Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tools of the Trade

My mouse has been flaking out for the past several months, and this issue recently passed from being an ignorable nuisance to being a determent to my productivity.

The new mouse shouldn't cause any problems, same number of buttons, general shape etc. The only real change is in weight, and it's amazing how much it throws me off. Little changes in tools that have become second nature are amazingly jarring.

One Mans Trash

There's an unofficial system at work in the U-District. People will leave stuff out on the side of the streets, and if the item is unattended it has an official "Free" sign on it. This works a lot better in the summer when things can be outside for more then a day before they become too waterlogged to be usable. This, along with a number of other reasons (I'm theorizing) has dramatically increased the number of free things I pass by on my daily walk. Most of them are things I don't need, but every now and then you find something good.

My new doorstop is a good example of this rule. It's functional, and it makes a great decoration item. It also used to tell people that they were only supposed to turn left at that roundabout, but it was partially unscrewed and, if I'm right about those marks on it, beaten down with a metal bat. In either case it's down, the pole it was on is gone, and the beating has curved it beautifully so that it leans up just right against my door while bracing itself against the carpet.

Also those signs are impossible to clean. I tried everything short of steel wool, and I've added steel wool to my shopping list.

The other I got just now. It's a great example of the system at work here.

In the U-District there are those who have standards and those who have money, and a select few who have both. There are also a great many who have neither, or different interpretations on what constitutes "standards." To someone with money and standards this bookshelf is clearly busted. the slide out tray is gone, part of the back is broken off and something has been done to the top that appears to be the product of anger, liquor, and a ball point pen. To someone who owns too many books and has been thinking about how to make better use of his closet space this bookshelf is great. The sliding tray rails are easily removed, things can be piled on top of the scratchings and I can just pull the entire back off and shove it up against the wall.

This is also the third piece of furniture in my room that I've gotten because someone abandoned it. I have my futon mattress that serves as my bed, and the best find yet was my Eric's fridge. To those of you who don't remember Eric was my old roommate back in Lander, where they decided three people could live in a room smaller then my current room. He abandoned it, and I gave him a week before I started using it, and by the by it became mine. It's been amazingly convenient, it was even my computer desk back in Redmond. I do, however, maintain my promise that if he ever comes to collect it I'll return it. So if you know Eric please don't tell him where I live.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I record the testament to my insanity that plays across my white board by taking high resolution pictures of it before each cleaning. It's of critical note that they're high enough that I can still read the words. This system normally works great, but then again my camera's charger is normally plugged in


I've begun to notice some changes in my own wiring. Little behavioral things that I wasn't expecting. In essence, I'm losing my crazy powers.

Without my old sleep problems I'm off of the insomnia/collapse loop, and while this is great, and a massive improvement in my quality of life, the absence of the larger things that were keeping me from sleeping has begun to point out the minor things that do. I used to be able to sleep in a fully lit moderately noisy room, a power I derived not from any meritable ability but simply because if I had gotten tired enough to actually sleep that meant I was mere hours from passing out entirely. I've begun a process of duct taping over all of the little lights in my room that I never noticed before.

The regular sleep pattern means that I can safely maintain a regular medication pattern. This is a massive benefit because concerta can be a bit awkward if you don't take it consistently. Now it's become normative, my new default state clearly includes being medicated. Which is why it's now a much bigger deal if I miss one. Getting accustomed to that makes its sudden absence something noticeable instead of another detail in the haze of problems.

The biggest change, and definitely the biggest loss of powers that I've noticed is my reaction to caffeine. I've been cutting down on it gradually over the last few months, and I've lost my tolerance. Consequentially I'm beginning to lose my affection for it. The temporarily heightened energy state it gives you doesn't feel genuine. A high energy mood is a combination of a lot of things, and caffeine simply doesn't provide those. It doesn't give you motivation, it doesn't give you drive, it's just energy and without the others it's not all that great, and now that I'm actually getting meaningful after effects it just doesn't add up any more. I feel almost traitorous saying this but I may end up quitting soda entirely.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recovered Story

I wrote this story weeks ago and subsequently lost it. While cleaning my room just now I found it again. This kind of thing is one of the only good reasons I want a mobile device. So many blog entries wind up as crumpled paper on the floor.

