Friday, March 31


I love that fleeting flash of childhood
Boundless, mysterious joy
It makes me feel human again
Not dreading every new situation, thinking
God I hope I make it though this somehow
It makes me smile again
Rekindle the humor I thought I'd lost for good
It's a shame we can't build a slow trickle
Of this magic elixir into our bodies
Unlike heroin, it's not uselessly euphoric
Unlike mushrooms, it doesn't change reality
Unlike alcohol, you don't feel sick afterward, just happy
And in control you can have every sense of wellbeing
You could ever want without losing your way
It is as if you can recapture that sunny,
Saturday morning, when you cannot wait
To rise from bed and pile your clothes on
For a field of lilacs and an old wooden bridge
Awaiting with inspired games
Not to mention the hazy blue hills that
Loom beyond the timber forests
Clouds playing shapes above just to tease you
That gentle, mothering air caresses
And there is no dinner bell in your future
No disappointment in your past
All that you feel is right here and now
Hours of exhilaration without bound
And time is direct without analysis
The authentic life, the dream of modern
Man, so studied in art museums and coffeehouses
Available for free to they who never seek it.

A question of Olympian proportions

What's the difference between:

  • Steroids
  • Legal supplements
  • Computer bioanalysis
  • High-altitude training
  • Sports psychology
  • Superior genetics
  • Any other means of gaining a competitive advantage

A: The first one is banned in sports and the rest aren't.

Now, let's look at the reasoning here. Steroids and other banned substances are the dirty words of the day, eliciting foul cries of cheating even where their use has not been proved or when that use began before the substances in question were actually banned. It's an admirable attempt to level the playing field (and secondarily to claim the high ground by pretending to care about athletes' health, which is a very unstudied subject anyway).

In the next lane over we have a good Christian athlete who undergoes a massive supplement regimen including precursors to human growth hormone (HGH), creatine, highly-refined protein powders, energy-boosting formulations, time-release endurance compounds, anti-inflammatories, analgesics for pain, and a Chinese medicine's shop full of stress relievers, strength boosters, and a dozen other things the IOC hasn't gotten around to banning.

Athletes no longer wear baggy shorts and t-shirts. Oh no, they wear one-piece Lycra leotards that would make Michael Jackson blush (or rush out and buy one). They shave their heads, their legs, their arms, their chests - all to reduce that critical percent or two of drag. They cycle in wind tunnels to fine-tune their on-bike positioning. Far from being true amateurs, they are identified early in life by the net of biometrics and surrounded by a team of trainers who sculpt their muscle-to-fat ratio, their cardiovascular efficiency, their diet, and their athletic technique to perfection.

Where lung capacity contributes greatly to success, such as in cycling, training is performed at very high altitudes where oxygen is thin, the idea being that the more oxygen-rich environment on race day will make the contest a walk in the park, both physically and psychologically. Nearly all pro cyclists and runners do this, and it works. It's a bit like swinging a bat underwater or jogging with ankle weights, or playing Ninja Gaiden on the insane difficulty level.

Another area where the playing field is obviously uneven is in the use of technology to precisely map an athlete's performance via sensors affixed to their body while they train. A computer model is then constructed and an army of trainers can step through the performance one frame at a time and identify any inefficiencies in technique. Likewise, doctors and physiologists always seem to have plenty of time on their hands to perform batteries of tests on these "amateurs," like measuring their pulmonary 'headroom', bone density, fast-to-low-twitch muscle ratio, VO2 max, etc.

One of the things I hear most often about allowing steroids into athletic competitions is that it will "uneven" the playing field. Well let me tell you something, Barbara: that playing field ain't level now and it never has been. One of the most important factors in determining an athlete's performance, if not the most important, is his or her genetics. Some people are simply faster, stronger, more coordinated, or have greater endurance than others, given the exact same training regimen. How is that "unfair advantage" supposed to be eliminated? Create an army of genetic clones?

As you can see, trying to take the concept of fair to its extreme conclusion becomes absurd. I rather like the way there are so many variables involved; it increases the importance of old-fashioned strategy and makes for huge upsets and other surprises on race day. Do I condone steroids or other medical substances that are proven to harm the body? No. But many things like Human Growth Hormone are regularly prescribed legally by doctors for legitimate ailments and have not been shown to be detrimental to long term health (the jury's still out on many other substances of course). The arbiters of fair competition only use that specter of bodily harm to hide their real motivation, which is the fear that the haves will gain yet another advantage over the have-nots.

