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Notes from the Surf

There's another plug for The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin at http://www.nationstates.net/cgi-bin/index.cgi/page=display_region/region=anarchy. I really should try to get my hands on a copy of that sometime.

An interesting title for a post at http://www.revleft.com/index.php?showtopic=71997: "the Only War Bush is winning is the class war", but too bad the contents aren't as interesting.

The article by Robert Reich at http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/10/18/4654/ is called "Corporations Won’t Lead the Way on Solving Global Warming" - talk about stating something so obvious, is it even worth reading? Well, since the article was short, I read it. Didn't offer anything new.

What the fuck is this shit? http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071017/wl_uk_afp/britainemploymentlanguageoffbeat: "Swearing at work boosts team spirt, morale: research". Interesting article, but researchers must have too much time on their hands these days. =)

"Feminists Have More Fun" - http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20071018/sc_livescience/feministshavemorefun. It's interesting to see how politics affects a person's life and relationships.

From the headline "Man texting while driving hits train" (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071017/ap_on_fe_st/odd_texting_crash), it sounded like a case of "Don't try this at home", but it turns out the guy was drunk too, so it's not as silly as advertised.

So the French president got a divorce (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071018/ap_on_re_eu/france_sarkozy). Wasn't his Socialist opponent in the previous election also having marriage problems?

An Open Letter to the developers of E2
In reaction to the ‘E2 Community Development Newsletter, Summer 2007
Which includes some blathering on, and some ideas.

A GTKY Introduction
Several years ago I stumbled upon E2 while working a graveyard shift job in a bank building. It quickly drew my attention, and easily invited and welcomed my participation. I liked the idea of ‘we want to know about everything, you write it, we’ll read it, we’ll link to it, we’ll be inspired to add to what you know with what we know.’ And, just as quickly, I came to care about this place.

I’ve spent time as a Content Editor, I’ve indexed Editor Logs, trawled down and tried to establish what Editors like, given input on thousands of writeups, proofread even more, and read and upvoted even more. I’ve linked and linked and randomly hopped through the nodegel to discover… well, just about everything.

I’ve met noders on both sides of the pond, drank, laughed, schemed, argued and celebrated with them.

And I’ve been there throughout various philosophical ideas about the direction E2 was going. From Explicate your Lyrics to Raising the Bar. From Every Writeup Is Sacred to GTKY Go Home!. From Let’s put on a musical in the barn! to miss pelling the mormon. From a tribal gathering to a slow but steady flickering out.

When I first had a look at the proposals for a whiz-bang-comment-on-everything/add-a-farting-sound/drop-in-a-dancing-hamster-video/add-a-smilie Everything2 Bonanza… I shrugged, muttered to myself a bit, then went back to reading stuff.

When the promised mid-october curtains-drawn-here’s-yer-hootenanny-buttons-pressing-thrilling-E2-of-the-web-point-deux-generation arrived and passed… I had a look again.

And screamed and ran away.

My fervid rant begins
See, I like E2, but I don’t think it is behind the ‘times’. Many of us Noded for the Ages, and that’s the hope we had for E2. That it would keep on standing, keep on being there, keep being available, keep inspiring us, keep having its surprises. More people writing more great stuff is good. More people discovering this to enjoy and contribute to it is good…

But, E2 isn’t clean. E2 is messy. Fled users have left unfinished projects. Other users have decided to take their contributions away, even if there is an impact on other writeups in a node, or linked to their writeup. And the admin cleaning up after them have done it halfheartedly… or not at all. They haven’t Edited for the Ages. Guest users find nodes with writeups referring to other writeups which no longer exist, causing it to lose its context. Active users are given no warning that a writeup linked to theirs, or that they link to significantly, is about to be removed. (this could be partially fixed if --like when Cool Man Eddie informs us of a node bookmarked that we have a wu in—EDB informs us that a node we have a wu in has had a deletion take place)

There are far too many new users who try out one or two writeups, mostly taking the piss, fail and leave.

