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"It can't just be the alcohol. There's gotta be something else there that keeps coming out when he's drunk, like he's trying to get attention or something."

He's in the next room, head in hands, barely getting the gist of the conversation but understanding every word between the lines. Their voices muffled in the blanket of her bed as they continued to talk about him- probably unaware that he could hear them - but not caring if he did or not. The stupid fuck had done it again. Obliterated. Shammered. Drunk beyond a place that most can never get to before passing out. While this problem isn't as pronounced as it used to be, Hyde comes out of the netherworld sometimes, a couple times a year at least for a little mischief and self destruction. He's a hard one to kill, that rat-bastard.

"Maybe he's just depressed or something, living out there in bumfucksville with nothing but that damn website to keep him the least bit social."

"Now Lucy was 37, and introverted somewhat
Basement apartment in the same building she grew up in
And she drew
Little bobby who would come to sweep the porch
And she drew
The mailman, delivered everyday at 4
Lucy had very little contact with the folks outside her cubicle day
But she found it suitable, and she liked it that way"

Hell's range and breadth cannot encompass any finite number of levels and divisions. Its chaos can be a beautiful and strangely-addictive thing for its power alone. Depending upon which hell you subscribe to there are at least something like 95% of the world's greatest thinkers and artists that burn in misery, outside the small piece of dogma that is your own.

HELL HATH NO FURY like a spirit scorned.

What is this diatribe all about anyway? First we talk about a sad drunk and now we're pondering the reasons why Ghandi might be in hell? Yes, that's the problem. It may or it may not all come together; the jury is out.

The day-after sense of loss and depression that accompanies the hangover created by a night of self-styled spiritual mutilation does have an upside, if you can call the wild-freestyle slidings of emotion and dangerously caustic levels of creativity to be an upside.

Damage the body all you want. I can understand this for the fact alone that it may prevent the damage of the spirit. Some people cannot help but permit a bit of self-destruction every now and again - the trick is to keep it in reign, since you most likely do want to wake from the dark dream eventually.

Still he sits with his head in his hands, little more than a simple receptor at this juncture. Some will damn him for the devil he is. Some will laugh at him for the fool he plays. Some may replace their judgement with a little bit of wondering.

"What's going on in that head of yours? If you don't tell me then how the hell am I supposed to understand?"

I lift my head up from my hands to glance at him, offering a mirthless laugh as I walk out of the adjacent room escaping an assault of overheard conversation.

"How indeed. Trust me, I'm working on it."

E2 Is Unfriendly to New Noders has become a catchphrase, as well as a battle cry wielded by legions of dissatisfied denizens of this site. The writeups in that node express quite a bit; everyone seems to have something to say on the subject; hence the softlock. Has the subject been driven into the ground? Perhaps it has, but not by me, so I am writing this daylog to discuss a few observations I've made here.

I've been here for almost a year now...11.2 months according to the date stamp on my homenode. My beginnings here were a bit rocky, as is the case with many new noders. I had only been reading E2 for a little while when I got my account. I didn't understand the implications of the writeup creation date (that is, November 13, 1999 writeups are generally not good examples of how to node). I did not read the FAQ right away. I posted impulsive nonsense, which was promptly "eaten".

The Internet is packed with forums, message boards, and newsgroups. The degree to which these forums are moderated varies greatly, as does the overall quality of the writing on them. I've been a member of quite a few message boards in my time, and revisiting them after almost exclusively writing for E2 for several months, demonstrates to me how very different E2 is from the majority of other sites. To the new user, E2 does look something like a BBS. There is a wealth of old nodes which consist of an inflammatory writeup followed by five or six (or more!) angry rebuttals. There are older GTKY nodes that have not been softlocked due to having simply fallen off the map. Quite often, it seems that a new user will stumble upon a node that seems to be begging for replies. The newbie will add his or her two cents, (often in the form of a misspelled, non-punctuated one-liner) which will appear in New Writeups and draw attention back to the once-forgotten node. I have seen entire nodes full of old GTKY and argument nuked because a new user wrote something. In a sense, perhaps, new users who add to old sub-par nodes are something of an asset to the database, albeit an unintentional one.

There is something of a "sink or swim" mentality here that has both good and bad points. The ideal new user reads the FAQ and other writeups before posting their first node, is thick-skinned enough to take constructive criticism, and is willing to trust that the admins, for the most part, know what they are doing. Coming here is almost guaranteed to induce culture shock. On most web sites designed around the writing of the users, it is permissible to post without proofreading, and one is not necessarily expected to say anything meaningful. Message boards are rife with "Me too!" posts. New users will quickly (and sometimes painfully) learn that E2 is not like this.

