November 2002 - It's Always Something
RayzRealm (c) November, 2002

Saturday November 2

I was prepared for battalions of candy terrorists last night, but only had 20 to 25 trick or treaters how up. There were a ton of kids wandering around but the doorbell only rang a few times. This means I am left with about 200 candy bars, 50 or so of my favorites went into a Tupperware container for future consumption and the rest will get left on my work table at the office on Monday, where they'll probably disappear before the day is over.

I got into work at 5:30 this morning to begin another crucial billing cycle, and of course there were all sorts of problems and hurdles to get over, just to get the data in and posted. Thankfully, none of the problems were caused by the "almost stellar" Swiss Army knife billing application I developed and maintain. Damn, I missed the Halloween party at work, and prime rib that was served in the cafe yesterday, and the cafe manager does a great job on these special meals, as he does on most all the meals, but prime rib dinner for under $4, where can you get a meal like that for 4 bucks at today's prices?

In many ways I'm lucky to still be employed in an IT job I enjoy, for a company that's a pretty darn good place to work. And to think, when I was downsized from my prior employer of 22 years after the merger, a fellow ex-coworkers were urging me to hold out for one of those plum $100,000 and up jobs instead of accepting my current employer's offer. I guess I was never quite greedy enough to become a millionaire before I turned 40. In the long run (so far) I made the right decision, since so many of the nay sayers who said I was crazy to accept so little money (by dot.bomb yuppie standards), are out of work now.

When I got home last night, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from my friend Bob (the one who accompanied me on the retreat) to let me know he was back back from his bronco riding, cow poking vacation in Texas and to "come on over". I drove over to Severe Revere to see him, where we chatted way past our bedtimes and crashed.

This morning we went out to breakfast at a local diner near his apartment (great greasy spoon place). I ordered one of their "hungry man" (truck driver) breakfast specials. I must be feeling better than I was over the past week since my appetite certainly has returned. After we had breakfast, Bob came with me on my quarterly trip into Chinatown to get my Chinese herbal script filled. Winter (alas!) has arrived. It was very cold and windy in town; sweatshirt and leather jacket weather for sure.

I had wanted to try out seaweed soap for a while and had read some articles on the web about it's beneficial on the skin. When I get really bored, sometimes I tune into one of the TV home shopping channels for a few laughs. It seems that most of the hosts all sound like they came out of the back woods of Tennessee and have names like Bubba, Billy-Bob, Betty-Jo, Betty-Sue, which target the the audiences in places like the "Skunk Holler" and "Possum Greek" mobile home parks.

A couple of these channels offer 6 to 8 bars of seaweed soap for an unspeakably low prahhhce of "Sixty-Nahhhn dollahs and Nahhnyt-Fahhhv Caints." These shows always have glowing testimonials from customers who claim a featured product shaved decades from their appearance, gave them instant sic-pack abs while they laid on the couch watching TV, cured gout and raised the family's believed pet pit bull from the dead.Well I found exactly the same brand and product in a number of shops in Chinatown for......dramatic drum roll...and now, the envelope please!.......$2, you heard me right, 2 bucks a bar. I picked up 5 bars at the herbalist. Maybe at a later date, I'll file a report on any benefits I have derived from using seaweed soap. As an added bonus you can order 6 bars of this wonderful skin rejuvenator from the Area51 customer fulfillment center for the criminally low price of $39.95.

In ending this little side trip, I'm not putting down TV shopping channels. I am sure there are deals to be had for some folks who tune in and dial the 800 number listed in their screens, but I view them as part of the Post Modern, effluent spewed out on the air waves, along the lines of WWF Smackdown and Fear Factor.

After picking up my herbs, we walked along Newbury Street (Satan's favorite spot for soul snatching), doubling back down Boylston Street to have lunch at Vinny Testas. It seemed that I mentioned Vinny's at least twice a month in earlier journals, but I just have not dined there for 3 to 4 months. They had added a few new menu items, but I ordered one of my usuals, chicken parmesan, which tasted extra good today.

Bob walked me back to the Boston Common garage. He was heading home to decompress from vacation. I'm also pooped and will probably crash land before 9PM. I may just stay in tomorrow, or hop the bus into Harvard Square. Sorry kids, the cupboard is bare this week, no new news or journal links today.

Saturday November 10

If then elections were not depressing enough, I got a call that my mother was in the hospital again from one of her friends. There are a lot of other things going on, mostly intra-cranial, which are probably better off left unsaid.