When a new thing is introduced, it is not fully realised. For example, now, woowoo, I can type a writeup as a dream. I can go back and reset various writeups to something that fits these new categories. But, what if I want to see the last 100 posted writeups of dreams? What if I wanted to multiply reset a number of writeups to a certain category? Linking up a writeup makes sense, because, well, it links, it connects, it enhances. Categorising a writeup does not make sense unless you can link and list them. Adding various writeup types just seems like a poor man’s version of tagging. (we already have tags. They are called softlinks. ). If we were able to search for writeups by type, then nodelets could be created to just show wus for that type. For example, if I want to be informed of all new events announced, a nodelet shows them. Or if I wanted to see all new writeups but not dreams…all the elements and tools are in place for this, just not implemented.

All of this is why, to me, certain aspects of proposed twiddling and multimedia extravaganza would be more useful if they were separate from the main body of E2. In an extra bit of E2. Called, say, EverythingExtra, or even… Community2!

XFN relationship types... ‘registries’... writeup comments... adding pics/music/vids, and yards of ‘behavioral standards’…. Wow, it seems like at whatever campfire the powers that be were sitting around they were all thinking in the back of their head that they wished they had broadband coverage to get back online onto Twitter/del.icio.us/Facebook/Livejournal/Myspace/Slashdot. And this trickled into causing a mass group psychosis of snagging this and that from social networking sites and throwing it into E2. (next new feature: Oblique Strategies Scrabble!)

Writing is the meat of E2, linking is the spice. Can’t we stick with that?

How it could work…
It could still work, all these knobs and whistles… if the knobs and whistles are mainly for another section of E2, and users are able to define softlinks for individual w/u.

An argument for an Everything Extra
In Everything Extra Everyone would have an Everything Extra Scratch pad and an EE ‘home page’; various usergroups and certain users would also have the same for their subject matter. They write up and markup something and submit it to their home page. Admin/Gods/peers of experience level see the submissions and comment/ching/promote it to the main page. A number of people do this and there you go, there’s your printable/internet promoteable Everything Product.

For example, let’s say I think I can enhance Twilight Zone: The Movie. I import my writeup to my EE scratch pad, and add the storyboard pictures I asked a friend to sketch up. I embed video of Fair Use clips from the film. I submit it to my EE home page, and other users can comment on it. (I would anticipate comments like ‘wow, great story, I could have messaged this to you, but I’m writing this down so you can comment back thank you in full public’ and ‘This is an outrage! More children should be sacrificed to the Great Gods of film… etc etc’) But wait, riverrun has started a collection of enhanced movie related writeups, and pulls the writeup to his EE zine page. He enhances the writeup even further with an audio version read by his mate ‘movie trailer voice guy’.. Movie geeks check it out, some go further and delve into the actual e2 and think to themselves…’hey, there’s lots of movies I can write about… I could review the new zombie flick, I could tell people about the last drive-in theatre in my state, I could write about my attempts to create stop-motion popsicle stick films… I could…’

An argument for author defined softlinks for their own writeups (not nodes):
These are our tags. This is the place authors can direct people outside of e2, or to a related quest, or to an enhanced writeup, or to a User’s zine, and to other writeups, nodes and nodeshells.

In closing:
Please stop me from screaming.

Think about the impact of changes.

Think about ten years from now.

And remember what brought you here in the first place, what made you care about it.

yours,
gnarl

It's easy to fall in love. What's harder to do is think about why you fall in love. What's even more difficult is asking yourself the question, is this person right for me? Often, the answer is absolutely not. So why do we have such a strong tendency to fall in love with people who are completely, utterly wrong for us? This is an important question...maybe even the most important question.

The following exercise helped me understand several of the reasons behind the worst and most damaging decisions I've made. I might not have a choice about how I feel about someone, but I have a choice to think about it rationally. Feelings are not facts. I have to choose to cooperate with love. If it isn't healthy, I can choose to say no.

I hope this gives you some food for thought. I'm still chewing. Here's the exercise.

To begin with, take a sheet of paper. Draw four horizontal lines across it, making five equal spaces.

In the first space, write down three negative characteristics your parents share. Only three. You don't have to pick on a single parent; it's more about isolating the negative qualities they exhibited as a unit.

