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You are lucky!
Full moon tonight.

But 'why then publish?' - There are no rewards
Of fame or profit when the world grows weary.
I ask in turn,- Why do you play at cards?
Why drink? Why read? - To make some hour less dreary.
It occupies me to turn back regards
On what I 've seen or ponder'd, sad or cheery;
And what I write I cast upon the stream,
To swim or sink - I have had at least my dream.

Lord Byron
Don Juan, Canto XIV.

Had my wisdom teeth removed today. The general anesthesia didn't work, so I had to take about 20 shots of whatever-caine to numb me. The general was an IV filled with something, but instead of making me sleep it just blurred my vision. So not only am I not asleep for the removal of four teeth, but I see blurry images of needles rushing into my mouth and pliers etc. It was not a fun morning.

Strangely, my motor skills were completely unaffected by any of the drugs. I could/can move, write, and type at normal speeds and accuracies. However, my speech is as slurred as that 47 year old drunk you see on the corner prophecising the end of the world.

Luckily, only one of the four teeth has left me with any real pain. Unfortunately, the pain killers I have been prescribed don't help it at all, they just make me kinda shaky.

The whole experience has also led me to appreciate my job a bit more. I recently aquired a job at the Discovery Channel Store in the North East Mall in Hurst, Texas. Never before have I worked with such nice caring people and realized today just how great they were. My boss called up, asked how the surgery went, how I was feeling and even offered me a few extra days off. I won't be taking them because I don't need them and I can use the money, but I really appreciated her concern. She's also the first employer to have ever told me that she "Cared more about people than fucking money" (this came after informing her of my sister's unpleasant run in between her Taurus and a semi truck which left her with 6 broken ribs).

At any rate, I'm pretty much stuck at home for a few days, so if anyone gets bored or wants someone to talk to - you know where to find me (and if not, just check my homenode).

I dealt with stupid people, and the ramifications thereof, today.

Recruitment Consultants

About three months ago, I was looking for work, and applied for a number of jobs, and was offered and took one of them. Before taking this offer, I made a point of contacting all the other people I'd applied for work with/through, and asking what the status of my application was (to make sure I wasn't going to get an offer), and thanking them for their time, any interviews, oppotunities to meet (maybe we can work together in future, etc).

The point being that I did the right thing and made contact with everybody and closed things off, and didn't just leave things in the air. It felt good.

Yesterday, a recruitment consultant sent me an email, and left two messages on my mobile phone asking me to get in contact with him about a job I applied for three months ago. I ignored this, thinking he'd get the hint. Today, he called and emailed again, asking me to call him about the same job, after he didn't return my calls when I wanted to know the status three months ago.

He obviously wasn't going to get the hint, so I emailed him:

This was nearly three months ago! I hate to break it to you, but I haven't been sitting on my hands for three months just incase you called.

I tried to ascertain the status of this position some time ago, and you didn't return my calls.

I know it was cheeky, but I just wanted him to stop calling me. I mean, how can you ignore someone for three months, not return calls, and then expect me to still be interested in the position, or still be interested in dealing with such an ametuer? If he'd have taken two minutes to return my call when I rang him to ask where my application was at ("Just calling to let you know that it doesn't look like my client wishes to go ahead, but thanks anyway"), or if he'd said "Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but..." then I might have been more interested.

But he didn't. He saved his two minutes, ignored me and left me in the lurch. Nothing wrong with that, but I just think it's a bit arrogant to do that, and then call and email me five times and wonder why he doesn't get my immediate attention.

So he emails me back saying "hope you enjoy your new job with your great attitude", adding insult to injury. Idiot. Take a hint! Recruitment agencies are the scum of the earth.

Unreliable Friends

I was relying on a friend to forward some mail to me, and he said he'd do it, and said he'd already sent it a month ago. I got the mail today, and it was postmarked 5 days ago. He let it sit for two months. In the meantime, two accounts were referred to debt collectors. And there was a letter saying that my previous landlord wanted to claim my entire rental bond (over $1,000), if I object, do so within 14 days. And it was postmarked a month ago.

If you say you're going to do something, then do it! It was a friend doing me a favour, but the ramifications of him letting it slip for two months were considerable in terms of my credit record, the hassle of paying everything so urgently, not being able to claim some of my bond back, etc. I mean, I'm not talking about a few dollars of inconvenience here and there, in terms of overall hassle, damage to credit record, and lost bond, it's probably cost me at least $500.

If he couln't do it, I wish he'd have said so, and I'd have asked someone else.

Stupid Companies

While urgently paying my two months of overdue bills, I came across some dumb companies. One debt collection agency sent me a letter of demand stating that:

It is essential that your payment be forwarded DIRECT TO THIS OFFICE by return mail, failure to settle this outstanding account may result in your listing with the CREDIT REFERENCE ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA.