One last point about steroids: They don't magically make you stronger. What they do is decrease your recovery time and make you more aggressive so that you can train more often and more efficiently. You still have to do all the work. How is this different from many of the other legal training techniques?

Is an intense regimen of 30 amino acid tablets a day, a scientifically controlled diet, cross-training in adverse conditions, massive injections of recovery and performance enhancing compounds timed so they'll wash out of the body before testing time, cutting edge visualization and relaxation techniques, and all the rest of the "legal" routines we cheerfully cajole our modern athletes through in order to win that gold medal for our country - are these practices really any different? The object is and always had been to gain an unfair advantage over the opponent, regardless of what PR types will tell you or ABC sob-story profiles will have you believe.

Sports is a huge business. When money is at stake, athletes will always to look for ways to get a leg up on the competition - sometimes literally. Ty Cobb wore longer (and sharpened) spikes so he could take out the second baseman on a steal or double-play breakup attempt, which led many a nervous second-sacker to back off just that little bit. This in turn inflated Cobb's steal total. Was that unfair? It wasn't against the rules at the time (they changed said rules in quick order). My point is, it's impossible to realize that elysian dream we seem to aspire to of a fair competetive field for all. Humans come in different shapes and sizes, different physiological and mental makeups. We all have more or less financial and scientific resources at our disposal. Steroids are just the latest wrinkle in the age-old game of "I'm better than you." And if the athletes themselves know the risks involved and choose to accept them anyway, how exactly is that different from smoking or drinking or training in the Alps or doing two-a-days in full pads under a 100 degree Florida sun, activities which are manifestly notbanned by Olympic organizers?

Our ideas of "fair" seem unrealistic and outdated. Sure, I would like to see a bunch of Beavers and Wallys and Eddies (ok, not Eddy) compete merely for pride in an arena where no one cared who won or lost, only how hard their boys and girls tried. But that's not the way it is. I don't think it ever was, honestly. So I say get rid of this testing business altogether and let athletes do what they want to their bodies like they do in every other walk of life. Cut the fake Pollyanna crap that surrounds the Olympics, and let them go at it with everything they can muster at their disposal. It may lose some of it's supposed nobility, but at least it would be honest.

Oh, and for those who would pine the loss of chivalry, pluck, and true athletic purity, there's always the Paralympics. As long as some enterprising athlete, looking to shave a few seconds off his racing time, doesn't start using a molybdenum-graphite wheelchair or something.

Monday, March 27

Drugs are not a destination

People get into trouble when they start thinking of drugs (or food, or sex...) as a destination rather than a vehicle. Pot enables you think deeply about things but it doesn't do the thinking for you. Opiates make you feel relaxed and euphoric but it's an empty place that you come down from, and you're no better off for having been there (in fact, you're worse off). Psychedelics lead you on a wilderness safari of the mind and the universe, but if you don't take responsibility and take the wheel, you're liable to careen off into insanity. Speed and cocaine give you tons of energy but they don't clean the house for you.

Likewise, Prozac can ease some of your disabling sadness but it doesn't make you happy or get you a job. You have to do that. Valium takes away your fear but it doesn't make you more skilled at socializing. Ibuprofen makes your feet less sore but it doesn't give you better shoes or prevent you from running on concrete. Everything you come across in your life can be used constructively, or used destructively, or not used at all. The choices are up to you, and the outcome of your choices is your responsibility.

Read carefully

A big problem in our fast-paced world is that it's tempting to glance over everything and not really pay attention. Are you doing that right now? There is so much information bombarding us all the time; it's easy to tune it out.

Resist that impulse! One of the things that makes you human as opposed to 'merely' animal is your higher reasoning faculties. Don't fall asleep on life, make those faculties count for something! When you choose to read something, read it diligently. Absorb each word and place it in the greater context. Be open-minded but tough-minded. Don't let your brain turn to jelly and your life switch over to autopilot.

Remember, the goal of any technology should be to improve lives, not impoverish them. The purpose of information is to serve, not drown. Keep your head above water. Are you still paying attention?


There are two great camps amongst the human species: The physical and the intellectual (we'll simplify somewhat to make a point). The intellectual represent, let's say, 5% of the population while the physical comprise the other 95%. Here is the important part: neither is superior to the other. What do terms like "superior" mean anyway? Nothing. There is, as far as I can tell, no God and no big scoreboard in the sky, no outside reference point by which to judge things. The most we can say about the two camps is that they are fundamentally different.