Upon encountering the selective nature of E2, a new user will generally react in one of the following ways:

1.) Newbie realizes that E2 is not a message board, and sees the peer-edit system as a good opportunity to improve his or her writing.

2.) Newbie is one of those who thinks that grammar and spelling are tools of "the man", and leaves in a huff. 3.) Newbie becomes afraid of writing, spends a lot of time in the catbox, and complains about how s/he is being discriminated against for being new. 4.) Newbie creates a new account and starts over.

Unfortunately, the first response on the list above is rare. E2 is a confusing site, and some new users are able to figure out their way around fairly quickly, but for the most part it helps to have some sort of guide. E2 Mentoring Sign-Up is a wonderful way to learn the ins and outs of E2, but first the new user has to be motivated enough to get a mentor. This means that the new user has to be made to feel welcome here. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is not a good idea to judge a new user by their very first writeup. Of course there are a few exceptions to this: sometimes something is posted that is SO utterly and obviously a troll or completely random typing. (for instance, I've seen writeups sumbitted that look like "OMG MY CAT TESTICLE WOW!!!!!! WTF GO YO MAMA EAT COOKIE IN DA HOUSE.dhgheskghlehagha".) Within reason, most noders who post something questionable their first time can do much, much better. Some very smart, creative, well-spoken people can write utter crap when they don't really care about what they are writing. The key is to encourage them to care.

I'm not saying we should spoon-feed praise to everyone who signs up for an account here. I do think it is reasonable, however, to refrain from downvoting something by a new user that is most likely going to be instanuked anyway. Yes, I know that downvoting's purpose is to express what is acceptable and what is not, but XP Stoicism is not something people are born with. I am also disgusted when I see a good, factual writeup by a new noder that has been downvoted by one or two people. What is the newbie supposed to think, especially if these downvotes are not accompanied by some explanation of what is wrong with the writeup? Even if there are six upvotes, the node's author will be wondering why that one person thinks their writeup should not be part of the database. I get the feeling sometimes that there are a few bitter individuals on here that think it is their mission to prove that life sucks.

I admit to not being perfect in terms of always being nice; in particular, teen angst poetry drives me up the wall, and I've created a few insulting softlinks (though I generally try to make them somewhat funny, and avoid meaningless put-downs such as "You Stupid Asshole"). I do not downvote these poems, though. And often I will /msg the author warning them that such stuff is generally nuked; perhaps they should try re-posting it in a daylog if they feel the need to express themselves. Almost everyone is a little bit guilty of occasionally basking in the self-perceived glow of their own dubious wit, and I am no exception to this. However, this is a flaw. Perhaps I should not be having fun at the expense of someone's feelings, no matter how silly their expression of it may seem to me. If anyone has been seriously hurt by the softlinking of, (for instance) Would you like some cheese with that whine?, then I apologize and want to assure you that my intent was not to be mean; I was just being a dork and thinking I was funny. But trust me, oh teenagers, it is likely that someday you will look at your tortured verse of "darkness, blackness, neverending pain" and laugh at it. Some of the stuff I wrote in high school during my wannabe-Goth days is too hilarious for words.

To new users reading this daylog, the best advice I have for you is to avoid taking the voting/experience system too seriously. My serial downvoters have taught me that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to how a person votes; you simply have to go with the majority opinion. If you have a writeup with a rep of +20/-2, don't worry about the two dissenters.

To those who have been here a while, remember that E2 is not a fraternity. There should not be a requirement that you must suffer in order to be accepted here. I'm not saying that everyone is mean, I'm just noting that I've observed some rather unwelcoming behavior here. Telling someone "this is crap" right off the bat is quick and easy, and sometimes true, but is it necessary? A much better approach is to explain to the noder that what they posted is not what E2 is looking for, and suggest to them some examples of what is considered quality writing on the site. New noders have told me that they have received /msgs saying, "Your writeup was shit". That seems pretty harsh to me, and is not constructive UNLESS examples of non-shit were given, and they usually weren't. Plus, often it seems that the harshest, least constructive criticisms are handed out not by editors but by level 2 or 3 users who have an axe to grind. There's no need to be mean, folks.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the province was using 18,150 megawatts of electricity, a little more than two-thirds of the available power.

Normal demand for that same time period is usually between 22,000 and 24,000 megawatts -- evidence that people are following through on the province's plea for conservation.