That's it. Now, paying by "direct mail" isn't exactly convenient. I don't have a cheque account, and never have (I'm distictly of the credit card generation). I'm overseas. What am I meant to do, get a money order and post to them? Send cash in the mail?

I mean, you'd have thought that they'd actually provide details of multiple practical methods of payment, so as to maximise their chances of getting it paid, and getting their cut. So, I phoned them. It turns out that they take credit card over the phone. So why don't you put that on the letter?

It's amazing that of these companies that sent a pile of letters, referred me to debt collectors, etc, not one of them even phoned me (I have my phone roaming, I'd have got their calls). They all have my number. I mean, if someone who has paid their bills on time for years suddenly doesn't pay after five letters, does it take a genius to work out that maybe they're not getting their mail, and it might be worth trying an alternative method of communication. Would have saved everyone a lot of time and hassle.

Also, most of these utility companies have nifty 13, 1300 or 1800 numbers so it's the same number nationwide, for free or the cost of a local call. The problem is, they're usually impossible to call from overseas. You'd have thought that they'd have the smarts to put a normal, local phone number somewhere on their bills, in the phonebook, etc, but no.

Stupid Professionals

You may have guessed from my first gripe that I hate recruitment consultants. Well, I also hate most professionals, like lawyers, accountants, etc. For the reason that it's usually like calling tech support, they invariably know less they you do about your problems, and more importantly, how to fix them.

The company I used to work for went broke. Administrators were appointed, and I entered into some correspondence with them about my entitlements like accrued leave, pay in lieu of notice, etc. I gave them I new postal address for further correspondence. I faxed them my contract to clarify some points. I explained what I wanted.

I didn't hear back. I called them and they said oh, sorry, we're no longer administering the company, because it's being liquidated now, and a different firm is looking after it. But, well pass on your new postal address the copy of your contract, and the research we've done into your details so that they can pick up where we left of.

So I ring the new firm. They don't have my contract. They sent my group certificate to my old address. I mean, these professionals, they go to university for many years, they charge like wounded bulls, and most of them are incabable of performing the functions of a secretary. And incapable of asking their secretaries to perform said functions! If they can't keep track of a contact address and a contract, how do they look after complex legal cases?

I've seen this so many times before with accountants and lawyers. I wouldn't trust them with my piggy bank, let alone my tax return.

People who don't undestant time zones

Time zones are fairly easy to figure out. I'm back late at work tonight, and I got a call for someone else in the office:

Hi, is Mr. X there?

Nope, he's gone for the day, can I take a message?

Oh, I'll call tommorow, but can you get him to call be if he get's back today? It's Mr Y from XYZ company in (insert city 2500km to the west here)

I mean, he dialled the country code. It would have been pretty simple to deduce that it was 6:30PM here, and that it would be very unlikely that the person would be back today...

All in all, it's more stupidity than I can tolerate in a day. I hate stupid people

The worst thing is the feeling of helplessness. The overwhelming understanding of how short our life is, and how easy it is to end it prematurely. I've only known Corey for four months. He was a person that made a difference in my life. He was a good guy. Jesus, this all sounds too trite. I can't put my feelings into words. I so wish I could do something right now. For his parents, for his girlfriend. Nobody knows what happened. A friend of Corey's posted a message on bcsportbikes.com. It's several hours into the night right now, there are about 20 people sitting on the chat trying to piece together the scraps of information that we have. This is truly brutal...Nothing I can say can make it better for anyone..you went out doing what you loved. I'll remember you. RIP Corey.

Sitting in the "Drafts" section of my e-mail box is this note with the subject "open letter" and addressed to all the women in my address book.

On my walk home from evening class tonight it was already dark, rainy but warm. I was walking off the cobbled streets of Granville Island when I heard the shouting of a man fifty feet away. "GET OUT. GET OUT OF MY GODDAMN CAR." He was leaning in the drivers side window, speaking to somebody inside. I took a few steps back, wanting to keep listening but not to let him know I was there.

He slammed the door and stalked a few feet away, then whirled and swung open the car door again. "You aren't going to get out? ...." I couldn't hear what he was saying as he was half in the car, moving wildly in the darkness, the front seat, the back. I looked for a figure in the car. He grabbed something small and white and threw it into the street - not moving. Thank god. I heard swearing, a girls voice. I moved towards the car. He backed off a few feet and she was half out of the car, her feet resting on the ground. She was screaming. "RAPE! RAAAPE. RAAAAAAAAPE!" He moved towards her and she scrambled backwards into the passengers seat.

Oh jesus. I ran into a nearby restaurant and asked the bartender to call island security, told her there's a fight happening outside. "Are you serious?" she quipped, terror mixed with excitement. She asked a passing server if he knew the number and he laughed and said no. All the servers got curious and began looking out the window and two big guys came outside with me. We went to the green car and the man was leaning on the drivers door talking to her. Her back was pressed against the passengers side window.

