I worry sometimes.

Though I am opinionated and will argue for the sheer joy of being contrary, I do not take myself that seriously. Life is a game. No truth is so great as to blot out the sun.

The brain focuses willfully, whether we are aware or not. The best advice anyone every gave me was to turn away from destructive ideas. I am confident in my own spiritual success though I have not yet attained it.

In short, I am not scared.

But for others I worry. My impact on those around me is my first concern. I am not confident in my ability to empathize, because I know from my own experience how bad notions can color the thought process and leave the thinker feeling exhausted and helpless. Exorcising the mind is a wholly personal challenge. Others can help, but in the end the responsibility is singular. For myself I can introspect and analyze, even justify when necessary, but for other people I am hard pressed to even understand what's going on in their head.

I have been dating the most wonderful girl for eight months now. I love her dearly and always take thought to her needs. She is political, inquisitive, playful, and lovely. She loves me in a way I could never have hoped for or even thought possible. She has quickly become the most important thing in the world to me.

But we are scarred.

Everyone has baggage, unfortunately we handle our feelings differently. I am solitary and like to think things out in my head or on paper. She likes to talk and validate her feelings. She is comforted primarily by physical intimacy, but I prefer solitude. Normally we are able to handle each other's moods very well. The problem arises when I am depressed or reclusive at the same time that she needs love and attention.

I try very hard, but sometimes I am in such a state that I find it exceedingly difficult to be physically intimate. Even my mother says I could be cold as a child. I am reminded of autistic children who dislike physical touch. The fact that I have no trouble maintaining normal business and social relationships makes this all the more disconcerting. It would almost be easier to chalk my problems up to an illness and then move on. Instead I keep wondering if I'm just not trying hard enough or if there's something here I need to fix about myself.

I love a person who needs a strong physical connection. I have doubts about my ability to provide this for the rest of our lives. I can't stand the thought of getting married, then 10 years and 2 kids down the line, find out that I am making her miserable. Yet this is unexplored territory for me, I don't know what kind of effort I will be able to make over the long term, and neither do I know what effort will be necessary. My heritage is Brazilian-Norwegian, two cultures that are complete opposites in terms of physical intimacy, so it seems like no coincidence that my comfort level is so manic in this regard.

When I have these thoughts she knows something is wrong, but I can't reveal my doubts, because her fear of rejection is at the root of her need for physical intimacy. Her lack of confidence in relationships seems to be what makes her so wonderful but also so delicate. On the same token, I make a good boyfriend because I've hurt and been hurt, and I don't want to contribute to any more pain. Unfortunately it may be that the very thing that attracts us is also our downfall.

I secretly fear I may not be able to meet her needs in the long term. And if I'm not able to, is it my fault or are her needs essentially unmeetable and perhaps unhealthy? What if we break up and I become just one more cause of her pain and distrust? I think I might never date again after that.

So I am scared.

All I can do is offer my love and hope it's enough. If I am successful then I will have accomplished the great task of being the most important person in another human life. If I fail, then the world will be lonely indeed. Will I laugh when look back on this years from now, or cry?

The universe is not expanding.

This is something that I thought of when reading a writeup titled A different way of thinking about the stars.One of the wu's in this node brought up the fact that scientific observations determined that the universe was expanding. I've read of this theory before and it basically calls for the end of mankind so many millions or billions of years down the road because eventually we'll be so far from our own sun that we will freeze. I'm sure that is just one doomsday scenario due to the possible infinite expansion of our universe. I propose that this expansion theory is no more plausible than any other number of made up scenarios that would make for great hollywood films. Perhaps we will be struck by a giant asteroid, or we will be invaded by super intelligent beings; who knows we may just live forever, if one could comprehend forever.<\p>

Now I'm sure many of you are wondering how I have the balls to question one of the more accepted theories on the future of the universe, but I have my reasons. The primary reason being that we have been living as humans capable of observing and recording the universe for, let's say 10000 years. I would consider this to be an extremely generous estimation, by the way. Now lets say that earth came to be about 1 billion years ago. Many scientific estimations put the earth at a much older age, but I'm underestimating just to be on the extremely safe side. Given these numbers, our observation of the universe account for .001 percent of the earth's life; and that's just based on the life of earth, not the universe itself. The universe could be exponentially older for all we know. Now I ask the question of who is going to have the balls to claim that the universe is inescapably expanding based on a .001 percent observation. That's as good as no observation at all as far as statistics is concerned. This is why I claim any made up scenario for the future of the universe is just as likely as the claim that the universe is inevitably expanding to infinity.