The Blackout of 2003. How very official sounding. Ominous. Potent. In reality, it was a 6 hour blown fuse. An unscheduled indoor camping trip. At my house it was Easter, with batteries replacing the eggs as the object of the hunt. It wasn't a big traumatic event, but it has given me a strange feeling. An anxiety that I felt back in 2001.

Politics. The older I get, the more it seems like politics, and politicians, are the remnants of the group in high school that never figured out popularity is not the ultimate station in life. You know (or maybe were) the kid who was so desperate to have the newest fashion first, to throw the biggest parties, to drive the fastest car. The one that did everything right, but stank of desperation. The middle of the pack type social climber. I think they all end up in politics. The reason I mention my erstwhile rulers is that they have a heavy hand in turning out the lights.

A little background first, my Ameri-centric friends: Ontario, the province in the middle of the country over the Great Lakes, is the most populous in Canada. Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, and a major power user. 25 or so years ago, Ontario and our neighbor, Quebec, faced some long-term planning: What will be used to produce power our growing populations? Quebec opted for hydroelectric power, and in the far north of the province they entered negotiations with Native bands. The talks bogged down, and it seemed that the plan was ill advised. Ontario, seeking to avoid land settlement headaches, turned heavily nuclear, increasing the small number of CANDU reactors in the province. About 19 years ago, Ontario had a New Democratic Party (NDP) Premier - think governor. The NDP are very socialist, and very left leaning. Unions vote NDP with a religious fervor. The problem with the NDP was and is that they spend on social programs like tomorrow will never come. They also slammed corporate business with tax after tax. Lastly, they gave environmentalists carte blanche for delaying industrial construction. Hydro Generating station? Not in my province cried the hippy. So, the NDP runs up a giant deficit and chases business out of the province. Enter the Progressive Conservatives. The PC party sweeps the next election and Mike "the Knife" Harris, takes the premiership. The PCs are the anti-NDP. They cut social programs drastically, kill the deficit and start privatizing public owned businesses. Popular at the beginning of their term, the deep cuts bleed out education and health care, along with support for the PCs. So, for 10 years or so, the lumbering process of privatizing Hydro Ontario lagged on. First it was split in two, Ontario Power Generation producing the power and Hydro One maintaining delivery to the public. During this time, no new generating stations were built. Also during this time, existing nuclear power stations at Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Peninsula reached the critical repair age and slowly were brought off line for repairs. Back in Quebec, they are sitting pretty, sending a surplus down into the States from the hydroelectric dam complexes in James Bay. The PC Government had brought heavy industry back to southern Ontario, and the population and construction boom in Toronto built more and more power consumers into a constricting market. The solution was to import power from the United States, particularly New York, via Niagara Falls, and Quebec, via Cornwall in the 401 corridor.

Premier Harris stepped down during the last PC mandate, handing the reigns of the party to Ernie Eves, finance minister in the Harris cabinet. Poor Ernie has been having a hard time. First, all the problems of the Harris administration have come home to roost. Cuts to health care likely contributed to the SARS crisis in Toronto, which devastated tourism in the city. The power crisis loomed so large last summer that Ernie capped electricity prices at an abnormally low level, well below the actual generation costs, in response to the fine line the suppliers were treading. The demand had pushed prices up to 7 times the regular rate during the hot days of last summer. Things seemed grim as early as this winter, when heating demands, traditionally lower than air conditioning demands, caused brownouts in Toronto. The provincial demand outstripped the supply, and the import solution was wearing thin. There is only so much power for sale out in the market.

Cut to this summer. The media has been screaming about the power problems in Toronto. Brownouts grew common. Government commercials promoting conservation began airing, thinly veiled as environmental activism, something the corporate friendly PCs have had little interest in in the past. August brings hot humid weather to the Golden Horseshoe and external suppliers choke on the order. The likely reason the blackout cascaded across the province was that transmission lines were wide open across the US-Canada border. No islands means no protection. The second the Ohio generator dropped off the grid, the demand from New York City, Albany, Boston, Toronto, Windsor, Detroit and Ottawa jumped to the next station. Pop! Next. Pop! Cascade blackout.

What makes me sick is that this is all out of our hands and firmly in the realm of politics. New generation needs to be constructed in Ontario. New generation and transmission needs to be constructed in the northeastern States according to President Bush. What can the common voting person do about it? Nothing substantial until maybe the next election. Will the problem go away? No, but it will be hoisted onto our shoulders. Using electricity in my own home has become a craps game. Could I be the one that blows the province out for another week? I don't want that hanging over my head every time I turn on the kitchen light. I figure Ernie has lost himself a premiership, but its little comfort to me as the ice-cream pools around my ankles.

