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Verizon will not let me pay my bill.

For months now, I've been using Verizon's online bill delivery service to recieve and pay my monthly phone bills. It worked like this: Every month, when my latest bill was ready, Verizon would send me an email containing a special URL. At that URL, I could view my bill and then pay it online.

Apparently, Verizon has recently changed the way they deliver online bills. Unfortunately, they did this in a very badly thought-out way, and at exactly the wrong time for me. You see, as of this month, Verizon sends me an email with a URL that leads to their new online billing site, where I have to enter a username and password before I can login and see my bill. "Don't have a username and password? That's easy, just create one," the site says. "All you need," it goes on to say, "is your billing phone number and a copy of your latest bill."

Of course, since I've been paying my bills online for well over six months, I don't have any paper copies of my previous bills. Verizon has them all, online. And I can't see them until I create an account. But never fear! They've thought of this. If I merely enter my phone number, they'll get it all figured out for me. Sadly, I have just moved, and had my phone number deactivated. And the system chokes if you enter a phone number that is not active. It won't let me register without an active phone number. Since I don't even have a new number through Verizon (I've switched to using my cell phone primarily), I have no phone number to give them.

So, in order to find out how much I owe Verizon and pay them, I must login to their online billing system. In order to login, I must create an account. In order to create an account, I must have a previous bill or an active Verizon phone number. Since I don't have an active phone number, I must have a previous bill. But I can't access my previous bill until I login.

Thank you, Verizon. Thank you so very much.

ahhhh, a holiday weekend

And the weather here in Boston hasn't even been that bad. I'm actually not sure if it has been bad or not today, since I've been indoors during most of it.

One thing worth mentioning was a great (free) concert yesterday at the Hatch Shell. There was They Might Be Giants, Suzanne Vega, and Patty Smith. It was a great time...warm enough for shorts, tons of people, great music....

A memorable moment was at the beginning of Patty Smith's part of the show. She gave the photographers a hard time for being in the area right in front of the stage, where most people are forbidden from by MA state law. ...get lost!. I wonder what the press had to say about that! (Probably nothing).

So I'm sitting here at Cafe Coco, not because I want to be social but because it's the only way I can access the Net. Chuck, the owner of the cafe, has set up a wireless Internet router here which enables customers to access the Net for free via a wireless card (on laptops, but I suppose if someone is willing to haul out their desktop PC just to log on, it'd technically be possible). Toastido was kind enough to loan me his wireless card for a day or two so that I could check my email and whatnot. This is a good thing because, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to do diddly-squat. You see, my Net access has been cut off.

It's been quite some time since I last did anything remotely useful online. Last month I was beset by some seriously hard financial difficulties and other pressing matters. I also got evicted from my home- nothing I did wrong, my landlord just wanted the space back for her own reasons. The last month has been spent worriedly looking for a job closer to Nashville and a new place to live. I'm still not gainfully employed (unless you consider working for $6/hr as a projectionist "gainful"), but finding new digs is a priority I no longer have to trouble myself over. I've got a new place, a new roommate and some up-coming freelance design work. Rent is due on the first, which will pretty much leave me penniless unless some good fortune comes my way, but at least I'll have a roof over my head while I starve.

I turn 29 on Wednesday, the 29th. Turning 29 on the 29th... they call that the "Golden Birthday", when a person's birthdate corresponds with their age, like it's some sort of magical thing, like the alignment of the planets. I'm not a superstitious person by nature. I'm sure for some people these coincidental events truly are "golden". For me, it shall be yet another exercise in survival and using my wits. I don't like it that I'm getting older, I've realized. I think the gray hairs are already getting on my nerves.

My friends say that the gray hair is a sign of distinction. I'm a bit dubious about that. If I get any more "distinction" I fear that I might snap.

I am a hair's breadth away from just bitching about all kinds of things- but I don't want to do that. I can't. It wouldn't be fair to everyone else around me to just "go off". But, God, do I want to. I want to complain and gripe and moan like a little kid, get all the tears out, as it were.

"...and when I became a man, I put away childish things..."

I recently had a discussion with someone, a misguided youth (my former landlord's youngest son), about the notion of freedom. He seemed to be under the impression that freedom is a right, that it's something that comes to us as freely as air. In true Heinlein fashion, I tried to set him straight, even yanking out that old yarn "TANSTAAFL": freedom is earned, not given. When he seemed to "get it" he asked me if I was free. God, I don't think I've ever felt so old as when I said, "No. And what really worries me is that I don't think I ever will be."

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because," I answered, "I am a slave to my desires and will be until I die."

It shut him up, but stirred something in me, an inner voice, and it won't be still no matter how much I try to placate it.

*sigh*

"The things you own end up owning you." - Tyler Durden

Over the weekend I installed a virus checker for the first time. I was pleased to be contacted with some helpful advice by friendly E2-ers. Thanks guys. This place really is quite different from anywhere else I've ever seen.