Who knows, I may be way off base, but I hardly am going to believe we can predict the future of the universe based on a virtually instantaneous snapshot of a nearly infinite lifetime. Who cares though, because I'll never be proven wrong or right; not in my lifetime and not in yours.

Basically, what we have here is yet another case of Modern Physics Abuse Syndrome.

Let's say that all of the assumptions made above are correct enough for the approximation being made (that we have not observed enough of the universe to make any assumptions about its nature.) I have no problems with the facts quoted, but the reasoning is a bit off. I feel obligated to point out that there is a huge assumption being made by Quenton Cassidy, and furthermore, it is the same one that the physicist are making.

David Hume posits that causation is clearly an artifact of our perception, and the existence of causation is an assumption. We assume that since the last time we put food ove a flame, it got cooked, it will happen again at our barbecue tonight. We think that because gravity exists today, it will exist tomorrow, and we also assume that physics will stay the same from today to tomorrow. Science is based on this. It is admittedly an assumption, but it seems pretty strong to me.

Is it really such a large leap of faith, then, to assume that the rules will stay the same not just in 5 minutes, (for instance, the weak nuclear force could quadruple right now, killing all life and destroying the universe as we know it,) but also in 5 days, years, decades, centuries, millenium, ad. infinitum. If you are really worried that causation will break down, or has operated differently some time in the past, it seems kind of silly to be talking about the universe, instead of worrying that you might start floating away or bursting into flames at any moment.

The professionals aren't always right, but they tend to be disproven by other professionals.

And if you think I'm wrong, or that this writeup sucks, or that you dislike life, feel free to /msg me

As part of the ongoing process of rediscovering and re-evaluating my childhood I have had cause of late to contemplate SPAM, the food. This past weekend the meat passed my lips for the first time in a long time; I had previously subjected corned beef to a similar process, although the outcome of that experience was disastrous, and turned me off food for a while. SPAM, on the other hand, was much more to my taste. I like pigs. I like them so much that I want them in me, I want to pass their flesh through my body. Except in certain forms, masked by spices, the cow will remain outside my permeable membrane, in the otherworld of otherbodies.

SPAM is not so much a food as a symbol, a symbol of mankind's total dominance over the animal kingdom. Where once we merely baked the flesh of our food, the SPAM-making process subjects the pig to conditions similar to those on the surface of Venus. The pig is killed; its body is deconstructed, and mixed with the mashed flesh of other pigs, erasing the animal's individuality. What was the pig is formed into chunks, forced into a vacuum-sealed can, refrigerated and mixed with salt, sugar and sodium nitrate, and baked for seventy minutes at a temperature of two hundred and thirty degrees fahrenheit. The can is then wrapped in paper and put on a shelf.

The pig is killed as thoroughly as it is possible to kill a living creature; it is as dead as can be. Not only that, the concept of 'pig' is strained to the extreme; the meat is an unrecognisable rubbery mass. SPAM does not have a face; it has a ringpull, a cruel mockery of the pig's tail. The can's packaging and the product's name de-emphasises its animal nature; the cover photograph is of SPAM itself, whilst the name 'SPAM' is artificial, an acronym, a processed word for a processed food.

The astronauts of 'The Right Stuff' referred to themselves as 'SPAM in a can', as they were an organic component in an armoured metal machine, itself the product of another machine, an intangible machine of economic theory, applied scientific knowledge, military power, and the will to use all three. The most effective tool on Earth is of no use without an iron will, and SPAM is the triumph of the will; not the will to power, but the will to Pig.