Naturally, each side despises and distrusts the other. Nature makes sure of it. The intellectuals despise the physicals for their ease of socializing and their carefree attitude toward mortality. In a pettier mood, they sneer at them for not asking any questions and for conforming to majority mores. The physicals despise the intellectuals for their hold on society's top decision-making positions, for their creativity, and for their insight. In a pettier mood, they laugh at them for being effete, socially awkward, and whiny.

You can see that neither camp is innately right or wrong. Like dogs and frogs, they are merely different. Anyone can feel superior and justify a point of view or a way of life he or she happens to follow, and fear and hate those who are different. One would think merely by realizing this (say, by reading something like this blog entry), one could suddenly rise above the fray and adopt an attitude of tolerance toward all people.

But it doesn't happen. Physicals don't do it because they don't even think to do it, they just bull their way forward and react without much contemplation. Intellectuals have even less excuse, for they do see the situation for what it is, yet continue to lash out and feel persecuted due to the lack of representation their minority status creates. And so the world goes round and round, and these two groups lives amongst one another but separate in most ways that count, like different species in the same diorama.


When distraught teenagers decide, "Nobody understands me!" I can sympathize, because I know what's really going on: Nobody understands them. Or more accurately, a lot of people do, but they're scattered and isolated themselves, and they're up against the superior numbers of relatively well-adjusted masses of bodies competing for food and mates. If a fish in a school pulled up for a second and said, wait, what are we doing this for? not only would she not get any food but she'd probably suffocate from not swimming forward (since she's a fish), and would in any case be written off as a misfit and a troublemaker by the rest of the school.

People who ask questions don't choose to be the way they are any more than those in the school plowing forward with their heads down choose to be hungry. Sometimes we find ourselves where we are, who we are, and just have to deal with it the only way we know how. You can keep asking questions and go mad. You can pretend you're like the others and be miserable your whole life, and then go mad. You can refuse to breathe or you can shoot a bazooka-load of chemicals legal and illegal at your mind hoping it will shut up and obey. Or you can try to convince yourself you need to stop thinking and make it into something spiritual.

I wish the world at large was better at seeing our predicament and had more compassion, but in general it doesn't and so you just have to find those people who do understand and make the best of things. And then go mad.

Fly on a wall

I'm reading, my head is in the stars, and I start to feel charged, connected, involved - some sweeping wave begins to overtake me. So do I let it? Do I throw on my trunks and get carried away? No, because it doesn't work. They call you manic and they are keen to put you back in your place when you show too much entusiasm. That's me, Mr. Enthusiastic. My name is even embedded in the word. And yet other people aside I do go crazy in my head questioning inspiration because I wonder where does it end and what's point of all that carrying on. I may feel hopelessly involved in someone else's life but it's not my life.

And I don't create anything original, because it's all been done before. I'm an unfortunate end product. I'm just as much an outsider, just as full of disdain and humor, and just as desperate to matter as anyone who's come before, but they've been out there and done it already and no good came of it except to further reinforce those traits in impressionable souls such as mine. I start thinking maybe I should have been a pop star or a poet or a painter, but it seems like a waste of time. And it seems derivative. If I were truly great I'd have come up with something completely original, but I'm not. If I can see further than some, I certainly see less than others. The world needs poets but it doesn't need an endless line of them who all say the same thing. It doesn't matter how beautiful and delicate you can make words sound.

If I lie in bed all day and count the grooves in the ceiling it's because I'm depressed and low in chemicals of one sort or other. If I jump up with a head full of steam bent on changing the world it's because I'm in the grips of a mania. If I speak precisely but with wit then I'm being pretentious or fey, possibly even delusional or self-obsessed. Borderline! But if I refrain from communicating at all, it's unhealthy isolation. If I push hard for a prestigious job and luxurious compensation they'll say I'm materialistic and shallow, so instead I try to stay authentically ascetic and it comes across as self-pitying, irresponsible, or having a case of "I didn't want to be rich anyways!" There are people clogging the streets everywhere, all around me, like a storm, but if I talk to anyone they find me socially awkward or unnervingly sincrere. If I keep to myself than I'm a scary loner waiting to stalk someone or explode and do God-knows-what.