In the second space, write down three of the positive traits your parents exhibited. Same rules as above apply.

In the third space, write down a single thing - the most important thing - you wanted from your parents but did not get.

In the next space, write down the best feeling you got from your happiest childhood memory involving your family.

Finally, in the last space, answer this question: When I was frustrated/angry/upset with my parents as a child, how did I react?

OK, now look at your list. In this order, write the following statements at the top of each consecutive space:

Space #1: "I am looking for someone who is..."

Space #2: "To always be..."

Space #3: "So that I can get..."

Space #4: "So I can feel..."

Space #5: "And I stop myself from getting this by..."

OK, so...here's my list:

I am looking for someone who is...passively avoidant, angry, and physically/emotionally abusive.

To always be...honest, attentive, and loving.

So that I can get...physical and emotional affection.

So I can feel...safe and fulfilled.

I stop myself from getting this by...withdrawing into myself and isolating. - This is also what we bring into our relationships with significant others...and then wind up blaming on them.

I need emotional and physical intimacy so that I can feel safe and fulfilled. A man who is honest, attentive, and loving can give those things to me, but a man who is passively avoidant, angry, and physically/emotionally abusive obviously can't.

In the past, I've closed myself off from receiving what I've needed by choosing men who exhibit a confusing (but familiar) mixture of these qualities. I've coped with the inevitable pain of those relationships by isolating and withdrawing into myself (escapism to the nth degree)...and after I've withdrawn, I've generally blamed the men from whom I've withdrawn for "pushing me away" or "forcing me to withdraw".

It all seemed very convoluted...until I sat down and hashed it out. Then it made all kinds of sense.

The first two spaces - the positive and negative traits - are what we almost invariably look for in another person. Because our child-selves aren't able to separate the good from the bad, as adults we often wind up picking people who share traits that are nearly identical to our parents' strengths and weaknesses. We tend to navigate our emotional lives by feelings. Rather than searching for partners who display the good traits and rejecting those who carry the bad traits, we wind up choosing the people with whom we feel most comfortable - the abusive person who also exhibits moments of pure tenderness; the brilliant person who is emotionally cold; the honest person who avoids conflict at all costs.

More often than not, these are the people who will frustrate us, damage us, and make us despair of ever having a normal, healthy relationship.

Here's the good news: if we understand what it is that attracts us to another person in the first place, we can learn to spot dangerous qualities and reject the people who will very likely do us harm while actively searching for people who exhibit the qualities we need the most. We can stop chasing the bad and start seeking the good. We can also learn to defuse the self-defeating behaviors that prevent us from receiving the things we need the most.

The healthier we get - that is, the more we learn to use our heads to guide (if not precisely rule) our hearts - the less we wind up in the same situation over and over again. It's interesting how many of the relationships I've chosen in my life follow the same painful pattern. This test-that's-not-a-test helped me understand why I've picked the people I've picked...and it's helped me see how far I've come over the past several years, particularly after the last cycle of counseling I went through. I'm still drawn to men who exhibit those negative qualities, but I'm much more adept at recognizing the roots of that attraction and cutting the relationships off before they become dangerous.

Love isn't a puzzle to be solved, but I do think it can become a terrible trap if it isn't approached with a certain degree of rational thought, caution, and common sense. Being led along by feelings might be a heady experience, but in my life it's often led to a world of hurt.

This is a really thought-provoking little exercise here. Not only does it explain some choices I've made that I thought were out of my control, it gives me some tools to halt some very destructive behaviors.

My kickass counselor cheerfully admits that choosing to fall in love with a healthier breed of person might mean that some of the "butterflies" and typical "OMG I AM SO IN LOVE!!11!" feelings might not be as strong, but he likens those sorts of feelings to the rush of adrenaline you get before you do something very dangerous. It's easy to confuse actual happiness with the chemical warning shots you get before you jump off a cliff. (It's called "falling in love" for a reason. Isn't it better to think about "choosing to love" someone?) Romance is a good thing, but if an entire relationship is founded on a fluttery and unstable mixture of lust and adrenaline things can get ugly - if not actively dangerous - pretty fast. Sometimes being overwhelmed is just overwhelming.

