For You Know Who,

I hope you have found what you are looking for.

The right hand knows not what the left hand does

No, I do not suffer from alien hand syndrome. Inherent stupidity maybe. Which is also incurable as far as I know.

It's just that... well, take these examples:

  • I'm spooning sugar into my coffee with my right hand. At the same time my left hand goes all like: "hey, where's my napkin? Oh there it is: by my right elbow". So then my two hands collide and sugar is scattered all over the table. People say: 'What were you thinking?'. But I wasn't, that's the point. I never got the chance, did I?

  • Or I'm shaving, and as my right hand circumnavigates my knee my left hand is all "I'll just smoothe that shaving foam right there", and of course the razor shaves off a good portion of my left thumb before I realize this bloody hurts! And then when people ask what is up with the band aid... Well, what do I tell them? I cut myself shaving? What kind of weirdo shaves her thumb?

  • In these gift-wrapping times I often handle scissors. Well, I guess I don't have to draw and colour the picture for you. Cutting carefully while straightening the fine paper... Oh, well.
I often do these things. Maybe it's because I'm clumsy or maybe I'm just... Well, never mind, I'll just... Oh, drat! There goes my cup of coffee.

On this day last year, my wife left me, taking my beautiful daughter Willow with her.

She left because she had fallen for another man, who seduced her with promises that he could fulfil some of her needs in ways I couldn't. I guess it helped that he was a rich barrister.

The last 12 months have seen so many changes. I now only see my daughter roughly one weekend every month. I have an ongoing battle with my ex-wife over how she is raised. Last weekend, I found out that my daughter is calling my ex-wife's new partner "Daddy".

I am powerless to intervene. I have explained to my ex-wife why it is not in my daughter's best interests to have confusion over who the people in her life are. It is going to be difficult enough for her as she grows up, having two families. My ex-wife can't see the problem.

There are many families who have gone through painful breakups, and many children who have two sets of parents. I truly hope that I can learn from the experience of others, and that my ex-wife will too. I hope that between us we can raise my daughter to be a strong individual who has close ties with us both, and who isn't forced to choose between us. I have so many hopes and dreams for her future - and I just desperately wish that nothing gets in their way.

These times will pass. Happiness is just another moment away.

Thank you, Lords and Ladies, for inviting me here this evening to speak of Everything2. (gets out 18 pages of single spaced text.) I am going to speak to you this evening of ... er....

Fishes for his reading half-glasses, places them on his nose and peers over the tops at his audience in a leaderly sort of way.)

Lord Borgo apparently wrote something that invited us E2 members to talk about E2. So I'm going to take this opportunity to discuss a few ideas.

(What's that? Brawl? Oh.)

Lord Brawl, pardon me.

First off, the favorite three or four noders that are meaningful to us. Well, there's ToasterLeavings, and JohnnyGoodyear, of course. And then there's heppigirl for comic relief. (another tug at the sleeve.)

(Eh? Noders, right,that's what I said. Nodes? NODES? Oh ah. Righto.)

Nodes, yes. My favorite nodes. Harrummm, let me clear my throat. Nodes. Quite right. Well, of course, you have anything by Interstellar Scrotum or Moloch36. For the Scrote lad, try Taking Down Large Larry. Then, you should read all of Moloch 36's nodes in the order in which they were written, since the stories all flow together. Ideally, you should print them and read them at home in chronological order when you have a spare half hour. Bloody good read. Halspal did Why the Willow Seeps. Weeps? Weeps. Whatever. A guaranteed four-hankie affair. Then, there's almost any of riverrun's nodes. Try Libber and I go to war, or How to brush your teeth in a combat zone. JohnnyGoodyear wrote so many good ones it's almost impossible to choose one, but let's go with How the heart really works. He'd written hundreds of nodes and kept less than 60 now. He's written and thrown away more brilliant stuff than you could ever imagine. DoubleD wrote the incredibly good Riding Esperanza. arcanamundi's Your grace under pressure. Your face under water. Brilliant woman, simply brilliant, and a looker too, if you know what I mean. (winks at audience.) sam512's Standing on a mountaintop in northern Siberia under the rapidly descending bulk of asteroid McAlmont, with a calculating expression and a baseball bat. AllSeeingEye's Everything2 Civil War II: Electric Boogaloo. ToasterLeavings- anything by him. Lord Brawl, dannye and he did a brilliant Shakespeare parody entitled Two Gentlemen on Veronica. (Even the title makes me giggle, not that - harrumph! - I am much given to giggling. Certainly not.)