Now that I've almost gotten that off my chest, here are this week's harvested articles from the web.

Thursday November 14

"A belated prayer and thanks to our country's past and present veterans, of which I am proud to say I am one."

I really didn't feel much like writing over the past weekend. I went up to see Warren on Saturday and went window shopping. I think I have found a very nice 19 inch flat screen CRT monitor at BestBuy, a spiffy View Sonic that has splendid video. I will make a mental note to return there after I finally get off the pot and buy a new system box. Right now it's a toss-up between a 2.4 GHZ Dell or a 2.53 GHZ Power Spec from Micro Center, which is the same brand machine as I have now. My 5.5 year old 300 MHZ PII Power Spec has faithfully served me over the years, but alas, it is now so old that not even the Smithsonian would take it as a piece of American technological ancient history.

I visited Bob in (Severe) Revere Saturday night, got up early Sunday morning, since he had to work, returning home to surf the web than went to visit Mama in the hospital. After 2 hours my Karma warning light was flashing red, "severe Karma breach detected, meltdown in 5 minutes." I love my Mom, but as far back as I can remember, she could get inside my head and perform a lobotomy without my knowledge. I felt totally drained and emotionally depleted. I got my love of reading from Mom, who took me to the library from the time I was a toddler, read to me and between her and my late sister, learned to read and do basic math before I began Kindergarten. I also inherited her negative side, the pessimistic, frightened, insecure, manipulative and depressive parts.

On the other hand, I inherited my Dad's bull headedness, insatiable drive to dig for the facts and truth, a deep curiosity for how things work, common horse sense and my up front, no bullshit way of dealing with people. Dad had zillions of friends. I on the other hand, have very few, but it's a much different world than when Dad was alive and young. Dad spent his working life as a fireman, and lived the fire fighter's creed. Sometimes I wish I had absorbed more of his bravery and self confidence than Mom's fear and insecurity. My old man passed away 23 years ago from cancer, and I feel on some level that Mom never got over his passing, then cancer claimed my only sister and sibling 8 years ago.

Well there I go again, off on a tangent. After visiting Mom, dropped by to see Paul's folks for a pick-me-up. A visit with them is always good for some rousing conversation, which was mostly about the political turn of events since September 11 of last year; we're all in for a rough bumpy ride.

I've been feeling very edgy for the past few weeks. Right now I'm at security alert level "Orange", and cannot shake the gnawing gut feel that something big is going to happen soon. If all of a sudden millions of people just disappear for no reason, be very afraid. I'm feeling more and more that the tape on the supply reel of human history is almost at it's end, and the take-up reel is almost full. Too many things are suddenly happening around the world, fulfilling prophecies if you wish.

I saw a story on the news about American troops training for possible chemical and bio-warfare attacks in Iraq. This triggered an old memory from my Navy training where we had a simulated nerve gas attack and had to don gask masks and protective gear, then jab ourselves in the thigh with a simulated dose of Atropine, which was saline solution. Unlike a flu shot that may protect you from the flu for a season, you don't have very much time to scram from the hot zone once you get hit and administer the Atropine injection. My prayers are for the safety of the men and women who are now serving in the Armed Forces, get the job done and come home in one piece. I have no respect for the draft dodging Chicken Hawks who send our young into battle to clean up the political messes they create.

I also watched a program on PBS about Jimmy Carter, which was very moving. President Carter was truly a "good" man and a peace maker. The current far right, bark on about Christianity, but Carter lived his faith. It's too bad that whenever we get a president who is a true diplomat, wise, intelligent and liked by the little guy, he winds up getting assassinated, or politically smeared out of office.

After watching PBS I finally tuned in to watch FOX's "24". Warren had said I should watch it, and admit I never saw any of the first season episodes. Last night I watched 24, and have to admit was riveted to my seat, a real political cliff hanger of a show. Even though I missed the first episode of the new season, I have to make a point to follow this season. This could be almost addictive as I found the X-Files. Once in a great while FOX manages to cough up a really good program.

I've been finding a lot of interesting (to me) alternative news articles and sites on the web lately. I have added about 10 new links to the long neglected Area51 Chapel page this week, plus the ongoing expansion of the Area51 Library links, which since 911, are mostly political in nature. Here is an early week's harvest of news items

Sunday November 17

Friday night I borrowed from the cafe and watched "The Mothman Prophecies", starring Richard Gere. I enjoyed the movie and found it to be along the lines of "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable", a strange tale that caused some tremors in my subconscious. Bob and I talked afterward, and agreed that I'd drive over to his place in Revere Saturday night after he got out of work.

