August 2002 - Dogged Days Of Summer
RayzRealm (c) August, 2002

Sitting high atop a grassy knoll
baying at the August moon

Friday August 2 Kodos from the Simpsons

I like Summer, but can't stand the heat and humidity. Like most New England Summers, this one has been marked by a few beautiful warm days with low humidity as teasers, in between 3 to 6 day runs of high humidity and temperatures in the 90's. I could never live in the deep South.

This past week has gone by like a tornado. I did manage to get a local appliance repairman to fix my dryer (tough luck Sears), had my quarterly visit with my doctor (I will live), worked on a number of equally "hot" projects at work, and had my 6 month teeth cleaning and exam. The dental hygienist commented, "boy you keep your teeth clean, almost no plaque and nothing between your teeth", and aside from my ongoing gum recession, unless there's an emergency they'll see me in 6 months.

I hope that bio/genetic engineering never finds a way to convert a normal human brain into a full pre-emptive multi-tasking organ. I'm very good at time management and sharing. Big corporate management would be peeing their pants with joy over such a medical breakthrough. One employee could do the work of many, all at the same time. One problem is that the human body would have to be modified (or evolve) to meet the task. I would need more arms than Vishnu. This Summer is whizzing by, and I still have not done anything or enjoyed it much at all.

Here are a few news and journal tidbits I scooped up from around the web this week. Enjoy'em while you can, until the royal court of King George deems them a threat to national security and has most of the net filtered out. I will vote for Kang and Kodos in the next presidential election if they run.

Saturday August 3

The heat and humidity rage on. I headed into Boston this morning to wander around town. I ran into Paul at Au Bon Pain, who I found out has been following my rants in here. A small correction is in order. I mentioned him as an ex-housemate of a coworker, but he's more a friend and co-conspirator in the over 40 fight for survival during the Bush regime. All of the few friends I have alive are all out of work, victims of mega-merger and downsizing for profit greed. I am the last surviving wage slave among us for now.

We ragged on for a while over coffee, then I headed over to the new Barnes and Noble on the Pru Plaza. I found an incredible import collection of all extended 12" mixes of the last of the good dance music from the late 80's and early 90's on two giant CD's for only $18. I swiped the bar code past the "sample me" reader and scanned all of the tracks, all winners! I should have picked it up then and there, but was running late to get over to the Living Center for lunch, plus I wanted to talk with the membership director about doing some volunteer work programming for them. I tucked my find in the back of the "Air Supply" CD's. The only people who would thumb through Air Supply or Captain and Tenille albums are the same sort who but 9-11 commemorative dinner plates, with hand painted picture of the burning WTC towers, emblazoned with "Never Forget", or proudly display bumper stickers that read, "This car climbed Mount Washington". Remind me never to buy a used car from any of these folks unless I want to have a transmission overhaul. My gem safely stashed where no one would think of finding it, I walked back to the Living Center.

The director was not there but I stayed for lunch anyway, thumbing through the current issue of Poz magazine. There was an article about Bush's war on people with HIV as well as others with disabilities. Like many other magazines Poz is filled with drug ads from pharmaceutical companies, pushing their wares. IN this case it's cholesterol lowering, depression, wasting and HIV cocktail drugs. It's when you read the two pages of micro-print warnings that you begin to tremble. One of the drugs lists "if you have one or more of the following side effects (a long list) stop taking this medication immediately and call your doctor, the FBI, CDC, EPA and Dept of Homeland Security. Immediate death may result if you continue taking this drug. If you have ever had these side effects, never, ever ever take this drug again or death can occur within hours, your house will burn down, your dog will get hit by a truck, your family will be cursed unto generations and you will burn in the eternal torments of hell....better living through chemistry.

I was on my way out of the center when I ran into a guy I have not seen in a number of dog's ages. He looked at me, "Rayyyy?" I've known him for over 20 years, back from an old long dead men's social and rap group I used to belong to. We exchanged phone numbers and I do hope we keep in touch. To be honest he was one of the last people I ever thought I'd run into at the Living Center.

I headed back to the Prudential Plaza to retrieve my treasure, only to find the 2 CD set gone from the back of the Air Supply section. Some of the songs from the CD had been playing themselves over and over in my head since I uncovered this little nugget of Hi NRG dance, and now I would not get to hear them for real.

