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Fri, May. 9th, 2008, 11:48 am
Still Chuggin'

Howdy, folks.  Still kickin’ out here – nothing much new to report other than my new job KICKS ASS. 

Finally did my first prop for these guys.  In short, it had some major problems that were not my fault.  Unlike previous employers, tho, management here said “well, you did all you could.  Don’t’ worry about it.  It’s not your fault.”

What?  What was that?  You’re not going to flog me for fun?  You recognize that things don’t always work out?  I mean, hold the phone here, folks!

So yeah, things are good.  I’ll post more later when I have something to really say – I just realized I hadn’t put anything up in too long. J


Thu, Mar. 20th, 2008, 10:28 pm
Holy shit I actually don't hate one of them

For the first time in my adult life I can point at a politician and say "he (or she) isn't complete scum." 

This afternoon I watched the Obama "Race Issues" speech he gave in Philly on March 18, and like some other folks who've posted I was completely blown away. Considering he's avoided the issue of race previously in the campaign (politically smart), I was (and am) ASTOUNDED with not only the directness of his speech, but with is apparent compassion, intelligence, insight, humility, and understanding. 

I'm not even going to address Wright.  Why bother?  I'm not considering him for president.  He's an angry Black man (who came by his anger honestly), but I'm sure that depending on the context he can be intelligent and caring.  Not my concern or problem.  As a non-Christian, any strong affiliation with Christianity is a downer for me, so Wright is irrelevant.

Hillary, if I understand correctly, was responsible for playing the "race card," and he masterfully turned it back on her and jammed it up her ass.  While she's stooping to a dirty campaign (even some previously staunch Hillary supporters have said to me "ew, she's really being awful"), Obama is sticking to the high ground.  As an anti-Hillary guy for quite a while it's no surprise to me that she's playing dirty pool; she's an old-guard politician and she's "doing what she thinks she has to do to get the job done,"  no matter the costs. Hrm.

At some point maybe I'll try to tell some of the weird little stories I lived through as a kid/young adult in Delaware, ranging from the KKK burning crosses on friends lawns to Black students at university fabricating race issues.   I've formed my opinions and observations on race relations through extensive and often uncomfortable experience, and I'll say that Mr. Obama hits the nail right on the head. 

The thing is that Obama, as John Stewart very accurately put it, addressed the American public like ADULTS.  I mean, holy shit!  What a concept!  Saying that the world is NOT black and white (or Black and White, as it were) but varying shades of gray?  I mean, woah!  Hold the phone!  The good guys don't always wear white hats?  That everybody's walking around with a chip on their shoulder?

I'm tempted to vote for the guy just because of this speech.  Seriously.  Having grown up with and lived among a lot of angry Blacks, and having been accused of "automatic racism" by UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS...  (who told me I was oppressing them simply because I was White)... 


Anyway.  I'm unclear on some critical issues (war, healthcare) and how he'll deal with them (or whether I approve of his proposed method), BUT.

1) While some point out his affiliation with Wright...  20 years of Sunday mornings does not even CLOSE to equal EIGHT FUCKING YEARS OF BUSH AND THE WACKO REPUBLICAN RIGHT.  Want to see a damning association?  McCain and Bush II.  Wright is child’s play compared to Dick Fucking Cheney Anybody who still likes or respects Georgie Boy…  well, I don’t’ expect them to appreciate insight or wisdom anyway.


2) Hillary is clearly an old-school fuck-your-momma, fuck-the-poor, suck-off-megacorps politician…  unlike Obama who, as someone said to me today, is behaving like a statesman, not a politician. Would that more folks did so. 


3) Obama is clearly a Leader.  Unlike Hillary, who at best is an administrator, or McCain, who has apparently degenerated into an old broken political hack at the calling of his GOP masters…  Obama seems to have that spark, that bit of charisma that inspires hope, trust, and respect.  Neither of the other candidates (or, come to think of it, any other candidate in my personal memory) have had that quality.  This country is falling deeper into tatters regarding race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, economic status…  I mean, shit, we need someone to actually UNITE the joint rather that divide and conquer.


If Obama is half as good as he appears right now he’ll be twice as good as any president we’ve had in my lifetime.


Here’s the link.  It’s a bit sketchy so you might have to reload.



Sat, Mar. 8th, 2008, 03:12 am
"Starboard gangway, there! side away to larboard - larboard gangway to starboard! Midships!"

"He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea." 