Coruscating language is what I seek; words that astound. ToasterLeavings' and JohnnyGoodyear's pieces never fail to astonish me. I read them, and I think to myself, never in a million years could I have placed these words together the way they did. By this metric, these are the two best writers on the site.

(long, Alzheimer's Syndrome-induced pause.)

Now, what else did Borgo want? Er, Brawl. That's what I said. He wanted some understanding of my philosophy on E2. That's a simple one: to build up our army! our navy! Our airforce! Our code warriors! Until we are able to defend ourselves against the outRAgeous indiscretions of neighboring web sites. Look around you! Nothing but hostile faces! Wikipedia to our north, MySpace to the south, facebook somewhere east or west -- I'm not quite clear where, but my advisors take a stern vew of this site -- we must shore up our defenses against the implacable enemies who mean to crush us right out of existence! We must remain firm, we must remain vigilant! We must be true to our guiding vision! Whatever that is!

(microphone goes dead.)

Thank you, and good night.

(Sits down to polite but uncertain applause.)

Eh? Well the rest of what he wants has been amply covered by the others, I'm bloody well not going to repeat what's already been said. The rest can be done in subcommittee by lesser men. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a very important flight to catch.

There is one reason for punditry and only one: profit.

Those who think Sean Hannity, Don Imus, Howard Stern, Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, and Dr. Laura believe every single word they utter are living in an Idaho of their personal design. If there was no money in whipping your audience into a frenzy, there would be no King Kong or Die Hard or Star Warz or Rush Limbaugh. The fact of their actorship is blatant in their inconsistency. Dr. Laura converted to the Jewish faith. Then to Christianity. There are on-line pictures of her posing naked. She was violently earnest about doing each of these things when she did them, and then violently earnest about undoing each one. She brushes off her erratic behavior as if lint from her $5000 evening gown, while daily she dresses down people exhibiting the same qualities she embodies.

And nobody cares she's selling snake oil. People buy it from her the way they did from P.T. Barnum. They buy it the same way they buy Peter Jackson's twenty-foot ape, and nobody bothers trying to differentiate between CGI and hypocrisy.

The word is "buy". It's entertainment that has the insidious effect of shaping opinion.

By the way -- let's get real about this. If Bill O'Reilly is shaping public opinion in his "No Spin Zone", then so is Steven Spielberg. There is no way being preached to by Larry King is any different than watching Steven Soderberg trying to make a point through his story telling.

We're bombarded by media. It changes our minds about things. It enforces the opinions we have and breaks down others. It's the original SPAM. If we didn't watch it, they'd stop providing it. But because we make the pundits rich, they keep doing what they're doing, and we keep getting what we're getting in the way of societal sickness.

Which brings me to this: The War on Christmas.

Did you know there was a "war" on Christmas? I sure didn't. I was busily trimming the tree and purloining cookies from Mrs. Owl's fresh-baked NOT-UNTIL-XMAS stash. I was lighting the eaves and signing Christmas cards. And while I was happily enjoying my festive season I never saw the treachery appear at my front door.

This is because I loathe pundits of all persuasions, and so I don't avail myself of their blather. Had I been watching Fox News like millions of others, I'd have known I was under attack.

Apparently, the battle was outlined by Fox News employee John Gibson who decided that enough was enough, the lefties were out there trying to turn Christmas into the Holiday Season. In deference to American non-Christians, some people were trying to get the term "Christmas" excised from all public mention of the nation-wide holiday celebrated on December 25th, and call it instead, a plain ordinary "holiday", instead of what it really is, Christmas.

You know, I happen to agree with John Gibson, whom I have never read nor seen. But what infuriates me about the situation is that Mr. Gibson, having nothing else to whip his audience into a frenzy over, decided to attack the one holiday of the year from which I actually derive pleasure.

The "war" on Christmas is the fabrication of a weak pretty boy who needs to drum up ratings so he can demand a greater paycheck next time his contract is negotiated. That is the reality of this war, and I'm confident saying it even though I don't know if John Gibson is pretty. If I was a pundit I'd be making up shit to say to gain ratings and consequently dollars. So I'm going to practice.

