mind is free from all care and worry.
If I just had one single memory of joy untouched by grief, then I might not suffer so. But everything that I touch seems to crumble and fade, and the sorrows outweigh the happiness.
In my mind. And nailed into my hands. All the time. Killing what I fed. And everything I touch turns to stone. —Radiohead “Blowout”