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Chewbacca's Domain
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Date:2008-03-11 18:59
Subject:Another Zippergate

Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that yet another leader has become tarnished with scandal. Particularly, I’m referring to Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York. In the tradition of having a “wide stance” on morality that separates public and private life, his actions have nonetheless caught up with gaining public attention.

Having been a recent transplant to New York, and one who doesn’t closely follow politics – especially when I’m still feeling like something of a transient, he has earned the reputation of somebody who’s seemingly championed the cause of weeding out corruption.

Amongst his pet projects, he’s sought to investigate Wall Street tycoons and banks who’re largely responsible for the subprime meltdown and financial chaos crippling the economy. Reading up a little about him, he has a good record of being a consumer advocate, going after the corporate doublespeak where “taking it seriously” has devolved into a snarkfest amongst many.

There are two layers of irony. A person who claims tackle crime and corruption, even with respect to prostitution, falls into the very trap his platform desires to eradicate. (Maybe it’s a case of Freudian projection, but at the time, there’s yet no evidence suggesting his extramarital liaisons were a habit.) This category is what makes it difficult for constituents to trust his judgement in holding office. In this sense, I’m less forgiving than I’ve been with President Clinton’s scandal, since the latter's affair was consensual, legal, and none of the public’s business.

The other irony, somewhat more disturbing, is examining who gains from Spitzer’s scandal. Instead of feeling a general sense of victory, it’s going to be Wall Street who serves most to gain by Spitzer’s departure. Thankfully, while the FBI has been scrutinising several investment banks for possible fraud, it never hurts to have State pressure applied as well. While they may not be clear, they stand to be relieved of a menacing adversary.

So while people debate over the prostitution issue, it masks a much broader picture. There’s no guarantee that any possible successor to Spitzer will be any less corrupt – as corruption can take many forms as well as degrees. However, the chances that a person who will replace Spitzer with the knowledge and determination to address urgent problems that affect millions of people is much less likely.

It’s hard to see who wins if Spitzer resigns, and whether the vast majority of us would be better off.

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Date:2008-01-09 22:51
Subject:Book Review: Never Let Me Go

Imagine growing up in a boarding school. You’re completely cut off from the entire world, and while you have every available chance to learn and play with your classmates, you’re always kept at arm’s length by your teachers. Add in the fact that somehow you’re told you’re “very special” and have to be very careful throughout life when it comes to common-sense things like not smoking or having unprotected sex, but somehow it’s more important for you than others. While you’re treated as a privilege class, there’s an eerie suspicion that eclipses your idyllic lifestyle foreshadowing a grim truth in the distant future.

If this sounds intriguing, then checking out a copy of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is well worth your time. In its presentation of a reality that’s close to ours, but still mysteriously and ominously different, it reminds me of the probing innocence and discovery that one finds in The Giver by Lois Lowry. In some regards, it’s a little closer to home.

While the narrator chooses to play her cards close for a while, being intentionally vague with descriptions, such as herself being a “carer,” it doesn’t take very long to catch onto the general scheme, and therefore I don’t feel incredibly guilty about spoiling much. A group of children are followed throughout their life from childhood as they become aware that their raison d'être is solely for organ harvesting. The chosen “students” are prescribed a complete cradle-to-grave programme to provide a leisurely life, only to sacrifice themselves before even reaching middle age. All this happens without having any meaningful interaction with the outside world.

While the rationale about the elaborate lengths that a handful of dedicated people went through to execute the programme “humanely,” it isn’t quite clear what their connection with the outside world is. Everyone simply begins donating their internal organs when they’re called upon, particularly very young. Never once does is an actual organ recipient mentioned, and it’s only briefly alluded to that people from the lowest socioeconomic classes and/or the morally depraved were chosen to be “clone models.” Additionally, each clone child is sterile.

For this reason, it’s uncertain why the lower classes would be chosen to benefit from organ harvesting, although if moral depravity was part of their inclusion criteria, it may be fitting to have your carbon copy waiting to be beckoned to save you from yourself. However, it doesn’t quite seem that clear. None of the students are known to be excused from donations, therefore it’s not certain who the children are and for whom they serve, adding to the isolation.

The children definitely wonder about one lies ahead, but they’re also quite perceptive and begin to catch on fairly young at what fate lies for them. Oddly enough, the students don’t tend to react strongly against the news. There’s not one hint of protest, or even an inkling of questioning. As young adults becoming aware of the entire process, they’re more curious to discover their “possibles” (clone models) and eager to begin the next stage of their lives.

By most standards, the children appear to be remarkably normal. They appear to be rather athletic, creative, smart, and intelligent. They seem to know much about the world that lies beyond their isolation. However, they are never that curious to engage it. Simply knowing about the world rather than first-hand experience seems enough. They move on, take on a job that’s assigned to them, and appear to want to do the best they can. Like before, they give everything its due, and then willingly advance to the next stage.