(My kickass counselor also says that one of the most important hallmarks of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. Dammit, he's making me do actual work here.)

The best part is that all of this stuff is practical, rational, doable, and decidedly un-flaky. It's not easy to look at the ways I've gravitated toward people who hurt me, but it's an incredible relief to realize why I did it. It's an even greater relief to know that I have a choice in such matters from now on.

I'm hacking my life.




There's a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby
It's a big old goofy world

Excerpt from John Prine’s tune called “It’s A Big Old Goofy World”

Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s a policy many schools have embraced over the last few years in dealing with disciplinary problems amongst the student body. They call it zero tolerance and even when you take into consideration the recent spate of school shootings, in my minds eye, it’s quite subjective.

Back in my day, kids got suspended from school for a variety of reasons. Shit like fighting, stealing, vandalizing and threatening other kids were usually considered major offenses and before they actually suspended you, your parents were hauled in and advised of the circumstances. I don’t know about you but that little scenario, having my parents brought to school, certainly was in the top ten list of my all-time childhood fears. Usually the first offense might be a freebie, the parents would get lectured, go home and mete out whatever discipline they felt was justified.

In the borgo household, that meant a swift kick in the ass.

I got the message.

Besides the things I mentioned earlier, nowadays, kids seem to get suspended for reasons that seem incomprehensible. Bring some nail clippers to school? Buh bye. Got a bottle of aspirin stashed in your locker? See ya! Hug another kid? Deviant sexual behavior! Draw a picture that somebody finds offensive? Quick! Call the art police!

News Item: Portland, Maine “A school health center will make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11. Prescriptions will be given after a student undergoes a physical exam by a physician or nurse practitioner. Parents must consent to their children using the school's health center, as most middle school students are ages 11 to 13.”

“Nevertheless, treatment is confidential under state law. That means students can decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive.”

I like to think of myself as a left leaning socially progressive individual who likes to look at all sides of an issue before making up my mind but in this instance all I can say is…

What…..the…..fuck?

My kid turns thirteen this weekend. She’s a girl. She’s a beautiful girl. I know kids are easily influenced by other kids their same age. It’s the same old “everybody else was doing it” excuse that I used when I was kid. But now with some years and experience under my belt I can see the fault behind that logic.

To quote Al Pacino from the movie Scent of a Woman here's what I'd have to say to the good people on the Portland school board:

Lt. Col. Frank Slade: “Out of order, I show you out of order. You don't know what out of order is, Mr. Trask. I'd show you, but I'm too old, I'm too tired, I'm too fuckin' blind. If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a FLAMETHROWER to this place! Out of order? Who the hell do you think you're talkin' to? I've been around, you know?”

When I was a kid in the seventh or eighth grade and my hormones were getting the better of me, I dreamed about getting to “second base”. For those of you who might be unaware, second base was a euphemism for touching a girl’s breast. Many of us were called but few were chosen and those who actually got there were few and far between. The rest of us were just flat out liars.

Breast cancer has been in the news a lot lately and rightfully so. I think either this week or last week was actually “Breast Cancer Awareness Week” and many fundraisers were held across the country to try and raise money to help eradicate this terrible disease.

In one of the local middle schools a couple of girls took it upon themselves to make and sell t-shirts to help raise people’s awareness about the disease. The shirts were red and depicted two baseballs where a woman’s breasts would be. Underneath that was the caption “Save Second Base”.

The local school threatened to suspend them and wouldn’t allow them to sell their shirts on school grounds on the basis that they were “sexually explicit” in nature. I think they put them up on E-Bay and so far have received over four hundred orders.

Once again, to the members of the local school board who found the t-shirts offensive I find myself relying on Al Pacino and the final half of his quote:

Lt. Col. Frank Slade: “You think you're merely sending this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are... executin' his soul! And why? Because he's not a Bairdman. Bairdmen. You hurt this boy, you're gonna be Baird bums, the lot of ya. And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there, FUCK YOU TOO!”

So on one hand you have what amounts to me is a school giving tacit approval of pre-teen sex and on the other going out of their way to undermine a worthy cause.

