Fatalism

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Janus Roman King

With less than twenty minutes to go Amanda asked me what my New Year’s resolution might be and I of course had none slated for delivery. Dismissive as I was a debate began throwing words like change around and yes, I know, change is inevitable and possibly even good but that doesn’t mean I have to declare anything. If it’s gonna happen it will and that’s fine and dandy unless it sucks.

It did get me thinking, tho, about where these things come from. When did people decide that the end of a calendar year was the best time to make some statement of intent– I will be a better person in this way for the next year because it’s midnight and I’m drunk. A quick little google run decided that both the Romans and the Babylonians invented the concept of New Year’s Resolutions which just goes to show you that the internet doesn’t know shit. It does, however, know how to sell you shit.

A week or so later I was carrying some heavy equipment up some janky stairs and there was a drunk guy who, it turns out, wasn’t the booker or the bartender. He was very friendly, however misplaced, and asked our sad little parade of amps and drums what our New Year’s Resolutions were. Everyone ignored him except me: “I’m running a little behind– I haven’t made mine yet.” This elicited a couple chuckles from the band and a roaring belly-laugh from the random drunk who seemed to accept this automatic response as an answer worth-while.

It did get me thinking, tho, about what kind of resolutions are being made these days. I tried a technorati search but there were thousands of postings made involving them and no one seemed to actually talk about what they were, only about how they’d given up. Everyone except for people with Christian Mission blogs, that is, who are more than happy to tell you all about how they worked on maintaining their New Year’s Resolution. This was a sadness I could not investigate further. Perhaps bloglines, with their advanced search parameters, would have allowed for better searching but attempting to access any data in between the end of December and the beginning of January resulted in severe server failure. Basically I learned that the internet is a temporal flux where ideas, information and opinion are created, shared and destroyed within the span of a day and the nutritional yield is approximately zero and the waste-product immeasurable.

It’s a Wonderful Life

I’m not opposed to tradition all the time. I enjoy “It’s a Wonderful Life” and think it’s a shame that the

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movie is so closely associated with Christmas. It’s just a good, emotionally effective fit of nostalgia directed by a true believer in American idealism and potential. Unfortunately you can’t watch it without Macy’s parades and the scent of pine in the house or else your sense of time and place would be so distorted your brain would explode like a 4th of July display and melt into a puddle of over-heated Halloween candy. I’m not even opposed to the declaration of New Year’s Resolutions– it’s just that I mostly associate this tradition with Bloom County’s Binkley screaming them on behalf of beleaguered celebrities over the edge of a dark crevice.

However, if I were in the habit of New Year’s Resolutions it seems popular to promise great productivity in the blogosphere, or rather lament the lack of said productivity. No better example of failed hopes, dreams or idealism than where you’re sitting, I suppose, tho we didn’t really need the make a resolution in order to fail. If I believed in them maybe I would have resolved to push the boundaries of my interest/abilities/desire and propel my web presence into deeper depths but I don’t believe and so there you go. I’d attempt to inspire a response from the passing crowd, something of a trick I picked up from a Guatemalan photoblog I frequent, but somehow I can’t bring myself to pander to anyone. What works and makes sense for some just doesn’t for others. Just have a Happy New Year, you, and I apologize for being late. The drunk guy at the gay bar understood and I hope you can too.

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The elevators in the thirty-floor building where I work run on a scheme designed to save energy. What this means in practical terms is that there are four elevators with an average ten minute wait. People from my office embrace the universal slacker dodge of the smoke break to stand next to the snack machines and look at “girls”.

Today I received a cheery farewell from my coworker. Last week we had a bit of a dustup. The argument was getting heated, which was frustrating because this was ships passing in the night stuff. Eventually he grew quiet and seemed to be listening to my point of view. A few moments later he expelled a crackling fart from the depths of a deskside nap. When he woke up it was like night and day.

I may fault him on his methods, but results-wise he’s got the golden touch.

They sell beer in the vending machines and I think about it every single time I go to the office.

The heat has been stunning. My collar is a science project and collapse seemed imminent throughout the unairconditioned day.

Once I caught the elevator I tried to explain to another coworker that I was on my way to buy the second half of the sixth season of the Sopranos.


Where are you going?

“Mafia television.”

Uncomfortable grinning.

“I’m going to buy organized crime television, you know?”

You will go home now?

“I’m going to buy mob TV season and then go home.”

Have a nice weekend . . .

Crossing a major traffic artery I noticed trees that had been planted in the past week. Their sudden appearance was explained by an electronic billboard (sponsored by Omega watches OMG!) declaring an even year until the ballyhooed Olympics finally kick off and everyone can start thinking about FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010.