Saturday morning I drove into Lowell to visit Mom in the nursing home. I was bracing for a tense visit but was glad I went to visit her. In many ways I'm like Counselor Troi, an empath. I have a difficult time not feeling other people's pain. It seems when she fell she had multiple compression fractures of the spine, so is in an awful lot of pain. I know back pain first hand, and nerve pain from compressed disks is almost indescribable.

After the nurses got her comfortable, she talked about death and that she has had a long full life, and does not want to stick around long in her current condition. She also told me, "do not feel bad after I'm gone. You've got your own life and problems to deal with." I always remember my Dad's worlds in his final year, "ahhh your mother is a tough old bird! We'll all be long dead and fertilizing the ground, and she'll still be kicking", between coughs adding", "She'll be here to see the second coming of Christ."

Mom asked me how my cat was. I have not had a cat for almost 20 years now, "Mom, Spooky dyed a long time ago." Mom sighed, "Oh! I could have sworn you still had a cat." She then asked if we were at war yet. I told her, nothing yet has been declared, but there's another terrorist alert this weekend. Mom began crying, "I feel bad for the young people just getting started today. You know, they have nothing to look forward to, no jobs, all this corruption, murder, snipers and terror. Why do those people in the Middle East hate us so much? Why is there so much hate! Why can't everyone just get along. I don't know, the world's going to hell in a hand basket, don't you think?"

She asked why God let people suffer so much. I could not give her an honest reply. She then asked me to rub her neck and back. She could not get comfortable. A flashback form when I was a small boy came, when I was sick I asked my mother to rub my neck and back to make the pain go away, and I'd fall asleep. Mom, dozed off shortly afterward. I sat there for an hour then whispered I was going to leave. She squeezed my hand, "I love you, you know that. Take care of yourself and pray for me." I kissed her on the forehead then headed back home.

I had not eaten all day and since I was going to check out a restaurant that had mailed out menus, I decided to have lunch at the Blue Plate Express on Broadway in Arlington. It's a tiny storefront place that's billed as a Home Style Dinner bar. I had the lunch entree, Caramelized Balsamic Chicken and got a side of fresh carrots and broccoli and grilled herbed bread for well under $10. It was delightful!!! The food was very fresh, delicious and cheap to boot. I will mentally bookmark "The Blue Plate" as an Area51 frequent refueling stop.

I drove over to Bob's last night in the driving rain. We had dinner then watched "Canadian Bacon". The wind woke me up a few times during the night. I drove back home at 5:30 this morning when he left for work in even harder falling rain. New England is in the middle of a big Nor'easter. Thank goodness this is rain and not snow, or else we'd be up to our armpits in snow. These major storms always seem to hit on the weekends, of course!

I was listening to the news on the way home this morning. Looks like a couple of terrorist attacks were thwarted. The radical Islamics were demanding (as usual) we abandon Israel, plus America convert to Islam. Oh yeah, right! America is about to convert to Islam en masse and bow to Mecca 5 times a day, "Heather, Connor, come downstairs with your prayer rugs, it's time for prayer." The sounds of scurrying, "OH BOY! call to prayer, c'mon Heather, get the lead out, we don't don't want to miss prayer and get a flogging." Thank God, that so far America is a place where whether you are Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or whatever, you worship God according to your beliefs, which does not include acts of terrorism against others who do not share you particular brand of faith. God bless America!

The following has been making the rounds on quite a few alternative news sites lately., plus I received it in a number of mail messages. In light of all the runaway materialism, conspicuous consumption and , "screw you Jack, I got mine" mind sets, I thought the article was interesting. Hmmm, would Jesus buy a fuel efficient car or use mass transit? Those of us who hold to the Christian faith are taught that Jesus truly loved mingling with the average Joe, so he'd probably be riding the bus, subway and train systems. This is unless he was visiting major American cities, in which case he might carry a can of mace, gun or knife (only kidding). After all, we are the "stewards" of the Earth, and have been trusted with taking care of out little home. Enjoy!

RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 13) Car buyers in four states will soon hear a religious appeal to their environmental conscience: "What would Jesus drive?"

A Pennsylvania-based environmental group is planning television advertising in North Carolina, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri to urge consumers to park their pollutive SUVs - Jesus would prefer a cleaner auto, the group contends. Economic issues are moral issues. There really isn't a decision in your life that isn't a moral choice, said the Rev. Jim Ball, executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, which is sponsoring the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign.