It’s disturbing how little resistance there is to the idea of self-sacrifice. They may even believe, as they’ve been told, that it’s an honour and a privilege in spite of its obvious pitfalls. Instead of draconic measures, control seems to be far more passive and decentralised, relying exclusively on peer pressure and weak recommendations. Nobody appears to suffer any punishment, and especially once the children leave their boarding school, there’s no reason to believe they could simply wander away and disappear amongst the rest of civilisation without any consequences… and yet, nobody does.

The group are brainwashed into loving who they are, and embracing their life purpose. Perhaps it lends credence to the power of isolation, and how fragile and arbitrary any societal structure can be. It becomes clear how a child may be reared as a part of a cult, only to be released from its control, but reject his/her newfound freedom. Less dramatically, the process slowly reveals how easily people submit to absurd and harmful things, from an outsider’s perspective, solely based on a diffuse expectation and not necessity. People toil over jobs they hate, stay married to people they have trouble getting along with, raise families, buy big-ticket items like fancy homes and cars, obtain advanced degrees, associate with one group of people while distancing oneself from another, all predicated on expectation that it’s “simply the way it’s done.” Making choices that don’t sit well with our fulfillment, however, is like digging a little grave each day, much like these characters who march on.

Also evident are how people can convince themselves that they’re acting on the best interest of others from their perspective, but take the wrong measures, or simply don’t go far enough. It becomes apparent later that many other “donors” grew up in conditions far worse than the main characters. The exaltation that the protagonists experience among the other donors is simply due to fact that their formative years were spent in better conditions than the rest. While the boarding school staff may feel justified in their commitment to provide a lifestyle approaching normal for some youngsters, crusading on behalf of the clone children that they indeed have souls and ought to be treated compassionately, they uphold their "ultimate fate" comforting themselves that other people have it much worse.

This is all without touching the larger issue over medical ethics resulting from cloning human beings for treating disease. While the novel may be considered a strong endorsement to ban cloning and perhaps some practices involving embryonic stem cell research and genetic engineering, it would be a loss to simply distill it down to that alone. It’s a wonderfully rich and engaging novel in spite of its macabre nature. Maybe it’ll even be one of those things which you may never let it go.

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Date:2008-01-08 19:16
Subject:Manhattan Apartment Rent Trends for 2007


Suddenly I don't feel quite so ripped off on the housing situation... or do I? Who actually has this much money lying around to afford paying rent in Manhattan?

Perhaps it'll be a while before considering a doorman building... Housing crisis, can you make rental property values plummet, too? kthx.

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Date:2007-10-04 12:14
Subject:Cheap Wine Reviews Published

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine held a wine-tasting event for bottles on a budget. The thirteen bottles of wine up for scrutiny amounted to almost $33. Several of the people there are involved in journalism, including a few people from The New York Times and Radar Magazine.

Radar funded the research, and the results are published online.
Wine on a Dime

(P.S. The author was my apartment broker.)

Not bad! My name was even mentioned as a part of the tasting panel! Research is fun :)

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Date:2007-08-15 10:27
Subject:Berkeley Squirrels: Rattlesnake Defense

Well, apparently squirrels have a newly discovered function that's useful for humans. If you keep an army of squirrels around you at all times while in the middle of the desert, you may be protected from rattlesnakes:;_ylt=AhJ2pRS5J75RlQGVfQsjwbsDW7oF

The reason? Adult squirrels have evolved a defense mechanism to ward off snakes by shaking their warm, bushy tails which indicate that a predatory snake has been detected. Snakes sense infrared heat. Furthermore, adult squirrels are immune to rattlesnake venom. As an aside, could there be a new treatment for snake venom that would come from the secrets of the squirrel?

Perhaps not a big deal around climates that receive a lot of water, snakes are pretty common in California. Therefore, I feel one more reason to feel delighted when I see a pack of bushy-tailed creatures.

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Date:2007-03-01 22:40
Subject:Daily Dose of Rudeness

Some people either have a serious chip on their shoulder, or clearly are unconcerned about how they come off to other people. Even though I think most people are generally pretty good-natured, even if they’re not going out of their way to love their neighbours, there are occasionally a few instances that make one shake their head and ask, “What the fuck?”

Example 1: At the Coffee Shop
This evening in Tully’s, a man had just purchased tea from the counter. My friend Jessica, the barista (not Jessica, the bartender), was cleaning up tables and noticed the man pouring the tea out into the trash can. Jessica asked him, “Oh, did we put too much water in there? I can pour a little out in the sink behind the counter if you’d like.” The man didn’t acknowledge her, and continued pouring into the trash can. Jessica spoke again, “That trash can leaks, and it will make a big mess. Please don't do that.” He was not deterred. Nonetheless, he understood enough to glare at her as he was finished with his business. If this man appeared to be homeless, deaf, or otherwise mentally ill, that wouldn’t be an issue. However, he was a well-groomed, somewhat young professional.

Example 2: The annoying kid in class
Maybe if the first person can receive some sympathy because maybe he had a bad day, the second guy exhibits his rude, obnoxious behaviour on a daily basis. My classes are usually in large lecture halls, seating several hundred students. I’ve also been known to sit in one of the first few rows, near the centre, consistently in every class.

