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So I blew off a half-day retreat at my Zen temple today.

I was all set to do it, too. I had my loose, dark-colored, unpatterned clothing all placed by the door. I had my alarm set for 4 a.m. so I could get up in time to quickly shower, then walk the mile or so to the temple and get my ass on a zafu before the retreat began at 5 a.m.. But at about midnight I switched the alarm off on the clock. I guess I couldn’t face swapping some free time with my wife and baby boy for 6-and-a-half hours of meditation. Sure I feel guilty about it, but I’m not sure if that’s the Zen Buddhist or the lapsed Catholic in me.

On the up side, I had a fabulous omelets stuffed with leftovers, and watched "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in fascinated, car-wreck-witness kind of horror as Donald Rumsfeld tried to weasel out of the quagmire of his own creation. He kept saying things like, “I just don’t know how long this will take or how much it’ll cost.... I have always said I have never known;" and using the term “burn rate” for how fast American taxpayers’ money is going down the tubes in Iraq. Now, am I wrong in thinking this is not the kind of thing people-- even fairly conservative people, who may have formerly supported this wrongheaded effort-- want to hear? Rumsfeld, with his haughty dismissiveness of Stephanopoulos’s rather softballish questioning, seemed to be saying that anyone that might think of holding him, the Pentagon or the Bush Administration accountable for this mess was an idiot. I may often be discouraged and disappointed in the American majority, but even I don’t underrate them that much.

Also on the up side, I got a good hour of work in on the spec TV pilot I’m working on and I’m really starting to feel like the horse who can smell the barn on this project. I’m also really starting to believe that I have, with the help of my collaborators, created something truly funny and original. In other words, it’s doomed in Hollywood from the get go. Oh well. Maybe someone will throw some money my way to work on something else. As I said in a prior daylog when I was still trying to decide whether or not to try this, if it ain’t about the ho’in', it ain’t about nothing at all.

Right now, as I write this, I’m hiding in my bedroom with the computer, ‘cuz my in-laws are visiting and there’s only so much I can take of my wife’s new “father”. Without fail, he heads straight for the futon couch in our living room, sprawls on it, breaking the jury-rigged frame, then, before falling asleep, he invariably blurts a few unfunny offensive “jokes”, usually about my one-year old kid. Today it was, “Oh, he likes playing with shoes. Maybe he’s that way {fey hand gesture}”.

"Yeah, that’s right, asshole: my 13 month old toddler son is gay ‘cuz he likes to play with shoes. Now fuck off and have that coronary that those 300 extra lbs you carry around are just begging for!"


Maybe I shoulda gone to that Zen retreat after all.

I haven’t written in a while… so here are my last couple months in a nutshell.

Wake up



Shave, Notice ping pong ball in my neck….

Go along with my life

Friday night Kiddush and dinner.

Emergency on-call 24hr Dr.

“Don’t worry, go to your family Doctor Sunday”


Doctor, Antibiotics, Doctor Again, Specialist, Prognosis, Mononucleosis

Doesn’t sound right…. Blood Test, Specialist, Arguments, Request Biopsy, Get Lung X-Ray, Ultrasound, Ultrasound Doc “GET A BIOPSY”, Return to specialist, FNA (or fine needle aspiration biopsy)

Return to Specialist, Doesn’t seem dangerous, operation anyways. CT

6cm by 4cm thing, inside me

Go to second opinion, MRI, Ultrasound + Doppler. Ultrasound Doc “It could be a million things”

It’s above my throat, around my spinal cord and nested nicely beside glands and lymph nodes

Hospital Specialists, Fiber Optic up my nose, Mirrors in down my throat…

Operation, “Don’t worry this is just some oxygen to help you breath”




Light, Can’t talk, panic, sweat, can’t talk, can’t breath? Tracheotomy,… Darkness

Parents, Go away, Darkness, Hallway, Darkness, Elevator, Darkness, 2 days, “Don’t worry this will only hurt for a minute” Penis is on fire, “This is a bottle for you to…” Darkness, Pee in Bottle, Darkness, “Here we go, you need a shower” Humiliation, Can’t talk, Tired, Water, Being washed, Humiliation, Darkness, 2 Days, Still can’t talk, Wash by myself, Whisper, barely, Tired, Darkness, Parents, Brother, Darkness, Write notes, Tired, Darkness, Listen to others mostly, Tired, Tired, Tired, Tired, Tired, Darkness, Slowly life returns to itself, Slowly I can pee by myself, Hell, Visits, Tired, Sleep all day. …

After 8 days, FOOD, walk to vending machine, buy a Sprite, walk back, look at it, 3 minutes, open it, smell it… smell, smell, smell, taste…. Metallic, disgusting, worst soft drink I have tasted in my life.