The Wynnewood, Pa.-based group will begin running television ads this month in eight cities to urge consumers to park their sport-utility vehicles and to buy fuel-efficient cars. The ads contend that the devout ought to consider the SUVs' effect on the earth. But it's a small voice in a sea of SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks - last year they accounted for half the new vehicles sold in the United States.

The average fuel economy for all 2003 model cars and passenger trucks dropped to 20.8 miles per gallon, reflecting what auto makers and many buyers say is a higher priority on comfort and family needs than conserving gasoline. Auto makers say they'd be happy to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles if that's what Americans wanted to drive.

"If people would be demanding tail fins on cars, we'd be making tail fins on cars. But people aren't demanding tail fins", said Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a coalition of 13 companies that produce most of the country's vehicles. "People want power. Consumers want power." Ball and a network of like-minded mainline Christians and Jews hope to alter those buying habits. Global warming and smoggy air worsened by vehicle exhausts threaten the health of humans, plants and animals worldwide, and the faithful are called to preserve God's creation, Ball said in a telephone interview. "We think he is Lord of our transportation choices as well as all our other choices," said Ball, an ordained American Baptist minister. "When you need a new car, you should buy the most fuel-efficient one that truly meets your needs."

The Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign plans to send mailings this month to 100,000 congregations and synagogues discussing the relationship between fuel economy and religious teachings about stewardship and justice. The campaign is a joint effort of the National Council of Churches and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. The organizations plan a Nov. 20 news conference in Detroit, where they have requested meetings with executives from the Big Three auto makers and the United Auto Workers' union, campaign director Douglas Grace said. The groups plan to frame their arguments in moral - as well as economic - terms by promoting hybrid and fuel-cell powered vehicles, as well as other fuel-saving technologies.

Hybrids run on both gas and electricity, and use less fuel than traditional engines. Fuel cells, a technology developed to power space vehicles, makes energy from a chemical reaction with no harmful emissions. "We're trying to show the technology is there, that consumers are interested in it, and they're interested in buying American," Grace said. The Big Three - Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG - plan to miss market SUVs and pickups with hybrid technology starting next year.

Toyota and Honda began selling a limited number of hybrid cars this year. Bell said the e-mails and meetings will be supplemented this month by TV ads running in Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C.; Fort Wayne and South Bend, Ind.; Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa; and Springfield and Kansas City, Mo.

What Would Jesus Drive campaign:

Friday November 22

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week. It almost seems like a couple of weeks ago, I was out nude sun bathing in the woods in 90 degree weather. It also seems like only a couple of months ago that hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

So much has changed in such a short time, the dotcom baloon is almost fully deflated, crime is up, unemployment is way up, people's pensions and savings are way down, homelessness is up, hope for the future is down, but the most important thing is that the richest 1% of the US population is richer than they were a year ago, plus we're now embarking on a never-ending (unwinnable) war against terrorism with anyone nutso enough to lock horns with our un-elected leader.

And now every one of our purchases, phone calls, e-mails and visited web sites might be tracked for future terrorist round-ups. Does this mean if I purchase a book by Michael Moore, the DisInfo Press or any author that does not dress to the far right that I am a potential suspect. Speaking of dressing to the left or right, my manhood tends to prefer the left, judging from the wear marks in my Levis. I'll have to train it to hang right to show I am a red blooded right winger.

Here's an interesting hypothetical credit card purchase made over the web from "Zelda The Whip Lady's Den"

(a) 55 gallon drum, Easy Glide lubricant.
(b) 1 Case (24 bottles) Zap Room Odorizer
(c) 1 Gross, Super Size condoms
(d) 2 Titan IV vibrators with 5HP Briggs and Stratton engine.
(e) 1 Dozen studded leather cock rings
(f) 1 Leather body harness
(g) 1 Studded leather jock strap
(h) 2 Mink whips
(i) 2 Copies, Naughty Sailors on liberty VHS
(j) 1 Copy, Marine Assault on Fire Island VHS
(k) 2 Copies, USO Girls Service the Fleet VHS

In the brave new world order, paranoia enhanced era of global terrorism, what sort of analysis will be done by the Homeland Insecurity drones on this purchase.

Whatever happens, it's sure to be unsettling, not just from the potential for terrorism against US, but from the growing police state. I read a small news blurb today that said a high ranking Canadian official called George Bush a "moron". It looks like Canada will be added to the Axis of Evil, if they don't watch it.

