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Aug. 26th, 2011

revolver

Godspeed You Black Emperor

Walking outside this morning, I smelled a smell I haven't smelled in years: a hurricane.

While the news networks and paranoid newbs have been screaming and pounding their fists in the sand over Ms. Irene, I'm actually disappointed that she won't be making a significant appearance. Hurricanes are healthy for this tropical swamp we live in, much like a forest fire, and good for the economy, too. Everybody gets a day off, and that wonderful feeling of community always lasts--right up until the looting starts. Who doesn't love free stuff?

Come on, lets not kid ourselves. Walmart, Best Buy, and Macy's aren't going to feel any hurt over $50-100,000 worth of *misplaced* goods (they probably only paid $5k for it, anyway).

~

There's a particular kind of smell in the air when a storm comes in off of the Atlantic. Anybody whose lived along the coast for more than a little while will know. Its the foreboding scent of heavy saltwater over white sand, made stronger by the fear of every living thing with breath bracing itself against the Wild African Zephyr dancing his ecstatic, drunken rain-dance across the islands and through the swamps.

A hurricane is the perfect union of air and water. Not as direct or forthcoming as the "quickie" of a waterspout, hurricanes and tropical storms imply a concentrated, prolonged effort--sort of like when the CIA and FBI actually cooperate on a case (or maybe a better example is Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in WWII. No? OK, how about Halo's Master Chief and The Arbiter?). Hurricanes give you time to prepare, and the psychological message is that, much like other natural disasters, there really isn't any foolproof way to prepare for it. It is coming, and it knows you know it's coming, and it doesn't care that you know. And You can't stop it, and when you get right down to brass tacks, nowhere except FAR, FAR AWAY is safe. You just have to take it.

I went to the beach on my lunch break today. Just to see it. Its a rare opportunity to see on thats *not* intending to punch you right in YOUR FACE, GODDAMNIT! To be honest it looked like every other painting of a storm-over-the-ocean you've ever seen (only with more awe, because I'm the badass who went to the shore in person and you're just some loser looking at a painting). There was a definite line, though, where the edge clouds stopped and the real demon began. Its was wicked.

Four or five brave little toasters were out there trying to surf it, too. I say trying because, even though I didn't stay long, I could tell these particular brave little toasters had no effing clue what they were doing. They probably only succeeded in getting their lungs wet, but who knows. Maybe its easier to surf a wave thats four or five feet over head, I've never tried (I tend to doubt it). Either way, I understand why they were out there. The crush rarely gets above knee-waist high in the palm beaches, and nobody wants to drive all the way to the treasure coast (or farther) for some good waves.

Maybe i'll get a hurricane this season, anyway. I won't deny I enjoy seeing the same people as last year getting their shit torn up because they didn't think it was necessary to 'bunker down' (as my local meteorologist says), and I think that in pretty much every regard, Florida could use a large scale backhand to the cranium. We've got till October or so, we'll see what africa spits our way and if it amounts to anything.

~

Oh, and P.S.

MANHATTAN: evacuate now. Leave everything that is not absolutely vital. You're buildings cannot withstand the sheer winds and gusts over 135mph. The end is near. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES. and please clearly mark all valuables you leave behind in white boxes with red ribbon tied to them so that I--so that *you* can find them easily when you get back to survey the carnage. In summary, GTFO while you still can.

Aug. 10th, 2011

occult

Six Hefeweizens and an Irishman

Total Wine & More has a great innovation that some people like to call the craft brew isle and others call "heaven." Its got an entire wall of individual sale import and domestic beers (maybe four hundred or so), and on the shelf opposite those are the most popular varieties in six-eighteen pack form. On this isle, hanging between the shelving units on neat little plastic ropes, are "build your own six-pack" cardboard cases that fold out like a burger king crown or a children's pop up book...whichever is more appropriate in a liquor store.