Cumulonimbus clouds stood stacked in a blue sky. Last week at 9pm, every night like clockwork, powerful thunder and lightning storms would appear, followed by a blessed ten minutes of cooling rain. Most people attribute this to the government controlling the weather, including myself. I saw something about local scientists mastering nuclear fusion on TV. “This miniature sun will supply unlimited energy and change human life on earth.” It’s hard to know what to think, however, as folks here open a new coal plant on a daily basis.

A fetid river moves beneath another bridge. A perching club of capped swimmers I can never join are valiantly braving industrial chemicals and horrifying fauna to cool off in the river’s waters. They are resting beneath trees across the river and their laughter laps up at me.

To my left I pass once again the Embassy of the Republic of Iran and a moment later a street walker with all her womanly arms bared. She’s shapely, walks like a baseball player in his uniform, and though pretty, looks like she’s taken a few punches in her day. I wear a backpack, so working girls generally take me as too poor to be worth their time. Next come a beer house, an auto mechanic and now the low rent embassies of countries like Bolivia, stacked tightly within something resembling a housing project apartment building.

Men with mustaches and brief cases and bad skin and the weight of open state secrets officially cross the street. There is a buzzing evading bugging and its peaks and valleys describe plans to end AIDS and end lives, start companies and wars, cooperate and develop. Cicadas shriek from the trees and the river keeps rolling.

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KarmaBro

Making my way to Keith’s Monday evening I came across a red light on Fell. Directly across from my corner was a young woman holding the hand of, presumably, her child. After traffic cleared I began to cross and noted that they did not follow suit, the light still red for us and her with a kid. Suddenly I was back on another corner some night in the past– 16th and Dolores and I’m hot, sweating, on the way to a show and most likely suffering from a weak nerves cocktail… I’m sharing space with a man and two children and the light clears– I’m out in the street like a shot. “Is it really worth three seconds?” is rhetorically asked, indignant with just a light flavour of aggression. Three seconds being, of course, the amount remaining on the crossing indicator for 16th. I didn’t bother turning around– what, I’m gonna pick a fight with some guy and two kids over that?

It’s the children that he’s concerned about, or more specifically their penchant for picking up bad habits quicker than a cold. I even managed to feel guilty for showcasing such errant behaviour under this obnoxious rebuke… Hadn’t made it more than halfway across Fell by the time the vision cleared and I looked up at the woman. She wasn’t sternly insisting to her child that she never do as I’d just done, nor was she preparing to pepper the air with admonishment. There was no eye contact whatsoever and I swear that the woman’s head could not have been craned any farther from me had it been broken.

Some days before I had been making my way down to Safeway which didn’t seem like such a bright idea because my body was threatening to either send fluids suddenly flooding out from my bladder or surging up through my throat. My pace was brisk and I was pretty intent on trying to control my breathing to calm various functions down while simultaneously attempting to achieve the world time record for shopping excursions. Half a block ahead I observed a gawky man shuffling slowly, pausing, looking around, shuffling forward and I began a subtle arc so as to clear his odd meandering with enough space to avoid any collision and to avoid startling him by suddenly being right behind him. Fortunately for me this landed my foot right on top of a $20 folded in half laying on the sidewalk and, using the mystical art of plucking pennies from the street without anyone noticing what a scumbag I am, scooped it up without pause.

Between the moment my eyes caught the twenty as my foot covered it to the moment I had completed my recovery I had evaluated the half block’s time I’d watched the man wander slowly down the street. By the time he had reached the point where I was passing him we were both parallel to the money and I concluded that this served as evidence enough of his innocence of littering. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that the money might be his until I had already walked on, crossed a street and was halfway across another. God knows how long he’d been shuffling up and down the street looking around, stopping, looking, shuffling. He didn’t look too disheveled or insane for money, but how do I ask someone if they dropped this money laying on the ground? Hey, is this your $20?

Still, before I reached Safeway I was sent back in time, further than my trip to 16th and Dolores. Years back and I’m walking down Arkansas Street one night smoking a cigarette, walking the little circles I walked. Just in deeper dark of the trees holding the streetlights back I came across a pile of personal effects– it looked like someone had emptied a wallet or purse on the sidewalk and left it. Business cards, credit cards, and a shit ton of money– not a $20 but a stack of them. This seemed very exciting to me, but I kept looking through the cards until I found the ID. The address was, of course, right next to where I was crouched digging through the riches.

I could see what must have happened– some guy barely gets out of a cab after a night of life and loses everything in between the curb and his gate. Maybe his excesses deserve retribution but I’m not playing God tonight– I gather all of the shit and reach through the bars of the gate so I can drop it all in the newspaper mailbox. It’s three in the morning and I’m not gonna ring any doorbells.