Enter the rude kid.

A few weeks ago, out of the clear blue, he sits directly in the seat next to me (leaving no buffer zone, despite having about half a dozen chairs on either side of him), and makes an off-handed comment to his “buddies” behind him about how awkward it is to sit next to someone he doesn’t know. Then he turns to me and says, “You’re sitting in my seat.” I nodded nonchalantly, and proceeded to ignore him.

Two classes ago, I’m sitting in pretty much the same chair, and he sits next two seats to my right. Just before the lecture, he’s chatting with different people in the row behind us (who don’t really seem that fond of him), and he leans in my direction and says, “Thank you for not sitting in my seat.”

I couldn’t think of anything more obnoxious. I looked at him and replied, “Well, thanks, but I didn’t do anything. It’s not like we have assigned seats or anything.” Undeterred, he responded, “I know, but it’s still where I sit.”

This interlude called for one thing. Take his seat. That’s precisely what I did yesterday.

How did it go, you may ask? Well, he was passive-aggressive about it. He sat in the chair right next to me, leaned back to talk to two people in the row behind him, on average a distance of 4 chairs to his left or right, to say how weird it is, again, to sit next to someone he doesn’t know. This time, I said, “Well, why don’t you join your friends behind you? It must be very inconvenient to have to look behind you and strain yourself to talk with them.” He responded, ‘Well, I remembered thanking you for not sitting in my seat the other day. But that’s okay, you can sit by me even if I don’t know you. Lots of people want to sit by me.” The nerve of him!

Or maybe he’s gay and trying to hit on me.

I think the guy just lost his seat for the rest of the course. He must not be accustomed to not having his way. It might be time that he learns a valuable life lesson. Had he not made such a fuss, I wouldn’t have ever noticed.

Either way, he’s going to be quite disappointed, and I really don’t care.

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Date:2006-04-11 22:17
Subject:More Nakedness

The Naked Protestors came back today for Round 2 of their multipart series of their attempt to convince President Dynes to force our clothing manufacturing contracts to deal with companies who do not employ sweatshop labour for official Cal gear.

The catch? This time, it was cold and raining :)

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Date:2005-11-20 17:40
Subject:Feeling better....

Well, I guess virtually all the sting of last Thursday's mini-breakdown has cleared itself up. Ironically, I was rather shocked about how miserable I was feeling at the time, but I had spent the entire day battling through an internal struggle between two different "personalities" - the overwhelmingly "whiney" one against a much more aggressive "get ahold of yourself" instinct. Needless to say, I've been very distressed with a lot of the bad habits and negative thinking I've allowed myself to slip into the last several years, and have come to realise that most of it could be dealt with effectively if I would just take control over things. The proactive side of me is extremely angered with the apathy, lethargy, and self-defeating behaviour I've come to embrace, and have ultimately done a number on destroying self-confidence. That isn't who I am, I never used to be a terribly insecure preson, and I am very pissed over all the time I've wasted in self-pity.

The funny part of it is, had I wrote my journal entry a few hours before my last post, it would have sounded completely different. Though, it was still evident in my plea for an "ass-kicking."

A good friend wrote a lengthy "tough love" message which helped to lift my mood considerably. It pretty much echoed my thoughts of a few hours before, as well as the tone I'm trying to use to re-establish confidence. As valuable a friend can be for being somebody to whom one can vent, I appreciate there are people out there who watch after their friends' best interest, too, and have the courage to step in to stop a person from going down a destructive path. I especially admire this person's bravery and loyalty in that in the past, there has been some difficulty between us with miscommunication when one of us offers objective advice that may not be particularly pleasant to hear. However, that's what good friends do; they're loyal to their own principles and step in to do what they believe is right, even if it risks causing an argument or hurt feelings. It's demonstrative of an amasing strength of character and the enormous weight behind what they're trying to say - as well as the amount of faith they have in other people.

I guess I'm just really lucky in that regard. It shows there is kindness, loyalty, and compassion in the world, even if it comes in the form of a rude awakening :) (And no, said person was not rude... lol)

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Date:2005-11-17 23:47
Subject:Sleepless Nights

This is the third night in a row where it's been very late, and there's absolutely no way for me to obtain rest peaceably. My midterms are over, nor are there any major projects on the horizon. I am stressed, but it's mostly in part to insatiable boredom and massive doses of self-loathing, which I'm having a difficult time interrupting.
[Sign of depression: changes in sleeping patterns.]

I'm becoming angered by my own thoughts, and this entire semester has become a struggle in this regard. However, this is truly the first time when I've ever felt like a self-destructive person, wanting to lash out from my own anger with myself. Fundamentally, my core self-concept is bruised and injured badly. Perhaps it took enough stress in my life to break through my defenses, or perhaps it's just a healthy part of self-maturation. Nonetheless, it's not fun.