In any case, I stopped by total wine on my way home from the smoking gun I call work to bring you a suggestion based on one escapade in brew-venturing, consisting entirely of--you guessed it--hefeweizen. These are all great brews, and for anybody not familiar or interested enough in brewing to taste them with the intention of judging their quality and difference, any of them would make for a tasty and refreshing drink. My personal tastes are marked in a very straightforward manner with no exposition on taste, texture, or palatability: I rate all beers by how many of them I would be willing to drink in a row (a scale roughly ranging from one to about twelve...anything after that and I'm not tasting the beer anymore), followed by three adjectives to help you know what you're getting into.


-Circus Boy ~ (Magic Hat) ~ 4.5% ~ 8 highballs
>mild >flavorful >balanced

-Hefeweizen ~ (Widmer Brothers) ~ ALC./VOL. unmarked ~ 6&1/2 highballs
>complex >cloudy(er)* >mysterious

-Hefeweizen ~ (Paulaner Munchen) ~ 5.5% ~ 5 highballs
>heady** >light >savory

-In Heat Wheat ~ (Flying Dog) ~ 4.7% ~ 9 highballs
>consistent >full-flavored >smooth
[extra 1/2 point for including a hunter s. thompson quote on the label]

-Kellerweis ~ (Sierra Nevada) ~ 4.8% ~ 7&1/2 highballs
>bold >spiced >velvety

-Hefeweizen ~ (Erdinger) ~ 5.3% ~ 4 highballs
>citric >quenching >clean

*cloudy: all hefeweizens are to some degree a cloudy brew, because too much 'filtering' removes the zest of the lemongrass and other spices (most instruct you roll the bottle or gently mix the beer in some other way to unsettle it). This beer is cloudy even by those standards.
**heady: meaning, this beer has an exceptionally long-lasting head


Author's note: in standard discourse I wouldn't normally drink the same beer over and over again. In case you're wondering why the scoring is so consistently high, I'm not remotely embarrassed to let you in on a secret: Hefeweizen is my favorite type of beer. I just really love the flavor of lemongrass, especially when its skillfully mated with spice and the wheaty/yeasty/malty goodness of craft brews. This love of the flavor really lends a bias to my ranking system.

Aug. 8th, 2011

wired

Clarification

The following is a request I sent to a translation service I found operating online through a college, on the subject of my intended tattoo. The service translates in all known dialects of aramaic, a collection of ancient (some rare variants still survive) tongues which were used as early as 14th century BCE.

There are very few languages older, or more magical. Aramaic united the ancient world.

~~


My request is short, but possibly difficult. I have been searching diligently for some time to find reliable and friendly resources for translation, and have been delighted to find you, as I am completely unfamiliar with these languages. The words are, as I'm sure many of your requests are, intended for use in a tattoo.
And they are:

"Awaken my soul"

That's all, in so far as the actual verbiage. The context, however, is a bit complicated as the words are intentionally vague. In english, without further orthographics or punctuation, it could be a request/command to god/diety/the universe; or the phrase could be a command directed toward ones' soul itself, implying a requisite personal involvement in the verb (even in the case, however, the owner of the soul is still unclear). In all cases, "Awaken" is meant to be an future-tense, intransitive verb, its subject being the soul.

1. awake (as from a slumber)
2. my (perhaps the most indirect word, meant to refer either to the reader or the author, but implying ownership in both cases of the soul)
3. soul (spirit; umbra; viscous, temporal substance of vitality which defies death and is the truest expression of the human condition)

The speaker is either myself (as in, the author or writer of the words) or the reader. This intentional ambiguousness is what makes the statement beautiful to me, and I would hate to lose it, as its very utterance implies an innate connection with the divine. It is important to me that the markings come from an ancient language, but if these tongues are incapable of communicating this idea, I would rather NOT get the tattoo (hence, my insistence on finding a translator dedicated to accuracy). It would be impossible for me to explain further my reasons for getting the tattoo, but I am a man of complicated beliefs which are, frankly, irrelevant to the translation.

I hope you can help me and, even if the phrase absolutely must be changed due to dictional limitations, I thank you for your work and for making services like these available to people like me. It means quite a bit to me.