Now, as for the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas thing -- I say, "are you out of your fucking minds?" My family is a family of immigrants. My people came over on boats. My history goes back through Ellis Island, and so I feel I have some legitimacy in saying that the fact America opened its arms to newcomers made it as great as it is. When they got here they learned English and became Americans. My grandfather would never say he was "Italian-American". He was a naturalized citizen, and so for him, he was always just plain American. Lucky for my grandparents, they already celebrated Christmas, so the "war" on Christmas was never an issue for them. Dodging the mafia, was.

I think we need to say this to the ill-moraled media trying to stir us into a frenzy over Merry Christmas turning to Happy Holidays: is it even remotely possible you could flip the "asshole" switch to "off" for even a couple minutes?

To everyone who has come here from somewhere else, and to those who make a living out of being offended I offer this: Welcome to America. In this country we have a holiday called Christmas. It was originally celebrated by the Christians who came to this continent, murdered all the native North Americans and installed themselves as the reigning authority on holidays. Consequently, for the past 300 years or so we have stopped celebrating the coming of the summer sun, the first rains of the spring, and the winter solstice. Instead, we celebrate the birth of the Christian king by indulging in vast commercialism of a scale that would have sent the Caesars into orgasm. Nobody is trying to turn you into a Christian, or take away your Christianity. All we want is for you to buy an iPod.

For some people Christmas is a deeply religious holiday with little commercial significance. For some people it's an excuse to learn to assemble a bicycle. For others, it's a deadline to produce new electronic gadgetry. For still others it's an excuse to give people concrete-hard fruit cakes. Everybody gets the day off whether you care about it or not -- just like you get the day off on Labor Day, even if you're not a laborer. There is no requirement to become Christian, implicit or otherwise. In fact, for the past 100 years or so the holiday has been dominated by the economic reality of department store revenues.

By the way -- there's also a holiday in America called Thanksgiving, which is also somewhat religious in the concept we should say "thank you" to the greater power of our choice for continued existence. Though most people forget about this part and simply indulge in the consumption of an animal the rest of the world finds inedible.

There are holidays in some countries we do not celebrate in America. Despite the possibilities for unbridled consumerism we do not celebrate Japanese "White Day", the day upon which businessmen are expected to buy and give ladies underwear to the random women in their lives. We do not celebrate Kuala Lumpurian "Grave Sweeping Day", despite the fact that American electronics companies with factories in that country provide it as a paid day off. We do not officially celebrate "May Day" like the Communists do. We do not have these holidays on our calendars. You are free to celebrate them, but don't expect the ladies at the DMV to take the day off.

We celebrate July 4th, despite the fact the nation we defeated during the revolutionary war is now our closest ally. We explode non-lethal devices over our heads on July 4 to imitate bombardment by an enemy force. We remember our war dead on May 31st by running a major car race in Indianapolis. The people of some American states take a day off from work on the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King to remind ourselves there was institutionalized facism in this country at one point.

Christmas is a holiday that is deeply rooted in American civilization. It has religious origins, as does the weekly celebration of "Sunday", which was a nod by Constantine to the pagan god of the Sun. The month of August was an homage to Caesar Augustus. Things are like this. We can't undo history. However I believe that sooner or later Americans will start teaching their children that Charles Dickens was born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, next door to Mark Twain, and that "A Christmas Carol" was actually set in Herald Square, not London. We have the displays in Macy's windows to prove it. It will simply become true the way everything on Bill O'Reilly's TV show becomes true. Quid pro quo.

If you are not Christian take heart in the fact your children will not in indoctrinated to belief in the birth of Christ on Christmas day by their school teachers. By the way, Christ wasn't actually born on December 25th, anyway. That day was picked by a counsel around the year 300. Nobody knows what day he was born on. December 25th is as good as any, and was probably chosen to conflict with some pagan winter solstice holidays being celebrated at the same time. Most of us don't even know that, and are happy to go through life without that knowledge. Lack of knowledge has never been an excuse for Americans to fail to develop an opinion. If you come from a different country, you may be completely comfortable with this effect. Welcome.

Welcome to America. Your children will be bombarded by tales of Santa Claus and the one rule we will insist on in America is that you do not attempt to talk your children out of belief in a guy who breaks into your home once per year to deliver random gifts. While the thought of a fat old geezer penetrating the household through the open chimney flue is the source of great joy for most native born American children, it may terrify your foreign born youngsters. Might I suggest you channel that fear, then. This is one way we control our spawn for the month of December. And besides, despite some pessimism most of us are still confident if we leave peanut butter and jelly sandwiches next to the fireplace on Christmas Eve, they will attract flying reindeer instead of ants. (Yes, it's strange. Tell this to the folks back home. They'll never believe we're the same ones who put people on the moon.)