People hate anything different from themselves. They'll only accept you if you're bland, self-effacing, have nothing very insightful to say; if you listen to them rapturously without contradicting them, work hard at a job that's not too exclusive but not embarrassingly lowbrow, go to the gym twice a week, watch the latest television dramas, have 2.5 kids and a mortgage on a pastel colored house. You have to go to church occasionally but not get weird with talk about God during the off days. You need lots of casual friends and "buddies." You mustn't read books unless they are about dieting, investing, or sports.

And you must absolutely never write down observations like these or in any other way summarize the game and point the finger, or you'll have all the fiery demons of Hell come crashing down upon your head for daring to question the way the system works. In America these days anything can be forgiven in a person except intelligence.

An aside

This 'life' thing... it's all very recursive isn't it? It's not like walking down a gently meandering path till you hit the end. You come at it from below, spiralling up and revisiting the same events, the same emotions, time and time again. Each time you get a different take, and a little something inside you clicks, and makes sense. And something else comes undone and has to be dealt with later. If you stay alive long enough and keep your wits about you and stay curious, you start putting it all together eventually, but I don't know that it ever really leads anywhere. I haven't been at it long enough to know that. But I do know that most people don't really even try to find out. They shut their minds off just when things start to get interesting. Or maybe horrifying. There is always that. Still, if there's one thing I'm proud of - and it may be the only thing - it's that I kept at it, that I never took anyone's word for anything, or acted as though I believed out of convenience or to play nice. I've been as uncompromising towards the world as my mind has always been with me.


Stability is boring, but it's a relief. When you're high up you worry about falling back down; when you're down you wonder when it's going to end. But pile enough neutral days on top of each other and pretty soon you start to trust life again. You're pretty certain it's not gonna pull the rug out from under you. From this firmer base you can then finally begin to make other plans, to get involved in activities that span days and months rather than just minutes or hours. To actually live. Rollercoasters are fun the first couple times you ride them, but you wouldn't want to spend your life on one.

Friday, March 17


A diamond in the rough
Gets whittled down quick enough
Hospital, cemetery or jail

Like every fine wine
We spoil given enough time
Hospital, cemetery or jail

Somewhere down that road
Whichever direction you go
Hospital, cemetery or jail

Biding my dwindling years
What in the hell am I doing here
Hospital, cemetery or jail

Children growing
Age lines showing
Hospital, cemetery or jail

With all your money
And your friends in high places
Hospital, cemetery or jail

The promise of youth
Always ends in one truth
Hospital, cemetery or jail.


I need structure, and need to follow it and embrace it and stick to it. But how do I develop the right one for me in the first place? I will try to ask my doctor to help me, but I only see him once every 3 or 4 weeks for 50 minutes, and it never feels like enough time. I wish someone could really sit down with me through intensive therapy and help me to work out at least a plan for tackling all my issues. With a plan in place I might feel somewhat less overwhelmed and anxious. I also need guidance and companionship to make sure I'm sticking to my goals, but I need the will to follow through to ultimately come from within me and not out of fear of another's reaction or to win their approval. But you know what, I've said this all before. *Sigh*

The problem is once I start coming out of hiding and trying to move forward, to face my problems and grow beyond them, it all seems so overwhelming and I don't know where to start become everything seems to depend on something else. I end up just going back into hiding.

Neither horseshoes nor handgrenades

This is increasingly becoming a country where reason doesn't rule. Just look on popular polls of who people would vote into the MLB hall of fame. They seem to have no correlation with any actual performance numbers, just popularity - even though the guidelines for induction explicitly warn against that. Look at the average American's knowledge of world geography, of history, of physics, of almost anything factual in the world and not based on television sitcoms or popular music. The people throwing the most weight around vote-wise and as consumers are almost completely ignorant and devoid of reasoning skills. For every diligent citizen who does her research, who reads and learns about what the world is really like and how it operates, and then who casts her vote intelligently and reasonably based on that knowledge... there are ten people who think we should invade France after Iraq, that the sun is a planet, that the Bible reports true history, and that Barry Bonds should not be in the Hall of Fame but that Mark McGwire should. It's so enormously frustrating to live here and to know this and to never possibly be able to change it. I don't think it's exaggerating to say the world is abosultely teeming with complely vacuous, utterly moronic idiots who have no clue in their tiny pea-brained heads about anything at all. Thanks for reading.