Jun. 29th, 2011

toaster

Seeing Red

I now work in an electrical supply house which runs mostly through business-credit lines, servicing electrical contractors in the area. We also sell to the public, although those numbers are much smaller--but quite a bit more interesting.

Today I had my fourth walk-in of a particular variety that simply astonishes me. Most of the country is aware that last January there was a massive earthquake in Haiti that instantly decreased the country's GDP by a staggering ten dollars or so. There was a lot of press coverage (for about a month) and a lot of donations collected and sent (for about four months), not to mention the haven President Obama created for refugees from the disaster in the U.S., specifically Florida. I don't mean to dig Haiti for having an earthquake, I feel for them in a way that I also feel for Peru (ask me about this if you'd like another good story), but its hard for me to connect with the disaster in a meaningful way when my only representation of the country is via Haitians with polo shirts, destitute old cadillacs, fake rolexes (Hey, I didn't know rolex had three 'x's in it!), and rolls of twenties thick as my wrist; they have been coming to my store trying to buy electrical parts, materials, and equipment sporadically for months now.

What gets to me is that they believe that because they are going to ship these parts overseas that that should change the amount they're going to pay, as in, "I am shipping these four, 100' lengths of 4/0 wire to Haiti, so I shouldn't have to pay tax." Fat chance, jackass. Even worse is the way not one of them will take no for answer when I tell them their favorite item (yes, they all want the same thing) isn't available. Let me give you today's example:

(customer) "I'm looking for a transformer."
(myself) "Alright, what kind?"
"I don't understand."
"There's more than one type of transformer. Mainly what we carry are matchbox (low-voltage) types or pool transformers."
"OK, show me."

I stare blankly for a moment and then I go back and pull a 12v transformer and bring it to the counter. In case you're unaware, I wasn't kidding when I called them "matchbox" transformers. Its not an industry term, its a description. The brand we carry doesn't rise above about 200w. This is roughly the size you'd need to run a small computer system, and its pithy compared with what he's actually looking for.

(customer) "That's no good."
"OK, what are you looking for?"
"A big one. Like on a pole."
"Like on a pole?"
"Yes," He walks to the window and points at the drum transformers aloft in their cradles, across the street on power poles. "Like that."

I can't help it, I have to laugh.

"Sir, those are probably running about 30,000 amps. We don't sell them. They're not available to the public."
"I need to ship it to Haiti."
"I understand that, sir, but that doesn't change the fact that I can't get you a utility transformer."
"You can't?"
"No."
"Why not?"
(this is where I start messing with his head)
"Because current electrical code prohibits the distribution or installation of industrial application electrical machinery to unauthorized personnel."
"What?"
"Its illegal for me to sell you that, and almost certainly illegal for you to ship it overseas without some kind of special permission. Nobody except qualified electricians can buy those, and then usually its for the city or the state. We don't deal in that kind of equipment here."
"Why is it illegal, though?"
"I don't know, sir, I don't make the law. Probably because when people like you and me who have no idea what they're doing try to install things like that, the transformer blows up and starts fires and kills people."

The customer is clearly very agitated with me and asks to see my manager, who is lazier than Hell's third circle and loathes being disturbed when he's busy (surfing craigslist.com, checking sports scores, and doodling in crayon). I butt heads with him all the time about stupid stuff. I bring him to the counter anyway.

(manager) "What can I help you with?"
(customer) "You're guy doesn't want to help me because I'm Haitian."
(me, loudly) "Excuse me?"

(customer) "You stay quiet, boy. I'm talking to your boss."


I take a short quick breath and a growl rises in my throat. My abs tighten. There's a long moment of silence while this arrogant put-down hangs in the air, an unanswerable challenge--if I want to keep my job anyway. I can feel the heat rising to my face, and I weigh my chances. The guy is about three inches shorter than me, maybe a hundred pounds, with a drawn-out look that suggests drug abuse; and he's staring me down. I have a box cutter in my pocket, and at least thirty pounds of muscle that he doesn't. I can kill him. I can kill him in less than three minutes.