It is heavenly.

Week at hotel + home resting. Go to Doc for final biopsy result…


…. Here we go again…

I learned from my mom tonight that one of the cats, Irma, died over a month ago. She told me she didn't tell me earlier because she didn't want to make me sad.

And I am really sad that Irma's gone.

She was 15. That's a reasonable run for a cat. She was an outdoors cat, and that almost always shortens their lives: they get into accidents, get into fights, catch diseases. Even though we keep our guys inside, part of me feels it's unnatural to keep a cat indoors all the time. They didn't evolve to stay indoors; they were bred for grass and trees and hunting, not for carpets and couches and balls of string. How many of us would like it if we could never go outside and walk around as we pleased?

But there's too much traffic and poisonous stuff for a kitty to inadvertently eat in our apartment complex, and I haven't the money for vet bills, so our guys stay inside.

Irma had a good life, I think, even though my parents are of a generation that doesn't believe in too much veterinary meddling when it comes to pets. The cats got their shots, but that was pretty much it. They've never had an animal put down, preferring to let nature take its course. Mom told me Irma was sick and having seizures toward the end. It had been years since she'd been able to meow, but when I saw her last December she seemed reasonably healthy, if a little thin of fur and flesh.

But the thing is, Irma wanted to be my kitty, ever since she was a kitten. Part of me wanted to take her with me when I went off to grad school, but it wasn't feasible. First I was in a dorm, then I was in an apartment with a big dog. Then I was traveling too much for any pet; then I had a housemate allergic to pets. When it might have been feasible for me to take her, she was old and it would have been traumatic for her to move across the country and leave the only home she'd ever known.

Somewhere there's an alternate universe where I did bring Irma with me. And in that universe she didn't get sick, or when she got sick I took her to the vet right away instead of hearing that my parents let nature take its course. In that universe she's still alive with a good five years left in her.

She was always there when I came home; she'd be the first of the cats to greet me and want petting. She'd follow me everywhere, letting me know that she was my cat, even though I'd gone off and left her.

A part of my life is gone with her. A part of my life I'd taken for granted, and goddamn I'm going to miss it.

On July 6th, I reported for duty with my new IT help desk job. Ironicaly the contractor firm I'm currently working under suffered a loss at my hands 8 years ago. Back in the days, the company was only 4 employees strong, myself, the boss, another coworker, and a secretary. After spending a month working at the firm 8 years ago, I was'nt paid for my effort, specificaly, designing an accounting software for the firm. I got fed up with the ill treatment I got from my boss and coworker, before leaving, I formated the hard drive and left. Boss was full of rage, he threatened to call the police. Be my guest, can you prove anything? Too bad you never heard of unformating before. Besides, copyright laws were already taking shape in Saudi Arabia and I don't think the authorities will be pleased when they learn that you guys have been selling and renting pirated CDS.

Eight years later, a friend of mine starting working for the now 50+ brain power strong firm. Management is totaly different now. My friend kept harrasing me on a daily basis to join him in his work, I was too lazy to join in. My friend was him self being harrased by the new boss, who went to college with me, to get me to join into the firm. The new boss friend got his managerial position after the old boss was arrested on terror charges. We both thought our college diplomas are only worth to be hung over the bathroom wall, but we were wrong. Seem like the majority of firms take work experience and how good you are in the job more seriously than how many degrees you hold. But we are still persuing our bachelor degrees just in case.

I love my new job. Level of formality is extreemly low. We get to cuss at each other in the office. Pay is good. And the network I'm working on is huge. Our firm is contracting for Aramco, the oil company. There is a joke going on around here, that we are a mosquito sucking off an elephant. Aramco has a class A network for its intranet site. The number of active machines I've seen in active directory at any one time is 70,000+ and growing. I've seen 3200+ different subnets. We watch 4 live graph projectors on the walls showing us real time info of all the important links between cities and buildings. We have domain controlers, complete with backup domain controlers in Dhahran, Riyadh, Jeddah, Houston, Dubai, London, and Tokyo. As people can tell, I get excited for a minute and then the excitement goes away. I was excited to learn that we have 2 links, 250 mbits each, to Houston, for all our internet needs. Both links are utilized at 50% combined, if one goes down, the other will handle the load. There are also many dual fiber links running at 2.5 gbits in the intranet site. And around 30 mail servers. Simply put, the network is a mamoth.