The sun makes you feel everything differently. I was bussing home yesterday and my pineal gland kept telling me it was late afternoon even though my clock was telling me it was almost nine. I was thinking about this, amongst other things, when I was heading to the transit tunnel. I didn't find the entrance I'm used to. What I found was a metal screen over the entrance, and a combination of alarm lights and sirens that I've come to think of as "Quickly put whatever you're doing in the fume hood and get the hell out of the lab."

My lab experience keeps having applications in the oddest places.

This emergency display was exacerbated by the fact that the sign that normally reads "Transit Tunnel North Bay A & B" instead read "Emergency Ventilation has been activated, evacuate immediately." I had just long enough to go through a good series of emotional displays conveying my shock before I heard the kind of calm automated voice that normally warns people that they have 5 minutes until nuclear self destruction repeat the signs terrifying message.

In the resulting state of awed fear that comes from realizing I had narrowly avoided being the victim of a terrorist attack I leaned back against a wall and found the unwelcome company of a sign jabbing me in the back.

This is when I learned that the tunnel had been closed for two hours.

What the Fuck?

Seriously metro, or Sound Transit, or whoever the hell runs this thing. You don't just leave that kind of siren running. And I'm not even getting into the issue of having the metal screen down at the same time that you have the evacuation alarms going off. That's the kind of thing I expect from a super villain. Not a public transit organization.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


-Double Experience weekend is a great idea for the "City of X" game franchise. It brings in prospective players, and it brings back old players. Most importantly though it helps you get through the fact that early on you don't have enough powers to make the game that interesting, and later on it's too damn hard to level.

-Double Experience weekend is also a interesting form of impromptu stress test. Over the normal cycle of events the Freedom server is at medium load half the time, Virtue is at medium load during peak hours, and the rest are almost always on light load. I tend to play on those two servers because the increased player density makes it a lot easier to find a team. On Friday Freedom hit heavy load. Saturday morning was what peak hours normally are, which is crazy for any kind of morning, and somewhere around 2 p.m. Freedom crashed. A few moments ago Virtue also crashed. Infinity is suddenly up to medium load. I have a sneaking suspicion that it's just angry players from Freedom and Virtue rolling up new characters, and if this theory is right then by tomorrow night only Victory, a server with approximately 7 active players, will be straining with the collective angry populace of the community.

-Characters named PR3D4T0R are not allowed to criticize the creativity of other peoples names.

-The other day a bus driver honked and waved while speeding past a stop. He drove a block past it, pulled over, opened the door and jumped out. Literally from the drivers seat to the sidewalk. He then sprinted like a mad man into a local taco restaurant, presumably to use the restroom, and left the bus sitting open for five minutes. I for one approve.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Choosing Action

When I write on my white board I often color code my writing. Generally this follows the idea of three aspects of self that I've mentioned before. Blue is positive, red is negative, and black is neutral, but is really more symbolic of a primary unaligned aspect which is the instigator against which the others are reactionary. This understanding of it is why I think of the three voices as positive, negative, and active.

There are times when these three will come into alignment. In these moments I usually find some new truth or mantra which, if I listen to it, serves as a valuable point of guidance. Internalizing these truths, and the process of finding new ones and internalizing those is, in essence, the path of enlightenment.

The last time this happened was a while ago, and was regrettably before I began photographing my white board each time I erase it. The message that was written out in foot high letters for a few days was this:

Never Stop Fighting
Always Choose Action
Anything less is weakness

This idea, choosing action, has been the central theme in a lot of my most rewarding changes recently. It's so fundamental, and so simple, but it gets passed at every opportunity. There are so many little things that I want done, and it's within my reach to do them, but there's some lacking animus that holds me from them. Choosing action is fighting that. don't let the bottom crisper drawer go uncleaned another day. Don't let things slide, don't ignore minor problems, don't excuse and don't negotiate. It's not hard, just choose action.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crystallizing Flame

I had a moment just now, and I refuse to say what triggered it, but I have found something that I have been trying to find again for a long time now. It's hard to describe, it's like a variation on an epiphany. All of my talk, all of my visions, all of them suddenly became very real, life gained a degree of presence that it has lacked, and for the first time in a long time I have pupose, and clarity. The inferno is focused, a crystallizing of the flame...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Safety First

I saw today what may have been the least safe driving style possible. It was a young man, riding a bike, without a helmet, or any hands on the handlebars, because he was on his cellphone.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


-There's a guy in my psych class who has tusks. He's cool, I talk to him every now and then, we're in the same quiz section etc. Seriously though, he's got tusks.