It's just when I think of where I am right now, all I can tell you is that I hate myself. I should be proud that I'm at Berkeley. I should be proud that I'm on the verge of graduating from the best chemistry program in the world, (according to US News and Reports). I should be happy that I have a well-paying job that affords me great personal freedom, as well as the ability to travel ad libertum. I should be happy that I have a family that's very proud and loves me, and that I have wonderful friends in my life who've been of immeasurable value. I should be happy that I'm finally learning to open up as a person, once again becoming assertive regarding my needs and desires, with energy and a will to transform something, even if it just happens to be myself.
[Sign of depression: anhedonia]

But the fact is, I hate myself. I hate the way I look, I hate the way I dress, I hate the way I never express any good vibes to other people. I hate that I scare virtually everyone else away from me. I hate that I give off the false impression that I believe others are "bad people" when I'm am one of the most accepting people out there, but cannot accept myself (and thus is frequently misinterpreted). I hate that when I become anxious (which is often), that I cannot articulate myself well, and when dealing with interpersonal issues, end up saying something that offends the people who mean most to me, and it takes *months* of backtracking, explanations, and undoing of incorrect/unhealthy mental constructs. I hate that I am not accepting myself as a worthwhile person. I hate that I love people, but hate me. And I hate that I'm thinking like this because I know none of this is true, and none of it makes any sense at all!

I hate that I could be achieving far more in school than I'm doing right now. (I'm probably looking at about a 3.3 GPA this term.) I hate that I cannot sit down and concentrate on activities that I once found intrinsically enjoyable. I hate that if someone were to ask me to play my favourite piano selections, I cannot give a passibly decent performance. I look at myself, and how much pontential I have wasted with the utmost regret. I fear I could have been somebody, and look at all the opportunities life has handed me in the past, continues to hand me now, and I continue to blow.
[Sign of depression: Intense fear and perception of failure.]

People are going to simply give up on me. My roommates and classmates have always known what an incredible slacker I am, but I feel my days where exciting opportunities that are within my grasp are going to run out, and I'm going to be stuck in a dead-end job, miserable, and alone.
[Sign of depression: catastropic thinking.]

I hate that I'm trampling on very solid friendships. I hate that when I really want to reach out to somebody, I feel compelled to withdraw and run away. I hate when a person IMs me, I have virtually nothing to say to them, even if I've known them for years, or that I have very short conversations on the phone with friends or family, if I even bother to pick up the phone at all if they call. I also hate that I'm hurting these people, especially those who are the most sensitive to my own behaviour, because in destroying my life, I'm also hurting their's.
[Sign of depression: withdrawl from social contact]

I hate that I'm virtually broke, and yet I have too many expenses piling up on my plate. I need a new computer, I want to go on vacation this winter to spend time with the people who actually make a difference in my life, I need to buy Christmas gifts for everyone, I need to pay for tuition, perhaps search for an apartment, buy utensils, tools, and everything else that goes with being a completely self-sufficient urban dweller. Learning to drive, buying a car. Paying medical expenses - and two surgeries likely on the way.

I hate that the things that I need to change have no immediate solution. There's no instant cure for better grades. There's no instant cure for losing weight and gaining muscle. There's no instant solution for developing a fashion sense when one doesn't even know the words to articulate what he's seeking! There's no instant cure for fixing my eyes tomorrow, fixing my jawline, or to cure my self-esteem. I'm crying out, "Make me pretty! Make me happy!" and there's no short-term hope in sight. I'm working on all of these things, but they a great deal of time to yield any results, and I'm falling apart now. There's just a host of things just swirling around up there, and popping a Valium or drowning my sorrows in alcohol won't fix a thing.

Speaking of alcohol, I hate how much I've been drinking lately. It hasn't been to the point of being piss-drunk, except on two marked occasions, but rather it's a daily habit. I'm not even self-disciplined enough to drink *in the dorms* with all the liquor I've bought from BevMo, but rather going across the street to a bar and paying top-dollar nightly just for the chance at a little social interaction. Am I intentionally trying to ruin my life here? Another observation (to bring this whole entry full-circle), is that when I consume more than just a little alcohol, I cannot sleep! (Maybe this is a component reason to why I haven't been able to sleep well when travelling. See: Chicago, See: Atlanta).
[Sign of depression: increased depedences on substances]

Stress + alcohol do not mix, children. It's the fastest way to being broke, listless, and allowing one's problems to spin out of control. At least at this point, I can intervene. But... grrrr....

Oy vey!

Somebody just needs to kick my ass, hard, because I'm fucking up.

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Date:2005-11-15 23:43
Subject:Computer's officially dead...

Goodbye, my Athlon XP 2500+! You have served your master well. Your life has come to an end, and it is with my utmost regret and humblest apologies with which I must discard of you into the nearest appropriate receptacle.

We've had some good times together. I remembered you helped me on my way of getting into Berkeley, where I started to build a little home-based Internet business with your assistance. I remember you are also responsible for introducing me to some of my best friends I could ever hope for in my life. Even though our relationship was quite different than the kind my brother and his computer shared watching explicit films, you have provided me with just as much pleasure in other way. Thank you for always playing music when I've felt down. Thank you for helping me launch a research career at one of the leading divisions of NASA. Thank you for the millions of kilowatt hours, making greedy, rotund Edison executives even richer, you've spent on me, most of which I used staring blankly at your peripheral display, but nonetheless you played a crucial role in the image you've burned in my retina.