I browsed through Virgin Mega-Store with no luck, then to Newbury Comics where I was sure I would find it, but no dice. I did find a nice import CD of Snap's Greatest Hits, the extended mixes for $12, so snatched it.

Dance muzak today truly sucks, every artist sounds exactly alike, and all at 12000 beats per minute. This crap is pumped out by the thousands per day, insuring there will probably never be anything considered classic 10-20 years from now, plus it's not so much about the original music release as what the DJ's have done to remix it. The albums all have titles like "DJ Mix-a-lot", "DJ-Fux-A-Lot", "DJ Stoned-a-Lot", "Ibiza Spasmodic Trance Party", "The Fire Island Grande Mal Seizure 12,000 BPM Rave Compilation", etc, etc. It was funny, but many of the current hits that Virgin had loaded into their listening station were albums from 60-70's era bands. Even Gen-X'ers I have talked with say music of their generation is garbage and they prefer rock from the 60's through 80's. Once in a while a really good new release does slip through the cracks to see the light of day, Like Moby's 18 and Bruce Springsteen's latest album.

My last stop was to meet Bob (not my friend Bob from New Hampshire but the other one) at Club Cafe. I had not seen him or his partner in crime since last Fall. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours, and ordered appetizers. I got their beer battered boneless chicken with honey mustard dipping sauce. Mmmm...mmmm, a bit of ambrosia; about 3/4 pound of tender juicy white meat chicken, with just the right amount of crunch in the crust; there's fast food, then there's KFC, then there's really good food. But of course you pay a little more.

This heat wave is "supposed" to break by Tuesday with tomorrow and Monday getting progressively more hot and humid. My next electric bill should be a doozy.

Tonight I'll just kick back and listen to some music, which I am already doing as I write. On the current Area51 music shuttle are Moby "18", Nikka Costa "Everybody Got Their Something" and Snap "Snap's Greatest Hits."

Friday August 9

Another week over, and Summer is flying by at warp speed. No matter how boring my Summer is, it always seems to pass in the blink of any eye. The days have begun to get noticeably shorter.

Next week will be a break from work as I'm attending a week long "Introduction to Java Programming" class. I usually get psyched when I'm able to get away for a week for a class, but I'd almost rather be at work; I have way too much to do back at the office.

The only exciting thing about this week happened on the way home from work today. I was making my way through Lexington (yuppie terrorist enclave) and was stopped at a red light. As I looked into the rear view mirror I noticed this soccer mom on her cell phone driving a minivan at way too high a rate of speed to avoid ramming me from behind. I could see she was not paying the least bit of attention to the road. There was a loud screech of tires, and I braced myself to be launched into orbit from behind. She swerved at the last minute, running up over the curb, almost flipping the van. She begins leaning on the horn and flipping me the bird (wait a minute, the pretentious wench was clearly at fault). Her response set me off, as I yelled at her using the magic C*** word, telling her where to stuff that f**%#@ phone. At times I'd feel safer draped in American Flags, running through the Tora Bora caves, muttering stuff about Osama and singing "God Bless America", than I do on Massachusetts roads. One reason I have always been a step 9 (driving merit badge) driver, is that as well as paying close attention to my car and driving, also look out for the masses that are evidently having out of body experiences behind the wheel.

Enough ranting for a warm August Friday. Here are this week's crop of articles I found during, my daily online news sorties. I also added a few links this week to the Area51 Library, Chapel and Lambda Nebula pages.

Saturday August 10

I was suckling from the glass teat last night when an ad for a new movie came on. Hollywood is really scraping the bottom of the mixing bowl for ideas, "Fear Dot Com", which seems to be a horror thriller about a web site that kills people, "The last web site you'll ever visit". This gives new meaning to the term "killer web site". Fox ran an episode of the short lived "Lone Gunmen".

This morning I had a social date to meet a guy I met online who had also been visiting Area51. He kept pushing to meet me so I agreed to meet him for coffee this morning in town. OK, synchronize watches, the entire meeting lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and I could tell from the minute we shook hands that this guy was very uncomfortable; kept looking at his shoes, all around, up in the sky, but never looked me directly in the eye. Getting any conversation out of him was like performing a root canal without novocaine. I seem to have this effect on about 99% of all people I meet. People like Doug, Bob, my late friend Paul and Noel and Ellen are very rare finds for me. I either hit it off with someone right out of the starting gate, or they tremble, as if I had a gun pointed at them, demanding their first born child and all of their money. I know that a number of people have claimed that I'm intimidating; I cannot see this at all to be honest.