Virus checking software is useful, but I was advised to install a personal firewall too. Zonealarm is great. As soon as it was installed and I dialed up I immedietly saw loads of stuff being blocked and logged. ('ICMP ECHO requests' (Ping), FTP requests. HTTP requests (lots of these) and, weirdly, outbound requests to 6666 and 6667 on 212.74.101.21. The other stuff I was expecting, but unexpected outbound traffic worries me. I don't know what that IP address points at, and I don't even know what those ports are used for. Can anyone help?

All this nonsense has been very time consuming. It's prevented me from doing very much else in my free time, and my weekend felt much shorter than it should have. I did not even load up the Quake bot. That's partly because It's become boringly good anyway. It was intruiging though. I think I'll visit the website when I get some time and have a bit more of a look into it.

Update (mid afternoon)...
You guys are amazing.

wonko says re May 27, 2002 : Ports 6666 and 6667 are IRC ports. If something is connecting to those ports without your permission, it's most likely a trojan being used for DDOS attacks or other such mischief. A good virus-scanner should be able to find and remove the trojan. I recommend Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

Thanks wonko. I'm really confused about how I got a virus though. I have not used IRC since I failed a unit (Nonlinear electronics) in the first year of uni because of it. I don't even have an IRC client on this box. Oh well. At least the firewall is blocking it for now. I'll make sure I scan the box thoroughly tonight. It's a shame that none of the decent virus scanners are free.

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The following are details about why I chose to abort my gender transition. (See my writeup under May 24, 2002 for full details about what brought me to this.)

Only recently have I been able to articulate why, exactly, I chose to stop. However, I'd been having some serious doubts since the very first day I decided to do something about my gender issues, but I never told anybody about it, not even my therapist or my best friends, mostly because the doubts and other issues were so complex and I was really at a loss for words on the subject.

First and foremost, I was quite aware that I'd been born male, and no amount of surgery, therapy or HRT could change that. I knew that I wasn't simply the stereotypical "woman trapped in a man's body," but I wasn't totally comfortable with my maleness, either. Of course not. As anyone who has known me long enough will tell you, I do have a somewhat feminine demeanor, which is often mistaken for an outward expression of homosexuality, which of course is not the case. The more I was told this, the more I thought about it, about transsexuality and so forth, but I never figured I'd do anything about it; it always seemed so extreme and drastic to me.

When I began seeing a therapist in November 2001, I told her just about everything I was feeling about transitioning... except for the doubts. I guess I really didn't realize that I even had doubts at that point because everything was so new, and I suddenly had a purpose and something to do with my life, something to aim for. However, as I recently came to realize, in the back of my mind I was doubting that I would be successful, or happy, or untraumatized, or completely destitute from paying for surgery when everything was all said and done. (read: post-op.) I also had some quite superficial worries, like, "would I be pretty," "am I really feminine enough to pull this off," "what happens if I'm never able to get another date," and so forth. When I started hormone replacement therapy in January 2002, just as I was about to take my first dose of estrogen, I thought, "after a few months of this there will be no turning back... are you sure this is what you want to do?" I ended up sitting there with a glass of water and the estrogen pill for about an hour debating myself internally. In the end I took the pill. And I took the pill every day thereafter, until four days ago, which, incidentally, is about two weeks before the effects of HRT became, for the most part, irreversible. (i.e., permanently sterile, permanent loss of (male) sex drive, etc.) Whenever I took the pill after that I couldn't help but think disjointedly about what might happen in the future of my transition, what would happen if something went wrong with it, or what would happen if I decided that I wanted to stop for some reason. Because of this the transition was always a traumatic thing for me, however happy I felt about it at the same time. I was happy to be proceeding with it, but... I didn't know what to do with the doubts I was having. I didn't even really consider them doubts, really... just kind of slight hesitations. I thought that might be normal for transsexuals in the beginning stages of transition, but I never really thought to look it up anywhere, despite my rather large collection of bookmarks for sites about transsexualism and gender dysphoria.

I couldn't get it straight in my head that something was wrong, until Annalisa asked me if I thought that there was anything wrong last week. Without her intervention/concern, I most likely would've just kept going with the transition, possibly end up very unhappy and totally broke in a few years, just stagnating along with something I really deep-down didn't want to go through with. I was so scared. So scared that I couldn't really even ask anybody what they thought about me during the transition, or ask them if they had any doubts. My parents expressed some doubts, but of course I didn't listen to them because I wanted to do my thing and not worry about them thinking I was unhappy, so I just presented an air of knowing what I was doing to them, and to my friends, and to anyone who asked, really. I was scared and hurting back in the recesses of my mind, and generally, when I'm scared and hurting, I shrivel up inside and nothing comes out.