                        --H. Melville, “Moby Dick” ; Chapter IX

Quick draughts of breath caught between dives, the pearls on the bottom calling me as sure as the devil that keeps me here in the deep blue sea…  but at this moment I feel the wind on my face and salt-caked hair, drawing deep upon the sea breeze, every breath sweet and sharp and full of life…  And while the depths await, and into them soon I will plunge again, at the moment there is nothing but now, this moment, this jubilant speck while floating among the waves, angles above and fishes below, and the pearls, the precious pearls tucked in among the corral and the bones of lost gods, pearls I must fetch for my love, for our life, for the future of our children… 

 But gods, the depths are dark sometimes, and the creatures there can be fearsome.  This moment right now is so sweet because I nearly didn’t make the surface before my lungs burst, chasing my own bubbles to the top, the silent scream in my throat crying for air air air for the love of Christ give me time to breathe…  and I only just outran the fishes, their eyes, their mocking kisses, their putrid love.  Diving is not about how long you can stay down, it’s knowing when to come up for air.

 I know too many who have lost themselves in the depths in search of pearls…  taken by sharks, or dragons, or their own goddamn greed, crushed in the dark depths chasing dreams of riches and fame and forever without realizing that they needed to sleep today.

 That was almost me.  That could still be me if I’m not careful – never forget, never doubt, the lure of the deep and her charms, and never forget that that last pearl can cost you everything in this world, friend – your home, your children, your wife, your self-esteem…  and while the world may measure your worth in pearls, you can only measure it in how well you live your life; your skill as a father and husband; and your diligence to your community. 

 You are worth more than your own weight in pearls, make no doubt about it.  Those moments when you can feel your lungs screaming, when the darkness is starting to zoom into your field of vision, when your legs start to tingle and go numb…  it’s time to head to the surface and breathe.  There is no excuse, the next pearl will simply kill you… your brain, your heart, your spirit – head for the surface, son, and find at least a quick breath of air. 

 And let me tell you – sweet gods, if you’re still down there you don’t know what it is to breathe!  You’ve forgotten after just a few minutes, the draw of the pearls, the chance of finding the lost doubloon – sometimes the simple act of diving for the sake of diving, forgetting the endgame – but believe me, friend, the smell of salt air in your nostrils, and the promise of finally hanging up the knife, heading for shore, and enjoying cerveza on the beach… 

 We dive with purpose – diving is not the goal, it is a means to an end.  We subject ourselves to the depths to find the pearls to live our lives.  Never forget that those who dive for pearls simply for the rush of diving will eventually forget that they are not fish, and that they need to breathe, and then they will die

 Don’t loose sight of the goal.  Don’t forget that the pearls we find are to be sold, and that their beauty was never meant to be enjoyed by us.  Our job is to dive, hunt, recover, and get to the surface.  Our job is to survive – the fat fucks who buy the diamonds can’t do what we do, and while maybe we’re shooting to be a fat fuck too someday (I know I am), buying pearls for my Love… I realize that I will never loose the ability to dive, and that it is my duty to pass along the ability to dive to my children, and my children’s children… 

 The strong survive on the bottom.  The strong, the diligent, the dedicated – and the slightly insane, perhaps – but never let the crazy override the reality of the fresh air above, friends.  Never let the draw of the pearls on the bottom make you forget the sweet sweet sea air above, the call of your wife and your children, the feeling of the sand between your toes…

 Aye, friend, and now I head below.  Luck to you and yours – happy hunting, and may we meet again on the shore, cervezas in hand, eh?


Fri, Mar. 7th, 2008, 11:33 pm
The 10th Dimension

This will make your head asplode.  Please set out tarps to assist in cleaning. 

Via: Video Blog


Wed, Feb. 20th, 2008, 07:49 pm

Today is 2 years since Dr. Gonzo decided to check out -- I meant to put this up on the UTMC board, but since it's currently malfunctioning (and since y'all should remember, read, and appreciate his genius) I present you with what is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant articles on motorcycling ever written. 

RIP, ya rotten old bastard -- we miss you. 



Song of the Sausage Creature
by Hunter S. Thompson

There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them - but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.

Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack - and even there, they will scare the whimpering shit out of you... There is, after all, not a pig's eye worth of difference between going head-on into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.

When Cycle World called me to ask if I would road-test the new Harley Road King, I got uppity and said I'd rather have a Ducati superbike. It seemed like a chic decision at the time, and my friends on the superbike circuit got very excited. "Hot damn," they said. "We will take it to the track and blow the bastards away."