For we are SPAM. Each one of us. We are trapped in the belly of a horrible machine, and the machine is unstoppable; it is baking us at a temperature of two hundred and thirty degrees fahrenheit. William Blake believed that, if we could cleanse the doors of perception, we would see an infinite universe. I believe that the universe is in reality the inside of a refrigerator; cold and dark and full of vegetables and cans of beer, each one waiting to be eaten by a hungry God.


A brief guide to some English tenses

Past Continuous

I was sitting at home, playing poker, needing a distraction from the stream of mucked hands, casting a mouse across BBCi, reading news of the argument over Foundation Trusts and Foundation Hospitals.

I found myself at the Department of Health web site (www.doh.gov.uk/nhsfoundationtrusts).

I was screaming, while reading paragraph 2:

"Despite having the most equitable health care system in the world health inequalities have widened not narrowed. Uniformity in provision has not guaranteed equality in health outcomes"
I was reading paragraph 6, while cursing:
"Local people will elect their representatives to serve on the NHS Foundation Trust’s Board of Governors. They will have an absolute majority"
I was nearly vomiting by the time I had finished paragraph 10:
"For the first time since 1948 the NHS will begin to move away from a monolithic centralised system towards greater local accountability and greater local control. Reform cannot be achieved by holding on to the monolithic centralised structures of the 1940s. We cannot reform by looking backwards. We need to look forwards. Reform means investing not just extra resources in frontline services, but power and trust in those frontline services."
Dear Mr Milburn,

What, please, is a 'health outcome'?
What do you mean when you say that inequalities 
have the most equitable health care system in the world?
Who will have an absolute majority?
More to the point, how?

Thank you for pointing out that reform requires change.

Yours, enlightened and yet confused.


I was checking my Hotmail, when I happened upon a job-related email.

"Public sector client requires 4 x Plain English Web Content Writers. The successful candidates will be required to take on board source material (including legislation) from various government departments and reproduce the content in Plain English for the client's Web portal."

Present Continuous

I am wondering whether Alan Milburn is the 'Public sector client' mentioned, or whether the DOH web site is merely one of a host of government sites currently playing hackey sack with the English language.

Future Continuous

I will be updating my CV this evening.

The end...

In the interests of thoroughness and parity, I thought I'd cast my eye over a few other government department sites. I was not overly impressed.

Department of Health

The other parts of the DOH web site are no improvement, I'm afraid. There's a page called "The New NHS", which curiously fails to mention Foundation Trusts, although it does talk about "Shifting the Balance of Power" (one capital too many, I fear), and the abolition of regional offices, which seems a curious way of reforming a 'monolithic centralised system', methinks.

Department for Transport

Over at the Department for Transport (www.dft.gov.uk), there's an exciting game to play in which you have to try to stay awake long enough to reach any actual content. Clicking the 'News' button proves particularly unhelpful. A style sheet would be a friendly addition.

Department for Employment and Learning

The Department for Employment and Learning (http://www.delni.gov.uk) do a lot better, and have even gone as far as providing useful links and information on their site (although it only took me one click on 'Essential Skills' before I was offered a phone number. So much more convenient than a web page, a phone number. Especially when you have a dial-up connection.) No questions have been frequently asked, sadly.

department for culture, media and sport

meanwhile, over at the department for culture, media and sport (www.culture.gov.uk), capital letters have been outlawed. lower case only please. it's a cultural thing, i suppose. and to be honest i think it works ok. Interestingly, the DCMS is responsible these days for alcohol licensing, which seems a bit strange, but who better than the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Dr Kim Howells MP) to decide when I should be allowed to buy a lager?

The best of those tested, I'm afraid.

You know, it's funny. I was under the impression that the current government was somehow more dynamic than this. That they were able to communicate with their public. That they are in touch, online, and out there. And that's one of the reasons they remain popular.

So how come these government web sites are still predominantly sh*t? Where are the good ones? Please /msg me if you know.