I applied for a guestbook on but nobody has signed in yet, like I 'm expecting some sort of visitor gold rush. My gut tells me that not many people visit Bigboote's Area51, and the few visitors who have sent me mail, said they had never heard of it until they accidentally stumbled in.

Bob from Revere is coming over for part of the weekend, do I'll be meeting him in Davis Square shortly. Here are a few alternative news articles to feed your head for this week.

Sunday November 24

Bob did come over Friday night, but in Saturday suddenly decided he wasn't going to stay for the weekend, he was busy. We took a ride up to Nashua to shop around since the day was not supposed to be very nice. After wandering around Pheasant Lane Mall for a while, we went to J.C. Penny, where they were handing out candy bars at the door that contained a discount from 5 to 35% at the door. I managed to get a 25% discount slip so picked up 10 pair of the athletic briefs that I wear.

Bob had never been to any of the membership discount stores, so I took him to Costco, where I found a 14 DVD set of every Monty Python episode for $89. This boxed set usually retails for close to $200 in most music/video stores, so grabbed a box. We went to the Firehouse for lunch, since he had seen me mention it in this journal. After lunch I dropped him off at his car then spent a quiet night in.

Today it was cold and windy, but I didn't want to spend the entire day indoors, so took a ride into Harvard Square. I spent well over an hour at the Harvard Bookstore and picked up copies of "Living Faith" by Jimmy Carter and "American Newspeak" by Wayne Grytting, which I had read about on the web. Now I have a few literary nuts stashed away for Winter reading, plus got to use my 20% that I had accrued from being a frequent buyer at Harvard Bookstore.

I stopped by at Tower Records and picked up a copy of "Powaqqatsi - Life in Transition", the second in a series after "Koyaanisqatsi" on DVD for cheap.

I didn't feel like hanging around the square much more so headed over to Davis Square and had lunch at the Burren Irish pub. As luck would have it, the only table was next to a cluster of yuppies, who's little prince precious was in serious need of a dose of Ritalin. The little rug rat was crawling all over the bench to my table, grab, grab, grab, "hi hi hi hi hi hi!" and do you think they did anything to corral the little bugger in? no. They were busy talking about desirable addresses, investment portfolios, power lunches and vacations in the Bahamas. The little spawn was making a nuisance of himself, and I tried to ignore him by burying my nose in the Boston Phoenix and Stuff at Night. Biff and Buffy shot me an annoyed look that I wasn't being thoroughly entertained by their precious child.

Somerville aka Slummerville or Slumberville used to be a nasty blue collar town that was not "desirable" but now is yet another hot and growing yuppie enclave where rents for 1 bedroom apartments easily go for $1400 a month. I lived in Somerville for almost year year, back when people made grimacing faces when I told them where I lived. I lived in the Winter Hill area, once home of the notorious Winter Hill Gang; rat-a-tat-a-tat, body's in trunks of cars and exploding Lincolns and Caddy's. Somerville is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Tonight I'll settle in to do some reading or maybe watch Powaqqatsi. The department of Homeland Security and airport security departments should hire the people who design CD and DVD anti-theft packing to help thwart terrorism. It takes about an hour to work your way through all the layers of micro-thin sealing tape and packaging. Most terrorists would give up if they had to expend that much time and effort breaking into secure areas.

Bob is supposed to come over to spend most of Thanksgiving weekend, we'll see. I've had a sneaky suspicion that something is up with this friendship/relationship, but cannot put a finger on it.

Tuesday November 26

"Whoa the games people play now,
Every night and every day now.
Never meanin what they say now,
Never sayin what they mean."
-The Games People Play, Joe South

lyrics here

"Neuroses can neither be created nor destroyed,
but changed in form"
-Theodora's first law of psycho-dynamics

In some ways I feel bad for the young, as they have grown up with shallowness, insincerity, lies, lack of stability and dishonesty as the norm. Gee, this sounds like the people who serve both as our elected and unelected leaders. It all has a trickle down effect.

I don't feel much like continuing this month's flight recorder any more, not that anyone out there really reads it anyway. I'd like to take a pill today and wake up some time next Spring. It's hard to tell how many, if any visitors read this stuff as I don't have access to my ISP's server logs.

In ending November a bit early, here are this week's crop of zine and news articles. Right now, I'm a very hurting puppy and the holiday will not be a pleasant one. Some may read today's entry and think, "what on earth is he saying?" For the rest of you who DO have friends and family, enjoy the holiday.

Shalom, Ray