"Balls," I said. "Never mind the track. The track is for punks. We are Road People. We are Cafe Racers."

The Cafe Racer is a different breed, and we have our own situations. Pure speed in sixth gear on a 5000-foot straightaway is one thing, but pure speed in third gear on a gravel-strewn downhill ess-turn is quite another.

But we like it. A thoroughbred Cafe Racer will ride all night through a fog storm in freeway traffic to put himself into what somebody told him was the ugliest and tightest decreasing-radius turn since Genghis Khan invented the corkscrew.

Cafe Racing is mainly a matter of taste. It is an atavistic mentality, a peculiar mix of low style, high speed, pure dumbness, and overweening commitment to the Cafe Life and all its dangerous pleasures... I am a Cafe Racer myself, on some days - and it is one of my finest addictions.

I am not without scars on my brain and my body, but I can live with them. I still feel a shudder in my spine every time I see a picture of a Vincent Black Shadow, or when I walk into a public restroom and hear crippled men whispering about the terrifying Kawasaki Triple... I have visions of compound femur-fractures and large black men in white hospital suits holding me down on a gurney while a nurse called "Bess" sews the flaps of my scalp together with a stitching drill.

Ho, ho. Thank God for these flashbacks. The brain is such a wonderful instrument (until God sinks his teeth into it). Some people hear Tiny Tim singing when they go under, and some others hear the song of the Sausage Creature.

When the Ducati turned up in my driveway, nobody knew what to do with it. I was in New York, covering a polo tournament, and people had threatened my life. My lawyer said I should give myself up and enroll in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Other people said it had something to do with the polo crowd.

The motorcycle business was the last straw. It had to be the work of my enemies, or people who wanted to hurt me. It was the vilest kind of bait, and they knew I would go for it.

Of course. You want to cripple the bastard? Send him a 130-mph cafe-racer. And include some license plates, he'll think it's a streetbike. He's queer for anything fast.

Which is true. I have been a connoisseur of fast motorcycles all my life. I bought a brand-new 650 BSA Lightning when it was billed as "the fastest motorcycle ever tested by Hot Rod magazine." I have ridden a 500-pound Vincent through traffic on the Ventura Freeway with burning oil on my legs and run the Kawa 750 Triple through Beverly Hills at night with a head full of acid... I have ridden with Sonny Barger and smoked weed in biker bars with Jack Nicholson, Grace Slick, Ron Zigler and my infamous old friend, Ken Kesey, a legendary Cafe Racer.

Some people will tell you that slow is good - and it may be, on some days - but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I've always believed this, in spite of the trouble it's caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba....

So when I got back from New York and found a fiery red rocket-style bike in my garage, I realized I was back in the road-testing business.

The brand-new Ducati 900 Campione del Mundo Desmodue Supersport double-barreled magnum Cafe Racer filled me with feelings of lust every time I looked at it. Others felt the same way. My garage quickly became a magnet for drooling superbike groupies. They quarreled and bitched at each other about who would be the first to help me evaluate my new toy... And I did, of course, need a certain spectrum of opinions, besides my own, to properly judge this motorcycle. The Woody Creek Perverse Environmental Testing Facility is a long way from Daytona or even top-fuel challenge-sprints on the Pacific Coast Highway, where teams of big-bore Kawasakis and Yamahas are said to race head-on against each other in death-defying games of "chicken" at 100 miles an hour....

No. Not everybody who buys a high-dollar torque-brute yearns to go out in a ball of fire on a public street in L.A. Some of us are decent people who want to stay out of the emergency room, but still blast through neo-gridlock traffic in residential districts whenever we feel like it... For that we need Fine Machinery.

Which we had - no doubt about that. The Ducati people in New Jersey had opted, for some reasons of their own, to send me the 900ss-sp for testing - rather than their 916 crazy-fast, state-of-the-art superbike track-racer. It was far too fast, they said - and prohibitively expensive - to farm out for testing to a gang of half-mad Colorado cowboys who think they're world-class Cafe Racers.

The Ducati 900 is a finely engineered machine. My neighbors called it beautiful and admired its racing lines. The nasty little bugger looked like it was going 90 miles an hour when it was standing still in my garage.

Taking it on the road, though, was a genuinely terrifying experience. I had no sense of speed until I was going 90 and coming up fast on a bunch of pickup trucks going into a wet curve along the river. I went for both brakes, but only the front one worked, and I almost went end over end. I was out of control staring at the tailpipe of a U.S. Mail truck, still stabbing frantically at my rear brake pedal, which I just couldn't find... I am too tall for these new-age roadracers; they are not built for any rider taller than five-nine, and the rearset brake pedal was not where I thought it would be. Mid-size Italian pimps who like to race from one cafe to another on the boulevards of Rome in a flat-line prone position might like this, but I do not.