-There's a strange thing which I've seen three or four times recently. A cursory glance suggests that the person I'm seeing is a kind of scrawny student, but taking even a moment to look carefully at them reveals that they're one of the long bearded raggedy old street crazies that roam the area. It's freaky for your perception of a person to spontaneously gain thirty years.

-Tiny children roam the streets. The areas around my apartment are stalked by the clamoring hordes of the YMCA summer day camp. Then there's the bizzare wyrm that flows from the University District Community Center child thing. These are particularly disturbing because they're lead around by being ordered, or perhaps bound, to hold onto a long knotted rope, forming this composite toddler snake that writhes across the U-District. The campus itself is haunted by packs of head start kids. Proto-nerds bounding clumsily around the halls of the Physics Astronomy complex, and masses of miscellaneous children that are blow across the rest of campus by some ill wind.

-There's a bookstore on the Ave known as "Twice Sold Sales." They rotate their window display fairly frequently and I make a semi-regular habit of checking what they have on display. I was literally shocked still this morning when I looked up from my own thoughts to see what books were being displayed and instead found a few kittens. Strange non-sequitur kittens in a display case with only a few random unarranged books. Orange and white forms basking in the sun. There was a brief moment where I thought that these were fake display objects, but as soon as I looked directly at them one of them reached groggily towards me, its tiny paw stroking along the glass, before it fell back into that almost sublime sleep that is only had by cats basking in the sun.

Friday, July 04, 2008


-I'm deeply disappointed in recent Holiday sale ads. Not once have I heard the phrase "Sale-a-bration"

-Eating essentially only fruits and vegetables makes shopping a lot fast. I only have to go through one aisle.

-The coloration of my map of Wayside, a fictional town in my campaign setting, was intended to express the fact that it's in the plains which tend to be covered in tall golden grasses like the ones I saw while traveling through Kansas. The problem is that I can't really get that texture down, and the color of those grasses is surprisingly similar to the color of human urine.

-Fireworks began going off in and around the U-district at around 10 p.m. July 3rd. I was looking through my small stash of fireworks, thinking to join the fun, but I remembered something. The ones I brought weren't meant to be used as fireworks. I brought almost entirely high volume smoke bombs to be used in the event of urban warfare. Somehow that thought seemed reasonable at the time, but since I still don't own a gun Urban warfare for me will still consist of ducking and covering.

-I know I've said this before. But where does one go to purchase an HK MP5N submachine gun with an ACOG scope? I don't think S.W.A.T. has surplus stores.

-I really shouldn't use Rainbow 6 as a means for deciding which firearm to buy. In the time between playing R6 games it's clear to me that I need a basic pump action shotgun for it's low penetration and high reliability, but I can't help thinking that that's the same reason the MP5 is the bread and butter of the advanced law enforcement agencies. This discussion also takes place completely without credit to the fact that I have no training in the operation of a submachine gun, but that discussion inevitably leads to the field value of a shotgunnery merit badge.

-Happy 4th of July

-Massive Fireworks keep going off around us. The larger ones sound like the sniper rifle blasts from Rainbow 6, and after each one I, Maximilian "Sure Shot" Willson, and tempted to turn to Adam "The Saw" Wahlen and say "Tango Down."

Hunger vs. Food Want

This is an issue that I've thought about a lot, and like all of the issues that I think about a lot I've done very very little about it. Until recently. I'm not sure what it is, but I've been much less hungry recently then I have been in the past. I've considered the idea that it's simply that I'm thinking much more about being hungry versus wanting food, but I also think that the medicines must have something to do with it. Resveritrol (SP) was found in people who were living longer due to starvation dieting, so maybe it has a retroactive appetite suppressant function. My regular sleep schedule allows me to make much more regular use of concerta, which has known appetite suppressing effects. Also, I'm up to 6 pills each morning. Centrum, one of those men's health multi-blends that I just think of as "Mascul-aid," fish oil, Resveritrol, Green Tea, and Concerta. I may just be filling up on pills.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


At any given time I'm fight at least two metaphorical battles, and when I say that I'm getting better or doing badly what I'm actually giving you is a net victory assessment. This is why I can be, and am, getting better, even when I've been losing ground in one key area. It will sound like I'm digging up an old issue, but this is actually a different fight against the same opponent.

