Friday, October 31

please, bury me with it

It's Halloween. I love Halloween. It's easily our best not-exactly-religious religious holiday. When you're a kid, it's amazing because of making costumes and getting vast amounts of mediocre candy and being out on the streets as it gets dark. And because fundamentalists you know really, really do not approve. And then perhaps there is that stretch towards the end of highschool where you're over it, and then you get to college and go to a party and realize that it's still the best thing ever because of drug use and girls in costumes and the simple fact that you aren't supposed to spend Halloween with your family - you're supposed to spend it finding some kind of liminal zone and getting up to things that would make much of your family (at least) uncomfortable. So you take drunken roadtrips through torrential rain to full-costume Ultimate Frisbee tournaments and watch beautiful hippie girls in flowing skirts chase discs in the Arkansas twilight and life is amazing.

In a slightly different universe, I'd be spending tonight carving a pumpkin-helmet to wear through the streets of Boulder. In this one, it's been about a year since maybe I should just have left this busted scene and there's an ex-girlfriend it won't do me any good to see. This year Halloween is going to happen without me. I'm sure it'll do fine.

Actually, Halloween can go fuck itself.

 

Life used to be amazing: I've been choking on my own dual sense of nostalgia and possibility for just about as long as I've been conscious, but for a while I lost track of all that noise about how things were and how they could be, and life became amazing. Do you remember the first time you realized you were actually happy and actually living and all of that? I remember mine, and I'm tired of it. It's too hard to tell any difference between what I remember and the kind of dream I try desperately to hold in mind as I wake up. Only the mistakes are more real.

I keep wondering what I just burned a year for, but in more lucid moments, I know the question doesn't mean anything.

I could look for utility, but it ain't there. I must have written a hundred thousand words, but it's all so much dirty paper. I suppose I've learned a new valuation of a good deal I never quite understood, but it's childish to expect some kind of compensation for what you understand. What you really know, you frequently know too late.

 

Of course, life is amazing. It is also a shit sandwich. There's no resolving this, there's no reconciling it, and if there's any unifying mystery it's closer to the experience of finding no reason at all than it is anything else. When you're high and staring down on the lights of the city, or running so hard to catch a disc that your vision fills with white phosphorescent streamers and vanishes altogether just as your fingers touch the plastic, or in the grip of the kind of mutual desire that makes fuck a holy word, there's a joy that surpasses joy in this mystery. When you're on the losing end it's the purest kind of hell. Sometimes the counter overflows and all you can momentarily see is the unity of all things. If she still loved me, children would still be starving and bombs still falling and the world would still be full of unimaginable horror. I could stand to get over myself.

Anyway. Go get a little toasted and run around with a pumpkin on your head for a while. It's Halloween, after all. Anybody needs me, I'll be sleeping off the last twelve months.

Monday, October 27

i know it's a sickness

Are you the sort of person who kills time on roadtrips exercising a horrified fascination with conservative AM radio? Can you distinguish the vocal stylings of Limbaugh from those of Savage, Hannity, and O'Reilly? Have you actually contemplated reading Liberal Fascism? Are you just plain looking to reassure yourself that sanity does not actually threaten to break out on a mass scale?

May I humbly suggest a detour into the world of Melanie Phillips?

Let me assure you, this one is something special. The blend of profoundly stupid and pretty much crazy is familiar enough, but it's rare indeed that the stupid/crazy is this high-test and yet somehow filtered through a vague appearance of literacy. If you've only got time for one, let me recommend the culture war for the White House, wherein we learn that, yes, militant atheism is responsible for the financial crisis.

I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values — the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as 'rights' and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is 'militant atheism' which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda -- and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.

The fawning comments also add something.

You "hit it out of the park" again, Melanie. I am in awe.

Me too.

sunday, october 26

sunday morning in late october
the burnt taste of instant coffee
bright day on the edge of things —
dead leaves and cold air, undecided wind

i've been reading w. s. merwin
that poem about the boy
who sees houses which are not there

i'm thinking about ray bradbury,
roger zelazny, the doors of the year

hanging open like the windbattered entrance
to an old barn
martin luther standing with a stack of
manifesto, a hammer and a handful of
nails, looking puzzled at the pale
gray boards under their faded paint

and dry corn in the fields,
frostburned vegetables, half-dead grasshoppers
a night in colorado springs
not long before the war began,
molly in her witch dress,
kitchens in kansas and
basements in nebraska,

all these private referents
worn out with the constant
use of memory.

friday, october 24

i'm always, every day
awakening to a world
i barely know and hardly grasp

old wallpaper rusted tracks
dead grain elevators the
cracks in my windshield
cigarette stench nostalgia kick bullshit

leaves on the blacktop
hiway diner and the bank sign next door

65°

65 miles an hour
construction zones in the rain,
western nebraska
eastern colorado
the empty plains, a
trick of the light

Wednesday, October 22

Maybe writing is bullshit.

Friday, October 10

difference

At work the other day, looking for a more human-friendly diff format*, I stumbled upon GNU wdiff, a wrapper around diff(1) which produces simple "these words added, these words deleted" output.

For example, let us imagine that I have two text files, one and two:

one two

Here is some text.

I will soon change it.

Here is some text.

I have changed it.

wdiff one two then produces:

Here is some text.

I [-will soon change-] {+have changed+} it.

Or maybe you're looking for something to display on the web. wdiff -w '<del>' -x '</del>' -y '<ins>' -z '</ins>' one two gives us:

Here is some text.

I will soon change have changed it.

This is pretty neat. For the sake of contrast, we might otherwise be looking at something like this:

--- one 2008-10-10 09:36:32.000000000 -0600
+++ two 2008-10-10 09:36:46.000000000 -0600
@@ -1,3 +1,3 @@
 Here is some text.
  
  -I will soon change it.
  +I have changed it.

While this is certainly information rich, it is exactly the kind of output that makes normal people go all glassy-eyed.

Tuesday, October 7

Neil Gaiman reading ticket

sunday, october 5

i've just finished reading
a selection of charles darwin's letters

outside the library it is raining

the man next to me desperately tries to find
streaming audio or video of the broncos game
i am unable to help him.

Wednesday, October 1

engineering

So I just went to an in-house workshop and assembled one of these. Hippies, former mental patients, and Vacation Bible School survivors may remember a twitchy, cramped feeling that comes from an hour or two of stringing beads. It turns out that soldering is a lot like that, only with more bits of molten metal and a pointy, heated implement. If there aren't novice monks somewhere doing this 12 hours a day in poor lighting, there probably should be.

Anyway, it was kind of fun, and now I have this little programmable object with four light-up buttons and a buzzer.