    In summary, my biggest reservations, fears, and doubts, put forth in a bulleted list for your reading convenience:
  • Would I be happy during and after the transition?
  • Could I ever totally remove the male parts on the inside of me, through surgery, HRT or other means?
  • Could I ever become completely, totally, and in all other ways female/feminine?
  • Would anyone consider me attractive ever again? Would I?
  • Could I ever be honest with anyone ever again? Could I be honest with myself?
  • Could I afford any of the surgeries I wanted? (SRS, scalp advancement, rhinoplasty, chrondolaryngoplasty, breast augmentation (if necessary))
  • What would happen if I lost my job mid-transition and was unable to get another due to my appearance?
  • Would $whoever ever speak to me again?
  • Would I eventually have a nervous breakdown of some sort from unresolved hesitation, doubt, and fear?
  • Would I be in a state of terminal gender limbo if I ran out of money?

So you see, there was a lot going on in my head, but I really didn't know what to do but continue with the transition. It seemed safest, which probably sounds stupid based on the doubts enumerated above, but that's the best I can do to describe the feeling.

Thank you so very much, Annalisa, for saving my sanity. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. :*

I was sitting in the theatre, an empty seat next to me, and on the other side of it: the drummer and his girlfriend. An extremely tall dude from my church came in suddenly with some of his “college friends” and upon seeing us came over to say hi.

“Saving that seat for someone?” he asked in a hinting fashion, referring to the empty seat next to me.

“Yeah it’s for Scott’s girlfriend,” I replied in a humorous fashion.

“Are you serious?” came his question mid-chuckle.

“Yeah, she even bought my ticket for me…” I laughed, he laughed, the drummer and his girlfriend laughed. The previews started, she came back, I eventually remembered we were watching Star Wars when that “Long, long ago…” message appeared in blue. And eventually some lady in front of me told me to shut up because we kept making comments about the stupidity of those love scenes…but they really were rather corny weren’t they?

I've just recently seen a documentary saying that the women's liberation movement has been set back due to recent news stories such as Lorena Bobbit. This reminds me of a book I read a long time ago. It's called Sons And Lovers

Women’s liberation is a minor theme when compared with the other themes in Sons And Lovers. Although it is a minor theme, women’s liberation is important to the novel.

Women’s liberation manifests itself through Mrs. Morel. At the beginning, Mrs. Morel feels resentment towards Mr. Morel and describes him as “overbearing.” Although her feelings for Morel are resentment, she “never quite wanted him to die.” When Mrs. Morel joins the Women’s Guild, the action symbolizes freedom such as women’s liberation. Through the Guild, Mrs. Morel felt a “state of peace” within her. From the Guild, Mrs. Morel gained a certain independence from her “overbearing” husband. Even her children, “derived” “treats” from it. Some of the “horrible husbands” called the Guild “the gossip shop” because they felt their wives became “too independent.” Lawrence shows women’s liberation’s goal of independence epitomized through Mrs. Morel’s constant participation of “the Guild.”

Women’s liberation’s idea of “a new standard” appears in Mrs. Morel. “When the children were old enough to be left,” Mrs. Morel decided to join the “Women’s Guild.” A “new” Mrs. Morel started to surface from the beginning of the Women’s Guild. In the beginning, the Guild only discussed “co-operation.” The “co-operation” discussions involved a little club of women who met “over the grocery shop of Bestwood.” Later, the discussions involved “queer” “social questions.” When this began, a “new standard” for women emerged tacitly. For example, the Guild felt women should be able to read. This resulted in “Mrs. Morel read[ing] a paper.” Even her children noticed this “new standard.” Usually her children perceived Mrs. Morel as a mother “who was always busy about the house.” With the “new standard” set by the Guild, her children began to feel “the deepest respect” for her.

The opposition for the women’s liberation appears in Sons And Lovers. The Women’s Guild was “a little club” attached to the co-operative wholesale society. This Guild causes controversy throughout Bestwood when some “hostile husbands” began to call it “the ‘clat-fart’ shop.” The “hostile husbands” opposed the Guild because it influenced their wives to become “too independent.” The husbands found the Guild “disconcerting.” Their wives became critical over slight slights and imperfections. Because of the Guild, “the women could look at their homes, at the conditions of their own lives, and find fault.” Although the opposition to the club was inevitable, Mrs. Morel “enjoyed it.” Because of the Guild, Mrs. Morel began “thinking, referring to books, and writing.” At the beginning, the opposition was string, but in the end it died out.

In conclusion, women’s liberation’s importance appears in Sons And Lovers. Mrs. Morel portrays the ideals and hardships that women’s liberation encompasses. The goals of freedom and independence manifests itself through the Guild while opposition to women’s liberation characterizes itself in the “hostile husbands.” Overall, D.H. Lawrence incorporates the importance of women’s liberation.

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