Now that I've gotten the sleep thing down, that is to say that I can no reliably sleep, and that the concept of laying down for 8 hours doesn't feel odd any more, I've begun to slide on scheduling it. There are two principle reasons for this. The first being that if I go to sleep at ten I can still see sunlight in the distance, and the other being that I don't really have to wake up at six any more. So it slips gradually, and I end up getting up at 7. This lead to a surprisingly fast slide into me getting up at 9. It was startlingly fast, but the cause was very simple. I wasn't getting tired until at least midnight.

I've learned a few things about forcing yourself to sleep. The biggest most important one is "Don't Get Up." Before you can say anything else about being unable to sleep you have to be willing to lay in bed, in the dark, in relative quiet, with your eyes closed for at least an hour. No checking the clock, no getting water, no reading, none of that. If you get up you'll stay up. This tactic has served me well in the past, both because it has a high success rate, but also because if you can't sleep after an hour of this then there's a legitimate problem going on. The first few nights of laying in bed from 10 to midnight I credited the fact that it was still 85 degrees, but last night everything was right, it should've all worked and I found myself terminally unable to fall asleep. I was tired, I was resting, but sleep had been blocked. Which is when a key idea occured to me.

This kind of blocked state is one I kind of know of. This is chemical sleep denial, and since there wasn't any increase in fidget activity I knew it had to be the concerta. This had never been a problem before. The thing is that I take my meds upon waking up. Various vitamins, extracts, and what I assume is the byproduct of a green tea farm, a thresher, and a car compactor. If I wake up an hour later that means that I start the effect of my time release speed an hour later. Which would explain the rapid cycle decay.

I think I should have shorted that now, but I haven't gotten to the results phase yet. I set every clock in my room for 5:30, including my cell phone and a downloaded alarm for my computer. I reached something kind of like consciousness when they all went off, and immediately took my concerta. I then fell back asleep. I ended up waking up at 9 again, but if my theory was right I should be able to go to sleep with the sunset again. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Outrage is my co-pilot

I've seen a lot of "Dog is my co-pilot" stickers recently. Too recently, as in I've seen 7 in the last two days and none before that. I couldn't believe that these are new, the slogan is too obvious, so I can only assume that a truck full of them blew up, a subtheory of my "Someone gave out a lot of these stickers" theory.

While that's odd, what bugs me about these is the same thing that bugged me about the "God is my co-pilot," "Buddha is my co-pilot," "Shiva is my co-pilot," and "Reason is my co-pilot" stickers that I've been seeing for years. The first problem I have with these applies mostly to the original. If you're religious enough to have a religious bumper sticker I'm willing to assume that you consider God to be better then you. Progressing from this belief shouldn't you be God's co-pilot?

My much more substantial issue comes from the pilot role that I've played in nearly every game that has let me. I'm a veteran of several generations of combat flight simulators, I was the only person to fly a helicopter well in the early days of the battlefield games, I weaved drop ships through enemy fire in battlefield 2142, I was the top pilot of a highly ranked clan in Tribes 1, and I was an expert with everything that could fly in Tribes 2, including ramming a tank at full throttle into a speeder and riding the explosion over enemy walls. I have enough fake experience that I feel like I know pilotry, and being that I always flew a team vehicle when I could I know where I'd want God if I was flying. It's not the co-pilot that matters, it's not even the bomber. Every pilots best fried is their Tail Gunner. I can't count the number of times I turned the tide of fight by flying in with a full loaded gunship, and there were just as many times that my fully loaded gunship was bitch slapped out of the sky by some jerk in a small hunting craft because our tail gunner had decided to turn his gun 180 degrees and take pot shots at nothing along the underside of our own ship.

I don't care who the figure is, but if I can find a is my tail gunner sticker I'm buying it.