The horrors

Well here I go again, sliding into depression. I can tell it's coming on by changes to my sleeping patterns, my interest in daily activities, the way I think about people, whether morning birds are pleasant or annoying, and even the way the world physically looks - soothingly pretty or way too harsh. And from their hiding places all the little and big horrors that were there the whole time emerge; and from my mind all manner of analysis and anxiety and disaffection arises. I'll try to head things off the best I know how by forcing myself to keep riding the exercise bike, by taking showers and eating, by cleaning my place up and staying in touch with people. I don't want to fall into the hole again. That's the worst thing there is.

Thursday, March 16

Wiser but less happy

Ojai and Santa Barbara were like Hawaii
When I was there, I knew no different
Russia might well have been Japan
For all I had known before

Daffodils on some field commemorated
The anonymous fallen soldier
What does that mean to a person like me,
Who has never known need in all his years?

Thailand felt like home in California
Because my family was with me
My wife and my daughter, who could
Want for anything more?

Roses in bunches presented to me
But I can't reach,
It was something more in the old days
But still we all try our best don't we?

Don't we?

Wednesday, March 15


There's something to be found
In the bottom of a cup
Never found before by human thoughts
And like the animal world dances on the edge of life
So I sit and breathe
And the postman barrages the door again
Now I'm sitting and wondering about her again
And the pictures in my mind
Take me to a darkened room, where
A simple chord change
Can rearrange time
And I know my place is with him again
In the polished clean hall with a gown again
With a bar of soap and a guard again
For the love of God don't let go of me.


In many ways I don't love myself, don't respect myself, don't trust myself or think I'm worth a damn. But also, I feel like for my part, I've been passionate and big-hearted all my life. Weak-willed but big-hearted. I'm not snide and ironic, even when I'm seeming to be. I'm sincere, and things I say that may seem childishly simple or melodramatic are completely true and from my heart, I just don't know how to say them any other way. How to be sophisticated. Or cool. I just say what I'm thinking and filter as little as possible, and what comes out is the truth, whether or not it's also art.

I think people paid a lot of attention to me early in my life and that probably ruined me, because they've paid little since then except when I ran into disaster. I feel alone in the world. I'm nobody special anymore. I've been knocked down a rung or two, or ten, and though it's tempting to say people might actually want me to fail, I know they don't. It's more that they don't really care at all, except that something tragic not happen to me (which would cause them grief), and beyond that, it's my life to live the way I want. That's the truth about the way life is and how the world works - it just wasn't driven home in my case until much later than normal. Now my life feels empty.

I don't feel there is anyone who turns to me when they're sad or scared, who asks for help from me, who needs me. Justin the wonder boy, completely unneeded. We all want to feel important in some way, in someone's life. Maybe that's why people start families. It's a built-in support structure with people looking up to you and looking after you. You know you have a role to play, and that you're important in that regard at least. Right now, I feel unimportant in anyone's life, and so my life has little meaning to me. I'm not even very depressed right now, or scared. I just feel pointless.

Monday, March 13

And this is heading where?

Ok, so we're supposed to get a good night's rest, get up, take a shower, eat a good breakfast, get in our car, drive to work, do stuff all to earn money, and then spend said money on food, clothes, and shelter so we can do it all over again the next day. Yeah, that makes sense.

Sunday, March 12

What's behind door #713?

No writings are suitable for every situation. When one is feeling vulnerable to emotion, a simple plaintive line of a song or a poem may resonate with sadness or joy, which in another (more cocksure) attitude the same line will seem trite or maudlin. This is one of the challenges of putting words on a page, where they may be subsequently read by those in every conceivable mood. How to seem sincere but not cliched? How to be original and yet still relevant? In the end, it is best to simply write from the heart, in whatever frame of mind one finds oneself at the moment, because the writing is true. Committed to the page this way, it stays true, even if only a true slice of a given space in time, forever.

Saturday, March 11


to see him again
with your hands so cold
you knew it would be sad
but you didn't know it would be like that

told him of your plan
to see him smile, and hold your hand
god forgive them, they never understand.

in a room full of pain
you saw something
gave you hope
in god again

maybe he'll write that letter soon
maybe sweep you off your feet
and take you to the moon
tell you he's sorry
he's really sorry

and we search for something perfect
and maybe there's nothing there
but we search anyway
and that's the tragedy
and the beauty all the same

jesus help us,
we're deaf and blind and lame

but our hearts are good...
our hearts are good...
our hearts are good....