I will be replacing you with a younger, shinier, slimmer model. One that will dance circles around your best performance on a good day. Of course, it will cost me. However, I will never forget you.

Cheer up. We've had some good times. It's just that... you have nothing more to offer me now, until you've fixed yourself. All I can hope is that your body of silicon and plastic, adorned with fine gold threading, will find a new home, in a form that will make somebody else's life just as happy in the future as you've made mine in the past.

With this. I bid you one last final adieu...

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Date:2005-11-15 23:19
Subject:Speaking of rumours....

Speaking of rumours...

An old college "friend" of mine apparently took it upon himself to write an e-mail to one of my favourite college professors at LBCC. This person doesn't know me terribly well - doesn't know what I've been through in the last several years. About the only thing he knows has a little to do with an very close college friend, for whom I was extremely fond, who passed away. This professor was also one of her dearest friends, and honestly, I think the two of us were probably among less than five people my old friend ever opened up to in college at all. (She loathed this "friend" who ran into me at Berkeley)...

Anyway, he ran into me on campus a few weeks ago and asked how I was. He also managed to wrestle my e-mail address out of me. After a bit of smalltalk and shared nostalgia (in which case, the name Dr. Wheeler and Erin - my deceased friend were mentioned), he decided to e-mail my old professor/confidant the following:

I am sure you have seen many students come and go but I was one of your students at LBCC. I took your classes English 1 and English 3 Honors and I believe Jeffrey Smith was also in those classes. Besides Dr. Lawrence you were my favorite professor who left an impression on me that I could do anything I put my mind on. I did not think I could do the Honors program and I did, I did not think I would get into UC Berkeley but I did. I thank you for inspiring students like Jeffrey and me and hope you realize that there are not enough great professors like yourself. I am doing well at UCB but found it challenging at first and almost did not make it. I am now trying to do research in stigma and discrimination relating to HIV. I eventually will apply in schools that specialize in forensic psychology. I see Jeffrey around campus once in a while. He mentioned that it is hard sometimes to think of your classes because he begins to remember Erin who died. Take care and thanks again for helping me succeed in life.

Yes, his e-mail's touching and sweet to an extent, but now Dr. Wheeler's could possibly be concerned that I'm an emotional trainwreck who's avoiding her on the account that I cannot confront my feelings about Erin. This is patently untrue - she and I have spoken of her death before - and while I've been meaning to get ahold of her in the past (for gathering information, or just wanting to let her know how I've been doing at Berkeley, or for personal advice with some troubling situations I've found myself in over the last two-or-so years since taking her course), the point is that sometimes I'm incurably lasy. Yes, Erin's loss has taking a devastating toll on me; no, I don't think I've fully resolved my grief for her given the circumstances surrounding her death... but for heaven's sake, why did he have to mention my name and bring up such a personal subject? Does he not realise that Erin was highly fond of Dr. Wheeler, and that Dr. Wheeler *also* took Erin's death extremely harshly? I sometimes like to think of her as the most practical, rational woman on the face of this Earth, and she was choked up by her passing. Won't that make her recall her memory, too, and cause a bit of sadness?


Just, stop meddling into other people's affairs! I don't mind that he mentioned that he met me at Berkeley, but now ... it's like I have to speak with Dr. Wheeler personally to reassure her that I'm alright. If he wants me to talk with Dr. Wheeler, he should have encouraged me to get ahold of her.

People love a good story to tell. "Hey, I'm having a hard time, but here's another guy who has a problem who might be worse off than me!"

Of course, I think Dr. Wheeler will be overjoyed to hear such flattering compliments that I would wholeheartedly second.

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Date:2005-11-14 22:22
Subject:Feeling old...

I suppose I've just reached one of those phases in which I'm just tired of myself. I'm tired of people, all the pain they cause each other. I'm tired of harsh judgements of others. I'm tired of being so difficult of myself, admonishing and punishing myself with what I perceive to be failures and forgetting how to be a happy, cheerful person at least some of the time. I'm tired of everyone's suffering. The "healer" of from Stephen King's The Green Mile seems to exemplify my emotions right now - though, I'm guess I'm not willing for somebody to end my life...

I think I'm going to withdraw from contact for a while. You're welcome to contact me - through phone - but please, I really don't want to talk about myself. Just don't even ask how I'm doing.

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Date:2005-11-14 22:01
Subject:Computer's still Ill

After performing minor surgery, my computer's prognosis is quite gloomy:

Removing dust and checking the operation of the fans revealed that despite everything appearing normal, my computer is still rebooting at random, even while in BIOS, which indicates that it cannot be a computer virus problem. This leads three main suspects: the RAM, motherboard, or processor, but since the computer won't remain stable enough to perform a complete RAM diagnostic, there appears to be little hope.