I walked around Copley place for a while after the guy darted off, then returned to Au Bon Pain and ran into Paul, where we had our usual cigarette puffing, coffee swilling left leaning Libertarian chat, then headed over to Newbury Street.

Yahoo! I picked up the Simpsons second season DVD set for $34.95 at Newbury Comics as well as "The Best Of Roxy Music". I always wind up at Newbury Comics. The other stores usually have the same titles but for 10-25% more, plus Newbury also has all sorts of irreverent T shirts, rock and pop culture trinkets. If it was not such a silly waste of money, I was tempted to buy a Bender talking action figure, "Bite my shiny metal ass!"

After we had lunch at Newbury Pizza, Paul walked with me over to Fritz to sit in the cool air conditioning over a drink. The heat and humidity is back again, after a pleasant 3 day break. Temperatures are supposed to be back in the mid to upper 90's by Monday. My feet were really bothering me a lot, so headed back home.

I should write Doug a lengthy e-mail, but that will have to wait until tomorrow; right now I'm pooped out from the heat and pain in my feet. Tonight will be a Simpsons marathon. The current Area51 play list is "Best of Roxy Music" and "Beth Orton".

Friday August 16

I'm sick of Summer this year. The majority of the days have either been extremely hot and humid (mostly) with one or two nice days thrown in as a teaser. It has hit record breaking temperatures all week, with no relief in sight until (maybe) next week. The majority of the nation's thermal weather map is in bright yellow to red.

I've been attending an intro to Java programming class all this week which has not helped my state of mind. I feel like I've been mind raped by an outlaw gang of Star Trek Convention geeks. My poor brain that has spent 25 years in a structured procedural programming environment has been traumatized by such drug induced abstract thinking. I feel ready for my next major career move now.

"Paper or plastic""

"You want fries with that?"

At some point I may wake up and see the light, "Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes to my non object oriented sinful ways, Hallelujah!" I had a similar conversion but nowhere near as traumatic, back when I first had to deal with relational databases. I just could not for the life of me get the "flat file" mentality out of my head. Now I sing the praises of SQL Server and Oracle. If traditional 19th century steam powered programming languages are normal waking reality, then Java and C++ are the X-Files. I want to believe, but have a mental block against such abstractions as "abstraction, constructors, destructors, polymorphism, classes, overloaded classes, obese classes, anorexic classes, bulemic methods, biLocation, out of body experiences, timeTravel, ghosts and goblins".

When I talk to evangelical C++ and Java religious followers they liken Visual Basic to unpardonable sin, an abomination. The class got out early today; the general consensus was, "teacher, may I be excused, my head it full." Here are this week's list of articles that I bookmarked during my daily news runs.

Saturday August 24

I have not felt like writing in this journal, nor working on my web site all Summer. My dear old dad used to say, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That aside, here are a number of articles I found worth bookmarking this week. It would be nice of the "supposed" Bush speech were true, but they are all worth a read, enjoy.

Friday August 30

It's silly, I know, but here's a "Tipps" Tip from the Area51 Tabloid Weekly World News. It seems a bit strange that there is striking resemblance between the Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files and John Ashcroft. They are both players in secret shadow governments. Both surround themselves with powerful men bent on world domination, seem to have agendas regarding black oil, illegal shape shifting aliens and keeping secrets at any cost. Ashcroft does not appear to smoke, and Smoking Man has never voiced an opinion pro or con about calico cats. Get Fox Mulder and the Lone Gunmen on the phone. There may be downed UFO's in Iraq just begging to be claimed by the side who carries the biggest stick with the biggest nail in it.

John Ashcroft
Smoking Man
Smoking Man

While I'm on the subject of our Religious Right wing attorney general, I found the following message while cleaning my e-mail box, that my friend Doug, who's currently wandering around in Thailand sent me and a few others back in June. It's an open letter to John Ashcroft from a 60 year old woman regarding his covering the bosom of lady justice. I know it's been around the net for a while, but I thought some who have not read it yet might enjoy reading the opinion of one American.