I was hunched over the tank like a person diving into a pool that got emptied yesterday. Whacko! Bashed on the concrete bottom, flesh ripped off, a Sausage Creature with no teeth, fucked-up for the rest of its life.

We all love Torque, and some of us have taken it straight over the high side from time to time - and there is always Pain in that... But there is also Fun, the deadly element, and Fun is what you get when you screw this monster on. BOOM! Instant take-off, no screeching or squawking around like a fool with your teeth clamping down on our tongue and your mind completely empty of everything but fear.

No. This bugger digs right in and shoots you straight down the pipe, for good or ill.

On my first take-off, I hit second gear and went through the speed limit on a two-lane blacktop highway full of ranch traffic. By the time I went up to third, I was going 75 and the tach was barely above 4000 rpm....

And that's when it got its second wind. From 4000 to 6000 in third will take you from 75 mph to 95 in two seconds - and after that, Bubba, you still have fourth, fifth, and sixth. Ho, ho.

I never got to sixth gear, and I didn't get deep into fifth. This is a shameful admission for a full-bore Cafe Racer, but let me tell you something, old sport: This motorcycle is simply too goddamn fast to ride at speed in any kind of normal road traffic unless you're ready to go straight down the centerline with your nuts on fire and a silent scream in your throat.

When aimed in the right direction at high speed, though, it has unnatural capabilities. This I unwittingly discovered as I made my approach to a sharp turn across some railroad tracks, saw that I was going way too fast and that my only chance was to veer right and screw it on totally, in a desperate attempt to leapfrog the curve by going airborne.

It was a bold and reckless move, but it was necessary. And it worked: I felt like Evel Knievel as I soared across the tracks with the rain in my eyes and my jaws clamped together in fear. I tried to spit down on the tracks as I passed them, but my mouth was too dry... I landed hard on the edge of the road and lost my grip for a moment as the Ducati began fishtailing crazily into oncoming traffic. For two or three seconds I came face to face with the Sausage Creature....

But somehow the brute straightened out. I passed a schoolbus on the right and got the bike under control long enough to gear down and pull off into an abandoned gravel driveway where I stopped and turned off the engine. My hands had seized up like claws and the rest of my body was numb. I felt nauseous and I cried for my mama, but nobody heard, then I went into a trance for 30 or 40 seconds until I was finally able to light a cigarette and calm down enough to ride home. I was too hysterical to shift gears, so I went the whole way in first at 40 miles an hour.

Whoops! What am I saying? Tall stories, ho, ho... We are motorcycle people; we walk tall and we laugh at whatever's funny. We shit on the chests of the Weird....

But when we ride very fast motorcycles, we ride with immaculate sanity. We might abuse a substance here and there, but only when it's right. The final measure of any rider's skill is the inverse ratio of his preferred Traveling Speed to the number of bad scars on his body. It is that simple: If you ride fast and crash, you are a bad rider. And if you are a bad rider, you should not ride motorcycles.

The emergence of the superbike has heightened this equation drastically. Motorcycle technology has made such a great leap forward. Take the Ducati. You want optimum cruising speed on this bugger? Try 90mph in fifth at 5500 rpm - and just then, you see a bull moose in the middle of the road. WHACKO. Meet the Sausage Creature.

Or maybe not: The Ducati 900 is so finely engineered and balanced and torqued that you *can* do 90 mph in fifth through a 35-mph zone and get away with it. The bike is not just fast - it is *extremely* quick and responsive, and it *will* do amazing things... It is like riding a Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the take-off runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it. WHAMO! The Sausage Creature strikes again.

There is a fundamental difference, however, between the old Vincents and the new breed of superbikes. If you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die. That is why there are not many life members of the Vincent Black Shadow Society. The Vincent was like a bullet that went straight; the Ducati is like the magic bullet in Dallas that went sideways and hit JFK and the Governor of Texas at the same time.

It was impossible. But so was my terrifying sideways leap across the railroad tracks on the 900sp. The bike did it easily with the grace of a fleeing tomcat. The landing was so easy I remember thinking, goddamnit, if I had screwed it on a little more I could have gone a lot farther.