Saturday morning.

I've got a hole in my heart
Where all the life in me goes
Where, I don't know
I have a hunger that can never be filled
A thirst that cannot be killed
And my eyes feel heavy

Get me out of this twisted dream
I never thought life would be like this
When I was just a kid on a bike
Can't forgive God for doing this to us
I hope he made another universe
Where people are happy.

Thursday, March 9


your skin is porcelain
fetal position with you
wrapped in two
eyes faraway lights
beacons to nights best forgotten
but my arms hold all i could
ever ask for
i'm lost in love and found
at the same time
nothing else fills my mind
finally at rest
our azure evening unwinds
your fingers curl beneath me
and you sleep
may an aurora of dreams
wash over us and light our way
if we don't fight our feelings
then we can never feel bad
don't feel bad, my love
don't change for change's sake
your tomorrow is still unmade,
you can feel the fullness of being
and never leave that place
never leave my arms
i'm so in love with you
everything's changed
i've got chemicals i didn't
know i had
playing tag in my body
when our moon smiled down
through his frosted frame
then i knew what life was for
in the darkest part it made a spark in me
and i knew what god was for
you were like atlantis all over again
when you washed life over my tired shores
a thousand rays of a thousand suns
burst like guns in the sky that night
a swathe of destruction and
a rebirth fierce of purpose
i try to capture the feeling now
with words
or in afterimages that still haunt my eyes
when you're gone for the day
but the words fall flat and the
visions slip slowly away
there's no way to capture something
like that anyway
like trying to bottle heaven
so I need you here, love
need to feel your lips on mine
the kiss of two minds
i'm in love with you more
than i thought was possible
i know i'm capable of making you
so happy
even dawnlight erodes time
challenges us to make peace
with death and the divine
the push of another day, crazy designs
but you make me unafraid
if i died today
i'd have known the divine already
for when you dream I can hear a thing
like the wing-beats of angels
a soft whisper of ascention
and it's you
you're my angel
everything i ever wanted from life
spills over me
in your arms I am so happy
love, I am so happy.

Wednesday, March 8

A dream that can never end

My body aches all over. Some of it is surely the lingering effect of my first real foray to the gym several days ago. But I've also been unable to sleep for more than a few restless hours at a time, and it takes it's toll. Not sure if my serotonin levels are too high now or what - it's always a balancing act. Too little and you have no energy, no zest, too much and you can't relax.

Since increasing my Effexor I've felt more energetic, more inclined to call someone on the phone or venture to the office and calmly explain I may have been left a package. I've had numerous impulses to write up beginner's guides, to send out lengthy and profound emails for a good cause, even casually communicate with Sheila and other people who I normally avoid (through no fault of theirs, to be sure). My ability to handle complexity just seems greater.

Now, the down side. I feel a bit off balance, whether traipsing around piles of dirty clothes or riding my bike to the store. I'm not really happy either, just a little more driven. It's not relaxing or particularly satisfying. And I still get crippled by irrational fears, sudden pangs of doubt, and apathy. I feel like a zombie might feel if he were alive and had enough sentience to know he was a zombie.

It's easy to do nothing, to just let yourself rot away entirely, but since for the moment I seem to have this almost geriatric schedule of wakefulness, I'm going to spend more of it at the gym and going for walks. Maybe that will burn off some of the restlessness and yet still allow me to stay fairly positive. As far as my anxiety goes, that is a sandstorm I can neither predict nor control. My only real defense against it is medication.

Living under the constant threat of panic is like a little slice of hell served up to us while we're still on earth, a reminder of how entirely unbearable existence could become should the chemicals, stars, or essence of Atman deign to line up in a particular way.

Stay hungry

I wish I were dead so I wouldn't have to feel the way I do now. 24 hours ago I was sharp-witted, keen to see what I could arrange my small life into. I have few material possessions, but they are good ones. I usually receive pleasure from my small menagerie of oddities, but not today. Today is flat. Euclidean.

I wish I had just one friend or correspondent who was intelligent, ironic, and humorous so that my misery could be shared between two people, ameliorated somewhat (god willing) in the process. How many kind souls who know me and claim to care can even define "menagerie," "Euclidean," and "ameliorated?" The magic of course does not simply reside in the plentitude of words known, but how they can serve as messengers of the subtle mind, can construct precisely the right sentiment and pinpoint an indelible thought that no other vein of vague vernacular could express with half the verisimilitude. Ok, I've gone about three Vs too far, please forgive me.