But I won't, and I know it. I've never been that guy, its just not in me. What makes me angrier than anything else, what clenches my fists and gnashes my teeth, is the impotency in my thinking this way; friends of mine have beaten wholesale ass for far less, and mock me openly for laying off in times like these. ALL. THE. TIME.

But I won't. Not only isn't he worth the calories it would take to walk around the counter to meet him, I'm just plain better than that. I'm a paragon of humanity compared to this reverse-racist prick, and I'm about to prove it. As I realize this in the final portion of my imaginary calculations, I also realize he isn't even worthy of my ire. His life sucks worse than anything I could do to him, anyway. I feel the tension in my shoulders retreat to a dull, red, undertone; the color return to my face. I exhale. I straighten my back. My father would be ashamed.

(me) "Chuck, I was doing paperwork--"

(manager) "go for it."



I go around the corner into a little alcove to sit and listen. I've never been fingered as racist for no damn reason before (let alone seemingly out-of-the-blue), and the extreme provocation of his accusation is, in a word, repulsive to me. I am incensed.

(Chuck) "What's the problem?"
(Customer) "I need a transformer. And your kid is racist."
"He already told you we can't get them, he wasn't lying. We're not an authorized utility distributor."
"So you heard him being racist to me, and you did nothing?!"
"He wasn't being racist, you're just being an ass."
"What did you say!?!"
"I said you're an asshole. Get the &*$# out of my store."

The customer starts swearing in a language vaguely resembling french and beating on the counter, and I hear Chuck pick up the phone.

"You have five seconds before I call the cops."

He starts screaming louder, but I hear the door buzzer and then his screaming promptly stops. Chuck comes around the corner and fixes me with a look. I brace myself.

"You ok?"
"Yeah" I say, shocked at the sincerity in his voice.
"You're a better man than I am" He says, and walks away.

It's the only compliment he's ever given me.

Jun. 12th, 2011

attack

The Exploitation of an American Youth

A friend of mine is living is a halfway house with a small cadre of thirty-somethings who are trying to get clean, but not because he has a problem with substances---oh no---He's just impoverished. I see him all the time at work, he works his fingers to the bone, and I can't for the life of me figure out WHY. He carried a 4.0 GPA all the way through school, he has a master's degree, and he CAN'T GET A JOB.

He works for one of my customers, an electrical contractor, digging ditches. Thats how I know he's really not using...they drug test him once every two months because of where he lives. Seems ridiculous to me, but apparently the company had a problem with hiring illegal immigrants a while back and now they need somebody like him to do the work they don't want to. They pay him shit money and get to look good on paper as a bonus. The poor bastard has no family to help him out, and nobody will hire him, even for entry level office jobs. He graduated summa cum laude, and the best thing it did for him was get him a nice, comfy dorm room for a few years before he was relegated to just-above-mcdonald's status.

My friend isn't the only person I know with this problem, but he is perhaps the best example of the brokenness of the systems we have in the country.

Frankly, I don't believe in any of it (which, depending on who you ask, is the best outlook I could have on the matter): from the electoral college to our legislative parties right on down to our police forces and education system. We're taught that contradicting our country represents an ungrateful and unpatriotic soul, and its so BAD AND WRONG to criticize the government SYSTEM--not our politicians, mind you--it makes me sick. I'm not deluded enough to believe that people don't make a good living doing just that, but its much different on the street than it is on T.V. If you don't believe me, try telling someone in conversation that the bill of rights is outdated and broken. They'll agree, but not in theory, only in practice. Those "god-given" rights have been hard-wired into the conscience of your nation like a modern ten-commandments, and the truth is that kind of thinking just doesn't work anymore. There are too many of us.

Often it is the individual who takes the brunt of America's blame for our degrading economy and culture, most likely because its easier that way....placing the blame squarely on America's shoulders at the national level implies a personal responsibility that most of us are too immature to accept. American's are VERY uncomfortable with that. Nobody seems to treat this country like it belongs to us anymore, and so nobody believes they have the power to take care of it like it needs to be. We relate to America like its some distant thing (a set of rights and privileges we USED to have, a group of buildings spread out like an overmind across the hills and dales of our countryside), when America lives and breathes in our own chests, like a shriveled, dying organ...exhausted by our corporate masters, some would say are the true owners of this country.