Maybe this is the new Cafe Racer macho. My bike is so much faster than yours that I dare you to ride it, you lame little turd. Do you have the balls to ride this BOTTOMLESS PIT OF TORQUE?

That is the attitude of the new-age superbike freak, and I am one of them. On some days they are about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Vincent just killed you a lot faster than a superbike will. A fool couldn't ride the Vincent Black Shadow more than once, but a fool can ride a Ducati 900 many times, and it will always be a bloodcurdling kind of fun. That is the Curse of Speed which has plagued me all my life. I am a slave to it. On my tombstone they will carve, "IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME."


Mon, Feb. 18th, 2008, 01:38 am
Alas, Alack!

Ach, My Beloved Lumpkins!  I have failed ye, and I must repent; I said i would actually write in this blog, and while I've started a couple of aborted posts, I have been negligent! 

Mea culpa; I will endeavor to be more diligent. 

First, news: after all my chest beating and crowing, I stumbled upon a new full-time gig.  Yes, I know -- for those who heard me trumpet the joys of freedom, I am once again adopting the shackles of full-time employment.  In short, while I love the freedom, I have a wonderful wife who needs the flexibility more than I do, and with some luck we'll be adding to our family soon, and so stability is a good thing.  I enjoyed my stint fully and made a goodly dime, but given that the new gig is under 3 miles from home, pays well, and appears to be a good working environment....  I can't say no. 

That's the big hunk of news. Otherwise, I've been hustling like a good street bitch, making some coin and not getting too involved.  I consider this something of a vacation, sadly -- working the occasional 14- or 20-hour day has been a vacation.  Gotta love it.  This upcoming week I get to work Tuesday - Thursday for my former employer as a consultant (how I started), and it's going to feel good to send the fuckers a bill for the stupid hours I work.  In short, I'm still in contact with the staff and they're crying about the workload...  and I'm torn between feeling pity and scorn.  They all know the solution, and I hope they have the sense to exercise it.  For me, this will be my swan song, and I'll do my best to make sure the biggest "fuck you" will be the level of my professionalism.  I do agree that the best revenge is living well, and I aspire to that ideal.

So what else?  Not much of note. Had some Moments of Clarity this past Friday night, running with the boys up in Baltimore...  I love my wife and my marriage, but every so often I (like most men, I think) have the need to go off and remind themselves that we're still the same slavering assholes we were back in University on some level; that we can still hang, that we're still down, and that we can still hang with the big kids. My Better Half recognizes this at least on some level and, once or twice a year, basically says "oh, for the love of god, just GO" and so it's my obligation to go out an howl.  I did so this past weekend, and it felt...  GOOD.  No whores or bar fights or gambling, or even too much foolishness -- a wee bit of flirtation with some college girls that, in truth, included quite a few references to how much I loved my wife and didn't miss dating...  but we drank a lot of booze, scared some of the denizens of a Hamden dive bar, one of our single bretheren wound up sucking face with a PYT, and in general the evening served as a good bonding moment. 

The other moment of clarity would have been driving home the following day after sleeping on Rock's couch, getting a fantastic brunch with Dan and Lisa, and listening to good radio on the otherwise boring drive back down from Baltimore to NoVA...  slightly hung over, still a wee bit dulled from the previous evening's activities, but able to view it through the lens of someone returning to earth rather than being on the way up...  and realizing that 1) such sillness will, most likely, always be within reach -- that camaraderie, the testosterone high, the simple American ritual of being a Big Dumb Gun, as well as 2) the joy of realizing that returning to Home is a Good Thing, and that going out and corrupting youth, flirting with girls that are almost young enough to be daughters (technically), and drinking entirely too much alcohol is still no equal to a quiet night home with Mrs. Jaeger... 

Ok, I confess -- I'm still on a bit of a high.  Life is grand, and screw all y'all if you disagree.  I'll grant that there's plenty of suckage to be found -- those who know me know I've had my share -- but on the grander scheme of things, there is so much opportunity to find joy in both the special and the mundane that anyone who disagrees is a fool in my opinion. 

Neutiquam erro, mawfuggah.  :)


Thu, Jan. 31st, 2008, 09:35 pm

I'm determined to post up here, even if I really don't have anything particular to say. 

Hi.  I'm not dead yet. In fact, life has been lovely for some time -- full of work, but just delightful.  I'm still basking in the glow of being a free man.  I had an interview this afternoon and basically told them that I wasn't sure I wanted a full-time salaried job!  Granted, this place seems like a reasonable joint -- in Tysons Corner and so the commute would be nice, and would put me right around the corner (literally) from smegma17's office, but...  I just recognize that in my line of work, employers count on employees being needy and scared -- otherwise, why would they put up with the shit they do?