My job function ranges from reseting users passwords to trouble shooting computers either through the phone or through netmeeting. Trouble shooting telephone lines, fax lines, secure id access cards, printers, routers, and whatever type of new problem may arise. We have 3 levels from bottom to top, agents, professionals, and specialists. I was placed as a professional. Some of the new recruits got jealous when they learned of my new post. I usualy respond with, "Do you have previous work experience?", and "have you been MS certified since 2001?" I get a no in both questions. When I first got my MS certifications 2 years ago, I thought to my self, "what good will this bring me?" Seems like it became useful after all.

Washing rice is surprisingly hypnotic, like so many other common tasks.

I pounded rubber into walls again today. The subway ride in the morning was gentle and forgiving, as to apologize for Friday.

There's this instant air-blown rice-cake machine next to the bus stop. From what I've seen, it dispenses a small portion of washed rice into a very small container, both heats it and compresses it at the same time, and after a few seconds ejects this 1cm-thick, eight-inch circle of crackly rice. Think of it as marshmallow Rice Krispies without the marshmallow.

Sometimes the rice wafers eject as Bernoulli curves, and every time I stand in line, I can't help but watch to see if the wafer will fly and escape the prison of its fellow brethren. The wafers are collected in a plastic container. Since the heated compresser/container opens at an angle, it directs the hot rice wafer outwards. Directs, as in gently helps this thing get ejected into the sheet of plastic with a large "Pffp? PHOOOM-thwack" that, by some trick of coincidence, seems to be a metronomical signal for some nearby passerby to test the solidity of nearby objects by gently shoving me into walls and trucks.

And then the thirty-minute bus drive. Some of the most pleasant moments in my life, no sarcasm intended.

Being in transit. What else could you want? Alone in a shell with only your thoughts to yourself, looking out the window at night and seeing yourself from outside, watching into the window at yourself from outside. Floating above this moving bus, watching the yellow-gray shadows inside the bus sliding away into different shapes speckled with oval raindrops like the peppered wall of a firing squad's execution spot.

A giant spiral. I'm not sure what the graph of the spiral will be in parametric equations, or what the derivative of the graph will be, I still don't know what color it is or what it tastes like or whether it feels like wet soggy cotton candy or soft and stringy like his best girlfriend's hair. I know its a spiral, though. A spiral, that starts with It and ends with It. (My 'It's have to be capitalized, the way a devout Catholic would capitalize Him when talking about God. Its my religion. Both metaphorically and realistically.)

A single point. A single point smaller than the armpit hairs of the plankton in the sea, a single point shorter than the time it takes light to travel between your eyes and your screen. Its a point so small that we do not talk about length or depth or weight-- it is simply a point, the way a line is to a plane. a point. one. point.

A single sphere. Not a sphere, however, but everything. Everything. Imagine every single object in every single place in every single country, and more. Not everything as a whole, but each individual thing. That is everything.

Inside this single point, this one, this ONE thing, this one thing contains everything. Imagine a Polaroid photograph of everything in the world. Its a photograph of everything, it contains everything, yet it is still one photograph. You can look at this thing and see everything, everything, everything.

Inside everything, inside every single object you can see the polaroid photograph. When you see a single object, you are able to understand where exactly that object is in relation to other objects in the photograph.

Back to It. 'It' is in the center. It isn't the single point, nor the photograph, but the those two at the same time. 'It' is the object you see in the photograph and the photograph you see in everything.

Back to the spiral. Its a giant spiral. There's a single point in the center. 'It' is in the center. From that spiral, everything veers away and returns. Its not a spiral but more like multiple circles nested within each other, each meeting at one single point, which is the 'It'. You start there, and you wander off in search of It. Soon you walk a perfect circle and you come back with a perception of 'It'. You walk again, and you walk an even larger, a more tiring circle full of confusion, and back you return and again you meet 'It'. It seems to become a series of circles within each other. Each circle leading to a more deep understanding of the single point at which every circle intersects.

Small babies are beautiful. Reason: They are cute. Walk one circle, and we come to the newfound (sortof) conclusion that babies are beautiful. Reason: They have smooth skin and perfect smiles. Walk another circle, perhaps polka-dotted by doubt and change of mind, and we come back, believing that babies are beautiful. Reason: They have perfect smiles, and they are still infinitely young. Yet another circle, and we come again; babies are beautiful. Reason: They are infinitely innocent. Another circle. Another. Another. Babies are beautiful. Reason: Babies are beautiful, simply because they are who they are.

For each circle, for each time, the conclusion is the same: babies are beautiful. For each circle, for each time, the conclusion is the same: every circle leads back to the single point that is It. The conclusions are always the same, yet the understanding behind it isn't.