Its a sick animal, our patriotism, but we're all too afraid to treat it for fear of getting bitten (or worse, sued). I'm convinced it's because there's too much bloody money floating around, and it happens to be the singular obsession driving men mad in the twenty first century. People are so convinced that Uncle Sam is gunning for their wallet that they've become almost singularly focused on what they can get out of any person or business they come across, and its the reason that on a personal level we've become so disenchanted with each other. Community spirit? Please. Patriots are a thing of hollywood, now.

What's a young, hot-blooded, American firecracker to do these days, when ten years of hard work and $80k in debt gets you a dirty, uncomfortable apartment in the ghetto, hot dirt on your face, and the ire of every law firm in the country? The best John can hope for is that a crack-whore doesn't choke on a knife in his driveway...this week. 

Jun. 9th, 2011

occult

E.O.o.O.E.

Enigmatic Observations of Ontological Entropy:


Today, I decided that this journal is going to be changing a bit, hopefully for the better. So often I find my concerns during the day are rooted in the world of semantics, and so my journal entries follow in kind. I spend my days in the fleshly equivalent of a poorly written novel, wading blindly through a swamp of quotations, colons, commas, and karats with an expression that reeks of exhaustive confusion. The way people communicate (or don't communicate) is fascinating stuff, but the tiresome game of being constantly aware of the true intention behind others' words can be a frightfully circular debacle, as misleading as a labyrinth filled with land mines.
While I doubt I'll ever stop examining the syntax of human interaction or the diction in my brain (completely, anyway), I would certainly like to take an intentional reprieve from the monotonous dissection of psychological meaning-making, symbolism, & character development in the interest of cherishing the present moment. The whole realm of language exposition as it relates to interpersonal relations has been a study of what isn't even real. As in nature, the whole system is constantly breaking down. Perhaps the alternative is merely another system, or another phase in the life-cycle of my own philosophical expedition. Only time will tell.
I've never been been on particularly good terms with "That white-hot, seething incandescence of the Eternal Mind," but if I can pull my attention from the rise and fall of the plot, If I can stop mining the depths of everyday authors and "delving into the inward essence and constitution of things," then perhaps I can rise above the dust and catch a glimmer of poetry on the horizon.
I instead hope to turn my thoughts towards what is truly happening around me, in the sense that I believe I'm  currently missing out on the experience of life by focusing my attention so constantly on what is causing the circumstances I find myself in, as opposed to what they are and where they're going. How blissful a little mental quiet would be, and how welcome. Contentment is very difficult to attain when you spend all of your time thinking about how you got to where you are.

After all, if there's one thing this journal needs, its a little descriptive imagery.

*Apologies to D.H. Lawrence and George Berkeley

Jun. 6th, 2011

revolver

One Reason My Cat Is A Jerk

She tries to kill us.

My girlfriend and I have two cats. A male, Orion, and a female, Lyra. They're from the same litter, and they've been together their whole lives. They're in pristine health. They've been fixed and inoculated and well socialized to us and the world at large. They're well behaved except for being about a year old and still having some occasional kitten mischief. They get along well and spend most of their time being adorable and acting like normal cats...except that they are trying to kill us.

Like most cats I've known, they have a bad habit of being underfoot and tripping us up (especially when we're carrying something fragile). Also like most cats, they want to drink out of our glasses, rub their faces on ours, paw at our food, knead our stomachs with their butts in our faces, and so forth. The sanitation factor not withstanding, I was mostly expecting this stuff. What I was not expecting was repeated attempted murder.