Still, they present an interesting quandary, and I'll actually consider it if they make me an offer... but this time I just didn't care whether they liked me or not, and I went into the interview thinking "this is a waste of my time."

Freedom feels good.  It hasn't bitten me in the ass yet, and I'm sure it will, but by fuckity fuck I'll enjoy it while I can, eh?  And here's to the_mishka, my beloved, brilliant, and beautiful better half, who's helped me do this, who's kicked me in the ass, and who has been wholly supportive of my leap off the cliff. 


Ok, enough gushing.  I have a reputation as a booger-flicking curmudgeon to maintain here.  Happiness and joviality are not becoming of such a rap, and so....

Bah...  *giggle*...  Humbug. 



Sat, Jan. 26th, 2008, 08:00 pm
Avoiding Jane Austin

Good lord.  It's been almost a full week since I've managed to post up here, so I have a little catching up to do. 

M is downstairs with our friend Tara watching some Jane Austin movie.  I honestly tried to get sit still and enjoy the flick but found myself incapable of doing so.  Thus, I'm taking this opportunity to write in here. 

First, notes from this past week:

Thursday, 3pm.
So I'm sitting here in my new little office up here in Rockville, MD, on my first consulting gig.  At the moment we're in "hurry up and wait" mode -- i.e., bursts of extreme work followed by stretched of boredom.   From what I gather it's a lot like being a soldier.  Anyway, I've been informed that they want me to hang out and wait to help them assemble the final product (proposal) for boxing and shipment.  It needs to be delivered tomorrow morning, so everything needs to be done today.

This is the sort of shit that always drove me crazy as a salaried employee.  Right now I'm getting paid hourly, so frankly I don't give a damn how long I wait, really...  especially since apparently there's no real expectation that I'll "find somethign productive to do."  I told my supervisor and the other prop monkey here that I'm around to help and to give me instructions, but...  as yet, I've heard nothing.  So I'm hanging out.

I did "ask" for tomorrow off, which considering there will be nothign to do seems reasonable.  I'm not sure if the VP here really groks that my being here is costing her a lot of money (I know what they're paying me, and I'm sure the placement agency is only paying me like 50-70% of gross, possibly less)...  but hey, if she's willing to pay, suits me fine. 

As a salaried employee, tho...  well, I've already pretty much worked my 40 hours this week.  The poor woman I'm working with -- who has a 2-hour commute each way -- is working way longer hours than I am, and she appears to be really miserable in her job.  I dunno.  For as much as folks complain about how she's treated, I get the impression she likes it here...  it's bizarre.  Perhaps she's a work martyr.  I don't know and dont' really care, but it's really strange to watch.

4pm.  Still waiting for stuff to do.  Have had approximately 30min of work in the past 90.  :P  Running out of things to surf, keep thinking about either taking a nap or the chores at home I need to get done. :P

Fast forward to present.

I was, in fact at the office until 6am, which made it a 21-hour work day.  Had I been a salaried employee I would've been furious, given that at least 10 hours of that time was spent doing absolutely nothing of real merit other than waiting.  It turned out to be mostly worthwhile -- I was able to be useful at the end, and helped them get their proposal assembled and out the door when everybody else was brainfried and making stupid mistakes...  but the whole episode drove home that proposal management on a salary SUCKS and I'm growing more sure by the day that i don't want to do it without at least some sort of assurance that i won't be abused. 

My friend "X" up in Rockville gets abused and she's too scared to do anything about it, and she's an idiot.   I've seen other idiots,and I've been an idiot too...  but I don' think I want to do that any more.

Not sure if I'm going to have work next week -- that's not so much fun -- but I'm fairly sure that I at least have Monday free, so hopefully I'll get some more worthwhile blogging done then.

Until then, be well, and have a good..  weekend.  Sunday.  What have you.  :)



Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008, 05:30 pm
Silence is Golden

For the first time in I don’t know how many months, I have a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.  Sure, there are books to read, miscellaneous chores around the house, motorcycles on which to work (which was my plan for today but it’s just too goddamn cold), and the now ever-present job hunt…  but at the moment I’m feeling satisfied with myself, having finally figured out how to install the wireless mini-PCI card in my new laptop (on which I’m broadcasting this transmission, ergo it works) this morning and so I’m feeling like I’ve accomplished something already.