I feel as if I'm embarking on another circle. Each circle being very much larger than the one before, I feel as if this circle is going to be a hard, long one. As of right now, I'm somewhere around that point, that single dot of preferable equilibrium. As of now, I'm still here, pounding rubber into walls above red lines, watching rice wafers fly like primitive machines of flight. Feeling the industrial feces of this pleasantly polluted home. Watching these shadows slip by as transculent sharp red carlights and mellow orange streetlamps leave trailing glares.

Not anything like the peak of a rollercoaster. There is no acceleration. I'll miss this dearly. I would throw so much away to stay here on this dot. So much. Too much.

I'm still waiting for that day when the circle loops upon itself.

i'm still waiting for that day when someone will tell me her thoughts in perfect understanding.

A little less than a week ago, I wrote of retaliation in Major League Baseball, and the examples keep on coming. Two nights ago, St. Louis Cardinals' phenom, Albert Pujols, smacked a walk off homerun. During this bomb, Pujols lingered near homeplate watching the ball fly out of the ballpark. He only began his trot around the bases when the ball had almost completely left the field.

I know what you're saying, "So what, this Pujols guy hit the ball realy far, big deal." Well, I guess it is a big deal. While Pujols was playing to the hometown crowd, the San Diego Padres, the Cardinal's opponents, became angry. When Pujols finally made it around to home plate, Pads' catcher, Gary Bennett, had a few words for him. I'm sure they were not along the lines of "Nice hit."

The next game, yesterday, started normal enough; that is until Albert Pujols came to the plate. Pitcher Adam Eaton lobbed a soft, 66 mph breaking ball directly at Pujols. This was his first pitch to Pujols, and his 11th overall. Pujols became angered as he and Bennett exchanged more words, which culminated in Bennett taking a Pujols right square on his jaw.

The repurcussions haven't been ironed out just yet. What must be figured out first, is who's to blame. It's not the umpire, that's for sure. He immediately ejected Eaton, then Pujols, then Bennett, then Padres' manager Bruce Bochy for their involvement in the ensuing melee. Is Pujols at fault? Sure he took a long time to round the bases, or even get going, but he's playing at home and just hit a walk off home run. Does Sammy Sosa get beaned everytime he does his silly little jump/skip after he hits a dinger? No. Pujols is at fault for being an idiot, and not taking his base on a beanball, especially after the pitcher got tossed instantaneously.

So, is it the Padres' no-named catcher, Gary Bennett? Well, yes and no. So Pujols was being an A-hole and San Diego almost won but didn't, life goes on. There is still 90+ games left in the season. It's not like the Padres are in the middle of a play-off run anyway, we haven't even reached the half-way point yet. Bennett should have kept his yap shut and went back to the dugout.

My guess is as such. The pitcher, Adam Eaton, might miss one game, if any, for his small part in this fiasco. Pujols will get two or three for throwing a punch, but nothing more. Bennett should get 3-5 games for being a dolt. I would also suspend the manager for not being able to control his team, and his pitchers. The reality of the situation is that Pujols is probably not going to get anything more than a fine. I mean this guy is the Albert Pujols, he's gonna be one of the athletes Major League Baseball will be riding on in the coming years. I'd also suspend Barry Bonds for the rest of his life for wearing full plate mail body armor to the plate, but I digress.

We're at a point, now, where professional athletes, from all walks of life, involved in every major sport, are almost outright refusing to act professional. Do they need a Code of Conduct to be written out and posted on the benches, so the players can't escape it? No, I'd like to think that that's a bit much, these are, afterall, mostly adults; even if they don't act like it. MLB has always had a problem of controlling their whiners, their multi-million dollar crybabies. I remember one Boston Red Sox game where Roger Clemens, back when we liked him, had to leave the game in the second inning of a small blister on his thumb, of his non-throwing hand. Suck it up and play the game like it was ment to be played. Stop Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, and other phenominal players from rolling over in their graves, please. The fans want baseball.

Every moment there is a new landscape to contemplate; the sky moulds and shifts itself constantly, as if it were God's television broadcast to the world. We spend surprisingly little time trying to decipher the arrangement of clouds - we measure them and try to predict their motion, but we don't try to understand what they mean, what message they convey, because we are convinced that their pattern is chaotic, that they are the result of a process we understand but cannot predict, and conscious intent does not play a part in their construction; even the process itself is the result of another process, and another process, and so on back to the fundamental, the Big Bang. At no point is intelligent intervention required, and Occam's Razor therefore concludes that clouds cannot be the vehicle for intelligent communication. Yet a part of me wants to smash reason, and if mankind's energies were directed on a deranged, harmless, and insoluble cause, it would keep us occupied.