---------- Letter begins -------------

The following is a letter read by Claire Braz-Valentine, the author, at this year's "In Celebration of the Muse", Cabrillo College. It is worth noting that the author is a woman of 60+ years, conservatively dressed and obviously quite talented.


On January 28, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that he spent $8,000 of taxpayer's money for drapes to cover up the exposed breast of The Spirit of Justice, an 18 ft aluminum statue of a woman that stands in the Department of Justice's Hall of Justice.

John, John, John, you've got your priorities all wrong. While men fly airplanes into skyscrapers, dive bomb the pentagon, while they stick explosives into their shoes, and then book a seat right next to us, while they hide knives in their luggage, steal kids on school buses, take little girls from their beds at night, drive trucks into our state capital buildings, while our president calls dangerous men all over the world evildoers and devils, while we live in the threat of biological warfare, nuclear destruction, annihilation, you are out buying yardage to save Americans from the appalling alarming, abominable, aluminum alloy of evil, that terrible ten foot tin tittie. You might not be able to find Bin Laden, but you sure as hell found the hooter in the hall of justice.

It's not that we aren't grateful. But while we were begging the women of Afghanistan to not cover up their faces, you are begging your staff members to just cover up that nipple, to save the American people from that monstrous metal mammary. How can we ever thank you?

So, in your office every morning, in your secret prayer meeting, while an American woman is sexually assaulted every 6 seconds, while anthrax floats around the post office and settles in the chest of senior citizens, you've got another chest on your mind. While American sons arrive home in body bags and heat seeking missiles fly around a foreign country looking for any warm body, you think of another body. And you pray for the biggest bra in the world. John, you see that breast on the Spirit of Justice in the spirit of your own inhibited sexuality.

And when we women see our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters, our granddaughters, our sisters, ourselves, when we women see that statue, the Spirit of Justice, we see the spirit of strength, the spirit of survival.

Every day we view innocent bodies dragged out of rubble, and women and children laid out like thin limp dolls and baptized into death as collateral damage, and we see the hollow-eyed Afghani mother whose milk has dried up underneath her burka in famine, in shame, and her children are dead at her breast. While you look at that breast, John, that jug on the Spirit of Justice, and deal with your thoughts of lust and sex and nakedness, we see it as a testimony to motherhood. You see it as a tit. It's not the money it cost. It's the message you send.

We've got the right to live in freedom. We've got the right to cheat Americans out of millions of dollars and then just not want to tell Congress about it. We've got the right to drop bombs, night and day, on a small country that has no army, no navy, no military at all, because we've got the right to bear arms. But we just better not even think about the right to bare breasts. So now John, you can be photographed while you stand there and talk about guns and bombs and poisons without that breast appearing over your right shoulder, without that bodacious bosom bothering you and we just wanted to tell you in the spirit of justice, in the spirit of truth, John, there is still one very big boob left standing there in that picture.

Claire Braz-Valentine

---------- Letter ends ----------------

Summer is officially over this weekend. Remember there are only 4 shopping months left until Christmas. Do your patriotic duty and get over your head in debt, shop til you drop! And remember Santa Claus is coming, and he's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice. Santa has been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security to report any naughty boys and girls as potential terrorist suspects. Santa will be leaving anthrax in the stockings of all naughty children this year, particularly those who's parents voted Democrat or independent.

Here are this week's freshly picked crop of interesting articles (to me anyway) that I found on my weekly kamikaze news runs.

I really don't have a lot to say as this months winds to a close. To be honest I have been emotionally and spiritually running on empty over the past year. Chalk it up to post 9-11 trauma, being fed up with the growing insincerity and rudeness of people overall I encounter, the rampant greed and self centeredness in society, slipping lower and lower in the American economic food chain, losing over 90% of the value of my 401K, growing fears of, "what if I lose my job, health care, or health", plus other assorted concerns and phobias. Part of it is due to being up to my eyebrows in projects all Summer at work. In many ways I'm glad I'm busy at work; it keeps my mind from ruminating about everything else 24X7, plus I enjoy programming, which helps.

Thus ends the August 2002 Flight Recorder log. I have some ideas for the September journal. Peace to you all and God bless.

PS: Doug drop me a line if you still happen to be reading this nonsense from afar.

Shalom, Ray