"Everything okay here?" one guy asked and the woman shouted "No!" She was crying. The man began speaking to the restaurant manager, seemingly explaining it all - I was standing about ten feet from the hood of the car and I couldn't hear what they were saying over the noise of the rain. The servers asked the woman if she wanted to come with them, if she wanted a cab, the police. The man seems to side with the servers. "You want me to go to jail for a couple days? Is that what you want? Fine. Do whatever will make you happy. You're making a scene here." More dialogue I couldn't hear. The restaurant men moved away. She asked them to pass her her coat, the white lump on the ground, and they did. They walked away and I followed them.

I asked them if it was a couple fighting and the manager nodded. "She wants to stay in the car, so there's nothing we can do." I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or not. They told me it was nice of me to worry and said goodnight as they went back to work.

I numbly began to walk home, cursing and mumbling and suprising myself with angry tears, angry that this didn't help all the millions of women that didn't have somebody to hear them scream. I felt like my chance to save it all from happening again had been squandered on some stupid bitch cunt who could scream rape but who couldn't, wouldn't get out of the car. I was as angry at the thought that she used the word RAPE lightly, as I was at the thought of him beating the shit out of her later. Both were equally possible situations.

I ate dinner and walked home and thought of writing a poem, or a story, or some other such productive thing to channel my anger, but although my class is creative writing I'm not much for poetry and a story wouldn't help much, so I thought instead I would tell you all what happened to me tonight. I wish this story had a sweet and simple moral that I could give you like a packaged candy, but I don't think it does. I can only say that to me, the possibility of staying in a car with anybody that even made you THINK the word rape is a terrifying prospect. For those of you to whom I haven't spoken or emailed in ages my apologies, but I love you all so much. So please, if you are scared for your safety whatsoever, scream RAPE at the top of your fucking lungs. And then get out of the goddamn car.

Much love, and take care.

My son is a little over six months old. Over the last month he's become terrific at sitting up. He'll sit up and play with his toys for a long time, sometimes chattering or grunting or squealing to them, and always looking over every now and then at my wife or me, to make sure we're paying attention to him.

To be always learning like that! Last week he figured out how to clap -- whisper-soft, his gentle, tiny baby hands clapping -- and we praised him, "Good boy! Look at you! You're clapping!" He loved the praise. He was smiling and you could tell he knew he was doing something pretty neat.

Now he'll start clapping any time, when he's sitting in his high chair, when he's in his Exersaucer, when someone is standing him on their knee, and we clap along and praise him some more, "Wow! That's very smart! Clap-clap-clap!"

It's as if in his swirl of thoughts he thinks, I have to work on my balance when I stand up . . . Mom and Dad seem to repeating those M and D consonant sounds a lot . . . I wonder what the pictures on these blocks mean . . . Oh yes, I know how to clap! Look at me!

Yesterday he began clapping when my wife sang the verse in the Raffi song:

I'm going to clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out,
And wiggle my waggles away.

It was very sweet.

A question a new parent sure gets asked a lot is "Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?" As the baby gets negligibly older it's modified to "Is he walking yet?" I expect sometime in the next year or two to be asked whether he can play all of the Goldberg Variations, and then in his pre-teen years whether he's completed his Ph.D. Sarcasm aside, these are cruel questions for a new parent. They're tough because if you're concerned your baby is developing too slowly, these questions are fuel for your anxiety, which is in abundant supply anyway. And if you're not worried about how your baby is developing, you don't want it to happen any faster -- he's growing up too fast as it is. You haven't taken nearly enough pictures. Oh, and there's probably something else you're worried plenty about instead.

But my son does sleep through the night. Bedtime tends to start between 7:30 and 8:30 in the evening and he wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 the next morning. Nine to eleven hours, every night. Naps during the day are a different story. There is no schedule for naps during the day. My son might want to have a three-hour sleep after nursing in the morning, or a fifteen-minute nap might be fine. He might sleep for five or six hours over the course of the day, or one hour might be enough.

Yesterday was a one hour of sleep day, and my wife wasn't faring well. She was anxious. I don't think it's easy to be a new mom. Your thoughts are constantly crashing and breaking in your head. On days like these, it's easier to be the dad -- if things are going poorly with the baby I get to go to work and think about something else. (But this is the downside too, when things are going well.) She put the baby down for a nap, and after fifteen minutes, the baby started to fuss. Sometimes he will quiet himself and fall asleep, but this time his fussing became more and more fervent, and he started to cry. Usually at this point my wife will tend to him, but yesterday she was a little overwhelmed and decided that as long as he wasn't panicking, she would finish what she was doing first.

Finally she poked her head into his room. There he was, lying in his crib, eyes closed, whimpering -- and clapping.