 Even M is gone for the day – she’s hanging out with Peregrin8 and a bunch of artsy folks where, hopefully, she will find inspiration, humor, and get some of the necessary girlie input that I cannot myself offer…  so it’s just me and Charlemagne (cat), and even he’s having sort’ve a curious lazy day, as within a minute of his first excursion out of the house today he came face-to-face with a full-grown (albeit injured) fox.  I think ultimately the fox was more frightened, as it was already wounded, but M started yelling and I dove down the stairs in my skivvies to go rescue Char…  thankfully he ran inside with a tail like a goddamn bottle brush, and M and I watched the fox limp off toward the cars.

 I’m just happy I didn’t have to go charging outside in my knickers in 20-degree weather to rescue Char.  That would’ve sucked for all involved – me, Char, and Mr. Fox (who was clearly already having a very bad day.)

 So now it’s a sunny but bitter-cold day, Char is perched in the window behind me on Fox Alert, and I’m here talking to the screen, ‘cause there’s nobody else to talk to.  Suits me fine, really.  I always write better when I’m alone.  (Sorry, Char, you don’t count.) 

 It reminds me of one (two, really) of my favorite chapters in Moby Dick, in which Ishmael, prior to going to sea, goes to church and meets Father Mapple.  The Padre, being a retired (or repenting) harpooner, runs his chapel much like a ship, and caters largely to a sailing crowd.  I mention this because of the chapter called “The Pulpit,” in which Ishmael describes Mapple’s pulpit…  which is clearly designed to isolate the preacher as much as a lookout on a mast, or a man at sea, or someone lost in their own thoughts.

 Perhaps my favorite line in the entire book is:

 “He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.”

            Moby Dick, Chapter IX - The Sermon

 I remember reading that line for the first time in highschool and recognizing it as wisdom, as important, as profound…  I’m not a religious man, by any stretch, but it’s the sense of solitude, of introspection, of existential danger and of magnitude that struck me then, as a 16-year-old boy, as being…  significant.  And let me tell you, not much is “significant” to a 16-year-old boy that doesn’t involve tits or tires.  (Likewise, Fr. Mapple’s description of being swallowed by the whale – not to mention chapters like “The Mast Head”  all very much touch on the subject of solitude, separation, and the need there for.)

 So perhaps today’s subject is “solitude.”  It’s well below freezing here in Virginia today – so cold in fact that even Char won’t go out (the fox notwithstanding) – that bitter, vicious cold that seems to bite at your skin, and stings your lungs if you breathe in deeply through your mouth.  It’s sunny and beautiful – like the sea – but dangerously cold, such that I am rather trapped here in my little snug bubble of warmth called “home,” with my furry companion (who is sill quite obsessed with the fox, and is staring fixedly out the window at where the fox manifested earlier), a baroque violin concerto on the stereo, and I am, for this very moment, content with life and all around me.

 I’ve talked to a number of writers, and while there are some exceptions, we all seem to function better in solitary environments.  Days like today are a rarity for me, and for most of my ilk – we’re too busy with friends and family, we’re too busy with jobs and obligations…  and it’s why I managed to get so much done during all those years working night shift, coming home at 2 or 3am when everybody else was asleep…  and I was the night guardian, awake, alert, and scribbling away furiously, albeit often badly.

 Anyway, the advent of the Internet, of telephones and cellphones, of instant messaging and email, of constant availability and being “on the grid” have wildly fucked up the ability of most of us to find “alone time.”  There are clearly real advantages to all this communications infrastructure, but it has developed the assumption that folks are available anytime, all the time.  Jobs demand cell phone numbers – friends and family grow annoyed when they can’t reach you immediately – and it’s truly fucking up the structures of society.

 Take this blog, for example.  I’m writing this at my leisure, in my own time, and I’m occasionally getting up to do other things while I do so.  You, presumably, are reading this as your own pace, and are doing things as you go (if you even read this far, which I realize is quite a commitment in today’s too-fast-paced world).  Even for those who don’t read this far, believe me, I understand. I skimmed many a blog, and will likely do so in the future, but right now I’m really fascinated with the joy, flexibility and time of a lazy Sunday afternoon writing to folks that, like me, usually don’t have enough time. 

 The point being that unlike previous generations where correspondence was an Art, where writing required forethought, structure, and precision (very much unlike my current style, which is modernistic stream-of-consciousness, with all due cursing to Billy Faulkner and Bill Burroughs, you fuckin’ bastards), we live in a world that encourages either blithe one-liner emails or an overall lack of appreciation for writing, time, and thought; i.e., faster is always better, regardless of quality.