Friday, March 3

The point?

Just got back from the gym (the one at the complex here) and I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I've been a couple times but never really did much due to the number of people hogging the machines. Luckily this time it was just me. I did the bicycle for 45 min, the stepper for 10 min, and the peck deck, leg lift, leg press, bench press, and chick squeeze basically until exhaustion (not overdoing it since it was first time in a long time). I skipped arms altogether, as by then I was pretty burnt/sick. But walking back to my place, I felt so proud of myself! 'Course it's gonna take real commitment, not just an isolated case, to see results and improve my health, but at least I took that first, hardest step. We really are made for physical work!

People kill people

I'm not warm and fuzzy. I don't live a Disney life. I call things as I see them. People may get hurt, but it's probably the hurt of realizing some deep truth about themselves. When I make a mistake or speak out of anger, unmerited, I appologize, and would apppeal to that old standby of only being human. I'm not inhuman, nor do I act cruel for its own sake. But I don't want to refrain from saying what's on my mind once it's passed the idiot-protection filter. Better to be bold and strike at truths - maybe miss a few - then to be timid and never get anywhere and remain a ball of pent-up coulda been my whole life. I want to live to the fullest. I'm not there yet - I'm not sure I want to lose all of my circumspection - but there's always hope. Hope to express yourself and not cower under perceived pressures that may not even exist. Living-breathing-self-realization power-for-good-and-meaning is only an inch away with the proper attitude, I think.

Wednesday, March 1

Baa Baa

I have been accused of being an Apple apologist, which is patently untrue. I approve of many of their usability decisions, their ethos of quality over quantity, their understated industrial design, and the way they seem to dictate to much of the flock over which hill lies the "next new thing." In other words, I respect them as an idealistic cadre of engineers and designers who have somehow managed to stay relevant in today's cookie-cutter business world.

And yet, I do not turn the other cheek when bad decisions are made. I have no rosy glasses when it comes to brands. If Apple messes up, I call it what it is. They have before, and they will again, and this is to be expected from any company short of the Catholic Church (yes, I am being facetious).

So let me state the obvious: The new iPod Hi-Fi is atrocious. I mean, it's so hideously bad I'm surprised the janitor didn't laugh as they were lugging it down the hall and order the boys back to the drawing room; forget the higher-ups. For all the iPod's slim elegance, this thing is a fat box made of PVC plastic with speakers riddling its front side and molded handles 'gracing' the edges. With no video screen to further the iPod's not-so-secret convergence designs, it's basically just another boom box, and an ugly one at that. What "high-end" kitchens or living rooms, exactly, do they intend to market this to? Wood paneling, soft mood lighting, granite countertops, stainless appliances... and a white plastic cube blasting out Michael Bolton?

I'm no audio engineer, but I know enough to be able to tell from the schematics that this thing is gonna produce awful sound. Folks, there is a reason why people who live and breathe sound purchase component systems where each piece does what it is best at, in a shielded environment, then passes that along to the next specialized component. All-in-one 'home-theater-in-a-box,' and their ilk have never come close to discrete systems in sound fidelity.

Bose is the brand that jumps to mind here. Despite outspending nearly everyone in marketing, their MO is to sell reasonable components (just above garbage, really) at true audiophile prices, relying on their name and their showrooms/salespeople to convince the untrained ear that THIS is what high-end is all about. But look at their specs. They are a low-mid outfit who skimp on everything under the hood. Listen to a Bose Acoustimass or a Tri-Port headphone against real hi-end equipment from Marantz, Denon, Grado, Sennheiser. It's not even worth talking about.

Not to mention, because power supply bricks and, to a lesser degree, higher-voltage electronic components generate unacceptable EMF/EMI frequencies, these are nearly always removed from the main units (creating the 'wall wart' as it has become known) or at least heavily shielded from the more-delicate sound-making parts. I see no evidence of this with Hi-Fi. It appears to follow the Accoustimass ethic of beauty-over-function, and it doesn't even get the beauty part right. There appear to be no discrete amp channels, no isolated power caps, very little external crossover control, and no magic genie inside to bestow the iPod's slim elegance upon the unit as a whole.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe the Apple sheep will line up by short-busload to snap this thing up. But unless the laws of physics have changed at Steve's behest, and PVC has become the new MDF, I wouldn't bet my ears on it.

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