It broke her heart. It broke mine when she told me about it. What do you do with that? There's no mention of the depths of pity and compassion that are required in any whimsical parenthood readiness test. You only hope that your baby was trying to comfort himself with his new skill instead of figuring, this is what I've been doing that gets me such praise; why isn't anybody coming to see me?

My wife told me about the apology she lavished on my son. As for me, I don't know. I've been thinking about love lately, about how, man, this kid needs me to love him, to love him extravagantly and always, to not back down in loving him, to not give up, to not relent. Because he's just little, because he won't always be, and because I'm his dad.

As the summer holidays draw near I am getting more and more excited about the trip to Indonesia that I have planned (and already paid for in large part). But before I leave July 7, 2002 I thought I would relate something that occurred a few weeks ago.

She was hot, and I was far too hammered

Exhibit one of my stupidity is my being too drunk to follow up on the first tentative contacts with a good-looking Polish girl. I went to see the band of one of my colleagues play at a local bar here in Delft, together with a lot of other colleagues and their friends and girlfriends. We were with a group of about 20 or 25 people, I think.

Right from the start we were ordering drinks by the gallon, and it was a rarity for me to have just one glass of beer in my hand at a time... Usually there was one half full one in my right, a full one in my left and another on the way. If you factor in that I normally go without a drop of alcohol for months on end, it's no surprise I was getting pissed at a fantastic rate that night. Besides, I have the nasty habit of being able to down a beer rather easily. So I tend to empty the glasses I have in my hand in no time. And then of course the next round was up and I found myself with a full glass (or glasses) again.

The thing is, I drank faster than the alcohol had time to infiltrate my veins, so after the band was finished with playing I was feeling pretty OK. Lightheaded and much more loose than I am normally, but that was a plus: I could dance! (Or at least I wasn't so self conscious about it...) The DJ started doing his thing, and I found myself having a great time, dancing with my colleagues, and even dancing and whoring up on the now vacant podium.

Even though I had stopped drinking by this time, the reserve I had built up was still steadily percolating into my bloodstream and I was getting more drunk by the minute. Before I got too bad I noticed a single, good-looking female dancing on the podium next to me. Apart from the two of us, the only others on the podium were colleagues of mine. Being in my less-reserved-than-normal state I started to dance with the girl and even managed to talk to her a bit.

So she was 22 and came from Poland, on vacation in our little country and - YES! - single. Now, you have to understand that this feat alone is incredible. For me to get to know that much in so short a time, well, as I said, incredible... Goes to show how much I had loosened up. (Strange side-note though: I never asked her her name...)

By the time I felt we were really hitting it on and I stood a chance of taking this a step further, my stomach began having other ideas. While getting more drunk all the time, I went into throw-up mode. Apparently this scared her off a little, my colleagues tell me (why? I wonder... ;) ).

At this stage I start to loose parts of my memory of that night. I remember being relieved I made it to the toilet for the first bout of nausea. I also remember a later instance where I did not make it... It's all a blur, which scares me a little, in hindsight. But not as much as the last part of that night does.

Tracing my steps back from the moment I stood under my shower at home again at the end of that night, I get stuck at some point. In a back alley, lying on the ground and probably not on the most clean part of it, either. The thing is, I remember nothing of how I got from the bar on the second floor, outside, in the alley behind the building. Nothing whatsoever. And every time I think about that, it scares me. I honestly think I came very close to my absolute limit that night, something that I'm not planning on doing again any time soon.

Needless to say the Polish girl was a bust. That was never gonna work in my state. A chance missed, maybe. On the other hand, I'm not one for one-night-stands, but to get involved with someone that lives so far away is also not something I will try to do on purpose.

Despite this all, I can't remember having had as much fun going out ever before, so it wasn't at all a total loss. I just need to pace myself when I find my hand filled with an alcoholic beverage.

. ..... . .


Whoa, let me tell you, I'm not a fanatic of Soccer (or as it is known around the world, futbol), but World Cup Fever is starting to set in. I woke up extra early just to watch the Germans beat those Koreans. The Germans won 1-0 (or, the more correct "soccer" notation would be 1:0). Now, this score might sound extremely boring, but let me tell you, the game wasn't. Well, maybe just a little.

Here in Miami, almost the entire population watches these Soccer matches. I mean, even my school used to shut down during these games. The live games used to begin at around 7:30 AM, which is just around the time school started. Quite a few came too school late, while other skipped school altogether. Those who couldn't stand to miss school, came and watched the match during class. It seemed as if every classroom in school had the game turned on. There was no teaching, and no learning, as usual. We even kept the game on during Final Exams. In the middle of solving a math problem, you would hear students scream out "GOAL!" and you would join in their celebration.

Well, although it might be a little too late for me, seeing as how these were the semifinals, and the Finals are this Saturday, World Cup Fever has definitely set in.

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