I didn't want to shell out several hundred dollars to fix this thing. What the deuce?!?

*Bangs head against RCC keyboard*

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Date:2005-11-11 08:54
Subject:Cinematic Nightmares

Ocassionally, I realise that if I were a novelist or a screenwriter, my subconscious comes up with a lot of wonderful material from my transiently vivid imagination.

Last night, my subconscious must have been going haywire. Perhaps I went overboard on the amount of liquor I had last night, (a new bartender introduced me to a shot called "Liquid Cocaine" that uses Bacardi 151 as an essential ingredient), or that my unconscious mind was dealing with a lot. Anyway, the intensity of the images - full colour, motion, sight, sound, smell, touch, emotions, cognition, will, "actors" from real life, and the complexity of themes was striking.

The premise:

A son has a violient encounter with his father and become involved in a brutal confrontation that results in a crisis where both swear they will kill each other unless they change their ways. Their issues are resolved to where neither one are willing to compromise on their ideals, and the son decides the best solution is to move out into the world, despite having no resources (such as a job, friends he can stay with, extra set of clothes.) He decides it is just a sign that he should pack up and leave - that very instant, with no delay, never turning back.

His father chases him, only this time rather apologetic, but speechless, confronting the reality that his son may actually leave him. The son informs his father of his desire to leave simply by saying, "Be back in a few years... or never" as he walks off the snow-covered property severely underdressed. He's cold, shivering, but because tensions are running high, he fails to notice.

As he's closing the gate to his residence, he spots an old tape-recorder playing on the ground. There's nobody listening - and people on the street are just passing by. However, the voice is familiar: it's of his best friend who seems to be talking directly to him. However, the tone is dreadful, and it becomes clear that the voice is very disturbed, and a tragedy is going to befall her... and she knows it. In essence, it's her "black box" that tells a story of the last moments of her life. (It is assumed she's murdered, although the details are unclear, as evidenced by the story progression.)

He takes the tape and recorder, and starts walking alone trying to process what he just heard when he unexpectedly encounters a long-lost companion. After spending a few moments to catch up (and she being an empath who can immediately sense something's terribly wrong in my life), I tell her about the tape, and play it for her. My friend, however, is no ordinary person in many respects; she possess many "spiritual" qualities - some which my character does, but to a hightened degree far beyond my imagination. As we listen to the tape, (which begins with my friend, coming home from a late night of clubbing, was involved in a subway accident, where all the power's gone out and the train has degenerated into complete anarchy), we were able to "travel" back through space and time to rejoin her in the past. The catch is, my friend cannot see nor hear me, although there's some sense she might be able to intuit our presence.

So, her subway wasn't the one that crashed, but rather another one ahead on the tracks was derailed, leaving many fatalities and stalling passengers between stations on the track. Some strange men encounter my druken friend, try to pick her up, and get dismissed. However, they do not leave her alone. We follow her through various coffeeshops, sit with her while she meets with strangers, end up in underground fetish clubs, trying to unravel the mysterious causes behind her death.

I'm not sure whether the effort was to protect her from fate, or to be able to collect evidence and identify the responsible parties in hopes to bring them to justice. But one thing's clear, if written right, it'd make for one interesting movie.

Of course, one always awakens during the "interesting parts." :P My storyline I guess still needs a little work - and a conclusion!

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Date:2005-11-10 20:58
Subject:Old Memories
Mood: nostalgic

For no particular reason at all, I was poking around my hard drive, and I came across an old folder, buried under a few non-descript names such as "C_Backup_550\D_Backup_333\D_Backup_166", etc, and found a bunch of high school assignments, saved AIM conversations, and pet projects that I had been working on from many years in the distant past. I haven't lost a bit of information since probably the 7th grade, except - of course, some crucial C++ programming projects that could have been turned into viable software. Nonetheless, it was touching.

It's always amusing to re-read high-school conflicts, recorded by AIM, or some scathing responses I wrote to editorial staff of the Long Beach Poly High Life. Or, perhaps reading through some AOL conversations where various women in their lives have confessed their "undying" love for me - most of whom are no longer in my life. What I realise is, eight years later, I'm virtually the same, rational, emotional, love-sick fool I am today. However, in some ways, I admire the confidence and strength of character I had back then. What the hell happened to land me where I am now?!?

Still, it angers me to see how rotten certain people in my life have treated me, but touching at others when reading old conversations with other wonderful people who've made a great impact on me.

It's wonderful to keep a living history of the most significant moments in your life. Sometimes, when I think nothing ever interesting ever happens to me, I can remind myself every now and then there've been a few exciting times. :)

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Date:2005-11-06 11:30
Subject:"Hey, nice ass!"

Last night, a friend and I were on a quest to pick up some dress shirts for him in downtown Berkeley. The two of us were talking casually, when he interrupted himself mid-sentence in passing a Long's Drugs to comment on a girl's "nice ass." He asked if I agreed with him, to which I pretty much shrugged my shoulders in disinterest. He then made the observation of saying, "Hmm, you don't notice such things, do you?", and I agreed with him.