Disclaimer: This daylog contains state-of-E2 commentary, and it's not particularly well written. Skip unless you care.

(It occurs to me that that sounds sort of whiny and angry, like "Skip this UNLESS YOU CARE ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING TO E2!" That's not what I meant at all. I meant only that I personally don't think opinions about E2 itself are the most interesting of E2's content, and unless you wanted to read something like that, this writeup too could be safely skipped.)

I am perhaps one of the silent majority Kidas mentions (not in so many words) in his daylog today. Although I don't have a lot of writeups or a high level, I have been here (with hiatuses) since E1. Debates about policy, power structure, where the site is going, et cetera, have come and gone. I mostly ignore them. It's in the nature of groups and communities to have power dynamics.(1) It's also in the nature of communities that, when decisions come down from authority, most people interpret the decision and the reasons behind it to suit themselves. The noise will pass, the site will survive (indeed, the reason why we have an authority group making necessary decisions is so that the site will survive) and we can all continue adding content.

So why am I writing a daylog here? I don't really know any other E2 users personally (although many of you have seen me from time to time on #e), and I've never troubled myself with any sort of decision making or even level gaining. But I'm still here. And if people like me are silent, and are a majority, or even a significant chunk of the user base, it might possibly be of interest to someone else to know why I'm still here. (Or not; that's why this is a daylog.)

Now I can post my radical ideas about the nature of E2 which have already occurred to others. Fundamentally, the reason I'm still here is that E2 is unique.

  • E2 is not an online encyclopedia. At least one person has suggested that my nodes would be welcome on Wikipedia or PlanetMath. Certainly these sites have better support for rendering the kind of content I write than E2 does. But E2 is not just a repository of factual information; that's just what I have to contribute to it, so I do.
  • E2 is not a chat room or message board, and we have the much-derided editing system, complete with Klaproth, downvoting and nuke-with-penalty (not any more)(2), to thank for that! Perhaps the amount of bullshit which is tolerated has sunk a little lower than some people want it to, and is still too high for others, but that's not a debate I'm interested in participating in.
  • E2 is not a blog, although it is certainly a cousin to blogs; the emphasis on on-site content and links rather than off-site links means that E2 is largely immune to the "hey, look at that" effect that makes a lot of blogs I've seen look like a crowd of people with very short attention spans, all pointing in the direction of the most recent interesting thing. (I have mixed feelings about the fact, pointed out by someone in the catbox recently, that nodes summarizing CNN headlines tend to show up in "Cool User Picks!" an hour later.)
  • E2 is not (and should not become, and I don't see it becoming) a pretentious writing circle where we read each other our latest masterpieces. I don't believe the comment about "a writer's site for writers" in E2 Copyright Changes was intended to imply this. Anyone who produces original content and puts it on the site is a writer; I think a lot of the furor over this latest policy comes from people confusing content control with people control or social engineering.

What E2 is to me is an induplicable shared repository of personal experience. And no, that doesn't mean "big group diary", although (unlike some people) I believe diary-type things are valuable, and I'm glad to see daylogs providing a space for that alongside the main database. What this site is, much more than a group diary, is a place where people distill their experiences and the things they care about into a form they can share with us. Some of it is humorous bullshit, only significant to a few people; some if it is heavily influenced by personal prejudice or contingent circumstance and would lead you far astray if you took it for objective fact; some of it is just technical data about what they've been thinking about lately. The diversity of things you find here is one of the principal strengths of the site. I'm not sure I'd still be coming back if it weren't for the fact that here you can find everything from Yurei's and riverrun's war stories to information about any number of classic movies to Heisenberg's catalog of humanopathogenic worms.

All right, I'm done talking. That's what I care about; that's why I still come back here; I don't think anyone has done anything recently or will do anything in the near future to seriously damage it; we now return you to your regularly scheduled dayloggers.

1. Recently someone posted a node with a transcript of a very enlightening talk about the power dynamics of long-lived online communities. The talk was titled "A Group is its Own Worst Enemy", by Clay Shirky. You can find it at E2 FAQ: Online Community Dynamics or (this seems to be the authoritative location)

Thanks to BlueDragon for finding this.

2. jessicapierce points out that nuke-with-penalty has been gone for at least a year, perhaps two. That shows you how long it's been since I read Everything University.

Drawing from what I've learned in my recent Dreamweaver and Fireworks classes, I've totally redesigned my old, old fan site for Mexican wrestler and ancient astronaut El Fisico Nuclear. I couldn't be more pleased with the result.

Unless perhaps I could obtain an mp3 of El Fisico personally welcoming visitors to the site.


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