What happens is this: when the day has been neatly wrapped like an episode of MTV's The Real World, my intended and I lie in bed and shut off the lights and sleep the uneasy sleep of a hunted man. In the midst of our sleep (usually about the time the dreams are getting really good), suddenly one of us will choke themselves awake on cat fur. Like most cats, my adorable ball of medium-haired fuzz likes to sit on our chests and watch our REMs do their nightly cycling; unlike most cats, she then feels the urge to lie across our nose and mouth in a homicidal attempt to smother us in our sleep

We don't currently have the option of shutting the little monsters out of our room, so our options for preventing ourselves from getting fur stuck in our teeth are tenuous at best. It happens all the time, and no amount of squirting with water bottles, head-smacking, or scolding will deter Lyra from her vendetta. Possibly the strangest thing about the whole issue is that during the day hours she's very affectionate....until the sun goes down. After dusk, my cat is The Feline Assassin, striking sneezes into the noses of poor, innocent owners nearby. It's like she can't help herself.

I'm not really sure why she does it. Perhaps the food we work so hard to buy her is not to her liking. Maybe she thinks we're cold (no way she's the cold one in a seventy-seven degree house). Or, maybe, she's sick (in the head), deranged.

Or, maybe she's just a total Jerk.

May. 25th, 2011

me

∞,000 words

In the beginning, there was nothing. And then, God said "Let there be an infinite number of dynamic and tangible paintings composed in four dimensions, each having unique structural form and a descriptive value roughly equalling one thousand words."

And the Universe said "Bang!"

And God swirled his mai tai and, settling a little deeper into his adirondack-beanbag-papasan-lounger, saw that it was good.

And said "Huh. That was easy."

May. 23rd, 2011

revolver

Revolver

Revolver
–noun

1.        a handgun having a revolving chambered cylinder for holding a number of cartridges, which may be discharged in succession without reloading.
2.        a person or thing

Ok, Livejournal: I have a confession to make.

I know I haven't finished any of those ideas I started on here (frankly, none of them were that great anyway), not to mention all the whining, but it gets worse.

I considered deleting you yesterday. I haven't been around much and--be honest--you've been reasonably distant too. I haven't been seeing any other blogging services, but I have another confession to make: I think we can make this work. Truth is, I just like you too much. "VitalDifficulty." How poignant. Anyway, lets take it slow, eh? Once a week, just until we get reacquainted.

Maybe on mondays, when The She is at school.

Yeah....

Feb. 6th, 2010

me

Paying Attention To Detail

From George Berkeley's "A Treatise Concerning The Principles Of Human Knowledge"
~
"[...] no sooner do we depart from sense and instinct to follow the light of a superior principle, to reason, meditate, and reflect on the nature of things, but a thousand scruples spring up in our minds concerning those things which before we seemed fully to comprehend. Prejudices and errors of sense do from all parts discover themselves to our view; and, endeavouring to correct these by reason, we are insensibly drawn into uncouth paradoxes, difficulties, and inconsistencies, which multiply and grow upon us as we advance in speculation, till at length, having wandered through many intricate mazes, we find ourselves just where we were, or, which is worse, sit down in a forlorn Scepticism.

2. The cause of this is thought to be the obscurity of things, or the natural weakness and imperfection of our understandings. It is said, the faculties we have are few, and those designed by nature for the support and comfort of life, and not to penetrate into the inward essence and constitution of things. Besides, the mind of man being finite, when it treats of things which partake of infinity, it is not to be wondered at if it run into absurdities and contradictions, out of which it is impossible it should ever extricate itself, it being of the nature of infinite not to be comprehended by that which is finite.

3. But, perhaps, we may be too partial to ourselves in placing the fault originally in our faculties, and not rather in the wrong use we make of them. It is a hard thing to suppose that right deductions from true principles should ever end in consequences which cannot be maintained or made consistent. We should believe that God has dealt more bountifully with the sons of men than to give them a strong desire for that knowledge which he had placed quite out of their reach. This were not agreeable to the wonted indulgent methods of Providence, which, whatever appetites it may have implanted in the creatures, doth usually furnish them with such means as, if rightly made use of, will not fail to satisfy them. Upon the whole, I am inclined to think that the far greater part, if not all, of those difficulties which have hitherto amused philosophers, and blocked up the way to knowledge, are entirely owing to ourselves- that we have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see. [...]"
~

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