On the horizon I can see a cloudbank the size of the North Sea, an object floating in the air larger than any aircraft, larger still than the alien spacecraft in science fiction films, the ones that hang over cities and deliver ultimatums. Airliners are emerging from a point in front of it, growing from indistinct dots into Boeings and Airbuses and McDonnell-Douglases, on final approach to Heathrow. Against the backdrop of continent-sized clouds the aircraft seem tiny, they seem to be travelling much too slowly to stay aloft.

Some days the clouds stay the same. I can remember overcast days when the clouds did not even have a texture, they were solid grey, and it was impossible to judge distance or scale; it seemed as if I could see the screen against which the sky is usually projected.

What use are clouds at night? I would not have invented night-time clouds. I would not have thought to make them. I must push through the limits and enter the world of men.

Heh. Whoops; what I wrote in yesterday's daylog, July 13, 2003, was meant to appear in July 12, 2003 instead. That's what I get for having my brain define days by when I sleep instead of by what the dumb computers say it is.

Had another scare today, but thankfully disaster was averted.

As previously mentioned, we're buying a house. Today is the day our earnest money check, in the amount of $1,000 (sadly, one of the largest checks I've ever written), is finally to be deposited into escrow by the title company. No turning back now. Tomorrow, July 15, 2003, is when my car payment is due. My boss was late in paying me for last week (normally not a big deal, but this week was bad timing), so there isn't enough in the bank account right now to cover both that big check and the car payments.


Thankfully, the boss appeared and paid me, and the money will soon be in the account. At worst, I'll be a day late. The credit union has never punished me for this (only did it once before though, and called ahead of time to ask permission to do so), and they are incredibly flexible about this kind of thing because I have been with them for seven years, have always paid on time (or ahead of time), with few exceptions. And whenever those come up, I always call before the due date and talk to them about the matter.

It's days like this that I regret eating fiber to stay healthy, since that stuff races through you like beans do. It's also days like that that I'm reminded why I love banking at a credit union instead of a cold, heartless commercial bank -- they're not in it for profit, and actually understand that letting someone slide a day or two is more important to the community and the economy than collecting some damned $29.95 late fee is.

Paranoia and Machines in the works of Philip K. Dick

Went out on the way to work to get a package. My wife had bought and mailed me something. I had got and mailed her something else. No surprises about having to go down to the post office and get something, then.

It's from the USA, which fits both things. Except...

Why was it in a mailbag? Why wasn't the address the on Barnes and Noble had used on previous occasions? Why pack books in a box, and place the box in a bag, and mail that?

The post office clerk had no explanations for me. The bag isn't one of theirs. He thought I was talking about damage, but I wasn't -- no just. I'm talking mail bombs. Every few years we get a bunch of them sent into the country. Most are discovered, a few blow off bits of people stupid enough to open them.

Top signs your mail item may be a bomb

  1. No return address, or return address unrecognizable. Well, it's not B&N, but maybe it is.
  2. Strange packaging. A box inside a bag.
  3. Oil stains on package. Nope. But wouldn't the stains be on the box?
  4. Heavy item. Books are heavy.

A bit of sleuthing, and the package is safely opened. short stories of Philip K. Dick. Beautiful.

On to work.

Strange looks by everyone on public transportation as I lug an open box of books and a US Postal mailbag through. After some thought, I lose the bag (but keep the amazing string-closer thingy for future use). Now I'm invisible again. The task of watching me must have been handed off to a Secret Service.

Man vs. machine

Finally at work. Box is safely placed under my desk, and it's time for coffee.

We have 2 coffee machines at work, one a floor above my floor and the other two floors down. Although both are fully automated capuccino and espresso makers, they're very different machines.

A moment's perusal of the messages appearing on the machines' LCDs will disclose that they both run the same software! The master, above me, calls itself "GR3", and says stuff like "GR3: Grounds tray full" even when its grounds tray is empty. The slave, below me, is "GR11"; it usually complains about its tray only when it really is full, prefering instead to threaten "GR11: Processing..." whenever you ask it to make some coffee. But it still gives you coffee.

We go to the master.

Two colleagues get perfect cups (one espresso, one capuccino). I'm up!

I froth some milk. The frother is uncomputerized, and causes no difficulties. I put my cup under the nozzles of GR3 and hit the right button (there are 6).

"GR3: Processing..."
No coffee, though. Hit the button again.
"GR3: Processing..."
The froth is beginning to collapse.
"GR3: Processing..."
The machine is making all the right noises, but NO COFFEE. Not even clear hot water -- nothing!

Dare I hit the button again?

I go down 3 floors, and get the more obedient GR11 to make my coffee.

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