He noted that I was somehow "strange" for a man, but not necessarily in a bad way. He mentioned that most men will go around searching their environment, noticing every girl who passes by and examining their bodies, and that he never came across another guy who didn't do the same thing. I told him that appearance doesn't matter so much to me, and that when I go to scan the environment, it's very rare when I'll look at another woman below their neck. I'm far more interested in faces, and generally don't care too much to what lies distal.

In talking with another friend last night, the topic of sexual repression came up, and while at first glance, such behaviour of mine may seem indicative of such - as the guy accused me of being, but I honestly don't think it's the case. Perhaps it's just my approach to meeting people and seeking connections. When attempting to choose a mate, it's very easy to go for those who have the most shiny exteriors, and perhaps this type of selection is fun and works well for a lot of people. However, the exterior of tells only a little about the full person underneath the skin.

For honestly, when you're trying to seek out a person with whom both can understand each other well, it's not so much what's on the outside that matters. I study faces because they allow me to examine/infer other dimensions of personalities, and especially, I examine eyes, for I believe there's an element of truth that "eyes are the gateway into the soul." Except in extreme cases, all one can tell about another person's physical appearance is how much they care about their physical appearance. Granted, the way a person dresses generally expresses their personality - almost to where it can be made an art of itself, something I've only become conscious of recently and should spend some time in trying to develop my own personal style. However, the emotional and spiritual connnections people make with each other throughout their lifetime are intangible and transcend above corporeal form.

The flesh of another is merely symbolic of a soul. It doesn't so much matter what the symbol itself is, but what it represents. If one is looking for purpose and connection in a friendship, then it makes little sense to judge people on physical appearance. It makes little difference whether a person is having a bad hair day, hasn't put on their makeup, is covered with acne, accumulated a few scars, is exhausted and/or sick and feels like they've been hit by a train, put on a few extra pounds, looks pale, or ran out of nice of normal clothes and dresses as a fashion nightmare for a day. Personalities are far more stable and they are the source of most of the things another person brings into your life.

All a nice ass will tell you is that a person has a nice ass ;) Frankly, a nice ass alone does nothing for me.

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Date:2005-11-01 17:29
Subject:Cancelled Arrangements

Today, I'm just feeling down.

No, nothing terribly bad happened or anything. I'm just feeling distant and isolated from people.

In reality, my life has been just kind of busy lately. In the last several weeks, I have come across a lot of new people, some of whom could potentially be very good, long-term friends, as well as sought out some interesting adventures. I've been over at more people's houses in the last three weeks than I've been in the last three years. Also, who would have thought that I would actually plan *three* social events on my own on a single night? (Dinner, party, Castro.) I almost went for four (drinking), but by the time I returned to Berkeley, I was beat after walking approximately five miles at a breakneck, drunken pace.

In many ways, I'm far less inhibited than I've been for a long time. If there's somebody I fancy to talk with, it's actually quite rare when I cower from introducing myself. This has certainly been helpful and key in explaining why in some ways, my social network is continuing to expand at a sustained, frensied rate compared to prior experience. Nonetheless, despite the new acquaintences, I seem saddened, and even a bit empty.

No, extraversion is not a key for lonliness. It is not a substitute for real human connection. Even when surrounded by people all the time, all of whom seem to know how to cut loose and experience positive emotions and stimulation, there's something hollow.

A friend of mine was supposed to come into Berkeley this afternoon to spend some time in the city. She's leaving for New Haven, CT fairly soon - apparently on the 11th, as I found out today. However, she hasn't been to the East Bay, much less to Berkeley, for a very long time. So, in lieu of hanging out with her last weekend, the plan, composed Sunday, included spending the day over here. This meant cancelling work, getting excited about planning cool things to do (she wanted to do something along the way of hiking, and while I'm hardly an outdoorsy person, I've never been to the Berkeley Rose Gardens, or The Big C, both formidable outings by foot). About an hour before her tenative arrival, I called her to confirm plans, only to find out she suddenly had "so much work to do" to pack... even though she *knew* about this ahead of time, and still has at least 9 full days to pack everything up. She moved into her new place less than two months ago, and honestly doesn't have nine days worth of arrangements to make.

The point is, I don't know if she would have given me any notice at all in cancelling plans. She didn't have the initiative to call me up the night before, or earlier that morning, to inform me of her very important developments. She seemed far more concerned with the fact that she'd have to spend three hours (round-trip) commuting to Berkeley just to hang out with me, and how that's probably "too much." Now.... I've been visiting her in San Francisco nearly every weekend since the start of the semester, gratefully making that trip. Honestly, it's kind of fun, especially if it's to a place you haven't been to in a while. However, I see something wrong with the dynamic that it's always I who goes out of my way to see her, even though she has even more free time than I do to come visit me for a change.

Actually, this is the second time she cancelled on me for *the same event.* She was supposed to come by last weekend. I'm also planning to go on a small trip to Sonoma State this weekend to visit another friend, so it's not going to work out my friend in SF and I this weekend, either. What time does that leave us? Not much of any!