There's a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby
It's a big old goofy world

I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

you said "Hello. You are an editor, so I shall annoy you. I believe that there are way too many good daylogs today, and feel that they should be crippled by my shit daylog at the end. So, please check my Scratch Pad to make sure that it's bad enough to ruin the node, but good enough not to get nuked. Thanks!" to censored to protect the innocent (sent to 1 noder)

I went to the department store today, with the intention to buy some clothes along with electronics. So the clothes are in the way before the electronics if you're not in a hurry and... Wow. Suddenly, I realize I'm in the middle of some kind of a sick clone army. Hiding between the lines of annoyingly textured ziphoods and striped shirts, I notice that I'm at their very spawn. Here they come, pick up a couple of these and... They are transformed. I won't even go to the harsher forms. I quickly take a look at myself. I haven't grabbed anything, have I? I have...

Cargo pants (They fit me!), a black shirt (No logos!) and a faux army jacket (Because the real ones aren't that comfortable, you know!). Would they rip me apart if I stepped out of the alley? I wasn't sure. Slowly, I took a few steps, looking as inconspicuous as I could, slowly speeding up and walking to a more casual overcoat, I looked around. Quickly grabbing it, I march to a mirror. Get a new one that fits me better. Change back to my original clothes and swiftly move to the electronics side. Survived... This time.

This has been an experiment in "get the courage to post a writeup without consulting an editor first". Obviously, I did not succeed.
The dance begins...

So as some of you know there was a tornado in Williamston, MI last night around 11 o'clock or so.

I heard on the radio that my hometown was being touched by a 'finger of God' (if you're of such persuasion, and was obviously immediately concerned as a good portion of my family and my wifes family lives in billtown. Then I discovered that Doppler had gotten so good that they could tell you what streets the damn thing was going down and of it passed in the immediate vicinity of not only my aunt, uncle, and fathers, even touching my wifes family as we grew up in the same town.

Hearing this on the radio I immediately decided that I had to get in touch with my family, so I called all the phones and cell phones and after getting no response I dropped what I was doing, left work, and drove into the remains of a tornado. Probably not the smartest idea considering there was another tornado producing storm nipping at me heels most of the way there.

The courtship...

I had to approach my hometown from three directions to avoid all the damage, only to find that I also had to abandon my car and proceed on foot to avoid downed power and telephone lines. I still managed to snag a telephone line on my way in and do some damage to my headlights, but all in all the car will be very repairable. I found myself crawling over massive downed tress, avoiding downed power lines, smelling the massive natural gas leaks on the air, in total darkness and silence.

An eerie feeling to go back to ones hometown in the middle of the night to discover that it's been more or less destroyed. Not even really too much of an exaggeration as a state of emergency was declared and professional crews from all over the area were brought in asses damage and remove all the destroyed trees. So many many mangled trees and wires everywhere, and no light anywhere. This isn't like when you lose power and the next block has it. I grew up in a farm town where the next town is at least 10-15 minutes off. It was pitch black.

Anyway everybody is safe even me for being stupid and overzealous.

The morning after...

Not too much damage, my father had some roof damage, my aunt and uncle had some damage to one of their vehicles and many many trees were lost all over town. To us natives the town will never look the same again. My wifes families home was hit the worst, with all the windows being shattered out/in, and the garage being totally demolished by the falling trees.

I went to the park I used to play in as a child today and there were only three trees left standing. Originally there must have been at least 50-60 proud old trees of all species, Oak, Pine, and Walnut all fell under the massive power of the storm. It gives you respect for the environment you live in and gives you pause at the thought that we as species have arrogance enough to think we've really done anything in the way of taming it. Reminds you that the world as you know it is anything but permanent.

In retrospect it was slightly less than intelligent of me to dive headlong into the situation without so much as a flashlight, but I guess that's just part of who I am. Too busy living in the moment and worrying about my family to care, or even much consider the possibility for personal danger. The line I nicked with my vehicle could have just as easily been a downed power line resulting in my near immediate death.

Perhaps not so intelligent, but it does tell you something about the kind of loyalty you can expect out of me if you happen to be one of the people I love...

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