End transmission

Surgery is one week away. Exactly one week. By this time next Tuesday I'll have been sliced open, had my intestines tinkered with, sealed back up, and will be sleeping in the recovery room. And after that happens I'll have a week in the hospital to rest and try to walk and digest foods, and then there'll be a few weeks at my apartment in bed. It'll probably be July before I'm capable of getting up and going out to the mall and whatnot. The hospital called today to schedule a pre-op appointment for Thursday the 8th and I registered my information with the office there over the phone. For some reason I slept from 12am-1:30pm today. I guess I needed the rest! My nausea has also returned, but that's been a cyclical thing lately anyways.

I can't say I'm looking forward to the 'ol slice 'n stitch, but it's gotta be done. And months from now when it's just a hazy medicated memory I'll be back to eating my regular foods; no more little bowls of mashed potatoes or a single scrambled egg. Good food will be nice. No more pain medication will be nice. Being able to go out somewhere without worrying about keeling over from pain will be really nice. Being cut open... not so much.

On another note, my computer is having problems of its own. There are grey horizontal ghost image lines on the screen, whites are gray, and greens are neon. I tried replacing the monitor, a simple exterior procedure, but the problem persists. The last thing left to try is to open up the computer case and tinker with the video card; probably replace it. Kinda ironic that the two major problems in my life right now can be solved with opening something up and messing around inside, dontcha think?

One day soon (I hope), I'm going to create this node I've had rattling around in my head for ages discussing various ways to make yourself write when you really don't want to. One way Julia Cameron recommends is to persuade yourself that all you have to do is sit down and peck out a few words. Maybe a paragraph or two, maybe a page, whatever you feel up to as long as you put something down. Just ten minutes at the keyboard. That's not so hard, is it? More often than not you find that once you've started you just keep going, and that's a good thing. But if you do just get a handful of sentences down before you flee, that's still much better than nothing. So last night I was feeling tired and gloomy and didn't want to write. (For no particular reason--I was just moody.) But! I sat down, wrote a few words, and did some manuscript formatting. My new motto may be, Something: it's better than Nothing.

Incidentally, iUniverse is very responsive to inquiries. I emailed them with a formatting question and got a clear, concise answer that very night! Stellar. (The answer was, to indicate a significant shift in time and/or space within a chapter, use three centered asterisks.)

Not That You Asked dept. With all due respect to Sensei, I don't like it when people node their homework. I find reading people's term papers dull and would much prefer it if they used them as source material for an E2 node created from scratch, rather than just adding hardlinks to something they wrote for class. Please note that this is a minority opinion, and that if you do node your homework, I won't downvote or nuke it or anything. It's just not my cup of tea. Well, except for the time factgirl noded her paper analyzing a piece of E2 poetry. Clever girl!

I was happy to see that the upcoming romantic comedy Down With Love is directed by Peyton Reed, who brought us the wonderful cheerleading extravaganza Bring It On. The latter film is smart and very funny, so I'm looking forward to this new offering. It's inspired by those corny old Doris Day/Rock Hudson flicks (which my wife adores) and is shot as if it were made in the 60s -- split screens, stock footage, everything built on a soundstage, the works. Sounds like a good date movie.

If I had my own E2, I'd make it a searchable database of allusions. Like, if someone heard the phrase "Is she really going out with him?" and wondered if it was "from something", they could type in Is she really going out with him? and find...well, a writeup very much like my own for that topic on E2. Maybe call it whatisthatfrom.com, or something similar. Basically dumping all the pop cultural (and high cultural) footnotes in my head into a searchable database. ::shrug::

One day, the words of all that happened will flow like the rain from an August thunderstorm. One day, the feelings will pour out, and we will laugh and cry over this, sharing a beer and each other. Unfortunately, the wound is still too new however for that to occur. Too much still needs to occur before that can happen. I will emerge from this, battered, but not beaten. I will begin anew. And all of you will be in my heart, as always. Until then, all I can say is,

Thank You

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