 I realize my style is rambling and often disjointed, but I’m at least taking the time to put my thoughts on paper.  If you’ve read this far, then you apparently are likewise able to occasionally put life on hold, stop and think for a bit.  Good for you.  I hope you too have a lazy Sunday afternoon all to yourself wherein you can simply stop, sit, and think for a little while about how life doesn’t suck.   If you have the time to stop and read this, it’s an indication that life doesn’t suck that badly for you.  It means you have enough time to spare to listen to some schmuck ramble on…  but that’s GOOD.  Too often in the 21st century we’re obsessed with soundbites – fuckin’ “blipverts” to you oldschool geeks out there – trying to jam as much information as possible into every inch.

Life’s short, no doubt, but that doesn’t meant that every second needs to be spent at 100 miles per hour.  In fact, most seconds should NOT be spent as such, and those poor suckers who think that living such lives somehow makes them “better” are simply slaves to some weird throwback Protestant work ethic that says “if I work harder, God will love me more” or “if I work hard enough then God will fix it.” 

It’s just not so.  Wanna know what will fix it?  Stop for just a fuckin’ moment…  no, stop for a few hours.  Just stop.  Calm down. Look at your situation and actually THINK about it.  The solution is NOT always a bigger hammer.  It is NOT always “work harder.”  It’s just not.  In my experience, most folks (or employers) think that one person should simply be squeezed within an inch of their lives to get the most “efficiency” out of them.  This is true to a point, but this theory is clearly flawed if it’s taken too far – which it normally is.  Employers are more interested in the bottom line, not the well being of their employees (or even the long-term productivity) – they want immediate results, and if they turn their folks into charcoal then they’ll simply hire more and fire the old school folks. 

 A society that encourages disposableness in its products apparently encourages an attitude of disposableness of people too. 

 And if there is a God out there, and he/she/it is responsible for a pretty neat world, I am pretty convinced that they’d be awfully pissed off at those folks who didn’t take advantage of the chance to have some fun – fuck knows there’s a lot of harmless, worthwhile, and enriching fun to be had, and you’re a fool if you’re only a nose-to-the-grindstone workaholic who doesn’t stop to smell the roses.  Often.  Not just on vacation. 

Being alone – solitary, really --  allows one to contemplate what is really on their mind.  No distractions, no obligations, nothing making you feel guilty or otherwise put upon to do something else…  and this, methinks, is where wisdom is to be found.  Sure, you can’t really appreciate solitude until you’ve experienced the opposite – being overwhelmed, overrun, and generally inundated with people and shit – but rather than seeking out that constant bombardment of “stuff” it’s such a joy to have…  nothing.  Silence, peace, and a warm cat keeping you company. 

 Ok, enough of this.  I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my sleepy Sunday.  Tomorrow the noise starts again, but it’s been really lovely sharing these few moments with you. 


Tue, Jan. 15th, 2008, 10:35 pm
Russian Roulette with Murphy's Law

Ok, so I had an interview with The Big Proposal Company (TBPC) today.  If you're in the biz, you know who I mean. 

Well, no great surprise, I'm signing on with them. 

I had a lovely chat with the recruiter -- a nice enough mid-western fellow who commutes into the DC area from St. Louis -- and in short he said he was fairly confident in their ability to keep me reasonably busy with work, especially considering I live in Proposal Alley (the Dulles Tech Corridor).  Between TBPC, the other proposal shop with whom I'm talking, and the various friends and colleagues with excess work, I'm feeling pretty good about my prospects as a freelancer.

So at the end of the "interview," we're just chatting and I say "listen, I know I need to earn your trust and all that, and that's fine.  I expect as much.  Please know that I'll take pretty much whatever job you throw at me to prove myself -- writing, editing, desktop publishing..."
And he stops.  "Actually," he says, "that reminds me.  Um...  do you have your passport?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact I do."

The short version is that they have a 8-week gig overseas (Europe) on which they need some desktop publishing support . Pay isn't spectacular, but it would include per diem and all that happy crap, and they'll either fly me home for a week in the middle, or they'll fly M out.

After talking to M I told 'em I'm in if the client likes my rezoom.

Nothing definite, but...  it's a damnsight better than getting paid peanuts in a windowless office with the assholes in charge treating me like dogshit.

Even if this falls through, it's nice to know that I'm at least a real contender.  It feels good.  I've been treated like shit for too long. 


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