The problem being, of course, why would anyone look for their lost wallet contents and money in the newspaper mailbox which is probably never used? So when I’m walking to work the next day I make a point to pass the house again and this time I ring the doorbell. I don’t want to be doing this, I don’t want to talk to anyone and I don’t want to look like some junkie expecting rewards. A woman answers, probably not much older then I am, and the fact that I have no business ringing the doorbell is clear on her face. But I explain why I’m there and she pulls everything out of the hiding place as I start to leave. “Wow, good karma!” she says through the bars. Before I can stop myself I reply,”yeah, but that’s for after you’re dead.” and continue on my way, but now I’m biting my tongue. It was the worst thing I could have said because now it sounds like I’m bitter for not being offered a reward. That still bugs me when I find myself thinking about it.

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I sincerely apologize…

It’s been a hell of a month and it seems knowing me was a sure fire way to have some trauma in your life:

Three people I know lost loved ones this month, one losing two friends in seperate overdoses. A friend’s grandfather also was admitted to the ICU with a highly elevated white blood cell count but no tests have proven conclusive last I’d heard…

My parents’ both lost their cars in one fell swoop. A high speed chase ended in my dad’s van which ended in my mom’s car. Both rear axles were snapped and the insurance company towed the derelict husks away in exchange for a total of five grand which, as you probably know, doesn’t buy a new car let alone two. This instigated a week-long mess for the folks which involved trains to Sacramento, cell phones landing in Salt Lake City needing to be returned, locking keys in cars (on loan) and a faulty oil change dumping everything on the street and leaving the car empty and needing to be towed to a diagnostic by Honda. When I last saw them they were just finishing the paperwork for the accident a week prior and looked pretty worn out.

My roommate had a late night collision leaving his bike a little fucked, the car unfucked and some staples in his head. Black eye, swollen face, light concussion ambulance ride and a night in the hospital. After a couple days being cared for by his mom he returned home wearing huge and ugly sunglasses but in a chipper mood.

Two friends spent time in psych wards, one brought by the cops and one on their own terms. The spiral of impact these events had on others was enough to wipe me out for a month on their own so luckily they happened within a week of each other smack dab in the middle.

One friend decided to check into rehab which I guess is good but also carries a lot of bad into the conversation. The same head-trip as the last paragraph, I suppose: where were you before all this happened and why do you think trying to deal with if after makes up for the neglect and carelessness you showed not being there for people… Ah…

Hell, I was declined for the first credit card I ever applied for because I don’t have any references. How do you get references? You have previous credit cards. They offered me a lower limit pre-paid card but frankly I just wanted free airline miles so fuck you and the pigs…

Feel like I’m forgetting things and to be honest I probably am since I lost my ability to think about two weeks ago and have only slowly begun to sleep more than six hours at a time and complete sentences again.

It wasn’t all bad: a friend of mine found out she was pregnant (which was good news) and two friends just announced today they had birthed a baby girl. Two friends got married (to each other, which is easier to deal with) and I was allowed to watch. A lot of people were in town who I don’t get to see very often and it was great to be able to spend a little bit of time catching up. Then again my friend in from Minneapolis was hung over when we met (we only had an hour due to my dealing with some shit and his previous engagements) and tho he was doing well it did come out that someone we had both worked with and been friends with years back had been killed a couple years ago in an accident. Tho by a bow or a boat I’m still not certain. Anyways, it brought the already quiet and still morning to an even slower speed.

Anyways, a pretty polarized month. More eventful then most, to be sure, but I’m not really made for constant activity of the best sort let alone the worst. Again, I’m sure I’ve neglected to write something down so if I’ve missed your personal trauma and you would like an apology just get in touch. If I neglected your happiness remind me of that too unless I just pissed you off…

Sorry for another indulgent, off the wrist posting. No pics, no links, no regard for the world outside my head… Shame, for shame! I promise to get the pony started in July with actual research and thinking and cross-references and babies flying out of carriages and shit… Seems like I’m dripping topics from my pants right now.

Let’s be safe out there.

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Many of you will have seen one or both of these two clips. Still, the quality of design here demands another golf clap.

The first makes a graphic reality of middle-school teachers’ dreams. It is the cartographer’s logic summarizing Middle Eastern geopolitics.

This second is a similar paired down mother-google-earth, time lapse map of US conflict. Or rather, an atlas. The US interests are astonishingly global.

It is worth more as an education on forgotten violence, than as a tacky face-off between political parties for fewest war fatalities.

Other inclusions about Secret CIA Prisons, the Retaking of Fallujah and Intelligence footage are jolt to the preferred mood. The viewer, me, was accustomed to the tone of the aforementioned, mildly apolitical forays into mappage.

Check out the rest of the site. I can’t work out whether it is the creation of socially motivated researchers or entrapment by a government agency, but I like it…

Another impeccably designed map. Satisfyingly simple, like a venn diagram.

There’s also a belter about religions’ roles in all the comedy we call humanness.

Good Night and God Design.

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