And those of you who are still ruffled by one idiot's proclamation of a war on Christmas I have a suggestion:

Take 2 shots of an okay single-malt Scotch (not the 25-year old Springbank, please), and add it to your egg nog. Imbibe freely. Realize you're among friends. Kiss a few of them. Open your gifts slowly, aunt Margaret likes to save the paper (God knows why, she never reuses it). Watch Charlie Brown's Christmas Carol for the 30th time. Try to find the religious allegory in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and then give valuable prizes to anyone who does. Watch the ghost of Christmas future scare the shit out of Scrooge and make him a philanthropist. Start a fire (in the fireplace), cuddle up with your honey, and sip a hot drink while the snow falls.

Whether you pray or not, remember our men and women at war. Whether or not we agree with it, it's our family out there.

And for God's sake, turn off the talk shows. Turn off the news. Spend a few days not allowing a network talking head to make you angry. One thing we know for certain, religious or not, Christmas is not about being angry. Don't wreck your Christmas searching for some person or thing to make you mad. Realize that's how they make their money, and there's plenty of time for issues. Realize that every Christmas story you've ever been told is about exactly that.

Merry Christmas.

Oh -- P.S. Save those receipts. The shirts are returnable.

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all. - Friedrich Nietzsche

This has been a year of experiments. None of them has turned out the way I expected, but that's the thing about true experiments -- regardless of the result, there is always data returned from which to learn.

For about nine months of the year, all I did was lift weights -- heavy powerlifting workouts two to three times a week. I became bigger and stronger than I have ever been in my life -- close to 200 pounds and doing 25 deadlifts with 250 pounds, doing dips with 55 pounds strapped to my back. This is not competition caliber by any means, but hey, it was a lot for me.

Of course, there were some injuries -- a tweaked lower back, an achey knee, a stiff shoulder -- but I truly enjoyed myself. The workouts were brief, efficient and effective. Had I more time to rest, I would probably have broken the 200 pound mark and added a few plates to my lifts.

The experiment of seeing how strong I could get turned out to be a tentative success in the sense that I surpassed anything I had done before and honestly had to start looking for new clothing -- both shirts and pants.

Then, after several alarming weeks of battling entry in to my pants, I decided that maybe I should start running again. My ordeal with plantar fasciitis finally over, I began gingerly running and walking 30 minutes every other day. The months of squatting and deadlifting did not help matters, and for the first few weeks I trotted like a chubby old man. Eventually my legs loosened up and my morning jog/walks became longer and more frequent. Over the course of three and a half months I went from going for a half-hour every other day to 90 minutes every morning with an occassional second run thrown in on a Friday night.

The experiment this time was to see how high and quickly I could ramp up my mileage by doing 50% running and 50% walking. I wanted to get a high collapse point as well as see if the walking could get around the 10% rule: never increase your mileage by more than 10% a week.

In checking my mileage totals for the last seven weeks, my increases fluctuated from 20% to 32%. The thing is, I was getting stronger and faster all the time, finding the turnaround point for my out-and-back runs further and further down the road.

And then I felt that twinge below my knee in the front of my left leg.

I kept running, keeping my mileage increase to a respectable 5%. Despite myself, I got faster. Then one morning, feeling stiffer and achier than usual, I cut my intended 90 minutes to 30, did some yoga and got to work earlier. The next morning, I went out for eleven minutes before I came home limping and staggering, a sharp band of pain gripping my lower leg with each step.

So this experiment left me with two useful results.

  1. Zero to 54 miles a week in seven weeks is the most agressive increase my body can take regardless of the amount of walking I do. I redlined.
  2. Time on the feet is time on the feet no matter if it is spent walking or sprinting. I guess the 10% rule is there for a reason.

I don't know whether I have a stress fracture or anterior compartment syndrome. My pain is in the right place for both of them, but I have neither the tenderness and swelling of a stress fracture nor the lack of motion of ACS. Anyway, I'm off the road for a while until I'm no longer reminded of my leg each time I take a step.

So what now?

I'd like 2006 to be more balanced. I went from the purely lifting to purely running. One worked fairly well, the other didn't. Although I don't regret either one, I'd like to blend the two if I can.

Or perhaps I can extremely cautiously crank the mileage back up while focusing a little harder on the yoga I should have been doing all along. Who knows? It's a good dilemma to have.

Time to wipe off the chalkboard and begin another experiment.

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