It's a clear lesson that somebody who claims to be your friend can be very inconsiderate of the few people who are willing to invest any time and energy into their lives. Especially in terms of having people come to visit, both the host and the guest have to go through significant pains in arranging time off and looking for fun activities, and I would have figured out something else to do (both this weekend and today) had I known otherwise. Instead, I get stood up. Twice.

More frustrating than anything, this is the pattern of my life. It's *rare* when a person says they're going to go out of their way to see me and actually does it. When I make plans to see somebody - at least so much to say I'm going to show up at a certain place, at a certain day or time, I show up on time, everytime, unless some real emergency comes up, in which case I call! If I have made definite plans, if people don't hear from me before I arrive, that's good news - they know I'm coming. If I'm going to be late for whatever reason, I will call. (If I'm early, that really isn't anyone's fault except sometimes my own, and that's completely okay... I can surely find ways to amuse myself) Am I misguided? Am I expecting too much? Is the way the world works by saying, "Yes, I'll hang out with you" as an empty, conditional promise, revocable up until several hours after the arranged meeting that's only fulfilled if a critical mass of other events make your time worth sharing only because there's a lack of anything else that's mildly interesting to do?

A similar incident happened this Saturday night with another friend who had Halloween plans and seemed very eager to invite me along, and then choose to never call even after I left a voicemail at 5pm the day of to confirm what's happening. She never even called the next day to apologise. I haven't heard from her since, but I'll probably run into her tonight... I'm going to be tactful and give her the benefit of the doubt that she was too scatterbrained to call, and just plain forgot, but still... grrr!!!

Or last night at Castro, when the group of people I was going to meet up with simply didn't pick up the phone (three times!) to let me know where to meet them. Nor to tell me that they became so drunk that they never made it to BART.

Cancel because some unexpected, unavoidable work came up. Cancel because of a medical emergency. Cancel early enough because you really don't think it's the best idea for whatever genuine reason you have (it's late, not safe, too much money, feels wrong, or you're lasy - just own up to it!!! Believe me, I understand lethargy!), but don't just cancel and leave those waiting on you to figure out what the hell happened.

I guess I should learn to not expect too much of anything from people. Most often, they're just going to disappoint you. Also, the higher your hopes, the more disappointed you'll be.

Women of the world, here's a piece of advice if you really want to capture my heart: When you promise to travel to see me... be different: show up!!! Having a smile on your face would be nice, too. :)

Grrr, I...hate...people. (sometimes).

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Date:2005-10-31 20:48
Subject:What Book are You?

At least the psychoanalysis is pretty accurate...

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

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Date:2005-10-31 10:37
Subject:Freaky Halloween

Ahh, yes, today's looking up to be quite a scary day.

I'm having a bad hair day par excellence. There's a tuft of hair towards the back of my head that no matter how much I wet it/try to weigh it down, it stands straight out. Seeing as it's Halloween, I decided to forget about making it manageable, and would actually like to do a "rat's nest" theme with it. If I can find some twigs and perhaps a small, fake rat from one of the local shops, that's quite an idea.

On campus, several students and professors are in costume. After my neuroscience class, there was an ad-lib conga line right in front of Dwinelle which was fun to join in, and I spotted a girl wearing the same costume this morning as my best friend wore at a party earlier this weekend. Freaky!

Then, I'm probably having a laser eye surgery done this afternoon. That's always fun - but it's not to change my prescription, but rather to dislodge some junk in the back of my right eye. Very scary.

If all goes well, I'll be going out with a friend this evening, hopefully to the Castro District in San Francisco for their big event of crossdressing and outrageous costumes. It's a San Francisco Treat that only comes once a year, where sometimes a million people crowd together in the radius of a few square blocks to put on one of the most famous block parties in the world. It may be my last Halloween in the Bay Area, so it'd be nice to be a part of it once, even if I don't dress up like a woman! Spooky!

So, I hope all of you have a wonderful, oddly superstitious Halloween. May the ghouls and goblins seek you out and frighten the living daylights out of you!

UPDATE: Hooray for Spirit! My rat's nest is complete!!! (Yes, I went to my Psychology of Personality class and wore this in the front row, as well as walked around campus!)

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Date:2005-10-28 17:11
Subject:Reality TV Meets Comedy

The other day, I stumbled upon what's perhaps the funniest new show I've seen in a long time. It's called Drawn Together, and it stars a bunch of cartoon icons from various backgrounds who are all thrown together into a Reality TV show. It's quite possibly the most bizarre, random show chock full of politically incorrect humour that takes no prisoners. It parodies the entire Reality TV paradigm - a mixture of Real World, Big Brother, The Apprentice, with all sorts of outside references to other popular television programmes.

Think Family Guy crossed with Reality TV, and that turns out to be a pretty accurate description. I downloaded the entire first season, and laughed my ass off all afternoon.

I guess I found a reality TV show I like ;) About time!

(Just curious, by why are all my favourite shows cartoons?)

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